Flower power is more than just a catchy turn of phrase. Fresh-cut flowers can be transformative, their harmonious hues and symmetrical forms ushering in a distinctive vibe into any room, all while boosting our mood and outlook.
Mention flowers to British watercolor artist Safiyyah Choycha, and she’ll tell you all about the healing power of flowers. She shares her flower-inspired watercolors on her social media @the_soulful_creative and her site, Safiyyah Studio. Her designs also adorn home accessories and wearable textiles such as scarves. For Safiyyah, her work has become a sort of flower therapy.
“I use the term flower therapy as a way of describing how I give people a ‘feel good’ factor with my art, which is very much about keeping flowers alive in people’s homes. It’s about having a spot in the home that always gives you a lift,” she says of her paintings, which transcend botanical depictions. In each wispy brushstroke evoking the variegation of a petal and in every foggy edge, her blooms somehow perfectly capture the feeling one has when enjoying flowers in person.
But flowers didn’t always preoccupy Safiyyah’s time. She initially worked as a secondary school teacher, and after five years, she became quite ill. “I had to take time off to recover, and I spent a lot of time in my garden. It felt like therapy being surrounded by flowers and greenery.”
Her garden had never looked better, Safiyyah laughs. “I just couldn’t stop planting, watering, and weeding. The garden made me happy and helped me so much with healing. It got me thinking about how I could make these happy feelings last. It wasn’t always possible to be outside amongst the flowers, and I thought, ‘What if I could bring the outdoors inside?’”
Painted flowers never fade, and thus her unique take on still life became an enduring homage to nature’s glories and the sense of tranquility brought on by being in the garden. “Once beautifully framed and styled in a corner in someone’s home, my flowers could bring a lifetime of joy,” she says. “Art has that effect on people when they find the piece they can really connect with.”
With that in mind, converting her paintings into touchable art for everyday life was the next logical step. “Bringing the prints into the home in the form of a scarf, a notebook, or cushions is just one of the many ways to appreciate how nature can uplift us,” Safiyyah says.
Meanwhile, she continues her experiments in watercolors. “Recently, I started an abstract landscape series called Sunday Soothing Landscapes. The idea for the series came at a time when everyone was in lockdown, and really, we all needed a form of escapism.” Perhaps sometimes you just need a bit of flower therapy.
Safiyyah’s Book Picks
For those times when one cannot observe flowers in nature, Safiyyah recommends a few books for botanical reference and floral art inspiration. Petal by Adriana Picker (Hardie Grant Books, 2020), The Flower Expert by Fleur McHarg (Thames & Hudson, 2019), and A Year in Flowers by Erin Benzakein (Chronicle Books, 2020) are her favorites.