Johntimothy has recently been working on a wonderful suite of small, delicate flower prints. Measuring 7"h x 5"w, these one-of-a-kind pieces are a mix of intaglio and screen print mounted on cradled panels. I managed to convince him to share some of these still life pieces with our readers, as well as talk about the inspiration and drive behind this body of work.
We'll start with a photo of one of the many vases of dry, dead flowers that adorn our studio environment. I've taken to calling our place the headquarters of The Dead Flower Society, which is a term of affection, as I enjoy these quirky arrangements as well. In this state, the flowers perform quite well as models for drawing, but there is more to the story than that, as you'll read about in my conversation with Johntimothy below.
PRP: What do you find interesting or compelling about flowers as a subject?
JP: My use of them as a subject matter comes from two directions really. The first is the inspiration that comes from observing and drawing the flowers as they decay. They are beautiful objects to translate into linear drawings...I really enjoy the intricate line work that I can explore through observing and drawing these forms.
The second piece of my curiosity is the connection to the art historical use of flowers, specifically in Dutch still life paintings. I find it interesting that flower imagery is layered with meaning and metaphor, but at the same time serves as visual decoration. I'm fascinated by that layered aspect of their visual being.
PRP: There is a lot going on in these pieces...can you tell us how they were made?
JP: They begin with the intaglio line image (engraving, etching, and/or drypoint) made from an initial observational drawing of a bouquet of dead flowers. The next stage is layering the piece with screen print images from Dutch flower paintings. This mix of screen and intaglio results in a kind of abstraction, which somewhat obscures each layer through the overlapping and merging of the two.
JP: The immediate read is something abstract and non-objective and the viewer has to get in close to see both the line work and begin to see the screen print flower imagery as well. You can't focus on both at the same time...you have to go back and forth between the two. My interest in this aspect comes from reading interviews with David Hockney and his discussion and exploration of perception and vision. He talks about how we are unable to focus on two things at once and our perception shifts between one and the other. That's also what I'm exploring in these pieces.
I just love these intimate pieces with their delicate line work and floating color....the essence of the still life flowers seems to lift and merge with the flowers from paintings of long ago in a sort of magical interplay. There are other explorations in Johntimothy's studio based on these themes, which we will visit another time.
Hope you are enjoying spring where you are. Here we are enduring what we hope is the last snow of the season! Cheers!