Recently I decided to paint an iris that was flowering a few weeks ago in my back garden. I had photographed it at the time because I loved the shapes and colours so much. There was a big part of me that has resisted painting flowers because, well, flowers are boring, aren’t they? I don’t mean to suggest that they are boring in real life (I love them!) but I had got the idea into my head that painting flowers was a bit of a cliche. A bit tame. Surely it would turn out boring and unimaginative?
So I wanted to do something a bit different with it – to bring my style to the subject and play with the foreground and background, to experiment with shapes and marks and to enjoy the interplay between the figurative and abstract elements. And I loved getting the palette knife into action again.
I’m really pleased with the result and I think it fits well with my interest in the environment that informs some of my other work. I enjoy gardening in my spare time and I try to have something in flower all year round to encourage bees and insects that will, in turn, benefit the local wildlife. It’s a small thing to do but it feels important to do something to help our birds and insects when so many species are in decline.
This painting started as pure hedonism – I love those rich, luscious purple shapes and I wanted to paint them! – but I think it turned out better than I had anticipated. Now I’m planning more paintings based on flowers and foliage. Maybe flowers aren’t so boring after all?