“Moon Bloom”

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of them all”. ~ Chinese Proverb

Cymbidium orchids are my favorite flower. They are so beautiful, exotic, and come in a myriad of different colors. Cymbidium is a genus of 52 evergreen species in the orchid family Orchidaceae. The name is derived from the Greek word kumbos, meaning ‘hole, cavity’. It refers to the form of the base of the lip. This genus is distributed in tropical and subtropical Asia, namely, northern India, China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines (YAY), Borneo, and northern Australia. The larger flowered species from which the large-flowered hybrids are derived grow at high altitudes. One feature that makes the plant so popular is the fact that it can survive during cold temperatures (as low as 7˚ C or 45˚ F).

You can even eat some of them!!! The species Cymbidium hookerianum is considered a delicacy in Bhutan where it is traditionally cooked in a spicy curry or stew. AND the Chinese varieties are fragrant!

Cymbidium plants grow to a height of 60 cm. Each flower can have a diameter of 5 to 10 cm, according to the species. They bloom during the winter, and each plant can have up to fifteen or more flowers. The fantastic range of colors for this genus include white, green, yellowish-green, cream, yellow, brown, pink, and red [and orange] and black (and there may be markings of other color shades at the same time), but not blue. The flowers last about ten weeks. (Summarized from Wikipedia).

I cannot think of a more heavenly flower, especially one that is fragrant, grows in such cold, high altitudes and one that you can turn into curry if you are hungry! Amazing! This is why I so love to paint them. “Moon Bloom” is a white Cymbidium orchid I photographed while visiting one of my favourite places – the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton.

Below is a picture of the painting in development. It took a few layers of paint to finish, and the red spots are always the last to be painted on. I was going to texture it with glass beads, but I felt it looked ghostly perfect the way it was.

photo 3

It is acrylic on 24×36 inch canvas, and varnished with Liquitex High Gloss. It is part of my “Enchanted Forest” series. When my children saw it, the first words they uttered were “Alien!” (gasp) – and – “It looks like it’s going to eat me!” Perfect! Truly the feeling I wanted to capture when I painted it – alien, ethereal, other-worldly. I hope you like it too!

“Pensive” is complete!

Pensive

Pensive is now complete. Acrylic on 3×3 foot canvas. I admit, I had to get used to the quicker drying time of the acrylic paints, even when mixed with slow-DRI. I love the ease of cleanup with acrylic paints, and at the end of the day, I like that the painting is dry so quickly. I named this painting “pensive”, because the orchid looks so thoughtful…if you could call a plant thoughtful! The final step is to varnish it, and it will be ready for the show.

Pensive Phase 2

Pensive Phase 2

Pensive Phase 2

So I couldn’t wait to paint more of the orchid. While my husband watched “The Conjuring” (which is a very frightening movie in case you haven’t heard of it yet), I decided to work on it a little more. I found that I felt rushed using the acrylics mixed with the Slow-DRI, as compared to when I use oils. While drying time was definitely extended, I had to work a lot quicker to achieve the kind of blending I wanted, but a definite plus was that clean up was much easier. It is turning out a lot better than I expected, with a very similar look to my Funky Orchid which was done in oil. I have a lot more work to do on it, obviously, but I hope you like phase 2!

“Pensive” Phase 1

Pensive phase 1

Pensive phase 1

Here is a picture of the first stage of my next painting. It is on 3×3 foot canvas, and is #2 in my Cymbidium Orchid series, the first of which was “Funky Orchid”. I will be using acrylics for this painting (thanks Sarah Jane). I obtained some Liquitex Slow-DRI Blending Gel, as suggested by Sarah, and it worked like a dream! I didn’t use the heavy matte gel, mostly because it had a warning label on it that said it “contains a known carcinogen”. The label doesn’t disclose what this ingredient is, and I’ll have to do more research to find out what it is, unless someone would like to comment and let me know. Regardless, the slow-DRI works like a dream, the paint has a nice blendability to it, and according to package directions, you can add as much or as little as you want without diluting the paint color too much, or affecting binding. It feels a little different from oils, a bit more slick, and fast, like painting with (pardon this comparison) KY jelly. Over all, the effects were similar, although I can see the brush strokes more than with oils, even when I’ve run the blending brush over it, but that may be the way I paint. I feel the more visible brush strokes will add to this painting anyway, so I am very happy with the way it turned out. I will definitely be using acrylics more in the future! Stay tuned for Phase 2.

Funky Orchid is Complete!

Funky Orchid

Funky Orchid

Well, the contract for my paintings to be shown in a cafe is finally signed and delivered. Here is my newest painting for the display, my “Funky Orchid”, oil on 30×36 canvas. I thought I wanted it to look all soft and ethereal, but it turned out quite a bit more vibrant than I had planned, with sharper shadows and contrasts. I’m very happy with how funky it turned out! Hope you like it!

Funky Orchid Phase 1

Funky Orchid Phase 1

Funky Orchid Phase 1

Well, it’s another sick day, my kids caught the bug and are now resting at home with me, so while they recuperate quietly with games, naps, movies, healthy snacks and plenty of fluids, I decided to start on my next piece. I was going to make it funky with concentric circles a la the Percolator app, but I so love the natural beauty of flower petals that I think I’m going to leave to natural. Here it is pictured above, sketched out with the background painted in. I will keep you updated on its progress.