Flowers from the Archive

A few weeks ago Red House West wrote a post about titled “Feeling Floral,” and they rehabilitated the word floral in my mind with their updated look at flowers in design. I loved their post, of course, relishing the flower-infested objects they featured in needlepoint, oil paintings, and fabric – often big blowsy blossoms on black.

Reading the post and seeing the end of the garden and flowers for this year (though we haven’t quite given up here in the Northwest – nasturtiums still rampage), I got nostalgic for my flower painting days. I’ve had a folder on my computer’s desktop for some time with “low res” images, made from slides of paintings done in the 90s.

They glow with the blue of slide film – but they bring back so many memories of their making. I picture glass jars full of flowers across my workroom’s white tabletop (now a happy room with Lady Baby’s teepee and toys – times change) and many hours spent observing these flowers to try and render them in watercolor.

The Himalayan blue poppies (with small yellow Welsh poppies) grew in my garden – and now I remember that they were painted in the garden because I couldn’t bear to cut them. I perched on the edge of a garden chair, paper balanced on a little table (that now lives again as a bedside table at Downtown Abbey) – trying to capture their palette of blues.

And this triptych – each panel a full sheet of watercolor paper 30″x22″ – the flowers from a friend’s very fine garden in Anchorage – in September. Lupine, foxglove, poppies, lilies, lavatera, malva, anenome, sweet peas – the painting took ages, flowers collapsing, water cloudy by the end. Was a huge ordeal for the framer – but the gallery sold it – and I’ve always wondered what it looks like in place.


And sweet peas – my favorite flower – a joy to draw and paint with their tendrils and shadowed petals – a deconstructed bouquet scattered on the page. Painted on another full sheet of watercolor paper, hot press (for all these paintings). I entered this in Watercolor U.S.A.’s annual competition, and it won an honorable mention and a big box of fine watercolor paper. I was thrilled!

Sweet Peas

Thank you for indulging this walk down a floral memory lane. I could add more – but it’s November – time to put away flower things  – for now. (Oh, except those Red House West florals!)

14 thoughts on “Flowers from the Archive

  1. Katy, I will always love your flowers best, because those were the first paintings of yours I saw… and they are in the homes of so many of my Alaska friends. Wishing you all the best, so glad you are on the web….

  2. Ah yes – your beautiful  BIG florals. We all love them still. My humble white marigolds are still producing blooms out on my bedroom roof garden, and I thank them daily for their perseverance in the gloomy fog.                                  Love, Jane

  3. Your florals are my favorite too—they make me happy every day! They’re also a great reminder that there are other seasons besides winter! Thank you Katy!!!

    • There are other seasons – but hard to remember today! In Alaska the snow always made November seem less dark and drear than October – I hope you have a good layer! Thank you for your comment Michelle.

  4. I don’t remember ever seeing that poppy painting. Lovely. So much fun to see these again, even though I look at many of your flowers here in my house daily. There is no snow to speak of, which makes November seem even more dreary and dark and cold than October, so having flower paintings on the walls is even more necessary.

  5. I love seeing your paintings. We have an artist in our area, Mary Lou Goertzen, who is now about ninety and not painting anymore. Did you know her work? She had a series of Oregon wildflowers purchased by Block China and I gave many mugs and dessert plates away as gifts. I love our Trillium and she did as well. I have some of her individually painted notecards too —
    I wish I had been in the gallery that sold these. They are worthy of the Smithsonian botanical collections!

    • You are so kind Susan! I didn’t know Mary Lou Goertzen, but just enjoyed a google of her work. I love the painted china – always dreamed of doing that. Thank you for your always lovely comments.

  6. You grew blue poppies! I saw some in a garden in Scotland and was smitten — but never tried to find some for my garden. Your watercolors are so lovely!!

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