"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Leaf of the Day: Skulls and Roses, Artificial or Otherwise

It’s Tuesday already and I am late posting Monday's drawing due to being distracted by holiday plans. I have been to Leu to look at the arid garden again this morning, to see if I could understand some more about the desert plants I may see when we get to New Mexico. I have also spent a few hours browsing the magazines in Borders to see what sort of art will be on offer in Santa Fe. There are some very good artists, (and some very bad!) and of course I will be going to see the Georgia O’Keefe museum.


"View from my Studio New Mexico " Georgia O'keefe

I am very familiar with her work but to see the paintings together with the landscape that inspired it will be fascinating. Thinking about her work and the desert etc I had decided to draw this little piece of the Desert Rose bush. Somewhere in my mind I was sure she had painted a Desert Rose... but I can’t find one. The flowers are very pretty but what I particularly like are the branches which are gnarled and twisted making the whole plant a lovely shape, and they are covered with beautiful pale greeny blue lichens. It is such an attractive little plant and another one for my hopeful propagation trials.



Also last week I had found a small skull in amongst the leaf mould in the forest. At first I thought it was a bird’s but I now think it belonged to a squirrel, there is one little tiny tooth left. It’s a delicate and fragile thing . The two seem to want to be painted together..so, “tiny skull and desert rose”, by way of a small tribute to Georgia O'Keefe..they couldn’t be more different in scale or execution though could they.

I was interested to learn, some time ago, that she had used artificial flowers in her work. particularly in the skull paintings which she did when she was in New Mexico.
Sometimes in moments of despair when I have been struggling with dying wilting things I must admit to having thought about going across to Michaels and getting the artificial version. There are thousands of them and they are pretty good! The tutors on the course would never know ! I haven’t succumbed yet but if I do, I can deflect any criticism with " If it was good enough for Georgia O’Keefe it would be good enough for me."

This is from an interesting website here about her life, this page shows more of the skull paintings which shows some of the desert paintings.

'She explained that her idea to use flowers came about while she was sorting through some artificial flowers,
"when someone came to the kitchen door. As I went to answer the door, I stuck a pink rose in the eye socket of a horse's skull. And when I came back the rose looked pretty fine, so I thought I would just go with that."
Although the use of flowers is indicative of the Southwestern influence since artificial flowers are often used to decorate Hispanic graves, most eastern viewers of these paintings found them more surreal than anything else.'



Los Angeles County Museum of Art, New York

The Desert Rose is Adenium obesum, is a native of East Africa. It is a succulent, and forms more of a bush than a tree. If you want to make a bottle shaped base you have to expose the roots and turn the plant.



Again Top Tropicals have some great photos of what is sculpturally possible.



The pods are great. I had one and again,within 1 day it had split and the seeds had floated around the studio..so never managed to get a drawing.. too much to do, too little time!

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Desert Rose and Skull


1 comment:

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

very nice drawing. I love Georgia O'Keefe's artwork.