Why paint irises?
“The Earth Laughs in Flowers” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I fell in love with irises during a trip to Italy in 2010. While walking up the hill to the Michelangelo Plaza to see its impressive view of Florence, I heard about the Giardino Dell’Iris (Iris Garden) from a young watercolor artist, who was headed in that direction. Intrigued, I decided It was worth a visit. I was amazed by the array of dazzling colors and infinite variety of these beautiful, spring flowers that were blooming on the hill overlooking the city. Later, I had my own iris garden. Each iris has its own personality, so I view my iris paintings as portraits. My intent is to capture their character in brilliant color!
The array of irises looks spectacular under the olive trees against a backdrop of the Florentine hillside.
Legend has it that in 56 AD, the Romans named the town “Florentia” after the goddess of Flora, to symbolize rebirth and to celebrate spring. For 1,000 years, the iris has been the symbol of the City of Florence. In Italian, iris is called “giaggiolo”. The local Florentines call it “giglio” or lily and refer to Florence as “la ciatà giggliata” or the city of the lily. During the middle ages, The Florentines considered he white iris, the “Lily of Florence”, as a symbol of purity, fit for the Virgin Mary. Artists depicted the white lily on a red background. The lily also appeared on the flags of the Crusaders by Florentines in the 11th Century. Today, Florence uses a red lily on a white background as its symbol.
In the spring in Iowa, our splendid Oriental flower, rock and evergreen garden sports beautiful irises of our own. I never run out of inspiration!