Rochester native Rachel Cordaro has been an artist ever since she can remember. Self taught, she creates her signature playful and vibrant flower paintings using acrylic and canvas as her medium of choice. Inspired by 19th century artist Vincent Van Gogh, she creates a style all her own filled with energy and whimsy. The bold hues balanced with the cheerful poppies, wildflowers, and irises she incorporates seem to make her work come to life on the canvas and are bound to make a chic addition to anyone’s home decor. Cordaro’s work has been featured locally at places such as Rochester’s Corn Hill Arts Festival as well as Fairport Canal Days and has even garnered achievements including the 2013 Sonnenberg Arts at the Gardens Judges Award, among others.
Rochester Brainery Co-Founder Danielle Raymo was particularly taken with Cordaro’s work. “I chose it because I love how bright and colorful it is! I love how it seems to make everyone smile and it’s the perfect compliment to our otherwise basic space!” she said.
We admire Rachel’s work so much that we just had to meet her and get to know the artist behind the paintings that are now gracing our gallery walls! A few weeks ago, we had the chance to catch up with Rachel and chat about everything from her work to her inspirations, as well as her life as an artist.
Tell us a little bit about yourself! How did you first become interested in art?
I'd say I was always a creative person. My mother was an avid crafter, seamstress, painter, you name it—she was sort of a hippy mom! My father worked for the Forestry division of Rochester and loves photography so I guess I was destined for a creative future. As a child I would spend countless hours out on my front porch in Irondequoit coloring, making up stories, and experimenting with all sorts of stuff—glitter, construction paper glue, Plato—you name it! Even then, as a child I adored the idea of an art studio or workspace that was all mine where I could be left alone to sit at my trunk and be creative! My mom used to peek her head out and tell me to come in after hours on chilly days. My hands were always so cold from coloring, but I didn't even care!
You’ve mentioned that 19th Century artist Vincent Van Gogh heavily influences your work. What about Van Gogh and his career are particularly inspiring to you or helps inspire your work?
First and foremost, I think it is the vulnerability I gather from the life of the impressionist and post impressionist artist. I could almost cry when I think of the grueling and unappreciated life some lead—dirt poor and peddling their masterpieces to the public, hoping for recognition or to sell their work. In a way, I find the life of an artist fascinating and brave. I can relate to their passion for color, nature and brush strokes. The more obvious reason I love Van Gogh is for his style of painting. His sunflowers have impacted me greatly. I love his daring yet poignant brushstroke and his use of bold earthy yellows, olive greens, and dreamy blues.
Aside from Van Gogh, what else influences or inspires you when you’re painting?
My inspiration comes primarily from visually taking in nature and sometimes art books. However, I rarely look at an image when I'm painting. It's kind of a subconscious record of what I think flowers look like in my mind! I love to play music while I paint as well, mostly musicians like Colbie Caillat, Sara Barielles, John Mayer, and Rachel Portman radio. Pretty much my entire life, my husband, and my house are inspiring as well as my at home art studio, which is a big participant in my creative process. I love having a sanctuary where I can create! Other inspirations include cozy pants, tea or wine, and a good candle nearby!
A lot of your work embodies a whimsical and cheerful vibe through the flora that you incorporate. Have you always been interested in using flowers in your artwork or did it naturally evolve over time?
Florals naturally evolved as my style. It took me several years to develop my signature "Rachel Flowers.” Painting them just feels right; they are truly a reflection of me!
We’re particularly taken with your work here at Rochester Brainery! We especially love the vibrancy and alluring quality of the colors you use in your pieces. Do you have a specific style or aesthetic you aim for in your work?
I love interior decor and good design. Having said that, I paint what I would like to buy. I adore picking color combos and partnering them with different types of flowers and vase shapes. I try to appeal to all color pallets and styles my buyers may have, like soft neutrals or deep intense colors to wild, whimsical, and vibrant.
What is your artistic process like?
My process is always different. Sometimes I leap out of bed for a morning paint session while other times I leave room to relax by the pool with lemonade and then I will work in my studio until late at night. Any artistic person—writers, musicians, painters—you know how it goes. Leave room for inspiration and the mood to create will present itself. You can't force creativity. I must also point out I take my career very seriously so I am always prepared for my art shows and deadlines.
We noticed you’ve displayed your art everywhere from local art festivals in Rochester to more private exhibitions throughout the U.S. including Florida! Out of all of the festivals and showcases, which experience has been the most rewarding for you in your career thus far?
I would say the whole journey so far has been rewarding to me because it has equated to me living my dream as an artist for my profession. I am always astounded when I sell a painting!
Although you primarily use acrylic and canvas to create your paintings, are there any other mediums you’re interested in?
I would love to explore other textiles like putting my artwork on pillows and tablecloths. Who knows what the future holds!!
You incorporate a lot of really beautiful wildflowers and poppies into your pieces. Do you have a favorite flower?
I love so many flowers, but some of my favorite flowers are sunflowers, Irises and Poppies!
Are you currently working on any projects?
Catch a glimpse of Rachel's beautiful floral paintings that are now hanging in our space until the end of July!
You can also check out her Etsy page to order prints of her custom creations.