Millions of Americans will soon be sticking out their tongues at Elizabeth Brandon’s artwork. Well, to be precise, they’ll be licking the backs of new U.S. Postal Service stamps featuring some of the Nashville-based painter’s most appealing floral designs.
The new set, which the Postal Service is titling “Flowers from the Garden,” comes from four different Brandon paintings of flowers typically found in American gardens. The first stamp shows red camellias and yellow forsythia in a yellow pitcher. The second depicts white peonies and pink tree peonies in a clear vase.
Her image of white and blue hydrangeas in a blue pot is remarkable both for its beauty and simplicity. The final stamp, on the other hand, is a veritable fireworks display of color, an arrangement featuring white hydrangeas, white and pink roses, green hypericum berries, and purple lisianthus in a white vase. Veteran graphics designer Derry Noyes created the stamps, working faithfully from Brandon’s eye-popping, realistic still lifes.
Brandon says the Postal Service often searches for graphic ideas that will appeal to the country’s large population of philatelists, otherwise known as stamp collectors. “Stamp collecting is a huge hobby, so the Postal Service is always on the lookout for new ideas,” Brandon tells Nashville Arts Magazine.
Other stamps coming out in 2017 include ones celebrating the centenaries of John F. Kennedy and former University of Notre Dame President Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh. There’s even a new set of stamps devoted to sharks common to American waters.
JFK and Jaws were obvious choices. But how did one of the federal government’s largest agencies find Brandon and her flowers?
“The government actually came looking for me,” says Brandon. “I’m probably better known nationally than locally, since my images have been reproduced by a lot of big companies, like Kaukauna Cheese and Cook’s Illustrated covers. I suspect that’s how they found me.”
The Postal Service must have had a eureka moment when it discovered Brandon’s art, since her realistic works are perfect for stamps. Her realism—a kind of aliveness that defines everything she paints—flows directly from her aesthetic. Unlike many contemporary painters who work from photographs, Brandon always paints from life. Working with natural light gives her paintings an organic quality.
“I always loved the way the Dutch Masters used light and shadow,” says Brandon. “Their techniques captured the essence of the subjects they were painting, so their art really seems to have a life basis. I try to convey the same thing in my work.”
The stamps featuring Brandon’s art will be available later this year. See the paintings used on the stamps at the downtown library May 6 through July 30. See more of Brandon’s work at www.elizabethbrandon.com.