Virginia E. Tillou (1906-1995), Still Life with Carnations, 1984; oil on canvas, Overall: 50 x 60 in. (127 x 152.4 cm) Frame: 50 5/8 x 60 5/8 in. (128.6 x 154 cm); Gift of the Artist and friends of the artist, 1985
Virginia Tillou was known as an artist of vibrant still-life tabletops and portraits. The artist brings to life pastel flowers in ornamental glass with complex reflections of a veritable tabletop garden. Fresh cut carnations, irises, daisies and daffodils are snipped in their youthful essence. Summer breezes flow through linear sheer panels that adorn the windows of her third floor studio. Tillou took up the challenge of painting transparency, to demonstrate how light filters through water and glass of different shapes and hues. Myriad colors and textures also define important details, such as books and a photograph sharing the glass table. In all, they provide beauty and balance.
Walking down the street, did you ever pick a flower from a neighbor’s garden? Maybe you like to grow flowers yourself. Mrs. Tillou, a Buffalo artist, enjoyed painting tabletop displays. Patiently, she arranged the carnations, irises, daisies and daffodils into assorted vases, glasses, and even a pitcher. With each stroke of her brush onto a canvas, she created the light’s reflections through water and glass with vibrant oil paints. Waiting for the painting to dry, she may have heard whispering breezes flow through sheer curtains hung at her art studio windows. You might imagine the artist seated to write the memories of her day in a journal, gazing at a favorite photograph, and enjoying the stillness of her tabletop garden.
—Christine A. Parker, 2015