At first glance, you may classify Lauren Edmond as "new school" for using a Wacom tablet and the Corel Painter program to digitally create her oil paintings. But wait! She is not entirely of the new media age. She eschews layers. In an effort to emulate the traditional painting process as faithfully as possible, Edmond's refuses to take back brush strokes and directly paints without erasing or undoing. Since 1995, Edmond has engaged in digital painting for practical reasons: oils are notoriously toxic, and even more so within the space of the small East Village apartment where she and her pets live.
Further inspection reveals Edmond's paintings to be even more old-school than initially perceived. For one, they focus on a theme that has plagued us since urban spaces became an irrevocable feature of our landscape — namely, the fascinating, contradictory interaction between city and nature. For Edmond, nature is characterized as a feminine force, while the city is a masculine one. The duality between the two is particularly on display in a city like New York City, which is so fiercely an urban space, but yet contains hundreds of parks and mini-sanctuaries within. According to Edmond, our feminine sides are so often submerged, whereas our masculine sides are encouraged as forces that are able to get things done. Her paintings, which are overwhelmingly feminine and feeling-oriented, seek to balance this hierarchy.
New Yorkers are often drawn to Edmond's work, which consists of emblematic city snapshots. A characteristic painting depicts nature juxtaposed with urban elements. Edmond frequently finds herself re-painting the same locations, noting the intriguing transformation of objects' appearances in different seasons and lighting. If in "Winter Night in Tomkins Square," bare trees look surreal when posed against the warm glow of lamplights and buildings, the lush trees of "Late afternoon in early spring" lend a cheery air to the scene of city residents relaxing in the park. Admirers of Edmond's work appreciate its idyllic quality and see it as a relief from the daily bustle of the rat race. As Edmond explains, her paintings hint at a sweeter side of life, one where the city's perpetual "go get-em now" mentality is thankfully absent.
It may very well be Edmond's background that attracts her to the exploration of this ancient nature-city relationship. She was born in Brooklyn, raised in Long Island, and painted for some years in a lovely country house east of Woodstock. Now she gets her fill of nature primarily in Tompkins Square Park, where she walks her dogs and gets her ideas. For Edmond, it is precisely the distinction and blurring between natural and man-made features that inspires her work — if she paints a rose, then she must place a brick wall behind it. On trips upstate, Edmond feels uninspired; for her, nature without the contrast of urban elements lacks a crucial edge. Still, as her paintings clearly show, specific natural tableaux pique her interest: night scenes, the interplay of light on people, and dusk in winter, which she calls "blue time."
As with every painter, regardless of medium, it takes Edmond some time to complete a painting. She first begins with a fuzzy layout, and then she goes about defining each detail. A green patch at the moment will later be stroked by meticulous paint strokes into grass blades, lady bugs, figures. Never does she begin with a hard edge. Afterwards, Edmond's paintings are printed on quality cotton rag paper and then stretched.
For the past five years, Edmond has been exhibiting her work within her community at locations such as Puppy Love and Kitty Kat, the Tompkins Square Library Gallery and the Theater for the New City. Her work can also be viewed and purchased online on her site www.laurenedmond.com.
Written by Bonnie Chan