by Carol Stevens / Executive Editor, PRINT Magazine

Artists have painted flowers for centuries - as decoration, as religious symbol, as scientific illustration, and perhaps most universally, in an effort to capture nature’s transient glory. Like her predecessors, Sabina Fascione Alcorn wanted to keep on paper a record of the fleeting beauty in her garden. “I had an urge to celebrate the flowers in a larger-than-life format,” she says. A native Italian transplanted to the rugged north country of upstate New York, she also found herself dazzled every year by the the defiant rebirth of spring. “The bulbs are planted under the soil, the garden is covered with snow, and there’s no sign of life,” she says. “Then, after the long harsh dormant stage, there’s a miraculous reawakening and fireworks of color lasting throughout the summer”.

Originally trained as a textile designer, Alcorn takes pleasure in trading the stylized rendering of natural forms that discipline required for the detailed, realistic, and sensuous depiction of flowers that she herself has planted and nurtured. Working in watercolors over a period of several weeks, she builds the image in transparent layers of paint - thin veils of color or glazes - to achieve a sense of luminous, translucent fragility. If there are imperfections in her plants, she paints those, too. “Caravaggio’s celebrated Canestro di Frutta taught me early on that such imperfections are indispensable ingredients when it comes to the honest rendering of an object,” she explains. Given the short life of a cut flower, she works largely from memory, watching the bloom grow on paper, while paradoxically, the model wilts in its vase.

Because her paintings constitute a kind of diary, she is unwilling to part with the originals and decided with her husband, Stephen Alcorn, to venture into publishing and produce the series in print form. An artist in his own right who often works in an intricate polychrome linocut technique, Stephen created for each bloom an individual border that Sabina hand-colored in a palette echoing the plant’s natural hues. Reproduced by offset lithography at 75 per cent of their original size on premium archival stock, the first series of 11”-by-14” prints is available for retail sale at $48.00 for the set of 12 from The Alcorn Studio & Gallery, 112 West Main St., Cambridge, New York 12816.

Excerpt from an article in the January-February, 1997 issue of PRINT, LI:I

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