Explosions of color, vascular in structure
Amazing and wonderfully complex structures crucially important
in the functioning of the natural environment
Contained within the aesthetic physical beauty of a flower is an amazing and wonderful complex structure of crucial importance in the functioning of the natural environment. Vascular in structure, explosions of color in endless shapes and sizes; I find an inner stillness and incomprehensible delight in each breath I take every time I see an ocean of wildflowers. The petals I find so aesthetically appealing function primarily as a means to attract the plants pollinators making their sight, in my mind, all the more amazing and spectacular. Plants and insects have, in fact, long played vital co-evolutionary roles in one another’s development.
Roughly 266,000 species of plants are now living, of which about 235,000 are those that flower. The fossil record confirms flowers dating back 123 million years ago, becoming the dominant photosynthetic organism nearly everywhere on land around 80 – 90 million years ago. Flowers have become an exquisite example of the manipulative handiwork and power of Homosapien, on the reshaping of the environment to suit her/his sensual pleasure.
Over the centuries, various flowers have been bred and cross bred to achieve the ever more elaborate and beautiful hybrids now available at garden centers and flower shops. There have, however, been casualties in the quest to increase shelf life, produce longer stems, and bigger blossoms. Scent has been the unintentional victim of floriculture, and a walk through any florist shop has changed stopping to ‘smell the roses’ to one that is more often disappointing. Philosophically and increasingly unbound by technical limits, genetic engineers are at work trying to resolve a problem we ourselves have created. By changing the way flowers metabolize nutrients into chemical compounds (fragrance a volatile compound evaporating easily into the air) scientists hope to ‘re-scent’ the flower. Along the way, there is promised an ever increasing panoply that may include everything from novel scents, to blue roses and flowers that can glow in the dark. Wondrous this is, true, still I think nothing will ever compare for me to what I see in the untamed, the free of the land, and the wild spaces of the world.
I have always been fascinated by the lovely eroticism found by Georgia O’Keefe in the flower. Any textbook on art will demonstrate she was not the only artist held within their sway. As an artist, I admit a certain pressure is felt to avoid a subject so often depicted. I hear at times a voice telling me I need to render flowers in a new or novel fashion, to portray the flower perhaps, in some unseen light in order to feed the esthetic desires of the day.
My truth is found however, not in any academic or commercial prerogative. It is found in the ecological necessity of flowers; in their function as well as their form. From that vantage, the flower becomes a crucial element in the “Constructed Arrangements” I am always working on. Certainly, as individual paintings their execution is important. As an artist it is an unavoidable drive to paint each singular work successfully. Each flower I paint however is always seen in a larger expanded universe inspired by fields, deserts and mountainsides blanketed in their majesty.