You may remember Martin's previous article,
'Palms in Portugal'. Here Martin talks about his passion to paint
them, and we print a wonderful example of his work.
Martin Salisbury, 114 Argyle Street, Cambridge, CB1 3L5, U.K.
Chamaerops No. 14, published online 23-08-2002
on this article:
Click here to read them or to add your own.
Butia capitata, painted by Martin Salisbury
Having been described (to my horror) by Martin Gibbons
as 'businessman Martin Salisbury' in his editorial notes about my
article 'Palms in Portugal' (Chamaerops July '91), I have been meaning
ever since to put the record straight by writing a few words about
what I actually do, and how it relates to the subject of Palms.
I am an illustrator, working on various commissions,
but usually books, especially childrens' books. In my other life
as an associate lecturer in illustration at Anglia University here
in Cambridge, I have frequently taken groups of students to my beloved
Portugal on field trips to draw and paint a different culture, and
where the students have to keep reminding me to stop talking about
palms when I should be talking about complimentary colours and perspective.
My interest in palms began in a similar way to that
of the other Martin, that is, the gift of a dear little Parlour
Palm many years ago, an interest that subsequently has got totally
out of hand and has led to my joining those ranks of sad men who
spend winter evenings putting large polythene things over a garden
full of Butias, Chamaerops, Sabal & Washingtonia (the Jubaea
The appeal of palms however, has for me always been
much more of an aesthetic one than a botanical one and, although
I have become reasonably knowledgeable, at least about sub-tropical
palms, it is the sheer beauty of the individual trees and their
visual relationship to the architecture of their surroundings that
excites me. The sight of cool shadows of palm fronds dancing gently
against the warm colours of crumbling stuccoed walls is guaranteed
to set my pulses racing.
Having irritated various art-editors of various
publishing houses by frequently sneaking palm trees into illustrations
when they had no right to be there, I have had to find other ways
of getting it out of my system. This has meant finding more time
to devote to painting purely for pleasure and so, in recent years,
I have built up quite a large portfolio of watercolours, worked
on between commissions. Some have been sold in places like the Mall
Galleries in London, but most lie in my plans-chest waiting for
the perhaps never-to-happen exhibition or book.
There is a rich heritage of water-colour painters
of palms, particularly the Americans such as Winslow Homer and John
Singer Sargent, Homer making many beautiful images of storm-swept
palms in the tropics, and Sargent, better-known for his sunlit 'Palmettoes'
I work from a mixture of 'on-the-spot' sketches
and photographs, sometimes combining different reference sources
to make one picture. Much of my inspiration comes from Portugal,
where the combination of unspoilt architectural detail along with
abundant and varied palms has continued to feed my pictures. I have
also spent a lot of time in Italy, especially the south Naples,
Capri, Sicily, where the palms are seen at their best alongside
the beauty of the decaying buildings and distressed surfaces.
The medium of watercolour is ideal for the depiction
of the recurrent themes of architecture, sunlight, foliage. I have
completed paintings which include the species Butia, Phoenix, Washingtonia,
Chamaerops, and I am about to start work, when I can fit it in,
of a Syagrus romanzoffiana residing on the edge of an old square
in Oporto - a truly magnificent beast with gnarled grey trunk and
those lovely elegant feathery leaves. I don't know whether the native
Oportans are particularly palm-conscious but I have noticed in recent
years some increasingly imaginative palm plantings around some of
the new buildings - offices and hotels. The aforementioned Syagrus
being particularly popular, so in years to come when they are mature
and the buildings are beginning to crumble perhaps some other artist
will be moved to reach for the brushes.
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22-08-19 - 18:31GMT
|| What's New?
|| New palm book
| Date: 24-05-2004
of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft.
|| New: Issue 48
| Date: 24-05-2004
has been published in the Members Area.
|| Archive complete!
| Date: 03-12-2002
| All Chamaerops issues can now be found in the archive:
More than 350 articles are on-line!
|| Issues 13 to 16
| Date: 28-08-2002
| Chamaerops mags 13,
have been added to the members area. More than 250 articles are now online!
|| 42 as free pdf-file
| Date: 05-08-2002
Download! Chamaerops No. 42 can be downloaded for free to intruduce the new layout and size to
|| Issues 17 to 20
| Date: 23-07-2002
| Chamaerops mags 17,
have been added to the members area. Now 218 articles online!
|| Book List
| Date: 28-05-2001
a look at our brand new Book List edited by Carolyn Strudwick
|| New Book
| Date: 25-01-2001
by Mario Stähler
This german book tells you all about how to cultivate your palms in Central Europe. more...