P lants and flowers… are not just beautiful heralds of the changing seasons of the South. Plants and flowers are also evocative symbols that can catapult us to a different space and time.
Many professional artists subscribe to theory, “whatever you do, don’t paint flowers.” They’re cliché, overworked and over done. The list of why-nots could fill a page and yet secretly or not so secretly, a majority of artists worldwide use plants and flowers as subject matter. And suitable or not, we paint, sculpt and draw them with expressionistic flourish, in silhouetted form, as a color theorist or with the precision of a brain surgeon.
A photographer I know once said, “living in the South and not recording these heralds of spring and summer is like walking into a room that has an elephant standing in the middle of it and pretending it’s not there.
The colors, textures, and imagery of plants can become a means of catapulting the viewer into another world, another time. For me, the site of brightly colored zinnias evokes fond memories of my childhood. I always loved walking with my grandmother, as she practiced her daily ritual of watering her flower gardens, just prior to dusk.
So perhaps as southern artists, we secretly or not so secretly use plants and flowers as subject matter because they are not only beautiful heralds of the changing seasons, but evocative symbols that bring back wonderful memories of our past. ■
CREEK SIDE FLOWERS: encaustic on panel, 18″x 24″
MAE’S IRIS: watercolor, 22″x 30″