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Pastellus: May Flowers: The Fleeting Bloom

Perhaps we have finally seen the last of the snow for a few months. Birds are chirping and the flowers are blooming. This time of the year it is hard not to be drawn to paint flowers. The hold flowers have upon us is intriguing. The obvious draw is the spring season, re-awakening, renewal. Spending time outside watching the landscape green and the flowers grow, the colors are so vibrant and tempting. The draw to paint flowers is deeper than color and re-awakening though. It is far more visceral; painting flowers is about hope, capturing the fleeting for humanity’s sake, and the challenge to our technical ability. Spring flowers renew our hope in the world. No matter what we humans do, nature continues to offer its bounty. It continues its cycle of life. There is great hope and comfort in this cycle. It feels like the same hope all generations before us have had. It is hope that connects us to each other, our history and our future as occupants of this planet. Flowers can be strong, blooming under the most difficult conditions, but for all their strength their endurance is naught. The beautiful colors and delicate forms are fleeting - and it’s an artist’s job to capture their essence and impression for posterity’s sake. To paint every petal and leaf so that in the suffocating heat of the summer or bitter cold of the winter, we can be reminded of the hope we feel each spring. It is this need to capture the fleeting beauty that offers artists an endless technical challenge. This subject lends itself to endless interpretation of form and content. Hard and soft edges, negative spaces, layers of color and dimension. Whether you prefer painting detail representations or loose expressive images the subjects of flowers is as diverse as the many flowers in existence. Kim Gates Flick’s article in last month’s newsletter discussed subject, form, and content. Flowers require artists to think about these basic components of art before even picking up a pastel stick; and then demand technical proficiency to capture their true beauty. As artists we owe it to ourselves and our subject matter to spend time composing our painting before we begin. Flower paintings may not always get the credit they deserve. As artists we have the ability to change this. They are a subject that deserves our attention, either in our own paintings or in viewing and critiquing the work of others. They deserve our attention for the hope they can convey, and their ability to unite us. Artists’ renderings of flowers deserve our attention and honest open evaluation of the visceral impression they leave on us and the acknowledgement of artists' technical challenges in capturing the fleeting beauty of the subject!

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