Almost Back to the Blog

Phew.. I have really put some hours in over the last week, barely surfacing to glance wistfully at the sun outside. I will post more about the illustration work later but now I have to get back to botanicals too, as the next course submission is almost overdue.
I am working in pen and ink this week, so today just a pen and ink sketch of a beautiful twisted dwarf poinciana, Poinciana pucherrima pod for a bit of practice.
And “thank yous”are also due to all who sent and are sending me emails re buying work and to Mary at the Orlando Sentinel for a super write up in the paper and on their website here


Dwarf Poinciana Pod

Leaf of the Day: Fountain Clerodendron and Dwarf Poinciana

It’s Thursday morning and I am having a break from the flower heads. I cycled into Winter Park village to look for any other flowers that might inspire me and got caught in the rain on the way back but I did get my glasses mended.
When I eventually started work it was the beautiful Clerodendron minahassae, the Fountain clerodendron. I had to spend quite some time trying to identify this tree as the label had gone missing at Leu. It is really pretty. These long tubular white blossoms spray out from the branches and the leaves are elegant and a lovely shape.

It seems there will be some interesting berries to come too, judging by what I have read. It was delightful to paint but white on white is hard in watercolour. I think they need to be set against the green leaves to show off their true beauty but the central curling red stamens are gorgeous.
The clerodenrons are a huge family with many pretty flowers and now I have seen a couple more shrubs at Leu.

Number 2 today was the Dwarf Ponciana floret which I had sketched last week. Again I had to get another flower head but luckily they are all quite similar, so I could work from the sketch too. The colours look dull here but are brighter in the original. (I am not sure that the computer does very well with yellow.) I am noticing more and more flowers with red stamens here. I wonder why.


Fountain Clerodendron and Dwarf Poinciana

Leaf of the Day: Three Reluctant Flowerheads

I have been to the gardens today to look for more inspiration for flowers but got very sidetracked by some extremely interesting oranges, loofahs, more Jatrophas, spice trees, the rare Juanulloa mexicana, the Agaves and some great Ladies fingers pods. This did not help at all with today’s mission to find some flowers to paint for the course. Also, having mentally earmarked some, when I go to collect a specimen I find that the Glory Lillies are no more, the Aristolochias are decimated again by caterpillars, the Coral Tree flowers are now very much past their best and even the Black Eyed Susan is flowerless. Flower wise it had been a bad day, not helped by getting soaked to the skin in my way home in the big storm that swept through Orlando at lunchtime. Also a hopeful model died on the way home even in a cool box.
But I have three possibles and made preliminary sketches but I have to say I am not much inspired.

The first and the most interesting is one of the gorgeous heliconias..the smallest I can find ..the heliconia episcopalis. It has a bright red orange inflorescence with the remnants of spent flowers peeping out of the sides.
The second is the dainty little flower of the Dwarf Poinciana otherwise known as the Pride of Barbados because it is the national flower of Barbados. Alternatively it is called the fence flower because it grows into a small bushy tree with thorns, so good for effective and pretty fencing! This one is a bright red and yellow variety with an interesting flower structure and long red whiskers. Its Latin name Caesalpinia pulcherrima gives rise to more interesting information as it honours the Italian 16th Century physician and botanist Andrea Cesalpino. He made many important observations about plants and the body but from a botanic point of view it is the two publications, De plantis libri XVI (1583) and his Herbarium 1550-60, one of the oldest herbaria still in existence, for which he is held in high esteem. The first, a herbal was a collection of acute and insightful observations about plants, their structures and their classification. His system of classification was deemed to be the most important until that of Lineus who honoured him thus, Quisquis hic exstiterit primos concedat honores, Casalpine Tibi primaque certa dabit.

Which I think, very roughly translated, means that the honours should go to Casalpine as he was the first. ( apologies to any Latin scholars, you might like to put me right?)
His second ‘book’ is a herbarium ( a collection of dried specimens)containing 760 plants and now held in the Museo di Storia Naturale di Firenze in Florence. Sadly there is not much visual information on the Internet that is obvious from a quick search, but here is an image from the museum website.

In desperation for something else to paint I have also turned reluctantly to the anthuriums. I don’t really like them. I don’t know why and there is not much to say about them except that they do have some great if it was the leaves I was drawing it would be a different matter, but the flowers? …well maybe I am missing something.

One of the problems with this assignment is size.. I would love to have taken home one of the huge magnolias or the strelitzias or a stunning double ‘angel’s trumpet’ flower, (at least I could have given myself over to its narcotic scent which might have helped the creative process along a bit) but I am limited to getting 7 flowers onto one A3 sheet…sigh..
Anyway here are 3 preliminary sketches of these flower heads.


Heliconia Episcopalis Dwarf Poinciana, Anthurium,