If you’re reading this it means that you’ve happened upon my collection of rose paintings, and indeed all those rose prints that are taken from my original canvases. What I want to do here is to give you some idea of the inspiration behind this work, and to explain why I’ve been drawn to paint so many roses over the years. There are some of the usual reasons, as you might expect. Roses after all have always been steeped in a wonderfully rich history of symbolism around themes of mortality, romance and love, and who doesn’t like a little poetry in their work. And then of course, there is the fact that roses are undoubtedly and almost universally considered beautiful, which never hurts.
However, neither of these explanations quite gets at the crux of my inspiration in painting them, and to explain this further, I need to first take you on a little detour, behind the curtain of the artist’s working method. Ok, you might not know this, but when we artists paint anything realistic, we must first perform something of a magic trick in our minds. In simple terms this trick involves resisting the brain’s desire to see the world as a three dimensional space of depth and distance, and instead see it as a series of flat shapes and colours. In a sense, see the world of real things as a flat abstraction.
And here’s the irony for with all the divisions between the abstract and representational schools of art, it could be argued that we are all abstract painters, all grappling with flat shapes on a flat canvas. And this relates to another secret of sorts, and that is that trapped within the breast of every realist painter lurks a frustrated abstract painter struggling to break free. This at least holds more than a grain of truth for me. I have acted on this desire to paint some abstract paintings a few times over the years, but it proved more difficult and harder than expected, and the results were usually unsatisfactory.
I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising as the task involved is no easy one. After all we are essentially trying to conjour from thin air an illusive complexity and beauty, which at the least we hope will hold the viewers attention and interest, and perhaps even enthrall them with a strange emotional resonance.
I guess this is why it’s so hard, and truly great abstract work is so rare, at least to my mind. But I still love the idea of it, even if part of me also keeps faith with the world of representation. And here is where we circle back to topic at hand, and why I have returned again and again to painting roses, for it’s as if aware of my own limitations in creating beautiful abstractions from my mind, I seek to borrow them from nature instead.
After all, nature is shamelessly good at creating these beautiful patterns of colour as she weaves her magic. It could even be said that she’s something of a show off in this regard, and perhaps nowhere more so, than when it comes to her roses. And thus it’s to roses I look, again and again, for poetry, mystery, design, colour, shape, pattern and everything that speaks to me of the wonder of creation.
Thanks for reading!