Your presence soothes me, that’s what the the petunia signifies in the Victorian language of flowers. However, it wasn’t the flower or teacup that was the source to this soon to be Birds and Teacup painting, it was the shy Townsend’s Warbler with its little black and yellow striped face that inspired me to pull together a vignette it could hide in.
That’s what I thought when I saw this article on David Michael Smith‘s Florilegium paintings in the February issue of American Art Collector.
I knew it would happen sooner or later, the word was too good and I was just letting in languish… and it wasn’t like I had coined it or anything. And I know his beautiful work is very different than mine, it’s figure driven and plays on the early portraits of the nobility ..but still.
I first came across the word florilegium (which is Latin for a collection of flowers, and usually refers to a literary collection) in a fashion mag in 2008 or 2009? I remember thinking, “Wow! How did I not know about this?”, a world that so perfectly described what I was doing with my mixed media assemblage paintings based on the secret meaning of flowers?! That’s when I started referring to these pieces as my Florilegia.
It’s been a long time since I conceived of these layered pieces with their Illuminated glass slides embedded in the canvas and I’ve become very attached to them and I’m so committed to the idea of showing them “en masse” that I won’t sell them without retaining exhibition rights.
They’re intense though and really deserve to have my entire studio turned over to their creation. I need to let each piece evolve, making sure the materials I’ve collected are appropriate to the concept. I try out different combinations, I rework surfaces, I layer, I make a big cluttered mess and I generally work on a number at a time.
This is all coming up for me now as my studio is filled with rotating projects all jostling for priority, my teacup birds, my portraits of neighbors at work, my environmentally themed marine paintings, and some that I’m not even ready to talk about yet.
Mature Elegance was just purchased by a lovely couple celebrating their wedding anniversary (they already own Happy Marriage). I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather have this painting but I was still sad to take it off of my wall when the time came. When I examine this a little closer, it’s not about the loss of this painting – it comes from the deep need to make more of them!
A bed of roses………. I’ve always loved that idea.
I have been playing with the notion of using other flowers to create beds based on their victorian meanings (like my Forget-me-not Casket here and here) and while I envision life-sized beds, I couldn’t resist doing a miniature version when I found this vintage doll’s bed at an estate sale!
Faithfulness – Bed of Violets
This was such a pleasure to put together. Once I had the dimensions of the bed, I found sheets of moss and an old white enamel tray to line the bed. I used potted African violets as my garden violets weren’t in season. There were even drilled holes in the head “board” where I just slipped in my twisted wire cursive. I love this dear little thing but it just wets my appetite for the life sized double bed version!
I’m easily swept up in the excessive beauty of flowers but plants can also have a sinister and cunning side which I find even more fascinating. As Halloween is fast approaching, I thought it would be fun to focus on a few of my favorite flora that have honed disguise and deception into a fine art.
The Venus flytrap symbolizes deciet and danger, no kidding! Dionea muscipula, (Latin for Aphrodite’s mousetrap), developed an amazing ability to trap insects making up for the nutrient deprived soils in which it evolved. There are hairs on the inside of the hinged trap and they need to triggered twice within the space of 20 – 35 seconds, depending on temperature and acidity, in order to set off an electrical signal to the midrib or hinge of the trap which causes the water stored in the aquaporin cells of the convex inner “wings” to be flushed out and become concave, much like deflation of a balloon. As this happens, the claw like cilia contract as well catching dinner.
I had one of these as a child and wondered how it was possible for a plant to sense and feel and act – sheer magic! Now that I’m an adult and know it’s tricks I am even more awestruck!
The Venus flytrap is a bog dweller native to the swamps of the Carolinas (not a happy visitor to California, where drought tolerant plants thrive). I keep mine under a bell jar to retain the moisture it craves. People often take off the flower before it blooms to keep the plant strong but I couldn’t resist seeing what it would look like, and of course, it’s simple, lovely and deceiving!