Room interiors, though a relatively common subject, have never really been treated as a separate genre like still life, landscapes or even “cityscapes”.
Though they have a long history, and some wonderful painters are noted for them, such as Vermeer, De Hooch or Tarbell, room interiors seem to be most often treated as backdrops for figurative work, a way to place the figure or portrait in an environment.
Room interiors, when well done, have their own kind of magic, conveying emotion, atmosphere and a sense of place and time quite unlike landscape and still life.
Nick Patten is an artist who focuses on the emotive and suggestive qualities of room interiors, in particular utilizing the play of light and shadow, strongly geometric compositions and carefully considered color palettes to transport us into his glimpses of another, sometimes seemingly familiar place.
Room interiors without figures by their nature often convey a feeling of stillness, a quality of contemplation that, like some still life painting, invites contemplation of the work itself. I particularly like the way Patten uses soft contrasts of muted yellows and greens along with subdued reds, to give his compositions a richness of color while maintaining their essentially still quality.
In his obviously lived in rooms, furniture and other objects seem to await the arrival of the houses’ occupants, as though they might be just in the next room, or behind a half open door.
I also enjoy the way Patten plays with light sources as compositional elements, with open windows, lamps or splays of light on walls and objects acting as the players in his quiet dramas.
However, if you enjoy room interiors as I do, Patten’s beautifully refined and subtle work is certainly worth the effort. Note that there is an archive of sold paintings in addition to the main portfolio.
[Suggestion courtesy of Randall Imai]
[Addendum, July, 2012: I'm glad to report that Patten's site has been redesigned; it is now much more straightforward, and easier to view his online gallery.]