Thursday, May 21, 2020


From Lindgren, Astrid & Hartung, Louise: Ich habe auch gelebt. Briefe einer Freundschaft, Ullstein Verlag, Berlin 2016

I have been filling a sketchbook with botanical illustrations, experimenting with different styles, though most of them are quite realistic. I adore both the highly detailed botanical drawings of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and more stylised modern interpretations and am not sure where to go with mine, but enjoying the ride.

The ones in my sketchbook are all done with watersoluble coloured pencils. I only started rendering flowers in oils and acrylics as the main subject of a painting in recent years. Art history is filled with stunning examples of floral art, and they are hugely popular as a theme, yet for some reason I had only ever used them as part of a composition and rarely let them take centre stage.

I love Georgia O'Keeffe's big and bold sculptural paintings of flowers opening and blossoming. And cut-paper flowers and of course the real thing, fresh and ephemeral or preserved: For my birthday my nephew gave me a card with pressed flowers (which I will frame) and a beautiful necklace containing a daisy (and my sister's card was her own gorgeous botanical drawing). I've been revisiting The Paper Garden with Mary Delany's intricate botanical collages created with scissors and coloured paper and thinking about the lovely gesture of adding flowers to diaries and letters. Throughout their correspondence Louise Hartung would send Astrid Lindgren flowers in the form of bouquets and bulbs or pressed and attached to paper.

Since Christmas we've had two different amaryllises indoors, red and pink. Ever since my older sister pointed it out, I like to think of it as the plant of the three Wild sisters - my sisters' names are Anke and Sibylle, so bits of our three names are included in Amaryllis, in chronological order (I'm the middle child...).

The red variety, as so many red flowers, is a symbol of love, but in Victorian times, the amaryllis was associated with pride (which was seen as a good attribute, denoting beauty and strength) and in China the red amaryllis signifies luck. A pink amaryllis is a friendship symbol and I have been drawing it on cards. All varieties represent hope as well. Our two specimens brightened up our rooms in the darker months before the garden came into its own.

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