Thursday, June 14, 2018

Gathering Resources for My Botanical Paintings

With the launch of, I thought I would share with you how I go about collecting resources for painting flowers. Mostly, I walk my dog. Just as my landscapes are about a place in Northern Minnesota that I love, and my still lifes are about the food I eat (or don't eat), my botanical paintings are about where I live. I walk my dog twice a day every day of the year. here she is sitting patiently waiting to cross a street. She's a good dog.

Over the years I have planted many different flowers in my yard and have made paintings of them, but I also peruse my neighborhood and study flowers. There are gardens I watch and make sure to pass by almost every day. There are others that I watch on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. In this manner I come across some amazing flowers of which I take numerous pictures.

Now, I wish I could peruse all of my neighbor's gardens, but many of them I don't know, so I have a rule to make sure I do not bother them. In order to take a picture or check out a flower in a yard on my dog walk, I have to always leave one foot on the sidewalk. It is a fun challenge at times, but really, people love to plant flowers and there is a great variety along the sidewalk.

I also live near Como Park, Saint Paul, Minnesota. There are several gardens and flowering trees in and around the park, as well as an entire conservatory of plants. I used to work at the conservatory and once had the person in charge of the conservatory's orchid collection take drawing lessons form me. So, if I don't have an orchid I want in my studio or house, I go to the conservatory and work from their collection.

When I do take pictures, I often am getting down in there to get details. Sometimes this means shooting through a chain-link fence or being at ground level, like in this photo. One time I was extremely interested in getting the underside of some flower leaves, so I laid down in a garden bed on an alley, to get the perfect shot. The owner came out of his garage to find me laying amongst his flowers. He didn't say anything - just looked at me. I introduced myself and that I am an artist that makes paintings of flowers and that his garden was particularly beautiful. He signaled me to follow him. I followed. He led me around his garage and through his backyard. We entered into his next door neighbor's back yard that didn't have a stitch of grass - nothing but flowers. He said "Go ahead and take pictures. I'll let Francis know its okay if she wonders what's going on." He stood guard for the next half-hour while I took pictures of all kinds of flowers. From that summer forward, when I would walk my dog I would see him outside at his patio table and he would invite me over, pet my dog and give me a beer while we talked about life. When the beer was done, Delilah and I would finish our walk. As I have said before - art is not my life, but a vehicle for it.

No comments:

Post a Comment