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 Bauhinia - HOT PINK - essential colour in the spectrum of flowers and a flower close to my heart (see comments below)
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. I'm particularly looking forward to this one
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!
Ah aeonium! I love them and have them planted in our front succulent garden. They are also super hardy in full sun and grow from broken stalks. Another thing special about them is their name: it's the only word I know containing all five vowels in the English alphabet!
Tons of succulents here! These are dark eggplant and look black from a distance
California is bursting with color!
Hybiscus in my garden.
The hillsides are blazing with bougainvillea
Oops! Not a tulip tree; it's an orchid tree!! But the leaves are super cool!
I had an idea for the last BLANK! Based on the poll too - this flower is similar to the first too but slightly elongated petals - and - same bright pink colour!
So far in terms of the flowers we've got:
- Light pink
colours covered, but missing (in my opinion) another classic colour, which is HOT PINK! This is a flower special to me as I grew up with it, it's the national flower of Hong Kong and also appears on its flag and coins (now collectible I think as one of the last colonial coins, even the shape of the coin was scalloped at the edges as I remember). It's a tree flower, called an orchid but not actually an orchid; instead it's from the bean family. The trees can only reproduce with human help, much like the fantastic variegated tulips (I'll go into more detail about this human involvement in flowers in class). It's also a hybrid, merged from old and new (so far, so Hong Kong!) - introducing the Bauhinia blakeana! It's hot pink. Can't have a garden of flowers without this essential colour. And now at least for this year I think we've covered a good range of colours and flowers from northern climes to the sub-tropics. I know that birds of paradise even grow in some gardens in California @Susan Dobrian - imagine that, UK folk!
Thanks Susan, you are kind! Amélie if you live in the Netherlands that is tulip heaven isn't it?! I travelled around there for a month in 2009 in search of tulips in both real life and in paintings! Yes I'll put it up very soon.
It looks fantastic ! I would love to participate ! will you be announcing it soon on your website ? I love tulip too , living in the Netherlands, I am really at the summit of enchantment at the moment !
I created a poll for The Last Blank Summer Flower: https://pollunit.com/polls/ekoxtw1w_4xeas8ztbh8eg
By thee way, not sure that we need to do poppies! I forgot their meaning in the UK. There are so many beautiful flowers out there, and I think you should pick the ones that would be the most interesting to paint.
This is lovely! 🌷
I'm diving into a rabbit hole of flowers and finding that I won't be able to offer all the flowers I'd like to this year! For instance this one:
is quite lovely but is a March flower or at least early spring flower as far as I know, and that's over for this year! And might feel weird to paint it 'out of season'.
So maybe some flowers can wait until next year then such as the above.
I love poppies and their bursts of color. Happy to paint any flowers though