Rachel Cordaro has spent her entire life making art. She grew up in Rochester, NY with parents who inspired and encouraged her to experiment in multiple genres. Today Rachel is a full-time professional painter and textile artist. Rachel’s floral paintings have gained widespread notoriety throughout the city of Rochester and are carried by many of the city’s high-end boutiques.
Praise for Rachel’s paintings:
Rachel loves to crochet as much as she loves to paint. The hooked needle feels as natural in her hand as does the paintbrush. Her textile art began many years ago when, as a child, her mother taught her to crochet, and by creative accident, she discovered her own particular hooking method for her ever-popular ruffled scarf. Her neck ruffs and shawls are Rachel originals and seasonal favorites for their style, warmth and coziness.
Rachel currently resides in Rochester, NY with her artist husband Cordell Cordaro.
Meet Rachel Cordaro: Artist Extraordinaire! Q & A written By: Courtney O'Gorman
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, Im all over the board with that! My variety can include... Cuban, Salsa, Colbie Caillat, Sara Barielles, Elevation, Hillsong and even film scores from 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 coffee, 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.
Allow me to introduce myself!
I’m Rachel a full-time floral paintress and textile artist and loving every minute of it! Married to another artist Cordell Cordaro I’m currently in my 30’s and have lived my whole life learning the Rochester accent. Born and raised I am a nasally vowel flattening Rochestarian for sure! Here are some fragments of me!!! I am the baby of the family, two amazing brothers, and one sassy sista. Born in Irondequoit, I grew up walking distance to the Seneca Park Zoo, a typical bribe to get me to nap. I had a lisp when I was little and loved sharing a room with my siblings! Even at a young age, I was in love with having a place that I could go and be creative and left to myself. I would sit at my trunk coloring, drawing, and making up short stories! Little Rachel went through a rough patch in 3rd grade getting in fights with boys and coming home with messy hair and ripped shirts was the fateful day sometimes! I did soul searching I promise I had no good reason!!! Just a feisty brat. Quickly grew out of that lol!! Fast-forwarding I met my soulmate at the Rochester Airport. He was a Skycap In a red windbreaker. He was mine!!!!
I am striving every day to be the best version of me! My strength is made perfect in weakness! Translation ~ Y’all I lean on Jesus!!! I’m corky too! An introvert and I like it!
1. Sometimes I lay in bed and dream of the cup of coffee I get to have the next morning
2. I will and have eaten eggplant parm or cold pizza for breakfast.
3. I love art studio time and being productive.
4. I can’t fill my earbuds with enough, Taya Smith, Hillsong worship music in general!! It is fuel for life!
5. I’m convinced my husband is pretty much made for me!
6. He’ll second that.
7. I teach myself authentic new cuisines!! So far, my culinary repertoire includes Cuban, Thai, Indonesian, Indian, and Ethiopian!
8. Italian cooking is good but ironically my least favorite!!! I might get fewer followers by saying this but does it feel like us Italians drowned everything in tomato sauce!? See #2 if you’re offended.
Moving on...Things that are magic to me are- The buzzing of cicadas. The outburst of a Red-winged blackbird to announce Spring. Tree Swallows swooping above Cattails at my thinking spot. The sound of blue jays and crunchy fall leaves. A morning cup a coffee and a 3 pm. cup of coffee that stoke of three means coffee in our family; it’s just something that my mom loves and has ingrained in us! I love Rice Krispy treats! How can something be so delicious? Dry rice Krispy treats are a sin...a sin I tell you. A good memory being made and being aware of it at that moment. The smell and sound of a boats motor when it stops in a magical spot on the water. Waterfalls big and small. Going behind waterfalls. The ocean and how it greets my toes! I’m an Aquarius how ironic. The sound of a fishing lure casting out.
I am a pretty good fisher if by fisher you only catch sunfish! The proud feeling of looking at a well-mowed lawn after you have finished! I’m getting a little country all of a sudden! Van Gogh’s brush strokes. Home videos the older, the better. Laughing at nothing and not being able to stop if your life depended on it! Water slides - terrifying but fun all the same. It doesn’t count unless you get a wedgy and water up your nose. The ever so small wrinkle that forms under Cordell’s eyes when he smiles. His arms. Greenhouses. A baby stretching when they first wake up.
My grandparents were unique in a fantastic way. Playing on my Gramas indoor exercise bike with my older brother and sister...why was that so fun? Flowers and growth in general. Spur of the moments. Sunsets...my mommy taught me that! Some personal lessons I’ve learned are; loving others and doing selfless acts is the antidote for depression. Wake up each day, seeing the best in everyone and Keep God’s perspective. Don’t ever think anyone owes you anything; it will create bitterness and self-pity. To Choose joy amidst hardship is brave; understanding that everyone in some form or way is in a waiting room. When you realize patience is a gift, you don’t feel like you are in waiting anymore. Sometimes it’s not about the destination; it’s about the detour!!! Always bring your best and listen to people even when they are silent. Never compare yourself to others; that my dear will steal your joy faster than a teepee in a hurricane. Thanks for listening.