Delicate yet vividly intense, Fiona Strickland’s paintings have breathed new life into botanical art
I am always searching for interesting flora to paint, whether I’m out walking, in a friend’s garden or at a botanic garden. This poppy, discovered in my local florist’s, was one of only five in the shop and my immediate response was to buy them all.
I love to discover plants in this way, when some aspect of it elicits such a strong emotional response that I’m compelled to record it, perhaps because I’ve seen it from an unusual angle, or because the sun has shone through a petal and enhanced its colour, form and texture, all hugely fascinating to paint.
Larger than life-size, this image was technically quite challenging to paint using only transparent watercolour washes. It took several weeks to complete as layers of paint were applied to build the intense colour, tone and texture. The painting won several awards at large exhibitions, and has also been responsible for winning me high-profile commissions. Perhaps most rewarding has been how the essence of this particular painting has continued and been further developed in my more recent work of tulips and poppies.
The emotive content of the painting caught the eye of Gareth Howat of Hat-trick Design in London and led to the commission of a painting of a poppy from the Royal Mail for its stamp series to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. Both it and a print of the painting above (the original is now in a private collection in USA) will be on show at the Park Gallery in Callendar House, Falkirk, this winter. www.fionastrickland.com