You can see from the work within 1.1 that I have begun a theme already, that of flowers. I feel inspired by the artists who I have previously looked at, such as Elisabeth Blackadder who deals with both botanical floral illustration and print making. Thus I would like to continue this theme, on a personal note. I have so far looked at gardens and the floral scopes within them which are personal to myself. I would now like to take things one step further, looking at my own personal garden and the flowers I find within. Before I begin, I must do a little research. This may seem obsolete to the final outcome, but it is integral to the meaning behind my work. I mentioned the idea of the language of flowers, popular in Victorian times….I feel that I can personalise my work further by this research. My findings will also make sure that my own work is developed in an informed way, with historical context. This to my eye is not “extra” research, but rather conveys that I am thoroughly researched on my subject.
The Language of Flowers
In Victorian times, there was a lot of superstition and meaning behind each flower. I will not go into any superstition, but I am interested to understand what the flowers mean, i.e. the ones in my own garden such as poppies, anemones and roses.
Some seem obvious, for example red roses would give off a romantic vibe. The website ‘Victorian Bazaar’ gives this background knowledge:
‘For centuries, flowers, herbs and various plants have given much pleasure to people of all the nations, because their beauty has the unique ability to bring cheer when someone is ill or downhearted, their fragrances can be used to make lovely perfumes, delicate foliage can be used for certain medicines and foods, and pungent smells can bestir mood.
In fact, they have been so outstanding in this regard, that there is no wonder that mankind has attached significant meanings to them… actually going as far as to formulate a language all their own called “floriography.” This “language” was particularly utilized during the Victorian era; however, flowers well into past generations have had religious and symbolic meanings, and still do today.’.
The above two paragraphs cement what a large subject this is. I love the wording of it and how deeply the Victorians believed in it. So much so that they developed the “florinograophy”.
Dictionaries were written to explain this language to all, and were especially used by “lovers.” One could learn ley symbolised love, as I mentioned earlier. The “LILY,” generally symbolized beauty, but it also has many varieties, thus many diversified meanings. We sometimes see this in action, in old Victorian films or those made about that era. During courtship and before, suitors would use flowers to convey a message. It was a sign of “etiquite” of the times.
Books in recent times have used this as a source of inspiration, for example The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbagh and The Flower Arrangement by Ella Griffin.
I have also hired a few books which deal with this subject and I intend to focus on a particular number of flowers which I have in my garden. I will select 6-8 types of flowers to look at. This selective course will help me be defined in my ideas and reach strong conclusions.
What has come up a lot within my research is the word “sentiment”. The idea is not just the meaning of the flower, but its “sentiment”.
What flowers do I see most around me in my garden, which I love?
– Sweet Pea
I am interested to find out their meanings and will also illustrate with pictures from my garden.
The above image is a representation of my working style at this stage. I worked on site in my garden at times and used imagery of the florals observed to make my own representations in my studio. Collage material such as vintage findings and packets were used, along with a sense of line and stitch. Many more representations can be seen within my sketchbook and elongated Log Book.
I feel that I can however push myself further; is this work all too “nice”?
Previously, I have tied in stitch and collage within my sketches. I want to do this here, as anyone can draw a flower, yet this aspect makes it personal to me………………
I love how Van Gogh didn’t just paint a scene, what he saw, but he painted what he truly saw , in other words what was going on in his head, his mood etc in conveyed in the colour choice and ink. I would like to add this quality to my own work. I have begun to use collage material that means something to myself, for example old receipts and paper packaging from trips to Paris and other holidays, or other treasured memorabilia.
Another interesting study was discovered at Sizagh Castle in the Lake District. I found Bee’s on an Echinacea plant. I took a film at the time, as I found the batting of their wings and contrast of colour inspiring.
One of my watercolour and sketch depictions below:
To the left above, you see a watercolour observation. The next image shows how I began to isolate and play with sections of my paintings, tracing sections and re drawing them, to see how I could alter sizes and repeats.
I have now gathered quite a selection to draw from.
– I love the idea of collage and stitched woven into my hand printed textiles. I can see how this can be done within this theme. I could collage and paint pictures, then print the design on top, to line up (or not!) with my section. Or I could do it afterwards, using my print lines as a guide to paint of collage upon. It may depend on my favoured print method too.
– Flowers are a good all round pleaser and would prove to be popular, if I took this theme on further in the future, maybe into digitally printed textiles to sell.
– Florals are covered a lot in the printing world. Thus I had to make it individual to myself. Thus the collage and stitch element, along with the psychological meaning and sentiments behind the flowers themselves. I feel that the bee work is a little less obvious than the rest, maybe this is the work to play with more than the florals?
To extend my work however, I wonder if going back to my simplistic floral sketches, I could make more connections?
This style reminded me of Tracy Emin’s work at times; take this for an example:
Left: Tracy Emin. As seen on Royal Academy of Arts cards (printed). Drypoint 2009.
Its fragility and sense of a bleached background, reminded me of the way I had drawn my florals at this stage.
I feel however, that my florals need messed up. Thus I began to section off certain parts of each floral, namely: Clematis, Rose, Tulip, Anemone, Poppy and Sweet Pea. I took a vertical selection of each one and then added them all together to create one long piece as seen below:
Can I take anything from this exercise? The vertical pieces do sit well together, yet is it all still too pretty?
I also wanted to sum up in one word what each flower allegedly meant:
– Rose = Love
– Sweet Pea = Thankfulness
– Anemone = Anticipation
– Clematis = Mental beauty
– Tulip = Believe
– Poppy = Imagination
These words above and meanings, all mean something to me personally. Thus this project is not a cold one, but rather it has personal depth.
Through my sketches and painting work so far, along with my isolations and repeats, I feel I can begin developing prints from my drawings. Through the next section, I will chose a technique which suits my style of work and begin creating samples.
Looking back at my work for this section…..
I am pleased to have been quite definite about how many designs I chose to play and extend. Previously I have been known to take on too many ideas and overwork my pieces. But as I have moved through the courses, I can see my own decisive progression.
I worried initially about my subject matter…was it too boring? However I feel that I have made it my own, by use of other materials along with sketches such as collage. The psychological aspect is also a defining point. I could have looked at an even more personal theme, such as those I have developed in other courses, such as self-portraits and family members. However at this time I didn’t feel that any had a strong enough base to continue. I felt more inspired by the florals and thus continued with this. With this subject matter, I have only touched upon the possibilities with this theme. Having chosen something different in contrast to continuing a subject / theme which I have already played with, such as the portraits, my work is fresh and has given me a larger base of ideas to draw upon in the future.
Because the subject matter I was dealing with did not really have any end, I found it difficult to know how far to go and how far to push the boundaries in experimentation. I feel I have showcased enough ideas and have pushed out of my comfort zone, in order to really come up with new ideas. For example in the past I had been used to printing methods, but I had not tried to isolate areas of my sketches as much in order to produce them. This may seem a small detail, but it has extended my ideas greatly, as you can see in one example above, where I isolated long areas of my six floral drawings and merged them together with extra drawing lines.
I will now move into developing prints.