Showing posts with label watercolor painting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label watercolor painting. Show all posts

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Yellow Fringed Orchid and Pollinator

Blinded by Pollinia - Yellow Fringed Orchid (Platanthera ciliaris) and Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor), watercolor, 17.5" x 13.5".


Today I'm interrupting my Sperry Chalet artist-in-residence postings to show you one of my latest art works. This painting was created as my entry to an exhibition that the Botanic Artist Society of the National Capital Region (BASNCR), of which I'm a member and officer, is putting on, "Natural Attraction: Virginia Plants and Their Pollinators." The show will be at the Athenaeum in Alexandria, VA from April 6 through May 14, 2017.

I'm really pleased that my painting was selected for the show (it is a juried show). I couldn't have done this painting without the inspiration of Jim Fowler's fabulous photos in his blog, capturing this unique instant as the Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) is visiting the orchid flowers.

I had hoped to see the pollinator of the purple fringed orchids when I was studying the small population found on Skyline Drive (Shenandoah National Park) a few years ago, but I didn't see any during the times when I was doing my field sketches. So hats off to Jim, for his extraordinary combination of luck and patience in capturing this elusive occurrence.

The butterfly is attracted by the nectar found in the long thin spur behind each flower. As the insect puts its head near the opening of the spur to insert its proboscis, it comes in contact with the pollen sacs (pollinia) near the openings. The pollinia then attach to the insect's eyes by means of a sticky thread called the viscidium.

As the butterfly visits the flowers, a number of pollinia are collected and later deposited on other flowers where they can fertilize the style, which is also near the opening of the spur. The butterfly can become disoriented when it has a lot of pollinia stuck to its eyes, therefore my title, a takeoff on the song "Blinded by the Light."

Friday, March 6, 2015

Painting on the Chazz


Evening on the Chazz, watercolor, 10" x 14".

It was pouring when we woke the next morning. Grateful for the opportunity to give our sore muscles a rest, we hung around our cozy cabin reading books. Later we drove down to Weeki Wachee to verify that the boat rental concession at the state park was still in operation, and stopped at the public library to check our Emails.

It started to clear up in the late afternoon and by the time we got back to our cabin, a hazy sun was trying to emerge from the clouds. I walked down to the river with my watercolor kit and set up on a bench towards the end of the strip of boardwalk. From here I could look over Chassahowitzka Spring towards the narrowing channel to the Seven Sisters. With the sun setting behind me, the colors were subdued--lovely grays and silver, with a touch of gold.

It took a while to decide what to focus on--the reflections of a few bald cypress trunks and one tree leaning over the channel seemed the most appealing. I included the large cypress next to me to balance out the opposite shore. I had completed most of the trees and land mass as the evening shadows deepened, but had not started yet on the water--that would have to be worked wet-on-wet all in one pass and there was not enough time today. Insects were starting to come out and buzz around me (I'm a mosquito magnet); it would be smart to get back to the cabin before I was attacked.

I'd been painting for a couple of hours and Herb had not come down to the river to look for me... how odd. Back at the cabin he remarked that he had gone to the river to look for me, but that I had "vanished into thin air." With a small group of people sitting by a fire pit near the boathouse, he had not seen me at the end of the boardwalk in the gathering dusk.

I finished the water and the rest of the painting two days later, relying on memory. I took some artistic license by adding a few blue-greens and golds to the water that weren't actually there, but give the painting a little more punch.