The poetics of Spring : the language of the New

Spring is a multidimensional experience. Light and colors, sounds, scents, moods, skies and landscapes… all possible threads of Nature are pulled and triggered. To our greatest amazement every year we are blown away by the magic in the air. No branch, no bud, no bird, no living creature will resist it’s call for action. From deep winter sleep to full bloom, a huge wave of energy we can surf on or just sip in like a sweet nectar.

This is the time when the stage gets ready as if a major event was about to take place. Actually, nothing less than the royal wedding of Nature’s youth. In this huge design, flowers are more than just a decor, they are the main players and masters of festivities. Without flowers no bees, no butterflies, no pollinisation, no fruits.

A flower power moment

In the midst of the world’s chaos (if you look at the news), such faith in the New is more inspiring and relevant than ever. When I feel unproductive and blocked, I slip into my flower-power shoes, grab a leash, and Zelda and I go for a stroll in the park nearby.

No need to go far, everywhere you look at, it is all right there. First a visit to an old friend, the magnolia majestically sitting upon the ancient walls of the city. It is it’s moment of glory, and I would miss this happening for no reason whatsoever. My heart blooms in gratitude at the sight of the myriads of petals offered to the sky and all who might be interested. Insects, humans, birds… I can’t see anyone not vibrating in front of such a show of generosity and splendor.

From Nature to the worktable

On the artists worktable however, magnolias are a difficult subject. A photograph will hardly tell the whole tale. A botanical painting can restitute the delicacy of colors and textures, but it is quite a challenge, since the flower is a most fragile one. Large and heavy petals on a wooden branch make it impossible to keep alive along the whole painting process. I remember a fellow watercolorist taking great pains to store it as well as possible, in a cold spot at night (be it the fridge), lying in water during the day, a race against time soon lost.

As the ancient naturalists would have done, it is important to take notes of every significant detail: colors, textures, site where picked up, date, and even prepare and store samples… They will complete the pictures that our modern medias allow us to take and store to help re-create the unfathomable feeling of beauty coming to life.

Back home the challenge is to make good use of this precious moment, collecting and reshaping all elements in order to share this generous yet fragile gift of Nature. And who knows, perhaps the delicate petals will find a way to be celebrated in our memories in some poetical language of colors and words.

Flower power trainers, by Paul Smith