The above photo is intentionally left blank so you can fill it in your mind with flowers. It's my actual garden, right this minute. As you can see winter has definitely left the building, and wavy green grass is a sure sign of spring (summer would not allow this length to happen, so that would be cut grass). Let's plant a whole garden in our mind!
Now I’m inspired by flowers (now, @Susan Dobrian!) - flicking through past projects of mine and rekindling my love for all things flowery - there is a certain type of dramatic, architectural, fabulous flower I’m drawn to but there are 2 blank spaces on the calendar for your suggestions!
I wish I could take you to Kew Gardens. I bought my mother and sister a year’s flower subscription each so they get a new bunch of flowers delivered each month. I wish for everyone to have that, and then you could draw and paint these from life, or at least study flower construction in real life.
In order for us to cover a whole summer of flowers, these courses are 2 sessions long each x 5 months of summer (well, that’s how I’m classifying it in my mind - in some ways I wish it were always summer!) = 10 courses of iconic flowers. I’ll send you an image to trace and transfer in advance as flowers are less involved than faces and we can spend both sessions painting. Not all these flowers were painted by miniature painters… which is exactly why we should paint them and evolve the tradition! and make links with Chinese painting and botanical illustration at the same time - sustained, careful study of these highly symbolic flowers. I'll show you how to take a source photo of a flower and 'miniaturise' it. I'll also make suggestions and show you how to work your flowers into a composition of multiple flowers (as this takes more time, that's all). All Tuesdays 8-10pm GMT.
The Tulip - indulge me for starting off with my absolute favourite flower of all time, the humble - and mighty - tulip! I got awarded a grant to go to the Netherlands for a month to study all aspects of tulips, their history and fabulousness
The Magnolia - how do you follow a tulip?! - with a magnolia, as kindly suggested by @Mary Yaeger
The Rose - the quintessential English flower. And Bulgarian. And Turkish. And a whole host of other cultures that hold the rose close to their heart. June feels like an appropriate time to paint and even eat (yes! - rosewater) roses and think about Alice in Wonderland. If it weren’t for Covid, I’d invite you all for tea - we have roses in our garden
The Lotus - hot, sweltering Indian summers and the lotus as the Buddhist flower. The height of summer and an aquatic flower to cool us down
The Sunflower - self-explanatory, summer in all its glory and also a necessary injection of bright yellow; imagine painting this on turmeric-dyed paper
The Orchid - the sequel to my Tulipmania was going to be Orchidmania, except I never got a grant to go to the jungles of South America and stare at them in the wild (well, I never applied, and also, highly unlikely as UCL are very protective and would worry about all the other things that might eat me in the jungle)
The Bird of Paradise - architecturally fabulous flower, self-explanatory, and we can make links (in all of these courses actually) to botanical illustration, as the Mughals did too
The Peony - September is still summer, kinda, but also winding down into autumn and the Chinese peony somehow seems appropriate here, and also to study the links between miniature painting and Chinese painting which is so in love with the peony in particular
The Calla Lily - ok, acknowledging it is probably autumn now and saying goodbye to summer spectacularly
Possible ideas for BLANK - the anemone is a lovely and simple flower, the flower that children draw when asked to draw ‘a flower’; the crocus - imagine painting a crocus on saffron-dyed paper; the sweet pea - I love its fragrance (not that paintings can capture that!); the snapdragon… has a great name!