Painting Irises with a Flat Brush

Irises in Kitty’s garden

Every year I look forward to iris season in the Skagit Valley and schedule a very special day to paint the irises in my friend Kitty’s gardens on Samish Island.  This year when Kitty announced the early blooms were ready, my schedule was too harried and I had to postpone my visit to late May.  I worried I would miss this season’s spectacle.  I don’t think I’ve ever gone up there this late in the iris season, but it turned out that good things happen to those who wait.  Kitty’s irises were absolutely stunning — bountiful and colorful and glorious.

Scenes from Kitty’s garden

I took way too many photos again this year.  The many varieties of iris flaunt their frills and flounces and colors like so many ladies at a fancy ball.  Each individual flower or small grouping called out to be photographed.  I obliged.  I knew I would have quite a big editing and uploading job when I returned home!  But it was worth it.

Just look at those black velvet petals (upper right).

I struggled a bit to find a new perspective, a new point of view, amidst all this clamor.  At one point I lay on the ground looking up — a worm’s eye view — to see the flowers against the blue sky.

Looking up.

This year I was also pleased to play and experiment with painting irises using a flat brush.  I tried to apply some of the practices I started at Tom Hoffmann’s Palouse watercolor workshop — moving toward more abstract shapes.   Here are the results:

The large iris is called the Star Ship Enterprise.

 

Irises as the Doorway into Thanks

Skagit Valley, May morning
Skagit Valley

This week I spent one morning painting in my friend Kitty’s iris garden on Samish Island.  The drive there took me past the farms of the Skagit Valley, one of the most beautiful agricultural landscapes I know.  The views out my car window were amazing enough, but then I arrived at Kitty’s house.  The irises were blooming in a profusion of colors and frills.  Wow.

Kitty’s iris beds, Samish Island

These maroon and gold irises are called “Ancient Echoes.” They are the colors of Buddhist robes. And the team colors of the University of Minnesota’s golden Gophers!

Several women friends dropped in for the painting session.  A fun day of art and conversation.  We all appreciated Kitty’s hospitality and were thankful to be able to experience Nature’s exuberance in this special garden.

My watercolor paintings inspired by the irises in Kitty’s garden. The blue ones are Siberian irises, “Silver Edge.”

Praying
by Mary Oliver

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.