The Women is a series of paintings that are currently in progress in my studio. The series will feature 20 watercolor paintings of flowers that represent women of history, mythology, and literature. Although the flowers are painted realistically in their natural postures, each botanical subject holds a personified resemblance to its human subject. Check this page periodically to follow along as the series grows.

Ave Maria

The Women Series

Ave Maria

We often visualize the Virgin Mary as a young mother. She is depicted that way throughout much of art history. But it is the art that depicts Mary at a later age that is most striking to me. Particularly, I am moved by Dieric the Elder's Mater Dolorosa (1480-1500). This canna seemed to hold the same sorrowful, heavy pose. You might know the song Ave Maria from memorial services. It is a song that seems to bring hope to many people. I love hearing it sung by Luciano Pavarotti. While painting this piece, I listened to many variations of Ave Maria. I can still hear the music when I see the painting.

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The Women Series

Calypso: Fearless Nymphea

This half-sheet (22"x15") painting of a floating lily began an exploration of how portraits of flowers might represent strong feminine heroes from myth, legend and modern literature. Her open posture radiates with bravery like the famous nymph, Calypso, of Homer's Odyssey who offered Odysseus immortality. In myth, Calypso used her seductive beauty powerfully. In reality, this Nymphaea oderata, as it is scientifically named, yields a similar, seductive power to captivate.

Pandora

The Women Series

Pandora

Many people think they know the story of Pandora and her box. But did you know that it was actually a jar from which she unleashed greed, envy, hatred, pain, disease, hunger, poverty, war, and death? And did you know that she wept afterwards? This 30"x22" watercolor of a coral vine feels like the way it may have looked when beautiful Pandora wept over the release of miseries into the world. How unfortunate that in many myths it is the women who bring misery.

The Women Series

Cleopatra

"Cleopatra" is a full sheet watercolor painting (22"x30"). Its subject is a canna that is commonly called the "Cleopatra Lily". She stands among a throng of leaves that seem to bow to her majesty. This flower is actually quite tall in real life and gives a queenly vibe. However, it's obvious that the weight of her glorious petals will eventually pull her down in their heaviness, like the famous ruler Cleopatra VII, whose sadness became her death.

© 2020 by Jennifer Gillen