Me? I started with broccoli. Yep! That’s the first Botanical Style watercolor I did in the first week of Botanical painting at The Corcoran College of Art of George Washington University. I was really getting into those little florets, painting every little circle when the teacher stopped by my desk and asked if I wasn’t getting tired of the repetition. I wasn’t until she burst my little bubble. It was very soothing progressing slowly through each meticulous green sprig on each bigger sprig. I made a discovery that day with my friend, the stalk of broccoli. This botanical style painting thing was very soothing. I couldn’t wait to get to the next painting. At the time I was in need of some serious soothing and this type of painting was doing it for me. I did progress beyond the broccoli fairly quickly and moved on to tulip bulbs, then tulips and beyond. I shoved the broccoli painting into a file in the filing cabinet and forgot about it until this week.
I the found the broccoli painting while cleaning out old files. The memories came flooding back. That particular class was held at The Corcoran’s Georgetown campus in a beautiful old restored school house building similar to the elementary school I went to in Dyersburg, TN. The building had big old pane glass windows that went to the top of the high ceilinged classroom flooding the room with light. The downtown Washington campus was in the basement of the museum with only fluorescent lighting and a few stingy windows at sidewalk level so we could see feet going by outside. I loved the Georgetown campus even though it meant longer travel time and a bus ride on top of the usual train ride to get to campus. The botanical painting class got me started in what has become a teaching passion. I love to see other people discover how soothing this style of painting is. My final painting in that class was of a tulip through the stages of growth from bulb to flower. That painting hangs over my fireplace to this day.
Most of my oil paintings are completely different from the botanical style paintings. I love those too. The oil paintings provoke more emotion and energetic feelings. The botanical style paintings are calming and comforting, invoking memories of quiet garden walks and the smell of flowers. That was the last broccoli I painted. Even though it was soothing, it did not remind me of the smell of flowers! But those little florets gave me time to stop, take a breath and do something slow and methodical. Botanical Style painting is something I return to over and over when I’m in need of stress relief. It is the perfect antidote to the crazy world out there. Now I’m more likely to paint an iris than broccoli. But Hey! Gotta start somewhere! And we can all use a little stress relief.