Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Life Goes Round in Circles

I've been incubating this particular post for a very long time.  More recently the inspiration for it has come as the result of receiving an email from Shelly.  In it she included images of six, different, little flower paintings that her mother gave to her.  She wrote: "I have always loved these pieces, they have been hanging in my parent's house since they were purchased".

Varnishing a number of finished flower paintings, March 1975

The memory of how I actually conceived the notion and then embarked on this collection is lost in time.  It may well have been the result of finding cute 4" x 5" frames at the Calgary Hudson's Bay Company store in 1973 and figuring out what to put in them.  With a roller I applied a blend (dark to light) using raw umber and white oil paint for the background, on 5" x 4" Masonite panels.  Once dry, the flowers were painted on in oil.  

I first sold these floral paintings at Norrell's Art Gallery, in Calgary, and at the Tamarack Gallery , in Banff.  Later the Moriane Lake Lodge gift shop became a hot market but Rundle Photo Shop, in Banff, was undoubtedly my best outlet.  And the bonus there was Chuck Hester (shop manager) who became a tremendous supporter of my art and a life long friend.  Back then you could purchase one of these paintings, framed, for $15.  I tracked down the company who distributed the frames and was able to buy them directly and wholesale at $2. each.  The commission was 1/3 which meant, for each one sold, I received $10. (less the cost of the frame of course).  Sales were brisk as folks happily collected multiples.

Wild Rose - one of the first paintings in the series   SOLD

It would take me about one hour to do one and I could paint several a day; my record was eight.  Speaking of records, I am still annoyed with myself for throwing out (years ago) the sheets on which I kept track of them all.  So, I can't say just how many different wild flowers I included in the collection, but I'll guess at about a dozen.

Bluebells   SOLD

With the records gone, I'll also never know exactly how many wild roses or wood lilies I painted but I am certain that these two flowers numbered first and second, respectively.  While painting larger pieces of other imagery (mountains and wildlife) I kept the flower paintings production going on for five years.  During that time I also bore and delivered our two daughters.  

Columbine   SOLD

When I dreamed I was eating a wood lily I knew it was time to stop.  Bill wondered if maybe I couldn't just make it to 750?  The answer was no.  I quit at 735.  By this time the retail price had crept up to $30. each, but still it was time for the gig to be over.  In my wildest dreams all 735 of them are reunited in a single room ... and solidly paper one wall!

Wood Lily - the only one I numbered and kept   NFS

When I said (at the beginning of 2010) that I had joined the "Daily Painting" movement ... I had really already been there.  I was just coming full circle.  And one of the joys of all of this is being able to show you how much I have grown as a painter.  This is what a small lily painting, I create today, looks like ...

Saffron Lily   2011 oil   5" x 7"   SOLD


  1. Alice, what a wonderful post! It is gratifying when our creations go out into the world, but it is good for us to keep some to see exactly that - how we have grown and developed. They are beautiful, all of them. May I confess that the Saffron Lily stole my heart?

  2. I always appreciate your commenting, Dea. I'm not so sure that those old, wild flower paintings are all beautiful! They look rather ameteurish to me now, but they are what they are, made by a younger me ... in my mid to late 20s!
    And of course confess away over the Saffron Lily!