I have often heard it said that we are closest to God in the garden.
It is a different connection in the garden than when we experience God out in the wilds of nature. The garden allows us to intimately participate in, and become co-creators, with the cycles of life. Though we may gaze in awe at a meadow on fire with red and orange wildflowers, our spiritual and emotional connections are more deeply sustained when we are the creators of some natural beauty. When we create our own sacred garden, we create a sanctuary in which to nourish our souls connection to nature. I have a passion as a painter for flowers in the garden. Claude Monet says it all for me when he stated, “ I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.” Creating the garden paradise is one experience; eternalizing the paradise with garden paintings is another.
Why do we love flowers so much?
I think there are many reasons. The combination of their many colorful shades, textures and diversity of species simply make us happy. On a more subtle level, we are moved by all this extraordinary, diverse beauty that connects us to the power of creative potential, to the cycles of nature and to the sacred, symbolic meaning of life.
Science has now confirmed that our moods and emotions are directly affected by color.
So whether we are creating a garden, or a floral painting, we can influence our viewers with our choice of colors. The use of warm colors will excite and engage us while cool colors will quiet and calm us. Color is also very personal. It seems most people resonate with a favorite color. As well, many cultural and spiritual traditions around the world designate certain colors with symbols, energies, deities, animals, rituals, celebrations, meanings and myths. Magically, color speaks to us.
The many numerous shades of colors in nature so amazes me, yet challenges me as a painter to express.
Once when I was driving through the countryside of Virginia at the height of an Appalachian spring, I pulled off the road to literally catch my breath in response to all the beauty I was experiencing. I started counting all the shades of green I saw, but there were more than I could count or name. A similar experience occurred later when our family garden was exploding with summertime floral colors. I attempted to give every shade I saw a name, but there were many more than I could even name. Back in the studio, there was no way my flower paintings could even begin to touch all the subtle variations of tone and shade in every color that I had witnessed in the garden. I could only aspire to paint as beautifully as nature.
The multitude of shapes, textures and colors all woven together create endless varieties of flowers.
Much like us as a unique, individual person, every flower has something to say, a sacred story to tell. The exquisite lotus that speaks of spiritual fulfillment as it rises from the water towards the heavens; the rose that reflects the sweet scent and soft complexity of romantic love; the sunflower that mirrors our radiant sun from which all life is given; the iris that symbolize our bridge between heaven and earth and the aromatic flowering vines that call to us of regeneration and the gift of life. Flowers have spoken to all people throughout time, and share their message of the divine that is in all life and all around us.
Alice Walker reminds us that, ” The true nature of This Flower is to bloom.”
We are reminded by the unique beauty of each flower about our own beautiful uniqueness. We are all like the flowers, each one of us with a destiny to bloom, and a sacred story to tell along the way. We are empowered to live fully while connecting to the mysterious cycles on life and death through flowers and all of nature. For the path of growth is fragile, and full of challenges to overcome. I like to surround myself with lots of flowers, and to create my paintings of flowers, whenever I feel resistance and struggle on my path. For a flower does not complicate its destiny with doubt and question. It knows with calm certainty that its blossoms are inevitable.
A vase full of lovely flowers is destined to become a painting in my home.
For few things can uplift and feed my soul as sweetly as flowers. I side with Emma Goldman when she said, ” I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.”