Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fairyslipper Orchid

This weekend my husband and I went to the Blue Mountains for a day of relaxation. I had hoped to see some new birds to add to my own personal "big year" list and wandered off into the woods with camera in hand. I could hear birds calling from the tall pines in every direction, but I was having a difficult time actually seeing the birds themselves. After a while my neck was aching so I decided to give it a rest and look down for awhile. The mountains are beginning to come alive with dozens of wild flowers of every shape, size and color so I amused myself with photographing those instead of birds. That's when I saw it. Hiding under the boughs of a small pine was a delicate looking pinkish-purple flower.

It was quite unusual looking so I got down on my knees for a closer look and discovered what appeared to be a tiny orchid. It's called a Fairyslipper. Laying on my belly in the pine needle duff to photograph it I was enchanted with it's exotic look and diminutive beauty.
Fairyslipper orchid

Fairyslippers, I learned later, are found growing in old growth forests across the country. In some areas they are quite common, but in other areas they are considered rare and endangered. They have a single flower on a 2" to 8" stalk that has a single oval leaf coming from a corm beneath the soil. Their root structure is very delicate and they will die if disturbed. Many people try to collect them thinking they will grow in their gardens, but the Fairyslipper has such specific needs of climate and soil that they do not survive.
Whenever I find something like this I always feel like I have been blessed with a special gift. Most people will go all their lives and never, ever see a wild orchid. I, myself, almost didn't see this exquisite little jewel hidden on the forest floor. If I had not looked down at just the right time I would have missed it. I wonder now how many other springs I have been in the forests and never noticed the secret treasures that were hidden there? I'm glad, however, that this spring I got tired of looking up and took some time to look down!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Red Doberman and Pink Polka Dots

I always enjoy being contacted by past clients to create another portrait for them. It's nice because they already know what to expect from me so there's no extra selling on my part and no great surprises for them other than what I may come up with to match their ideas. Many times they only have a few photos and rely on my expertise to fill in the blanks. They often tell me to just "work my magic". While I'd like to take credit for that "magic" I believe I always have a little extra help from the ultimate Creator who just uses me to fill in those blanks. I've been given a gift and I'm just trying to use it to bring joy to others.

This recent painting was one of those that was a little shy on reference and I had to use my imagination again. Some days it really gets a good workout! The biggest challenge, or so I thought, was how to combine the colors of this red Doberman with a brown blanket with pink polka dots and some kind of background and make it all work together. My photo reference had a yellow cast to it so I really wasn't sure of exact shades of color and had to make my best guess. The dog was easy enough as there's plenty of photos of red Doberman's to look at, but the blanket? I think that's where that extra magic comes in because I often times have no way of knowing such things and somehow they just show up in my paintings. Coincidence or divine intervention? Since I'm not much of a believer in coincidence I'm guessing I have help. How else could I know these things?

Anyway, this is a "past to present" portrait of Stormey, the red Doberman, and her favorite blanket. It was painted in acrylic. My clients have approved and I think it turned out quite well.
Now.....I wonder what my next painting challenge will be???