I hate nature. It smells. Worse still it’s been known to bite as well (although it is usually edible, which we can all agree is a good thing.) You can perhaps understand that I am asking myself why I have spent so much time painting and drawing its many bounties.
By rights, as an aspiring artist I should be wandering forlornly around the hills and dales, wearing a beret, oil palette in hand, pausing only to weep at the majestic beauty of nature before rigorously painting it (sometimes actually paint onto to, or use it to create work.)
I recently read a fantastic quote from Georgia O’Keefe who said words to the effect that she painted flowers because they stayed still. I echo her sentiments: I’m the same with creepers, grass and ferns. I am supposed to transport myself into paroxysm of ecstasy over a tree, due to an epiphany that humanity is but an insignificant part of nature. But I don’t. It’s a tree. A very nice tree, but a tree nonetheless.
Actually, the only piece of art that I would buy (and as you will see, it will never be available for purchase) is of flowers. It’s a cave painting, where stone age artists painted poppies. It’s beautiful, and on seeing it, Picasso said: we have learned nothing. That’s the exception though.
Okay, I’ll keep trying. Does still life count? I gathered an abundant basket of fruit (well some plums and a banana) but to be honest, it didn’t grab me. I tried photographing the sky, but it seemed pointless: you’ve seen my photos, and I’d rather look at the sky in reality than have me replicate or abstract it.
And so again, I spent some hours drenched by water from a dripping tree, a tree determined not be a vision of green exploding with autumnal hues, but grey. With every passing second, it got greyer.
One word though: greenhouses. I found a greenhouse and fighting an urge to complain about the humidity (turn it down for art’s sake) I worked for some time. The benefits were obvious: I wasn’t shat upon by a seagull (the acknowledged lot of landscape artists everywhere.)
When I first began drawing, I used flowers: cheap flowers, which I then watched slowly die (makes me sound truly morbid but seriously - it’s only a bloody flower) and drew them in colourful pastels. I got bored soon, because they didn’t move: they were dying, not living.
However, I did find that sketching flowers helped me use colour, and proportion and they stayed perfectly still (except the slow process of wilting). I know that in the future, I will be found wandering amongst hosts of golden daffodils, sketching until I get it right. I will not be defeated by flowers. Flowers are pretty and frail, but they are also my enemy.
Oh why bother? Nature is green. It has the best reds, which we then try, hopelessly to replicate/emulate with acrylics, but nature always wins.