There can be little else so evocative of balmy summer days, carefree and simple living, and a bygone rural way of life, than a summer meadow. The textures, colours and scents of the flowers, the grasses swaying gently in a playful breeze and the sound of birdsong brings immediate relief to the stresses and strains of everyday life. Wildflower meadows are rich ecosystems but have been affected badly by the use of chemical weedkillers. Their abundant biodiversity, as well as their beauty, have led to charities, farmers and passionate individuals taking up their cause and endeavouring to maintain and plant new ones. Those with the talent to capture the beauty of a wildflower meadow on canvas or paper are truly able to preserve a precious part of our landscape for us.
Wildflowers are, thankfully, found not just in meadows but in all parts of our nation, from river banks, to high moorland, in woods and along every country lane. They have been an inspiration to many artists over the years, with the illustrations of Edith Holden, Cicely Mary Barker and Beatrix Potter among the iconic ones of the previous two centuries. Edith Holden is best known for her intricately illustrated journal, “The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady”. Published after her death, this stunning journal depicts the changing flora and fauna over the four seasons of 1906. It is a nostalgic picture of a former age, when it was not uncommon for middle-class women to write illustrated journals.
Cicely Mary Barker was self-taught as a child. She suffered from epilepsy and so was educated at home during her formative years. One can’t help but wonder whether her stunning drawings may very well not have been created if she had had a more conventional schooling, with less free time to wonder, imagine and explore. As a young teenager, her father enrolled her at their local Art Society and then on an art correspondence course. Her exquisite, botanically accurate watercolour paintings of wildflowers combined with charming fairies have enthralled numerous children over the years and taught them not only to recognise and appreciate the huge diversity of wildflowers of our nation but also opened their imaginations to wonder and delight.
While Beatrix Potter is best known for her tales of mischievous little animals, she was also a talented botanical watercolour artist, with stunning paintings of wildflowers as well as her fungi collection. She too had a less traditional education, learning at home until she was a teenager. She loved to be outdoors and spent hours walking, observing and painting. The Victoria and Albert Museum, in collaboration with the National Trust, hosted an exhibition of her paintings last year, and highlights can still be seen on their website.
There are of course numerous more contemporary watercolour artists whose paintings of wildflowers are inspiring and who also give of their time to pass on their skills to others. Many run wildflower watercolour workshops, sometimes in collaboration with local conservation areas or the wildlife trust. These range from workshops for complete beginners to instruction for accomplished artists wanting to hone existing skills and learn new techniques. Some courses will focus on the skills and knowledge required for botanical illustration, and some on techniques for a more contemporary style. Some are based inside but some are located outdoors, surrounded by the wildflowers you are studying and painting. Whether you count yourself as a watercolour painter or not, why not check out some of these courses and book yourself onto one this summer? Count it as professional development, as well as investing in some time to nurture your own soul and creativity.
Whatever your craft business, you could think of incorporating wildflowers as a theme for this summer. They could inspire a range of pottery or a collection of handmade jewellery. Soaps and cosmetics often incorporate flower scents, but could you be bolder in your marketing of this? The colours, shapes and textures of wildflowers lend themselves to textiles; scarves, napkins and cushions inspired by them will bring all the freshness of outdoor breezes and the warmth of the sunshine indoors.
Wildflower paintings are perennially popular. Indeed, in our fast-paced, often urban-based lives there seems to be a longing within us to be more connected with the natural world. Coupled with our heightened awareness of the importance of conservation, paintings which depict the beauty and intricate design of nature are increasingly valued in our homes. Whether you sell online, in a gallery, at art exhibitions or at craft fairs, be sure to purchase the correct high-value art insurance. You will need this to cover any accidental damage to yourself or others within a gallery/craft fair space. Art is very subjective and what one person likes another may not. Therefore, high-value art insurance would also come to your aid in the unlikely event that a commissioned piece of work does not meet the requirements of the customer and becomes the subject of a negligence claim. Professional indemnity insurance would cover you in this instance; product liability insurance covers damage to your paintings themselves. Although all these events seem, and indeed are unlikely, that is after all the whole point of insurance cover. If you could predict the issues which might arise you could ensure they don’t happen. The very fact that you can’t is why you need insurance. As a family-run business, with a deep-rooted belief in family, tradition and experience we have a solid foundation to work from but also are always learning from each other in order to improve the quality of service we give to our customers. A small art business will have a variety of aspects so a talk with one of our team is the best way to find ensure you get the best possible package of high-value art insurance, which will meet your individual and unique needs. Pick up the phone and have a chat.
And remember, as we head into the summer, don’t forget to check out some watercolour wildflower workshops and allow your soul to be restored as your creativity is inspired.