As a child I loved flowers. I lived with my siblings in a large draughty house with no central heating. This was common postwar so my father who was also very fond of plants, would often take us to the hot houses at Kew Gardens to warm up. I loved the exotic plants in those houses as well as being warm! He, being the artist he was, endlessly drew the exotic flowers from around the world from places he had never seen and never would. To keep ourselves entertained we would also sketch.
Painting in public
My father, making a cracking good job of it, simply said “Don’t analyse it just paint what you see and feel it” I did, and it worked, after a fashion. Therefore, I put my love of flowers and painting them, down to my father. I quite often get asked by guys in pubs what I do for a living. The disconcerting reply I like to give is “I paint flowers”.
In those days seeing people painting or drawing in public was unusual. It also took courage, and was a gift my father gave me; to be unaffected by other peoples’ stares. I remember him taking me landscaping using oil paints, and introduced me to painting flowers in the garden. I attempted to draw in paint the head of a raggedly Dahlia totally incapable of understanding its structure.
Fascination with flowers
The principal reasons for my fascination with all things floral is from the colour point of view. I believe it is one of those rare chances I have to look at vivid primaries and secondaries. Petals have this extraordinary ability to reflect colour in such an iridescent way that I am hard pushed to do them justice. Nature has a way of producing and projecting colour that is impossible for a mere human to reproduce. This is mainly down to the fact that the manufacturers of the paint don’t have access to the same supplies and tools God has. So what can the artist do?
The answer is exaggerate; make the colour more vivid, increase the contrast and concentrate. Make the flowers big; be an insect – walk and fly in the flower world. I feel the imperative to be intense. Flowers can’t move from A to B so need to attract pollinators to do their moving for them. This extraordinary character is the artist’s (my) inspiration.