Even as I’m working on koi paintings, I think ahead to new projects.  One of those projects will be flower paintings.

Some years ago I began doing flower bouquets that ranged in size from about 30 x 40 inches to 36 x 48 inches large.  It’s a size in which the flowers can be portrayed life size, and the scene as a whole can have some real punch.  I wonder to myself how an artist can make flowers iconic, and what do flowers mean when one tries to put them into a spotlight like this?  Is it the transcience, the beauty, the delicacy of flowers?   It’s subject that I’ve wanted to come back to, and I’m thinking now’s the time.

And as I prepare to begin this motif again, I see similarities between the koi and the flowers.  How strange is that?  Have I got fish in my eyes? Yet, the formal similarities relate to the positions in the canvas where one tends to place things.  Thus, the flowers on the cloth seem to me to “swim” across it just as the fish swim through the blue paint that pretends to be water.  The way that flowers dangle or splay away from each other is also like the koi scattering out into different directions.

Both subjects have wonderful abstract possibilities — flowers perhaps more than fish — for you can put almost any color you want into the canvas and still create something that is “real” and plausible.  By arrangements of cloths and the selections of flowers you can devise any color harmony you like.  Flowers are truly a form of pure painting.

5 thoughts on “Recapitulation

  1. I thought that I was a faithful reader of your blog, but I did miss a few fishes!
    Today, listening to the beautiful Kodaly solo sonata I was going back and forth on blue fish, orange fish, close-up fish… it seemed like they were enjoying swimming along the music.
    Un son et lumière, une bonne idée.
    Les poissons, les fleurs, c’est vrai qu’il y a beaucoup de similarités, couleurs, formes fluides et scintillement.

  2. You make painting flowers so easy! I can do it I just struggle with them a little bit. Hows everything going? good I’m sure. I have fallen in love with sargent. I have been studying him like a mad man. I painted one of his paintings and changed the palette! It was FUN! Anyway just dropping by to say hey!!!

  3. Thank you. But I painted those flowers several years ago, and now as I return to the subject I feel as though I almost have to learn all over again. Yikes!
    Your taking a Sargent painting and changing it hits on an ancient practice. That’s how a lot of the old guys invented new art forms — by taking something made by a previous master and tweeking it. Tweek it enough times, and eventually it’s a lot more “you” than “them.” Ken, this puts you right in Rubens territory. And that’s not a bad place to be. Not bad at all.
    I’m glad you stopped by. I need to check your blog again and see what you’ve been up to. A bunch of good stuff, no doubt.

  4. Benedicte,
    Bonjour! As I was telling Ken — I’m going back to flowers and trying to rethink it. What do I do now? Je cherche les idees dans l’oeuvre de Cezanne. Et de Heem aussi! Beaucoup de difference entre les deux. Les poissons et les fleurs, pour moi, c’est la danse et les courses. Degas a eut ses danceurs, et moi, j’ai mes poissons. Comme ca.

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