In the spring of 2006 I inherited the care of a large and unruly garden. Having thumbs far from any shade of green the prospect of tending a garden seemed, to say the least, a little daunting. Armed with some kind advice from friends and a book or two from the library, I naively rolled up my sleeves and soon found myself immersed in this fecund world of earth, plants, birds and bugs.
Every morning began by taking care of the garden. I became engaged in the process of removing weeds, working the soil, adding fertilizers and moving plants around. What do I plant to fill out that bald patch by the peonies? What needs more light? How can I bring some colour to that far corner near the back? I discovered by surprise that the actual process of gardening started to closely resemble my concerns and activities in the studio.
My paintings prior to these tended to rely heavily on shapes and forms based on imaginary household objects with the picture plane composed in an architectural manner. After spending each in the garden, once in the studio I began to notice organic shapes sprouting up like weeds all over the paintings. Flower and petal shapes, tangled vines, earthy textures and watering cans all started to infest my imagery. While previously I had relied on a ruthless regime of visual editing to achieve a finished painting, now, like my overgrown garden, I allowed the spaces to fill in, constantly working into them, adding more paint here, shapes and textures there.
“The only rule I follow in painting is this: I always allow my hand to surprise me.” Patrick Heron. The late garden paintings of Patrick Heron inspired me greatly and provided guidance and courage in the making of my own “flower paintings.”