It is January. I desperately want to be in the studio, painting with abandon. Images of roses in my mind, porcelain vases untried, ideas for paintings... But this is a month when discipline and patience must prevail. The garden needs my attention. Winter is time to be cruel to be kind to the rosa rugosa. When pruned, roses think that their wounds are mortal, so they send out new growth to survive. If you bend them, they are convinced that they are broken, sending out laterals, the shoots that produce the flowers. All of this violence is necessary to have the roses. So I cut on, with a vengeance..
The English artist William Hogarth developed the theory of The Line of Beauty in his Analysis of Beauty in 1753. The line of beauty is a serpentine or S shape formed by elements of a painting. According to Hogarth, S shaped curves in a composition create a sense of vitality and activity, in contrast to straight lines or right angles which become static, or dead.
I thought about this today as I pillared Tess D’Ubervilles. As I wrapped the canes around the pillar the rose would think it was breaking. Cruel to be kind. Lucky plant, do you know how many lines of beauty will be wrapped around this post? I will remember this next spring when I arrange a still life with Tess in a pewter trumpet vase and create a composition where the curves of the roses and vase recall Hogarth’s Line of Beauty.