Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cyclamen (ii)

Bid for this painting on Ebay!

You know, I'm really enjoying painting these flowers! I'm really into pinks and warm colours, and the cropping is enjoyable, composition-wise.

I have a special place in my heart for Cyclamen for a few different reasons, and I think they are going to appear as a kind of 'motif' in future works. I don't know why I haven't painted them before, I suppose I've never been really into flower paintings in a big way.

I'm not much of a gardener, but I'm trying. My success rate with houseplants is about 2%, but not for lack of effort or headscratching. I didn't even know the name of these until recently, and I remember seeing them a lot in Italy and France. I had one many moons ago I nicknamed 'Lazarus', and that's what I call them all now, 'Lazarus plants'. Every one I've had has seemed to die, looking like a stick in a pot. For some reason I kept watering the first one, despite its sorry appearance - and months later, it just came back to life and sprouted beautiful red flowers! So now when the fake death happens I just water and wait.

I have a theory about art which is neither original nor my own, and I can't remember where it cam from, but since it explains a lot to me I'm going to share it.

When you paint or draw something, or somebody, the sense of 'otherness' just disappears. When you spend hours looking, I mean really looking at something, then processing that information through your mind and body, then making marks to express what your experiencing, your subject somehow becomes part of you. Landscapes I've painted are like old friends when I revisit them - oh, that gully, I remember that..that curve there..I remember the flick of my wrist as I mimicked that on's not at all the same as taking a photograph, or looking through binoculars, or just staring in awe trying to commit something to memory - they are all great processes, but not the same as painting.

Why is this relevant to flower paintings? well I feel something akin to the painting process as I watch the flowers go through their life cycle. I water them every day, eagerly looking to see if there's anything new today - colours, shape and size - are they growing, dying, the same? Has the cat peed in this pot? Oh yuck, I think she has.

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