Sunday, February 19, 2006

A pink carnation

click photo to enlarge
"Art is the unceasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers - and never succeeding."
Marc Chagall (1887-1985), Russian-French painter

My wife received a bouquet of flowers the other day. Not from me. Not from an admirer! But from some colleagues at the place she had been working for several months. It was a kind thought, and as bouquets go it was fine - full and colour co-ordinated, with consideration given to leaves as well as blooms. But as a total experience it was all too much. There were striped flowers, plain flowers, big flowers and small, every one interesting in itself, but collectively seeming to cancel each other out.

We often have flowers in the house: daffodils, irises, tulips, chrysanthemums and the like. But when we buy them we usually display only one variety in a vase. And our definite favourites are red carnations (see January 16th post "Simply red"). They seem to complement our greenish decor, and give a big effect for a relatively small number of blooms. Restricting a vase to a single type and colour of flower concentrates the viewers eye on the beauty of that particular bloom. So, when I wanted to take some flower shots, I selected a single bloom from my wife's bouquet.

This photograph of a pink carnation is taken with the help of an achromatic close-up lens screwed onto the camera lens. It allows the camera to get closer, and in so doing lets us see a beauty in the bloom that we don't see from afar. I am particularly pleased with the confusion of petals and their "torn paper" edges. I also like the way the petals at the edge of the flower pick up the surrounding colours and complement the pink at the centre. When we look closely at a flower and see the loveliness in it we are forced to conclude that Chagall was right, flowers hold a beauty that man finds hard to match.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen