The anticipation of Spring and the joy of painting flowers again

Written by Paul, January 31, 2022

“The anticipation of spring and the joy of painting flowers again”

It has now just turned February. A relatively warm and wet Christmas period has produced an almost false Spring. Already the fresh leaves of primroses are poking through. Hellebores and daffodils are making their presence known and the snowdrops are littering the ground with diamond points of white. It is at times like these that my fingers start twitching at the thought of doing some flower painting. Indeed, we have a flower painting course starting here on February 6th.

I have been painting flowers nearly all my life. My love for it started by my father who also adored painting flowers He showed me how to tackle a mop headed Dahlia at the age of 10 years old. ( me not the Dahlia!) I like to think it was my love of flower painting that introduced me to Oriental painting. I was never personally captured by the Dutch tradition of the cornucopian vase, although I did like it when they went well over the top. Unfortunately, the concept of the “flowers in a vase” portrait format tended to produce millions of uninspiring images and gave flower painting a bad name. I found that by looking at Chinese and Japanese arrangements with their more naturalistic compositions, I was inspired to take a more unconventional approach to the subject. I found that combining flowers with Still Life some intriguing juxtapositions could be explored. I also discovered the Oriental fondness for incorporating wildlife in their composition; insects and birds being common. My favourite artist from way back was the Chinese Chi Pie Chi (spelt many ways!) He was unconventional even amongst the Chinese who tended to follow strict rules of technique and composition. His was a seemingly abandoned approach with incidents and accidents producing wonderfully bold and powerful forms of expression.

When I am painting flowers I try to see them as if I had never seen them before. This means seeing their shapes as quite uniquely abstract with attitude and presence. I leave it to the botanical artist with their scientific approach to accurately depict their forms and colours. I want flowers to speak, and sing! I want to know about their relationship with the creatures around them. They rely on them for fertilisation and in turn feed them for their service. You may be able to see now why the first stirrings of Spring really start to agitate me The urge to seek out my favourite flower painting brushes is so strong!