Lou Patrou is an American self-taught artist who creates impressive works focused on painting faces, figures and forms. Born in 1954 in Rochester, NY Lou almost went to art school but instead of that he became a NAVY filmmaker, while still doing his artwork through the years.
Lou has been doing art since the 1960’s but he started concentrating on his art full time very late in life as an artist. As a child, Lou was thinking about doing art and it always was a personal and solitary activity for him. In 2001 he started promoting his art but exposing it didn’t happen until 2006 when he actually had some work in a gallery.
His art usually focuses on the face, but can range between three different types or styles; loose and scratchy pastels, patterns made up of repeating color schemes and shapes in painted mixed media and expressive black and white pencil drawings on paper. The pastels are done without any planning at all, just on feelings. They end up with lots of vibrant color, lots of textures and free flowing compositions. The pattern works have all been paintings, watercolors, acrylics and a combination of both. They are meticulously planned out with multiple sketches, color studies and shape layouts and generally take a long time to fill in and complete. The graphite drawings are generally portraits and require a lot of preparation and pre-production in getting the final lines down on paper.
Inspiration comes to Lou while he is working alone listening to music, “I follow the mood with sketches that eventually turn into drawings and designs and then finally into a finished piece down the road.”
“I always begin on paper, sketching and drawing spontaneously looking for an idea. After I find something that interests me, I explore it further. This will expand into working out designs, colors, more details etc. and then scaling the concept up to a final size to paint or draw.”
The rest is all careful execution, and can take weeks or months, as he is slow and meticulous: “I never try to make fast junk or produce high volumes of work.”
Lou admires a lot of artists but at the same time he is trying not to think of their work while doing his own.
“I think everything influences everything. The everyday sights, street clutter, subway signs, graphics, products etc. all flash in front of us all day long.”
Through the years Lou’s work has evolved, skills have changed, his ideas and taste. In his works you can see the influences over the years from all of his visual jobs, from photography and lighting, cinematography for television and motion pictures, paparazzi photo lab print work, product design, neon design and fabrication, movie set and prop design & production, animation for music videos, events design and advertising.
“I have scaled up the size of my work and also started doing sets and series of work, something I never did before.”
Over the years he began making distilled versions of faces and also started adding decorative elements into them. Some concepts have intentional meaning to him, some have very little and might be just design and form. He doesn’t like to do the same thing over and over and he doesn’t follow a familiar path and process each time. He loves careful design and also spontaneous work so he sometimes splits the difference and pulls from each approach. He also likes to mix things up within that approach by adding new twists and turns that become pleasant discoveries.
According to Lou an artist may or may not have a role at all in society: “An artist owes nobody anything, he creates what he wants to in his own time, and if he decides to share it, and if society catches up with it, likes and appreciates it, so be it. “
Lou Patrou lives and works in New York, USA.