When I was living in downtown Phoenix, I lived in a small apartment complex, called “Arcadia Apartments”, off of Central Avenue and Camelback Road. It was hidden away in an old, mid-century building from the “boom era” of high-style 1950′s Phoenix architecture. A quiet, retro neighborhood, where you could still hear the “clang clang” of the Metro Light Rail Trolley, as it pulled up to the 7th Avenue Station.
In the Spring, one year, I noticed that there were some flower stalks rising up from in front of the building next to mine, by the main entrance. They looked like tulips, at first, with the divided spear-like flat leaves, but when the flowers came up and rose above the height that tulips get, with buds that were definitely Not tulips buds, I knew this was going to be an interesting flower.
Finally, came the morning — (I’m out there every morning walking the dog!) — when it bloomed. I ran back for my camera (and my film!) and shot half a roll of film on this Iris. I took the photos that I got back and finally chose the shot I liked best.
When I laid out the flower on canvas, I realized that painting a flower this close up was very much like doing an abstract painting. It was easy to look at the parts of the flower separately and not assimilate them all into one integrated whole. At least, not until you backed up about 5 to 10 feet!
This is why I liken doing a floral as the same as doing a portrait. Every flower, at close range, is unique. Iris’ are very different with all the lumps, bumps and ridges, which makes them intricate, as well.
So, here she is, in all her abstract glory. “Arcadia Iris” is an 11×14 oil on canvas, and is part of the “Previous Works” series. Thanks for indulging my inner “Georgia O’Keefe”!