Elizabeth Blackadder

Research

Why are floral/leaf motifs so important, dominant or recurring in this artist’s work?


Iris Oncocylus, 1996

Elizabeth Blackadder is a Scottish artist born in Falkirk in 1931. She is one of the “most prominent Scottish artists alive today” (Browse and Derby) and the first woman to be elected to both the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Academy.

Study of Flowers
During her teenage years Blackadder began meticulously collecting local flowers, compiling the specimens by pressing and labeling them with their full Latin names, a fascination that was to surface much later in her paintings of plants and flowers (Bumpus, 1988).

“Her artistic approach is virtually scientific – precise, analytical and objective – although the overall outcome is lyrical, soft and clearly imbued with the artist’s subjective love for flowers” (Figes, 2019).

This resonates so strongly with me. My first real drawing experience was noting my observations down a microscope in my first year university biology studies; no shading allowed, only lines. It is useful to know that this experience is not to be totally eschewed in my new art explorations.


Blue Poppy and Other Flowers


Auratum Lillies


Still Life with Tulips


Anemonies and Ranunculus

Painting Style
Katherine Tyrrell (2007) notes Blackadder’s style and approach in an excellent article reviewing Blackadder’s 2012 work, The Artist at Work in Her Studio (Royal Academy Masterclass).

Choice of floral subject:
* Her flower paintings tend to be very large watercolours (Tyrrell, 2007);
* Blackadder prefers to select flowers with strong structure (ibid);

Composition:
* “The simple white background allows the viewer to focus on the harmonious colours while paying close attention to the exquisite detail. Such a composition perhaps pays homage to the many historical forms of botanical studies of flora and fauna” (Figes, 2019);
* “The space between the objects is always carefully considered, so that it becomes as important at the objects themselves” (Mitchell, 2014);
* She prefers to “grow” a painting rather than using extensive planning (Tyrrell).

Drawing:
* Blackadder draws to capture the “character” of the flower (Tyrrell, 2007);
* She often renders flowers to their exact size, observing the subject rather than using photographs (ibid);

This work brings the drawing to the fore:


Orchid, 1985



References

Blackadder, E. (1985). Orchid,
National Galleries of Scotland
Viewed: https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/15405/orchid?artists%5B14932%5D=14932&search_set_offset=12, 19 May 2020.

Blackadder, E. (1996). Iris Oncocylus,
National Galleries of Scotland
Viewed: https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/76402/iris-oncocylus?artists%5B14932%5D=14932&search_set_offset=17, 19 May 2020.

Blackadder, Elizabeth

Blackadder, E. (nd). Auratum Lillies,
Cited in Figes, F. (2019) The versatility of Elizabeth Blackadder in ArtUK – Stories, 27 March,
Viewed: https://artuk.org/discover/stories/the-versatility-of-elizabeth-blackadder, 22 May 2020.

Blackadder, E. (nd). Anemonies and Ranunculus,
Viewed: http://www.browseanddarby.co.uk/artists/blackadder-elizabeth/, 22 May 2020.

Blackadder, E. (nd). Blue Poppy and Other Flowers,
Viewed: http://www.browseanddarby.co.uk/artists/blackadder-elizabeth/, 22 May 2020.

Blackadder, E. (nd). Still Life with Tulips,
Viewed: http://www.browseanddarby.co.uk/artists/blackadder-elizabeth/, 22 May 2020.

Bumpus, J. (1988). Elizabeth Blackadder, p. 14
Oxford: Phaidon.
Cited in Wikipedia (nd). Elizabeth Blackadder,
Viewed: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Blackadder, 22 May 2020.

Figes, F. (2019) The versatility of Elizabeth Blackadder in ArtUK – Stories, 27 March,
Viewed: https://artuk.org/discover/stories/the-versatility-of-elizabeth-blackadder, 22 May 2020.

Mitchell, D. (2004). Inspired by: Elizabeth Blackadder, 5 February
Viewed: https://museumoftheuniversityofstandrews.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/inspired-by-elizabeth-blackadder/, 22 May 2020.

Tyrrell, K. (2007). Flowers in Art…and Dame Elizabeth Blackadder RA RSA, July 9
Viewed: https://makingamark.blogspot.com/2007/07/flowers-in-artand-dame-elizabeth.html, 22 May 2020