STORY BEHIND THE ART OF Patricia Luppino

 
20th Annual International American Society of Botanical Artists & The Horticultural Society of New York
 
 

Tree Peony

Paeonia suffruticosa
 

After several false starts on a piece for the 20th Annual, I was about to take a break to try to overcome my “artist’s block” when I received an email from my sister.  She had just returned from a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and had seen the photography exhibition featuring works by the American photographer, Irving Penn.  The exhibition was celebrating the centennial of his birth.  She thought his work was fabulous and asked if I had seen his “botanical” photographs.  Penn was primarily known as a fashion and portrait photographer, but his still lifes and florals really focused on unique forms and were kind of whimsical, I thought.  After viewing Penn’s work, I started to rummage through my garden looking for the perfect “Irving Penn” subject.  I found this Peony, on its last legs, with only one furled petal left attached that was pointing upward at an odd angle.  The stamens were falling out, but seemed to be trying to cling to each other for dear life.  The leaves were swept back making the whole flower head look like it was in flight with some sort of weird petal propeller.

 

Having found my inspiration, I got to work quickly as the entry deadline was less than one month away.  I decided to enlarge it to give it more impact, so I needed to shift my typical dry brush painting approach. This was a challenge for me as I typically focus on smaller subjects with tiny details.

 

So many botanical artists choose the peony as a subject.  It’s such a spectacular and complex flower.  I tend not to pick the most beautiful subjects for my pieces because I feel they already garner enough attention and somehow don’t really deserve to be painted.  I prefer to draw attention to those subjects that are often overlooked or may be past their prime, hoping instead that the viewer will appreciate the beauty of the frail and fading form.

 
 
 
Read more about this artist’s work: 19th Annual International
  • © 2017 Patricia Luppino
    Tree Peony
    Paeonia suffruticosa
    Watercolor on paper
    13" x 13"