Nature with a Bit of Edge

Acrylic Painting Precision

Looking at San Francisco-based artist Tiffany Bozic’s acrylic painting work is a bit like falling down Alice’s rabbit hole: the natural world looks familiar but plays by its own set of rules. Bozic’s flora and fauna—birds of prey, mammals, amphibians, tropical flowers, sea creatures—have an attitude and edge that makes them anything but clichéd.

Shaped by Reaction by Tiffany Bozic, acrylic painting on maple panel, 2010. Courtesy Joshua Liner Gallery.
Shaped by Reaction by Tiffany Bozic,
acrylic painting on maple panel, 2010.
Courtesy Joshua Liner Gallery.

In her works, orchids, jellyfish, and the female reproductive system become the framework for a delicate, deadly sea creature; a decomposing arthropod is cast as a gilded fallen soldier; frogs, bats, and lush red blooms come together in a kind of brutal bouquet. Bozic’s menagerie of exotic plant and wildlife makes up a new breed of fables that exhort, celebrate, and blur the lines between human sensibility and animal instinct.

“We are not as different as we like to think,” says Bozic, referring to the relationship between human beings, plants, and animals. For her, painting wildlife as a way to articulate human themes just makes sense. “Our worlds are so close, we can’t help but affect each other,” the artist continues. “I’m trying to get to a feeling, and these subjects allow anyone from any walk of life to understand them. If I paint humans—the color of their skin, their age, their sex—it narrows down the field and makes the reading more closed off. With animals, everyone can get through to the feeling equally.”

But Bozic doesn’t rest on her intentions alone, executing her acrylic paintings with meticulous virtuosity. “The craftsmanship of my work is everything to me,” she says. “I love detail and am drawn to visual artists who are nerds about it, who get really wrapped up in detail and have an honest relationship to the process more than the end result.”

Bozic creates her acrylic paintings in a painstaking, deliberate process. First the artist draws the compositions on her chosen surface—sanded maple boards. She then masks the surface and, section by section, cuts away the masking and paints the revealed panel in thin washes of acrylic, keeping her work flat not upright. A single painting can take her a month and one flower can take up an entire day, but that doesn’t mean mistakes don’t happen. “Oil painters can make mistakes and erase anything,” Bozic says, “but once I put the paint down that is it. I have to roll with it. And that’s how you grow—making mistakes and turning them into something that works.”

Priceless by Tiffany Bozic, acrylic painting on maple panel, 2010.
Priceless by Tiffany Bozic,
acrylic painting on maple panel, 2010.
Eat or Be Eaten by Tiffany Bozic, acrylic painting on maple panel, 2010.
Eat or Be Eaten by Tiffany Bozic,
acrylic painting on maple panel, 2010.

The artist, however, is not content to accept incongruities in how she depicts her chosen subjects. She has established an incredibly rewarding and fruitful connection to the California Academy of Sciences, in San Francisco. As one of their artists in residence she has not only cultivated relationships with curators and scientists but also cared for aquatic, avian, and mammalian specimens, which provided her the opportunity to study many of her chosen subjects. “It was great place to bounce ideas off these inspiring people, and just to talk shop with,” she says.

For Bozic, painting is the best way to talk about the things that roam around inside her head. “I have to push these ideas out or they drive me crazy,” she says. “I don’t know how to talk about them, but I am trying to paint them.” Although her chosen symbolism can be disquieting, it’s also readable, resonant, and comes from a very positive place. “Painting is my skill. It is what I can do to express complex and confusing issues, and the more I do, the more I learn about nature and myself.”

Bozic’s inclinations toward the natural world are coupled with knowledge of and familiarity with her chosen techniques, and largely account for her investment in the artistic process more than any end result. Basic Acrylic Painting Tips & Techniques can help you get in a similar frame of mind. It is an in-depth video workshop covering all of the acrylic painting techniques used by top artists that you can hone, so that your journey is as rewarding as your destination. Enjoy!

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

5 thoughts on “Nature with a Bit of Edge

  1. I have a book of Julie’s that I borrowed from a neighbor and she does several types of work: figurative, sculptures, and subjects that might be described as floral or botanical, but they’re kind of surrealistic in that she uses ‘found’ antique scientific illustrations as parts of the botanicals, giving a similar effect to Bozic’s above. Check out ‘Speed Art 2003-2009 if you can.

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