Monday, October 31, 2011

Out of the attic: Himalayan blue poppies

This is not just a really old pastel drawing of Meconopsis betonicifolia, known as the Himalayan blue poppy - it is also a testament to my enduring and painful love affair with plants I can't grow. I'll set my heart either on something that should grow in much cooler climates, and obsessively stack ice cubes around it to try and make it flower (take, for example, the Great Peony Disaster of 2009), or else something that may not, under any circumstances, encounter frost, and spend all my time protecting it. I have to say the latter approach works better - my impala lilies, for instance, not only are still alive but flower most years. I think it goes without saying that I won't be trying to grow Meconopsis betonicifolia any time soon, as those in the know say that if you live in a climate where you can grow tomatoes, you can't grow Meconopsis. But that doesn't mean I'll stop yearning for them.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Botanical art exhibition

What I'm doing this week: frantically finishing the second of two paintings for this exhibition. If you're planning to be anywhere around Jo'burg this weekend, I really think it's going to be good!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Malachite kingfisher

Things about this painting:

* I sold it a few weekends ago (yay!)

* It was painted on top of another picture I'd done earlier. I have a great fear of pristine surfaces. Go and look at this comic by Gingerhaze. And then go and read her entire tumblr, which to me is basically one great dramatic pileup of this:

* The style of this painting was inspired in part by the first Black Orchid graphic novel - the early scenes in the greenhouse are some of the most gorgeous images I have ever seen.

* Malachite kingfishers are among my favourite things. The second thing I drew when I began taking art classes, aged 9 or so, was a malachite kingfisher. (The first was a green pepper, halved.)

* They are much smaller than they look in pictures (malachite kingfishers, not green peppers). I've never seen a live one, sadly, but I saw a skin in the museum at the University of the Witwatersrand, and it was no bigger than a sparrow.

* Oh yeah, I've been working on and off in the museum at Wits, and if you're a fan of snakes, spiders, bugs, axolotls, or giant green iguanas that like hanging out on logs and watching people do aerobics (seriously) and if you'll be in Jo'burg any time between tomorrow and Sunday, you should attend this event.

* I know the last point has exactly nothing to do with my picture. But, the iguana! It really happened. I was coming in from lunch, and what appeared to be most of the museum staff were doing some sort of dance routine, and the iguana was on a log, sommer there on the floor, watching them. It was one of those great moments in life, the ones you know you'll treasure forever. And there was an enormous hi-fi, and an instructor, and I think some people had belly-dancing belts, the ones with the coins. And... and... the iguana. It was beautiful.

P.S. In case you're one of the 17 people in the world who haven't seen this clip yet, may I present another of those beautiful moments. I don't feel bad saying that, because the kid wasn't hurt. Just don't read the comments on YouTube. They are exactly as you would expect.