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Flashback Friday, Late 90's and My History with Flowers

sunflowers circa 1996

sunflowers circa 1996

I used to paint flowers. Lots and lots of flowers. Some might even go so far as to call me a floral artist. The first time I had my own one man show at age 20 I hung about 40 pieces. It was at KTSC. I remember pretty vividly the opening, lots of pieces, plenty of praise, and then one of my grandfather's friends commenting in disdain that I should really paint something more than just flowers. I was outraged... 

I studied studio art (some painting, mostly printmaking for the remainder of college). I still worked a lot with flowers and got a lot of flack for it. Somehow it seemed painting flowers wasn't "real art". 

I graduated and eventually found myself painting full time... flowers. I lived in a new neighborhood with lots of floral couches and lots of big open walls. Finally, I started to hate flowers. 

That was over 10 years ago. We moved from Colorado to New York City. Our world was turned upside down and so were my views on what and what wasn't acceptable for me to paint. I vowed I would never paint another... flower. 

I didn't. I really didn't for years. It's not that I secretly didn't want to it's just that I reminded myself of my vow and held true. Periodically they would make their way in to painting but mostly as pattern or an aside, never the focal point, never surface design... One time I did paint some orange tulips, in my new, carefully considered artistic voice. I remember showing it to my mentor, a key player in American Art. His comment was that although it was an interesting painting, I "should destroy it. Never show it to anyone else, lest I be considered a floral artist." Funny enough a year or two later I was invited to be in the National Academy Museum's Invitational Exhibit of American Artists(a big deal). The piece I submitted that was selected was... none other than an abstraction of a flower.

A few years went by. Babies were born. Homes were moved. I stopped painting all together. Recently I have started painting a lot again. I have recommitted to making this my life, my work. Somedays when I sit at the table or stand at the easel or work on a mandala all I want to paint is flowers... and now I do.