Six Paintings for
Falling in Love

Spend some time with these manifestos of love and spike your heartbeat.

By Naava Guaraca and Julie Kim


Ever miss the feeling of falling in love? The anticipation, the tenderness? If you often wish you could lose yourself in romance rather than simply dreaming of it, look no further than this collection of paintings. Spend some time with these manifestos of love and spike your heartbeat.


Salman Toor - Green Bar, 2018

Toor has painted an embrace so real that you feel the warmth pulsate throughout your own body. Green is an unusual color choice for expressing love, yet nevertheless a successful one here. There is a blanket of silent flames crackling through the atmosphere, waving in and out of the vertical brushstrokes of earthy green. His character in white is centered in the frame, inviting us to take their place for the time that we spend with this painting. They gaze off to the distance, the way that we might when we are fully allowing our emotions to take over. The two are amongst a crowd, but the embrace has stopped time and melted the rest of the room away.

The subtleties that Toor has rendered––the cigarette clutched between the fingers pressed against the white shirt, the lighter shade of green illuminating the characters’ heads like a halo, and an almost-empty glass of red wine––all transport me into this vacuum of intimacy, longing, and gratitude.

Pace Taylor - Trying to be, here, 2021

Two lovers are perched atop a ledge against a vacant backdrop and a small red moon. A tenderness penetrates the silence that carries through the abstracted forms and the meeting of mint green with the warm red and yellow hues. Taylor has perfectly emulated the togetherness in solitude I feel when I’m with someone I love.

The two look away but are united by touch. Their hands––one a saturated red and the other a soft pink––meet together in the center of the canvas in a tight clutch defined by grey veins and shadows. There is so much honesty, a little bit of vulnerability, and a little bit of uncertainty in the pink foot twisting away in restrained flutters and the tightened elbow of the red figure next to the nonchalant lean of the pink figure. You can almost hear a heartbeat if you listen closely.

Katherine Bradford - Lovers, 2018

In this deep, dark violet place constructed by Bradford, we are submerged underwater with all the oxygen we need. Every new second spent invites us to stay longer and sink deeper. Two figures glow in orange as if lit by a candle from within. Their silhouettes, projected in the distance, seem to be watching them. Maybe they are replaying what once was, or imagining what could be. Either way, love lives in transience, in the blurred lines between what we know and what we feel, what we hope and what we surrender.

I can imagine a steady hum of conversation between the figures, but I can also imagine them enveloped in complete silence. So much of getting lost in someone is about the unspoken transmittals of emotion.

Perhaps it is the steadfast shade of purple, but there is an unwavering gravity anchoring this scene, replicating the enchantment that holds me firmly in a conversation that I want to last forever.

Pair this scene with “Movies” by Weyes Blood.


Amanda Ba - Lover, She is Reading, 2021

Amanda Ba’s use of red quite literally makes me swoon. In the sweet glow of light, a lover lies reading, curled up with her pet. The birds-eye view of the piece only makes it seem more intimate. We’re given a view of the entire scene, as it would look were the viewer trying to see as much as possible. The color palette, composed of simple complementaries, feels both gentle and warmly abrasive, like the lover’s partner is trying to capture the harshness of life in the most tender way. The patterned sofa is the cherry on top. There’s nothing that feels more home-y than textured couch cushions.

Louis Fratino - Waking up First,
Hard Morning Light
, 2019

As far as I know, love and light are as intertwined as day and night: existing separately, but working in tandem to provide sustenance. Early morning light is so overwhelmingly romantic. To share in a few moments in the sun before waking is a privilege. The reflection of the sun through the window is illustrated in such simple color fields. This simplicity so closely echoes the feeling of lying in the morning light: special, unassuming, wonderful.

I grew up in a bedroom with east-facing windows that bathed me in light whenever I woke up. It felt like one of the greatest pleasures of my life to wake up every day to a complete absence of darkness. To add a lover to the mix, as Fratino has here, can only be understood as pure bliss. This painting makes me think of The National’s lyric, “But I’m learning to lie here in the quiet light / as I watch the sky go from black to grey.” The hidden gem is the figure with one eye open, daringly watching their partner as they sleep. The entire scene feels blanketed with tenderness, warmth, and love. 

Jenna Gribbon -
Living Room Composition, 2020

Gribbon’s paintings of her fiance are to die for. This small painting was made last year during a shift in her body of work when she started almost exclusively painting Mackenzie Scott (her fiance, the musician known as Torres). One of the greatest joys of sharing a space with a lover is the way two become intertwined. It’s something that, for queer couples, also holds a special significance. When two women share a space, the togetherness that’s shared becomes something else. The home becomes a manifestation of love—the spaces sacred, the design held in high esteem.

When I look at this painting I feel both reminded (of my own space that I share with my girlfriend) and inspired (of what it could become, of the possibility). I can feel the warmth shared between Gribbon and Scott and the passion that’s required to combine homes. I’m left wondering: who brought what to the space? What did they buy together? Which one of them takes care of the plants?