“Aerialscapes,” a term coined by CoCo Artist Toni S., refers to her paintings of urban to rural landscapes from a flattened, above ground perspective. In our interview with her, Toni tells us a little more about how these unique depictions from the sky come to life, and what they are really all about.
CoCo: What inspired you to become an artist?
Toni: I always knew that I wanted to be an artist. Growing up, I spent a lot of time drawing and painting. Art is a passion that I was lucky enough to be born with. It is a joy and part of my being alive.
After studying painting at the Philadelphia College of Art and realizing that I needed a job, I pursued studies in graphic design as a career. I applied my application of graphic solutions to my painting concepts and the abstract representation of my imagery, which was present in my design work.
CoCo: Who is your art for?
Toni: Regardless of the time, I believe my raison d’être as an artist is to share my vision of the world. I want my aerialscapes to be a commentary on our lifestyles and environment, a collection of urban and suburban way of life as well as a representation of the natural and industrial worlds. I will be satisfied if my paintings encourage people to step back and see our world as affected by humanity in a different light.
CoCo: What do you think your aerialscapes bring to their environment?
Toni: My aerial-view paintings represent various places and spaces of the contemporary landscape seen from an above ground perspective. The flattened surface planes convey the textures of abstract space enhanced by compositional aesthetics and skillful use of color. My images of cities and towns, factories and farmlands, power plants, suburban communities and highways are conceived with a distinctive angle on structures and a fresh visual vocabulary. The flattened plane reduces details to strong graphic images. I like the subject for its many aspects and possibilities.
Wanting to depart from traditional landscape perspective, but still incorporate realism, the view from above allows me to combine elements of abstraction and representation, pattern and grid, surface and illusion, as well as observation, imagination, and memory. My work can be understood on many levels, from the simple interplay of shape and color to the narrative of the pictorial story.
CoCo: What is your artistic/creative process?
Toni: I start with a location that fits my narrative, then proceed to sketch my idea from one of my own photographs or stock material using the bird’s eye view. The next step is to block out the shapes, patterns and color working with Photoshop to further refine composition and color. Although the color is not realistic, there are close similarities. Finally it is time to work at the easel.
CoCo: Tell us about an interesting piece that you have displayed in your own home. Where exactly is it, and why is it there?
Toni: Edison Industrial is a bird's eye view of a New Jersey industrial area including industrial plants, factories, farms and homes. I attempted to capture the landscape with somber color and let the pictorial tell the story. Hovering above, it examines the relationships between the man-made and the natural. It is hanging in my dining room with NJ Subdivision, both 48” x 60”.
CoCo: Tell us about your favorite commission.
Toni: The One, in Jersey City was a rewarding challenge. A real estate developer wanted an aerial view that portrayed the location. Through a series of sketches the image was developed.