Ann Fraser: Art is the Flower - Life is the Green Leaf: Petworth 7 - 18 May, London 21 - 23 May

Ann Fraser specialises in watercolours of plants and flowers. She studied fine art at Edinburgh College of Art for four years and then completed her education with a course in botanical illustration at the Royal Edinburgh Botanic Garden. Her paintings have won a series of awards from the Royal Horticultural Society. 


“Art is the Flower, Life is the Green Leaf. Let every artist strive to make his flower a beautiful living thing, something that will convince the world that there may be, there are, things more precious, more beautiful, more lasting than Life”  Charles Rennie Mckintosh ‘Seemliness’ 1902


The inspiration for my painting comes from flowers and plants growing in the garden at Shepherd House, Inveresk, a village on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Every plant and flower is painted from life, true to size and colour. I am not a botanical illustrator, I do not have that scientific expertise but, as Charles Rennie Mackintosh says in his quote ‘I strive to make my flowers as beautiful as they are in life’. I have always loved plants and flowers and hope that my paintings reveal their beauty so others may enjoy them as well.

I work through the seasons from snowdrops, hellebores, fritillaries and tulips to poppies and irises. Sometimes when I walk round the garden looking for inspiration, some aspect of a flower or plant will elicit such a strong emotional response that I am compelled to paint. It might be the colour, texture or shape or how it reacts with its neighbour or because the light has enhanced the colour, form or texture. I am attracted to strong shapes and colour and particularly enjoy painting the darker shades of tulips, hellebores and irises. Once reasonably satisfied with the drawing, I then use subtle tones of blue, purple and red washes to build up the colour.

I marvel at the wonderful colour of flowers and strive to match the luminosity of the petals and how the light creates a three dimensional effect. I enjoy colour composition both with plants in the garden and in my paintings. I sometimes make up ‘Dream Borders’ which are imagined and don’t exist in the garden but are composed on the page to create a harmonious painting. I don’t have to go far for inspiration. Everything I need is growing in the garden and if the flower dies before I have finished I can readily pick another. As much thought goes into what to plant in the garden as it does planning a painting. Many winter evenings are spent pouring over garden catalogues!

Garden or painting, which came first? I conclude that it is the passion for plants that combines them both,