Meet The Artist: Flora Roberts
07 Apr 2022
‘There are always flowers for those who want to see them,’ so said Henri Matisse, and there was never a truer quote for Flora Roberts. From early years spent quietly painting the blooms that found themselves in her parent’s abundant garden to gathering inspiration from flowers found on her morning commute – her subject for our spring postcard should come as no surprise. In March, we visited her in her Dorset garden studio, supplied with several rounds of toast topped with homemade honey, to watch our painting come into being and to get to know the artist behind the easel a little better…
“I love colour and pattern and I think, for me, it’s an excuse to dive into that. My work is mostly botanical – plants and flowers – which means I’m working with colour and pattern constantly. Whether it’s a painting, a mural or a wallpaper, I also think it’s really important to create an atmosphere and bring some kind of emotion into it which is why I paint from life.”
And what’s a typical day in the life of Flora?
“I had my little boy seven months ago so it has changed a little (laughs) but my work day used to start with a really good morning routine. I’m a believer that a good cup of tea is a very important start to the day. I’d usually walk to work and look at flowers along the way while mulling over ideas. Mornings were definitely my most productive time and the best time for painting from life I found because of the light, so I’d spend the morning really concentrating on a wallpaper design or something that I was working on in my studio which was always full of images and flowers to inspire me. After lunch I’d usually tackle the more mundane tasks that are part and parcel with running your own business but I’d always enjoy my walk home. There’s just something about the afternoon light and the colours it creates that would draw my day to a close with a final dose of inspiration.”
“I wanted to create a feeling, rather than a conventional representation of a flower with this design. The idea was to bring that lovely dappled afternoon light into the image to create the atmosphere of a lazy, sunny afternoon. One that’s almost magical, if you like.”
Why florals? And has it always been those to which you’re drawn most?
“I grew up in rural southern Scotland and my mum and dad were keen gardeners, so I was always interested in and surrounded by flowers. When I was seven, I was quite good at drawing and painting and my parents gave me a book called Flora Britannica that had been passed down from my great grandmother. It was filled with black and white illustrations of flowers that you can search for in the garden and then colour with water colours. It used to keep me occupied for hours in my own little world!”
You choose to paint from life – why is that and what sort of difference do you feel it makes?
“I think most artists would say there’s a flatness from painting from a photograph and I agree. Without meaning to sound pretentious, you just get more of the essence of something when you paint from life as there are other things going on like the light and smell. There’s also a sort of immediacy with a flower – you know it’s going to die quite quickly so it feels very true to life and that helps me to bring feeling into my paintings I’d say.”
What’s been your favourite all-time flower to paint?
“I love Dahlias. They’re really challenging as they move a lot and there is an almost mathematical quality to their petals. There are also so many colours when you really study them. I also really love little violets and pansies – I think they’re really sweet.”
Watch our latest artist in residence film with Flora here.