Trish is currently featured in our Spotlight Exhibit.
Images above are from Trish’s 2019 Spotlight Exhibit
Trish Torkildsen Coonrod received her BFA from Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Upon graduating she was awarded a residency at the Cité Internationale Des Arts in Paris. The time spent in Paris allowed her to study directly from the paintings of the old masters, which greatly influence her work. Trish’s interest in traditional painting lead her to The New York Academy of Art, Graduate School of Figurative Art, where she received her MFA and graduated with honors. Upon graduation she took a position in Jeff Koons Studio where she worked as lead painter for eight years. There she had the opportunity to further hone her skills as a representational artist. Trish has been exhibiting her work for over 20 years and her work is in collections throughout the United States.
“My name is Trish Torkildsen Coonrod. I was born in Danvers, MA in 1966; I have 9 older brothers and sisters. I enjoyed painting and drawing from an early age and was encouraged in this by her mother who would bring me to private art lessons and occasionally the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. In high school I took advanced placement art classes and won a gold key in the Scholastic Art Awards in 1983 and a gold key and blue ribbon in 1984.
In 1985, I enrolled in Washington University in St. Louis on a scholarship where I majored in painting. Most of my classes were Conceptual in nature but I had the good luck of studying with Barry Schactman in his figure structure classes and later in his advanced drawing class. Through his mentorship I discovered my love of drawing from life. He taught me how an artist might see objects three dimensionally and use that knowledge to create the illusion of three dimensions in a two dimensional space. I also learned from him a technique for using sumi ink in drawing that I still use now. It also happened that while I was in my senior year at Washington University Lisa Bartolozzi was doing graduate work there. She was doing large figure paintings in a very realistic style, and I had never seen any living artist paint like that before. Her work made an impression on me and helped me form a clearer idea of what I wanted my work to look like. At graduation I was awarded a residency at the Cite’ Internationale des Arts in Paris and I spent three months there painting and visiting museums.
In 1993 I enrolled in the New York Academy of Art on a full scholarship. While there I studied with Eric Fischl, Vincent Desiderio, Martha Mayer Erlebacher, and Wade Schuman. From Wade Schuman I learned the approach to still life painting that I use now. Upon graduating with honors I took a job painting in the studio of Jeff Koons and worked there from 1996-2003. My time working for Jeff Koons was very formative. I would estimate that I painted around 18,000 hours while I was employed there and this helped me to internalize the many things I’d been taught by my mentors at the Academy. In 2003 I married Scott Coonrod and I left my job with Koons. I had my daughter Jackie in 2004 and my son Scotty in 2006. In 2007 we moved to Lansing, NY when my husband took a faculty position at Cornell.
One of the great things for me about living in Ithaca is that I’m able to have a studio; I’ve been rather prolific here. From 2007-2010 I worked on a series of paintings based on toys and things that I associated with childhood, and I was working from photographs as I had been since graduating from the Academy. About 3 years ago I started painting from life again, typically choosing fruit or flowers for the subject matter, and using a single light source on the objects because it emphasizes their three dimensional form. I’m interested in natural forms because of their idiosyncrasies and gestures that can move the composition and create drama. The fact that they are in the process of decaying means I need to work quickly, and I enjoy the intensity of focus needed to finish a painting within the week or so that I have before the fruit is no longer fresh. Still life painting is like a meditation and gives me the opportunity to look at things very carefully. I enjoy creating a three dimensional space that the viewer might be drawn into so I can share with them some of the things that I see.”