Friday, April 24, 2015

Catasetum tenebrosum awakens!

Catasetum tenebrosum in early spring, MR, 2015
It's been three years, but I'm still amazed every spring when my orchid, Catasetum tenebrosum, aka (you guessed it) "Cat", wakes up. Catasetums love to play dead. Really dead. For about half the year.
The flowers die, the leaves yellow and fall off, and the pseudobulbs wrinkle and gray. Yuck. It needs no water at all during that time, so I just cut off the oldest pseudobulb stick the mummified plant in a corner, and pretend it doesn't exist.

Around March or April, a tiny green growth appears at the base. I start watering and fertilizing it like crazy, and within just a couple of weeks, it looks like it does above. In another month, it will (hopefully) bloom its incredibly and weirdly fragrant black-and-yellow flowers. No dye here! Then the cycle begins again. Just amazing.
Catasetum tenebrosum in bloom, MR

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Draw and Paint Your Garden!

Able Gardener J sent me a photo of his recent drawing of a sea grape leaf from the garden. Beautiful!

One thing that keeps us connected to the world of flora is how our creativity connects to our gardens, and to the wild. Paint, draw, sculpt, connect. It's a wonderful way to spend a few hours on a weekend!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Weekly Plant Portrait: A Natural Orchid

I couldn't help doing another plant portrait of the undyed, natural Phals that are blooming all over the house. This one is posed with my new "Wall Fragments" paintings. They seem to go well together:
Orchids and Wall Fragments, MR, 2015
Hope everyone is having a wonderful week with spring (or autumn for the southern group) gardening!

Friday, April 10, 2015

PhalOrchids Live and Undyed Part II: Which Do You Prefer?

Here's another of the (unbeknownst to me) dyed Phalaenopsis orchids, in a new, full, and natural bloom. Which do you prefer? The magenta-dyed version?
Or the natural?
I'm leaning toward the natural....

Weekend Walkabout: Sweet Potato Loves Aloe Vera!

As you know, I love to "throw it and grow it". I've done that with mangoes, all sorts of medicinal herbs, and lately, sweet potatoes. Three of the thrown sweet spuds have taken off outside and are vining like crazy. One in particular is thriving, because it's in love. With Aloe Vera!
Sweet Potato and Aloe Vera, Spring 2015, MRobb
And as you can clearly see from the photo, Aloe Vera loves Sweet Potato right back. In fact, AV is blooming! Well, that's love.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

My Acrylic Painting Process, Sometimes

I've received several qusetions via email this week on how I paint. Acrylics are my sole paint medium; their versatility and extreme weirdness appeal to me tremendously. My paintings usually take a month to a year to complete. This is because they can have up to 35 layers! Some only have 10 or so. Why so many layers? I like my paintings to change with the light, and with the position of the sun and the viewer. If I've done one right, the viewer bobs and weaves to be able to see all the different angles. So it's very hard to photograph them- only one view can be shown on the screen, while in IRL, there's a lot more going on, and they shimmer and shake. So keep that in mind as you read.

Here's the first layer of a new painting I call "Oshun and Yemaja":
The first 3 to four layers are usually monochrome, either black, white, or grey. Then I move on to color:
Here's the next stage:
The middle stage is the ugly, gawky, "adolescent" stage where conflicting elements are just right up front. Nothing ever seems to work during this period. Many layers. This is normal.
A landscape is starting to come together here by layer 20. There's clearly a dialogue between the ocean layer and the earth/air layer. It moves on into further abstraction:
The final layers here are metal leaf (copper, in this case), and interference tones in rainbow hues. The bright copper layer has only a hint of the underlying mountainscape. It changes drastically according to the light, and the "ocean" layer  gives an optical illusion of swirling, moving color and depth as the light changes. It's about 32 layers here. I'm sorry I can't show it IRL, as the effect is intended to be either meditative or mesmerizing, but you get a general sort of idea.