la di da
Today I want to talk about flowers. Flowers have always been a huge inspiration for me and I have often incorporated them into my own art practice. However, when I do so I am always acutely aware of what they represent and how they add to the interpretation of my drawings. I often feel that by drawing flowers I am diminishing my claim to being a (serious) artist for two main reasons:
1. My drawings are usually purely representational. I absolutely love conceptually based art and discovering the meaning/reason behind all the elements, but that’s not how I work. I draw because I am moved by the beauty of something which puts me at risk of being classed as a ‘sunday watercolourist’.
2. I am female and I draw flowers. That’s right- I immediately nestle myself into the space which feminist art fought to catapult women out of. I pick up my pencils and unconsciously reinforce the old struggle between women=pretty pictures, men=serious art.
I think that I am not the only one that runs into this quandary, for there has certainly been a lack of representational artwork featuring flowers hailed as fine or high art since about the 19oo’s when art become a mode of social commentary. Artists moved away from what was considered classically beautiful to pushing the limits of artistic expression, therefore, painting flowers became cringe-worthy and unfashionable.
Feminist art necessarily steered away from the humble flower (unless used subversively) in order to shock and disrupt the inherent gendered associations in art, while postmodernism has certainly avoided it in a similar way that western artists avoid referencing spirituality in a positive light (for goodness sake- do not mention god, because someone will either get upset or think that you are traditionally religious).
However, increasing availability of the internet has brought a new wave of artists to the attention of the general public. No longer is our knowledge of what is considered high art and low art solely informed by art critics and galleries, as we can now browse them at our own leisure from the comfort of our lounge/bedroom/office etc. There is such a plethora of styles, ideas and representations out there which are invariably attached to a ready-to-read artist’s statement, explaining the how,what and why’s of a particular work. In this way the general public is able to become informed about the art on their computer screen and can make up their own minds about what is good and what isn’t.
One thing I love about this mode of presentation is the enormous amount of feminine artwork which has emerged from sketch books everywhere. suddenly, it would seem that women are drawing flowers again- and that’s okay. Naive imagery of girls, animals, flowers and childhood memories, prettily put to paper demonstrate a desire for simplicity and connections. This rings true for me as I grew up in rural Tasmania on a flower farm where daily activities were drenched in nature to the point where I simply cannot separate the two, and I often find myself yearning for that kind of life again. So, with all this considered, I think I will continue drawing flowers (even if some art critic out there thinks it’s naff).
If you would like to treat your eyes to some pretty pictures check out these sites…
and these artists…