Flower Painting is an aspect of Fine Art, and lives within the domain of the Painter.
For the serious artist, Flower Painting is not only about observation, it is also about content. The description of Flower Painting as decorative, pleasing to the eye, or as having aesthetic concerns, is an aspect of the truth but it is by no means the entire truth.
Flower Painting, as a fine art, holds a message that is filled with purpose. This message depends on the criteria and the intent that the artist has, and the statement they want to make. Their statement may be philosophical, emotional, ecological, spiritual or any number of concepts that relate to the flower image. The priority of the fine artist is to convey this content within the bigger picture of the art world.
For any artist who defines Flower Painting as only being about aesthetic concerns is denying its seriousness and reducing its history. I see this as a dumbing-down not only of the Flower Painter but of the complex reality of the Flower itself. Seeing Flower Painting as only about producing a pleasing image exposes a lack of awareness as to how fine art fuses content or how a message is fused into an art work.
Flowers have often been associated with still life in Western Art, and the flower stayed there for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. Historically, this was not always so. Through the many efforts of contemporary Flower Painters, it is now no longer only associated with either still life, or illustration.
Flower Painting, even as a part of the still life genre, never has been exclusive to making only a pretty picture.
Botanical Art and its Relationship to Flower Painting
I believe that a Botanical Illustrator is a Botanical Artist. I also believe that a Flower Painter is a Botanical Artist. This is to name but two kinds of creative artists who work with plant life.
If an artist declares that their way of working is governed by a particular style of painting that is specifically termed Botanical Art, then by so doing they are denying every other artist who works with plant life the right to call themselves a Botanical Artist.
The problem I am highlighting here, is that Botanical Art is used often used as both an umbrella term as well as a term to describe a specific style of painting. If the definitions here are unclear it is because the Botanical Art world cannot resolve or agree on this issue. Confusion will continue, until an agreement is made as to the definition.
The problem is sometimes exacerbated when websites and books use the phrase Botanical Art as an umbrella term, and then revert back again to describing Botanical Art as an actual style of painting. Hence, definitions are blurred and confusion diffuses into the bigger picture of the art world.
The terms have not been thought through. For those who have made a decision that it is a style of painting will forever be at logger-heads with those that see Botanical Art as an umbrella term. So where does one go from here?
It is well known that I absolutely adore Scientific Botanical Illustration, and that my understanding of the definition of Botanical Art is broad and comprehensive, and not limited to a particular style of painting. To reiterate: Botanical Art for me is an umbrella term that covers all aspects of creative and artistic work that involves the plant kingdom. In my opinion, Botanical Art is not and never will be a specific style of painting.