An Eye for a Fall Paw

“Without the name, any flower is still, more or less a stranger to you,” John Burroughs

This past Saturday’s Fall Flowers painting workshop featured some interesting flower varieties in the beautiful shades of purple, yellow, and rusty reds that so characterize autumn. The Community Education Department of Watkins College of Art supplies the flowers adding an element of surprise and fun.  Our flower subjects for this workshop came from The Rebel Hill Florist in Nashville, Tennessee. There were purple mums in an unusual shade of reddish lavender, pansies from the “Crystal Bowl Mix” of colors, a pinkish purple and ivory dahlia, rusty red daisy mums and a new one for all of us, “Kangaroo Paw.”

Kangaroo Paw happens to be a favorite of Watkins College of Art’s director of Community Education, who identified it for the group.  According to TheFlowerExpert.com Kangaroo Paw, as you might expect, is a native of Australia, though it is commercially cultivated in the US, Japan and Israel and comes in a variety of colors. The yellow Kangaroo Paw we had for class is known in Australia as Mangle’s Kangaroo Paw and is the flower emblem for Western Australia. TheFlowerExpert says “The genus name, Anigozanthos is derived from the Greek word ‘anises’, meaning unequal or oblique, and ‘anthos’, meaning flower, an allusion to the division of the Kangaroo Paw flower into six unequal parts.”

Each individual artist’s style treats the same flower quite differently inspiring the casual observer to take a second and third look at a flower that might previously have only warranted a passing glance.  A second look might bring up the thought of how and why an artist saw the flower in that way.  A third look can cause the eye to focus onto points not noticed before like variations in color, texture and shape.   The work of the artist is what inspires one to take that second and third look.   Isn’t that the very essence of an artist’s calling? After taking that third look you might be intrigued or even fascinated by the artist’s chosen subject . Suddenly you might say to yourself, “I really must get a bouquet of Kangaroo Paw with some pansies, mums and dahlias!” You’ll be the envy of all your friends.


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