Thursday, March 30, 2017
Thursday, December 29, 2016
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Friday, April 29, 2016
Botanical art and gardens go together of course. Many botanical artists you will talk with all have a love of gardens and often paint plants that they have grown. I know when I am stuck for inspiration I wander around my local garden center until a particular plant 'waves' to me. I love the idea though that sometimes people developed gardens with the idea of bringing together creative energy. The thought of many talented people all inspired in the same place, ideas bouncing off one another is fascinating.
There have been so many famous gardens in history linked to artists we all know and love but I am especially interested in women who created artistic gardens.
I have been recently reading a wonderful book 'The Artist's Garden' edited by Anna O'Marley. Each chapter is fascinating but Chapter 3 Home of the Hummingbird stuck with me. Poets and artists have always drawn to one another and the chapter is about the poet and artist, Celia Laighton Thaxter and her friend, the artist Childe Hassam. I have long been a fan of Hassam's romantic work but knew nothing about him. Celia was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1835. From the age of 4 she grew up on the magical Isles of Shoals where her father was a lighthouse keeper. She married at 16, had 3 children and unhappy in her marriage moved with her children to become the innkeeper at Appledore House, a large tourist hotel on the island. When her parents died she moved into their cottage and cultivated an old fashioned garden of heirloom flowers. The garden and her salon became a retreat for the gathering of writers and artist friends. There were gatherings of writers such as Nathanial Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, musicians William Mason and John Paine and artists William Morris, J. Appleton Brown and of course Childe Hassam. Hassam and Celia worked together on the book 'An Island Garden' published just before her death in 1894. Sadly in 1886 a large fire destroyed the hotel, cottage, garden bringing the artistic revelries to an end.
How wonderful those golden days must have been. I would have loved to have been a bee flitting around that garden listening to the conversation, watching Celia and Hassam sketching. Hassam did about 400 paintings of the island. All that inspiration and talent in one place. It sounds like the making of a film and it is! In the trailer of Peter Randell's film on Celia's garden you will see her salon. Her garden has been now been recreated. One day I will go and visit.
Another lovely book I recently acquired is The Artist, The Cook & The Gardener by artist Maryjo Koch. Maryjo's work is vibrant and lovely and she likes to combine cooking, eating in the garden and painting. Her students get to enjoy it all, and I am sure it is really inspiring. A modern day artists retreat.
Recently someone approached me about doing classes in her lovely garden here on Whidbey Island in the summer and including afternoon tea. I am very tempted to do it even though I am not a good teacher. It would be worth it just for the tea,cake!
Back next month with some art work!
Friday, April 1, 2016
I recently read a comment by a student of botanical art who said she was a great copyist of well known artists but she just couldn't find her own style. I thought it was a brave and honest admission. It is very easy to forget that we should be learning to understand techniques and tips and instead try earnestly to be like our favorite botanical crush.
For several years now I have dreamed to being the next Billy Showell, Fiona Strickland, Dianne Sutherland to name a few. The hours I have wasted trying to make my work look theirs and how dissatisfied I am when I fail. I recently read Jess Shepherds new Inky Leaves post and it was like being smacked in the head with a baseball bat minus the pain. A real wakeup call. Jess wrote about her own struggle with finding her style and how she has now moved on. And boy has she! www.Inkyleaves.blogspot.com
So my advice is to watch the videos, do the courses, admire the professionals, read the books and then step away. Put on your favorite music and just create. Children do it all of the time. We have just forgotten how.
Some of my new cards in the series 'From an Artists Sketchbook'
Saturday, February 27, 2016