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Art

Floral Oil Paintings Look Like Intricately-Squeezed Icing

Artist Caroline Larsen creates colorful paintings of birds of paradise and cacti by extruding oil paints like frosting.

Becky Chung

Shadow Land, Palm Springs, 2014 oil on canvas 27 x 31 in.Images via

At a distance, it's easy to mistake artist Caroline Larsen’s still life paintings for woven tapestries or embroidered fabrics. By painstakingly squeezing lines of oil paints through plastic bags like icing a cake, the artist's works bear the textures of stitches and thread. Using these same techniques for her latest series, Palm Flora (currently on display at the Mulherin Gallery in New York), Larsen captures a tactile array of birds of paradise flowers, cacti, succulents, and palm trees in colorful, raised detail.  

“My paint application, with its texture acting as line and pattern, is an organizing form in and of itself, casting shadows and creating optical rhythms,” she described in a statement. In the studio, she knits together a variety of influences including ceramics, stained glass, and the decorative arts. Larsen often begins by laying a wash of acrylic paint onto the canvas before she applies the oil paint, which helps her pieces to have a “glowing, luminous effect,” she explained to The Creators Project.

“The paintings become the most successful when they dart from being beautiful to being overwhelming,” she explains. “They are so ornamental and decorative that they evoke a sense of kitsch which lives within the world of the grotesque.” Below, examine the fantastic sculpted textures of her oil paintings: 

Purple Still Life, 2014, Oil on Canvas, 40 x 50 in. 

Succulent Bowl, 2014, Oil on Canvas, 27 x 31 in.

Flock of Paradise, Oil on Canvas, 31 x 27 inches, 2014.
 

Ikebana, 2014, Oil on Canvas, 
31 x 27 in.

Works in progress

The artist at work in her studio.

Caroline Larsen's Palm Flora is currently on view at the Mulherin Gallery in New York. 

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