Australian artist Fiona Craig grew up surrounded by art and nature. It was probably inevitable, then, that she would choose a career as a painter, focusing especially on closely observed studies of landscapes and flowers. As she describes: “Living for many years in the Blue Mountains within an artistic family profoundly influenced my art making.”
Though she spent years working on commissioned portraits, the draw of Australia’s Blue Mountains pulled her toward landscape painting, which, in turn, drew her to her country’s native plants and lush blooms. “I often depict flora that have cultural and historical allusions, such as the iconic New South Wales state emblem, the waratah,” she explains. “A couple of my favorites are flowers that even caused ‘maladies’ when they first appeared on the European scene (i.e. ‘Tulipomania’ and ‘Orchid Fever’), the tulip and the orchid.”
Working in oil, watercolor, and pastels, Craig captures every nuance in the color of a petal and each vein in a leaf. A pair of the iconic New South Wales flowers appears in Sunlit Waratahs (2013). Their brightly lit, orange and blush-pink petals are wide open, revealing the thick mass of stamens at their center. Dark green leaves and purple stems radiate out from the flowers, highlighting their delicacy. A number of those malady-producing flowers appear in White Peonies with Tulips (2013). Nestled among the leonine white and purple peonies, the tulips poke out their seductive heads. Viewers are warned: while we now know that tulips are harmless, Craig’s enticing paintings may cause a new kind of flower fever.