What Would Georgia Think?

A year ago, in honour of Georgia O’Keeffe’s 125th birthday, I published a post dedicated to ‘the flower’ – a lighthearted romp through the sex life of a plant. While Georgia herself never admitted to deliberately eroticizing flowers, it has oft been assumed that her floral paintings allude to human external sex organs. However, her aim was simply to make manifest that which is often taken for granted – in this case the collection of details that comprise a flower. There is an undeniable, intrinsic sensuality to a plant’s reproductive parts; lush velvety petals, silky filaments and fuzzy anthers, tubular style and bulbous stigma – is it any surprise then that this would be apparent in Georgia’s work? She just painted what she saw.

If I could paint I would paint like Georgia. But alas painting is not my forte – I can slap paint on a wall if necessary, and as a child I could stick my chubby little hands in a jar of paint, smear it all over a piece of paper and say “Look Mommy, art!”, but that’s the extent of my painting ability. However, I do believe that it is ‘delighting in the details’ that fuels my design work, and more recently, my (attempted) photography. Years ago I attended a garden photography workshop with renowned garden photographer, Allan Mandell. One of the first things he taught was that everything is significant to the camera – details the eye overlooks, a photograph exposes. At the time, he was referring to unwanted details – a garden hose, gum wrapper, spent bloom or dead leaf, that mar our photographic images, but it obviously refers to the beautiful, interesting details as well.

So today, as another tribute to Ms. O’Keeffe, I offer you my own ‘floral paintings’. Not real paintings of course, but digital paintings. If you’re familiar with Photoshop, you know that it includes various paintbrush tools that allow one to alter the appearance of a photo with a series of ‘brushstrokes’ (mouse strokes?), so it resembles a painting – maybe a watercolour, or oil, or pastel, charcoal, ink, wax crayon etc..  I’ve chosen to leave some areas of the photos untouched in order to accentuate certain details – stamens or carpels, maybe a ruffle or petal edge, a droplet of water, or even an entire blossom. The result is a bit of a hybrid but my hope is that you too may ‘delight in the details’.

Photo: Sue Gaviller

Paeonia tenuifolia. Photo: Sue Gaviller


Paeonia ‘Unknown Soldier’. Photo: Sue Gaviller

Photo: Sue Gaviller

Iris germanica. Photo: Sue Gaviller

Malus  'Kelseyi'

Malus ‘Kelsey’. Photo: Sue Gaviller

Prunus triloba multiplex. Photo: Sue Gaviller

Prunus triloba multiplex. Photo: Sue Gaviller

Hemerocallis 'Chicago Antique Tapestry'. Photo: Sue Gaviller

Hemerocallis ‘Chicago Antique Tapestry’. Photo: Sue Gaviller

Bleeding heart resampled 2

Lamprocapnos spectabilis. Photo: Sue Gaviller

Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus'. Photo: Sue Gaviller

Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’. Photo: Sue Gaviller


Rosa 'Morden Sunrise'. Photo: Sue Gaviller

Rosa ‘Morden Sunrise’. Photo: Sue Gaviller

siberian iris 2

Iris sibirica ‘Roanoke’s Choice’. Photo: Sue Gaviller

Perusing this morning’s edition of Swerve magazine, I discovered an article exploring the legitimacy of digitally produced art – this is timely, I thought. Calgary freelance journalist and travel blogger Kim Gray poses the question, “Is digital art real art?” and discovers there’s more support for this ‘art form’ than one might gather. The consensus it seems, is that digitally created art does have validity – it is indeed a creative process, but with a different medium and using different tools. Traditional art on the other hand is seen as perhaps having more ‘soul’ since it involves actually getting one’s hands dirty.

I can live with that.

But I can’t help wondering………………………….“What would Georgia think?”

Artistically yours,

© Sue Gaviller and Not Another Gardening Blog 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sue Gaviller and Not Another Gardening Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

13 comments on “What Would Georgia Think?

  1. Pat says:

    Do not sell yourself short – your photography & your art is beautiful!

    • Hi Anne,

      Thanks for the links – I read both of these pieces as well as several more related to garden photography on your wonderful website. I don’t claim to be a garden photographer, or any kind of photographer for that matter – just someone who likes to take pictures of gardens and flowers and such – but I certainly concur with the perspectives presented by both Mr. Hawes and Mr. Stuart. And I’ve put International Garden Photographer of the Year – Collection 6 on my Christmas wish list – can’t wait to see for myself what award winning garden photography looks like this year.

      Thanks for reading,

  2. flameflower says:

    How beautiful Sue! All of those design hours with your mouse has certainly paid off as your new paint brush….exquisite!

  3. Beautiful work. I love flower photography and painting. (I’ve always been a fan of Georgia O’Keeffe.)… so why not combine the two? –Curt

    • Hi Curt,

      Thanks for your lovely comment – the digital age certainly affords us a whole new way of expressing creativity doesn’t it?

      Thanks for reading,

      • I read another blog a couple of days ago that featured David Hockney making digital art. –Curt

      • Hi Curt,

        I checked out David Hockney’s ‘i-Paintings’ – very interesting, as is the discussion around digital art in general and its use by legitimate artists. I’m not a painter so I don’t really feel qualified to weigh in on the debate. For me, brush-stroking my floral macro shots was something I did for fun, but the artistic value of this kind of art is as much or more in the quality of the photo to begin with.

        Thanks for stopping by,

      • You’re welcome. I suspect some artists will experiment with whatever medium is available to them. And it is almost guaranteed that the established art community will have objections. Take the Impressionists, for example. 🙂 Curt

      • Too true. The same happens in my industry, or any design field I guess.

        BTW I spent a long time perusing your blog today – yours is a lifestyle my husband and I have oft fantasized about. Maybe one day……..
        In the meantime winter has taken a firm hold here – reading about your many travels in warm, wonderful places was like a little vacation. Thx.

      • Peggy says not to wait too long. 🙂 –Curt


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s