Floral Paintings

This series of floral paintings is a glimpse into my small piece of the earth where I spend most of my time, in North Carolina. A few years ago my husband and I bought a house on two acres with beautiful existing gardens. We were naively unaware of the demands of the space, but have learned to work with nature.

After a decade of competing only a few paintings a year, I decided to take a systematic approach to find my artistic voice. I spent most of 2017 and 2018 exploring painting techniques and color theory. Josef Albers and Arthur Dow as well as the work of many of their students were my inspirations. This series is the result of my attempt to paint a wheel of color. I chose this path because I once read that "painting the rainbow" was how Georgia O'Keffe executed some of the color theory lessons she learned from Arthur Dow. 

Each of these blooms grew in our yard. My husband sets up the watering system for vegetables and some flowers and I try to maintain the invasive plant species. Some of the blooms last for days, some for weeks or even months in the case of the Calla Lily blooms (seen above).

As a photographer my focus is on light. As a painter I attempt to do the same. As a scientist I focus on the materials from which an object is made. I have tried to apply the photographers eye that searches for the perfect marriage of light and shade. My education as a scientist leads me to contemplate the blooms as the result of the expenditure of great quantities of energy, in a thermodynamic sense. I imagine they each have quite the story to tell. So their portraits, if you will indulge me, are placed against backgrounds reminiscent of the painted and dyed backdrops of a photographers studio, in order for them to tell their story.

To appreciate just the bloom is to see only a transitory phase in the life cycle of the living things. So as I paint the beauty around me and beg time to slow down as I watch my baby grow into a toddler, I think of the words of Marty Rubin:

“The beauty of this day does not depend on its lasting forever”

An idea I try to remember in all seasons. I have had dark seasons before this one, my art was different, I was different. Seasons change, slowly or suddenly and so sadly I recall “This too shall pass.” 

In order to create an emotional effect in this series of florals that is communicated to the viewer with color, I looked to the writings of Arthur Wesley Dow. His theories on how to make colors more vibrant with pairings and using color side by side enabled me to create drama in otherwise simple subjects. 

For example, the painting above of artichokes may meet your eye as an image composed completely of blues, greens and purples but in order to make those colors pop out and strengthen each other, there is orange in this color combination too.