Mr. Katayama’s Peonies

I received a lovely gift from a friend. Her father was a well loved gardener and upon his passing she found homes for many of the beautiful plants he had tenderly cared for. Not only do I have several of his beauty berry bushes and white tree peonies, but this glorious purple tree peony. I send my friend a photo of it blooming every year. What I really want is to do a painting for her.  To that end I’ve been shooting it to see what I come up with as reference material – some of them stand up quite well as purely photographs.  I’ve put them together here to see which ones she would prefer to have translated into a painting.

Mr Katayama's Peony 3 - Marie Cameron - 2014


Mr Katayama's Peony 1 - Marie Cameron - 2014


Mr Katayama's Peony 2 - Marie Cameron - 2014


Mr Katayama's Peony 4 - Marie Cameron - 2014


Mr Katayama's Peony 10 - Marie Cameron - 2014


Above are very traditional ways of handling florals. A bloom in a vase allows you to isolate the form more clearly and the vase can provide a secondary subject matter as well as a base for the flower. I could envision loosing the vase entirely in the image directly above and continuing on with the grey patterned background in a drippy, painterly way.

The images below do obscure the vase and are shot from angles less typically used for paintings but are well suited for photography. These shots are more about light and lines and form and less a “portrait” of the flower and opens the door to elements of abstraction and it is fine that these flowers seem to be floating in space.

Mr Katayama's Peony 9 - Marie Cameron - 2014


Mr Katayama's Peony 5 - Marie Cameron - 2014


Mr Katayama's Peony 7 - Marie Cameron - 2014


Mr Katayama's Peony 6 - Marie Cameron - 2014


Both groups would work well for a painting, I think it’s a matter of traditional or contemporary taste. What do you think?


  1. Valerie says:

    Third from the top. Makes me feel like the shadow side of the room is “mysterious” and who would have brought such beautiful flowers and why? 😉
    Turquoise is a favorite color of mine at the moment and the overall shape of the large bloom in such a beautiful vase is visually appealing … not to mention the gold accents.

  2. mariecameron says:

    Thanks for your insights Valerie – you did pick the moodiest of them all. I like the way you think in terms of the story the piece is telling!

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