"Art is the only way to run away without leaving home" (Twyla Tharp)

Iris ...

Iris © Vicki Lee Johnston

I imagine all botanical artists are completely sidetracked by their subjects, no matter the environment.  Wherever we go our attention is often diverted by a beautiful flower, interesting plant or unique seedpod, even dead stuff gets our interest - because it's all a part of our amazing natural world.

When travelling in France we toured the location for the movie 'A Good Year' set near Bonnieux and Gordes in Provence.  The most beautiful region  of rolling hills, vineyards, stone architecture and beautiful estates like the Chateau La Canorgue where much of the filming was done.  

Chateau La Canorgue 

 It was here that once again my eyes diverted to the beautiful landscaping and a picture perfect iris blooming just under the waterfall.  I was fascinated by this flower as we had seen fields of them in all their glory in St Remy which I posted about here:

 I am always drawn to bold and bright colours and I was so focussed on it, I promised myself to have a go at  painting it one day.    Irises are great at being champions of colour and a it's a real challenge to capture the voluptuous show-off that it is!   I took a few hasty photos, drawings and forgot about it until recently I came upon them when redoing my art studio.

 I set about painting it knowing that I would have to use quite a few layers of watercolour to create the vibrancy.  I think often we are worried about going too far and overdoing it but in being so cautious often artworks may appear underdone.  As I wasn't painting this for a diploma or commission or exhibition I threw caution to the wind and just kept going, enjoying the process.

I worked a bit differently this time almost finishing the top petals to get the feel of the iris, rather than building up slowly over the whole artwork.  Call it impatience but for me if it's a time consuming subject  I need to see that the endless hours dedicated to the art is heading in the right direction.

Building up stronger and stronger but still hoping to keep enough detail to see the lifeline of this flower.   

I think for now I will set it aside and tweak it in a few weeks' time.  Our eyes and brain get so finely tuned to what we are painting that sometimes we miss important detail so for now it's on vacation.

 I couldn't seem to get the accurate colours and light in the photographing of the artwork so I took it outside in full daylight, only to discover there is a smoke haze so again, the colour isn't quite there but you can see how in different settings the painting changes significantly.

The iris earned its name from the ancient Greek Goddess Iris, a messenger to the gods who was thought to use the rainbow as a bridge between heaven and earth. By some accounts, the ancient Greeks believed the rainbow was actually the flowing, multi-colored robes of Iris. Others believed the beautiful multi-colored flowers were also part of her robe or the flowing veil from her dress. Thus, these flowers were named to honor the Rainbow Goddess and bring favor upon the earth.

© Vicki Lee Johnston

I'm sure there will be more iris paintings in the future, so enjoyable to paint.  
 They will always remind me of the wonderful time spent in the South of France. 


  1. Vicki you've captured the beauty of this beautiful Iris & you blog is beautifully written....thanks for sharing. 💜

    1. Thanks so much Tricia, appreciate the feedback. Hope all is well in your beautiful part of the world xx

  2. Thanks for sharing. I love your vibrant colours.