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©Sally Parker @ArtQuartet Sketchbook Spring 2021

Spring: The first blossom

Emerging from a difficult and almost static year, it was uplifting to see a sense of change emerging from a soggy winter garden:  Snowdrops were the first flowers to bloom along with vibrant colours of primroses (‘first rose’ L.). Whether it is a new flower in bloom, spotting a butterfly or watching the birds, I am always uplifted by observing the eternally changing seasons.  It was this time of year that Vincent van Gogh left all his troubles behind in Paris and retreated to the countryside of Arles (1888).  It was just as the almond orchards were about to flower.   The weather was changeable in the south of France too and while he was able to paint the orchards ‘en plein air’, it was also necessary to retreat indoors when it began to snow.  Just as we have learned to adapt in a lockdown situation, he also thought of alternative ways to continue with his work projects.  He gathered plant material and focussed on still life compositions to paint indoors. 

Dainty pink cherry blossoms were the first tree blossom to return to my garden this year.  I like to capture the dainty pink flowers’ inner qualities within my paintings.  Vincent gifted his brother and sister-in-law a painting on the birth of their son (also named Vincent) in January 1890 for them to hang above the baby’s crib.  It was ‘Almond Blossom’, the motif of his flowering orchard series.   

‘Many, perhaps, from so simple a flower,

This little lesson may borrow,

Patient today, through its gloomiest hour,

We come out the brighter tomorrow.’

Miss H F Gould