Story Behind the Art of Carrie Megan

The subject I chose for this painting is Siberian Iris Seed Heads.
It is part of a series of vellum paintings I am working on of dried specimens.  I have culled them from my friend, Robin Wilkerson's garden. She has the most amazing garden in Lincoln MA: when in full bloom, its abundance of color is rapturous, but in the fall, when the flowers and fruit have fallen, and the leaves dry and curl, and seed heads are exposed, I find the skeletal remains to be just as interesting. 
This painting depicts three long stem irises, each barren except for the wisps of dried leaves that curl towards each other, as if in conversation. I have arranged them so that it is a vertical composition, where the three irises move diagonally across the vellum background from the lower left to the top right corner. The wizened seed heads lean towards each other like old friends, lamenting the progress of time. The seeds they have produced and protected are now ready to start new life. 
This painting is the first of a series of six paintings I hope to complete from one hide of calfskin vellum. Each painting will conform to the same size and format. Having the warm background color of vellum can enrich a painting and the veining is an added consideration when laying out a composition. I enjoyed the challenge of finding a placement for the three Iris stems that would work with the subtle texture created by the vellum veining. I loved working on the irises on this surface because it allowed me to really build up a rich mahogany tone. Using very fine detail brushes, I was able to hold onto the lines of the creases on the surface of the seed heads and to convey the crispy texture of the dried leaves. 
I am increasingly drawn to dried subject matter. My studio houses a forest of desiccated specimens! Whether working in graphite or in watercolor on vellum, I find the challenge of creating the intricate textures and curling shapes to be satisfying, but maybe it's the metaphor of examining life as it ages that intrigues me the most.
  • (C) Carrie Megan