This post is a response to Jessica Shepherd’s comments to recent posts here, and her latest post on the talk given by Macoto Murayama, which has sparked a fuse of inspiration for many Botanical Artists: http://inkyleaves.blogspot.co.uk/
I first saw Murayama’s work in Japan, and wondered why not more Botanical Artists see this kind of digital work as so spectacular a new medium to explore. I guess this is early days as yet. I so appreciate how the quantum nature of flowers is celebrated, and to a degree Murayama’s personality takes a second place to this process. But his emotion is not discarded, as it would be in a Scientific Illustration. The beauty and excellence of Scientific Illustration is rightly measured by how well the artist can subordinate their emotional response to the physical information.
Perhaps Murayama’s work is his attempt to reconcile the revelation of order that he observes literally in plant formations, with the unknown quantity of his own emotion. This is woven together to become an art work. There is also a kind of loaded emotion that remains tacit - plants have to be cut into sections to produce some of his work. This is something scientists have always had to reconcile within themselves - how they gain knowledge through dissecting life forms.
The word Stillness is very specific - something that is a quality of being. Plant life, as all nature, can give us access to the stillness within ourselves through its level of order. This order was labelled by some scientists in the 17th century as Sacred Geometry. Emotion is not stillness. Emotion is chaotic and has no boundaries. Emotional reactions can be restrained or given free rein. But this has been explored to the hilt through painting in general, so why should Botanical Artists see emotion as a useful addition to their art? Personally, I think we evolve as artists by expressing stillness. We can cultivate balance and stillness without and within, if we see it as something that deserves our focus of attention.
When we experience the intensity and perceived beauty of order in plants, it can cause a release from the storage points of emotion that we have within us. This release can be intense too; an out-pouring of toxicity, which we welcome because of the sense of clearing and freedom it brings in its wake. Beyond the release, stillness follows. Thus, stillness appears like a vast panorama of internal space that is the absolute balance between chaos and order. Cultivated stillness is yet to be pursued by artists of all kinds, and Botanical Artists are specifically well placed to follow such a productive and evolving pathway.