The Symbolism Behind Animals
Flo's animal paintings depict animals with strong personalities, from roosters, to peacocks, owls, turtles, giraffes, lions, pangolines, bears, and many more.
Flo loves animals and is deeply interested in the symbolism of each animal. The elephant, for instance, is a symbol for intelligence, while the owl represents wisdom! Flo started her animal series a few years ago with the rooster as he is the mascot for her country of origin: France.
Are the French People Proud?
"A few years ago I found myself amused by the fact that the mascot for France is the rooster, a supposedly very proud animal. However, I soon discovered that other cultures cherish the rooster in particular as well, assigning him their own special meanings. In China, for instance, the rooster bears the five attributes of a good spouse: responsibility, courage, fidelity, kindness and confidence." -Flo
"Next, I decided to represent peacocks, first, for their beauty, but also because I discovered that they are the only animals who are capable of eating a poisonous plant. Not only that, but they still manage to grow superb, gaudy feathers that others admire all around the globe. I thought that this carried an important message to all of us: sometimes we have to swallow poisonous circumstances, and go through challenges. But still, we carry on. It is our choice to maintain a beautiful life." - Flo
"I also painted several owls for their symbol of wisdom, paying close attention in particular to their wide, piercing eyes. There are so many owls with various forms of plumage, but they all seem to stare at me and understand my thoughts." - Flo
"After the peacocks and owls, I continued with another species with wings: butterflies. They are a symbol for change and new beginnings. For Christians, they even symbolize resurrection. The essence of the caterpillar dies, to transform into a butterfly, leaving its old skin to grow a new body. With these new possibilities, the butterfly can lift up into the sky!" -Flo
"Sometime after that, I was commissioned to paint a series of turtles, and I quickly became enchanted by these wonderful creatures. I was fascinated by the way they move: slowly, but surely, emanating strength and determination. Through my research, I also discovered that they are a symbol for longevity and perseverance." - Flo
"I thought that I could go even further with the meaning and messages of my animal paintings. I started my series of "Alpha Animals" in 2019. In this particular series, I illustrate the fine line between power, strength, and vulnerability. A big brown bear is walking towards two little rabbits in love, who don't see him. Why does the big bear look puzzled if he is the strong one? Does he feel lonely and vulnerable at the sight of so much love? What is he going to do? " - Flo
"As Steve Jobs believed, we're all the same in front of illness and death, whatever our successes, accomplishments and wealth might be. I want to question the relationship between a big and powerful animal such as a lion or an elephant, versus a tiny and vulnerable one such as a mouse. And what about a mama gorilla holding her baby? Isn't she one of the strongest animals on Earth? Yet, she looks so vulnerable, watching her baby already trying to leave and be independent." - Flo
From the Chinese Calendar to Mexican Murals
Flo de Bretagne started to paint her series of animals a few years ago in 2017, the year of the rooster, where Flo had seen a beautiful illustration of a rooster in a Chinese calendar. She found similar inspiration in many more places: a Renaissance sculpture in Italy, aboriginal art in Australia, tribal paintings in South India, and Mexican murals. Integrating these inspiring components, Flo made her own and unique series of colorful and magnificent animals, each bearing their own personalities. Just as Flo was inspired by international artworks, she hopes that others can be inspired by her own work as well.