A few years ago I did a collage and watercolour workshop at the Knockrose Studio. The brief was to make a collage painting which incorporated small sections of a famous artist's paintings. My own version of this was a tribute to Vincent van Gogh.
I started painting watercolours of Sunflowers about 16 years ago. In fact it wasn't a painting of Van Gogh's that had inspired me originally, rather a lovely, loose, almost abstract piece by the late G. John Blockley. I decided to concentrate on the sunflower as a main theme for the portfolio that I was building for my third application to the Water Colour Society of Ireland. I explored the subject through drawing and painting, mainly in a very traditional style. I also produced some quite large pieces which were painted with loose washes and blazing colour.
This portfolio of work sparked off a deeper interest in the sunflower and I continued to paint different versions of sunflowers for a few years after that. I painted the sunflower in different stages through its natural cycle. It prompted some abstract work in which I symbolically portrayed the cycle of birth, death and rebirth that the soul goes through on its journey through life. I took the painting of "Sunflowers Wild and Wonderful" (which is presently in the permanent WCSI collection in the University of Limerick) and recreated it in collage. I incorporated a self portrait by Van Gogh in the piece. The centres of the Sunflower contained the swirling stars of the night sky from "Starry Night" and the petals of the flowers were made from mulberry silk tissue on which I had printed some of the many letters that Vincent wrote to his brother Theo. I attributed the painting to Vincent Van Gogh as I wanted to create more than just a mere 'flower painting' ( a label which many women painters have been demeaned by).
Painting is my passion, and I paint what I love. Why should it matter what the subject is? I feel that the true nature of painting is to impart a little of yourself in your work, and that is what is real and true about being an artist.