Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Hybrid Dahlias

The final day of September is here! How does time pass so quickly? Time -- that human concept that gives us the sense of things having a beginning, a middle and an end. We cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like to live outside of time in some ever-present now and, yet, we are told that eternity, like God, exists outside of time. Have you ever tried to wrap your head around timelessness? The very attempt gives me a headache but I look forward to experiencing it!

Well, enough of that. Instead, let me show you two new drawings of Dahlias. As you may be aware, Dahlias usually look like this:

but this form is just the traditional dahlia with its curved petals, normally in layers of various shadings.

Over time all sorts of hybrids have developed which look little like the traditional flower.
For example, the one at the top of this column is called a "cactus dahlia". There are all sorts of cactus dahlias with similar looking petals. To me they look rather shaggy as though they are in need of a haircut. The colours, however, like most dahlias have beautiful shadings. There are a few solidly-coloured ones, but the majority are more like my drawing above.

Then there are hybrids which look even less like the "mother" plants.

The one above is a "simple flowerhead dahlia" with petals that are absolutely flat -- almost like a wildflower. The most beautiful part of this particular plant, to me, are the globe-like, tri-coloured buds. I think you will have to admit that the buds are prettier than the blossoms -- a very unusual situation.

Thus ends another posting. I need to go and get out my heavier blanket for the bed as the temperature is going to be down close to freezing tonight! How quickly the seasons change as time passes...

Peace be with you all.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Ron's Crabapple Blossoms

Tonight I want to share with you something that has been happening on Facebook recently.

As I told you back on September 8th, when I first posted the drawing above of crabapple blossoms and buds, this drawing was inspired by a photo taken by my cousin's husband, Ron.

Ron is one of my friends on Facebook and recently he posted the following comment along with both his photo and my drawing. I thought you might enjoy seeing what he said and a few of the comments his posting received:

Ron's comment accompanying the pictures:

Sallie Thayer, my wife Sharon’s cousin, is an artist who lives in Canada. Sallie asked if she could draw some of my photographs, and she then created the wonderful artwork shown here. She has made my original photograph look really great.

Remark #1
WOW. Both are great Ron. Her artwork has an Asian look to it when you see the larger image. What artistic style does she call this?

Remark #2
Sallie, your flowers are fabulous. I really love this one you did from Ron's crab apple photo! What a talent you are blessed with!

Remark #3
beautiful have such a gift

Remark #4
Very beautiful! Love the details!

Maybe I should have a contest to determine exactly what my style really is -- then I would know as well. Seriously, I was very touched by all the kind remarks.

Ron is actually posting my drawing on his website next to his photograph. I gave you the link back on September 8th when I first posted my drawing. His website is very professional since he is, in fact, a professional photographer and it is well worth taking a look at.

Impatiens Timor

Peace be with you all.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Christmas Already?!

It is really difficult for me to believe that it is that time of year again -- no, not Christmas, but the end of September -- which is when I start thinking about drawing a new icon for my Christmas cards.

I have been working on the icon above for the past few weeks and this afternoon reached the point of considering it ready to post. It is not finished yet, but all the space has been filled -- which is the first step!

I am already thinking about changing a couple of things. For example, I am not sure if there should be just one little foot sticking out from under Jesus' gown or two. Maybe there shouldn't be any. I will have to see how I feel about this over time.

As well, I have Joseph's coat half on and half off with the off side draped over his left arm. Do I want to put his coat on completely, take it off completely or what. This, too, bears more consideration.

Also, I am not sure that I am pleased about the background colours. I will have to consider this further as well.

So, as you can see, when I call something a "first draft", I really mean it. However, since I have started working on it this early, I am sure I will have it completed in time to make my Christmas cards.

By the way, I am calling this icon "Christ, the Light of the World".

Meanwhile, I continue with my usual activities. I am still working on the books and attempting to get them ready for submission to some publishers by the end of the year. As well, I should have the new devotional book of the Stations of the Cross ready by November which will be just in time for you to purchase a copy or two for Christmas gifts. This time the price should be about $25 which is a lot more reasonable.

Peace be with you all.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

A Native American Saint

Here is a new icon although I am not really sure how traditional it is. You may recognize the image on the peasant's tilma as Our Lady of Guadalupe. So this is obviously the icon of St. Juan Diego.

You may recall the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe which I posted back on Sunday, August 9, 2009 under the title of "A New Project". So tonight I will give you just a bit more information about Juan Diego, the man.

St. Juan Diego lived from 1474 to 1548. Before he became a Catholic at age 50 and took the name of Juan Diego, he was known as Cuauhtlatoatzin which means "the talking eagle". He lived in a village called Cuautlitian which was located in what is now Mexico City. He was evidently a gifted member of the Chichimeca people, one of the more culturally advanced groups living in that area.

Juan Diego was one of the first converts of a Franciscan priest by the name of Fr. Peter da Gand. He quickly became a devout Catholic and received special permission to receive Holy Communion three times a week (a rarity at that time). It was when he was on his way to early morning Mass, passing Tepeyac Hill, that he saw Our Lady for the first time -- the Lady that has since become known as Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The drawing shows St. Juan Diego in the process of opening his tilma to show the Bishop the roses he had found growing on the side of Tepeyac Hill even though it was already December. Much to the amazement of the Bishop, his priests and Juan Diego, himself, was the beautiful image of Our Lady appearing on the tilma as a native woman wearing the black girdle worn by the Chichimeca women to indicate that they were pregnant.

As I told you on August 9th, that image remains as beautiful as it was on December 12, 1531. The cactus fibre of Juan Diego's tilma remains unchanged as well -- a miracle itself as this rough fibre usually decays within 15 to 20 years. If you want to see for yourselves, head to Mexico City, to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe and you can visit the shrine of St. Juan Diego while you are there!

May peace be with you all.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Hybrids and Gold

There are a large group of Rhododendron hybrids known the Vireya Hybrids. The drawing above is one of them by the name of "Pink Veitch".

These hybrids are only suitable for mild or tropical climates unlike many of the more common Rhododendron which grow here in Canada. There are over 800 species within this genus!

I have found photos of several other Vireya Hybrids which I may also be drawing. If I do you will see how varied the members of this group can be.

This next drawing is my attempt to create a more impressionistic depiction of a particular flower -- the "California Poppy" (Eschscholzia californica).

This is the state flower of California and covers the hillsides of the State for much of the springtime.

I think it is interesting that the state flower is golden in colour since we will always associate gold with California! Also California is called "The Golden State" and has plenty of golden sunshine throughout the year.

My drawing shows the flowers without their long stems, impressions of leaves which are not attached to anything and then the stems whose flowers have turned to seed -- a somewhat unusual approach since I normally prefer to make my drawings as life-like as possible.

I am trying to get myself motivated once again to continue working on my icon books. I reached a certain point and then just seemed to be unable to push myself any further. As the saying goes: I think my get up and go has got up and went!

Peace be with you all.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

A Greek Bell

Tonight I am showing you a drawing of a flower that you have seen previously in another drawing. Some months ago, I drew a single stalk of something I then called a "balloon flower" using a photograph from Hylott as my model. The drawing above is a "close-up" of the same flower using a different photograph as my model.

I have learned a lot more about these flowers over the past few months and I want to share some of that knowledge with you because I find it very interesting.

First of all, the Genus is Platycodon. The name Platycodon is taken directly from the Greek word for broad bell. If you look carefully at the drawing you will see that I have written the name in Greek at the very top of the drawing. In Greek it is spelled: p - l - a - t - u - k - w(o) - d - w(o) - n which is almost the same as it is in English. The Species is Platycodon grandiflorus. I call it the "Chinese Bellflower" even though the proper name is Greek! How confusing is that?

Actually, the plant has a number of names. Depending on the region of the world you are in, you might use any of the following: Chinese Bellflower, Japanese Bellflower, Common Balloon Flower or just plain, old Balloon Flower.

The reason the plant is called a bellflower is obvious from the shape of the blossoms; however where does the balloon name come from? If you take another close look at the drawing above, you will see one bud just ready to open. It looks as though it is inflated -- almost like someone has pumped some air into it -- hence the name balloon. Even the green buds have a puffed-up shape to them.

Another thing I learned about this plant is that the roots can be used as an anti-inflammatory medicine for coughs and colds (this might be good to remember during flu season). These roots are a standard remedy in traditional Chinese medicine.

Well, that is my lecture for this evening! I hope you like the drawing and found the information of interest.

May peace be with us all.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Steel Magnolias

Magnolia x loebneri "Merrill"

Magnolia x loebneri "Leonard Messel"

When we hear someone mention Magnolia trees or blossoms, our thoughts generally turn immediately to sweet smelling blossoms, a summer evening in the deep south and a southern belle sitting on the veranda sipping a mint julep. Have I covered all the usual images?

How many times I have read quotes from romantic books which spoke about the "sweet smell of Magnolias on the warm evening breeze" just before the hero begins his seduction of the book's heroine. Yet when it came to naming his play, Robert Harling used the word "Magnolias" with "Steel" to indicate the reality of southern womanhood: pretty and sweet-smelling on the outside, but steel on the inside.

I am not sure how much he knew about the botanical history of these trees, but "steel magnolias" is actually a good description.

Magnolia is an ancient genus, having evolved before bees appeared! The flowers developed to encourage pollination by beetles. Fossilized specimens of the trees have been found dating to 20 million years ago. The family is quite old and has survived many geological events such as ice ages, mountain formation and continental drift.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the drawings of the two varieties posted above.

Peace be with us all.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Primula and Peony

I have been very forgetful lately! Today I was supposed to go to the hospital for some special x-rays which required that I not eat anything after midnight. Well, I was asleep before midnight so everything was fine until I suddenly remembered the appointment just as I finished my breakfast this morning! Oh, well, I really didn't want to go have an x-ray today anyway, I told myself.

But then, as I was getting ready for bed tonight, I suddenly recalled that it is the 16th, the day I am supposed to post to my blog! What to do? Well, I decided I would post something anyway even though I will get to bed a bit later which means I am likely to be sleepy and forgetful again tomorrow. And so it goes...

The first drawing (above) is a strange-looking, but very striking flower by the name of "Primula aricula" also called "Alicia".

Primulas are also known as primrose, polyanthus and cowslip. Although native to this part of the world, I have never seen Alicia except in photographs. Evidently it does well as a potted plant so maybe I will see one in the florist shop someday. I had great fun drawing it, by the way.

These next three drawings are all varieties of Peonies, and are all from the Genus of Paeonia.

I think you may have seen one or two of these previously -- with my poor memory, who knows! Anyway, the last drawing of the three is named "Paeonia cambessedesii" and was just completed last week. The middle drawing is much older so I have certainly posted it previously. The first drawing I am sure has not been posted before and it is named simply "Peony in Salmon Pink".

There you have it -- my drawings for tonight. I can now go to bed without feeling like I have forgotten something even though I probably have!

May peace be with us all.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Getting into the Exotics

Tonight I have a drawing that is completely different from anything I have done previously -- a drawing of a cactus -- and not just your ordinary cactus, but an exotic one!

The name of this fascinating creature above is "Astrophytum asterias Super Kabuto" -- how about that for a name! It has to be grown indoors except for parts of southern Texas and California where the climate is just right for outdoor growth.

The "Super Kabuto" is a unique variation of the Sand Dollar Cactus originating in Japan. The Super Kabuto has a greater abundance of the white flecking than the Sand Dollar which is what evidently makes it a more popular version of cacti.

I decided to draw it simply because I thought it was beautiful.

This next drawing is of a hybrid of a shrub called Abutilon hybridum or Flowering Maple. The name of my drawing is Abutilon x hybridum or "Cannington Skies". The distinctive feature about this hybrid is the leaf pattern. The original plant has plain green leaves while the leaves of my drawing, as you can see, are mottled green.

Once again, I drew it because I find it to be a beautiful plant plus it is a bit unusual.

What I think is happening is that I am becoming a bit more jaded and wanting to draw more unusual plants. Actually, I am not sure if that is really true -- what I think I am after are plants that are more challenging like the cactus.

That is partly what attracted me to drawing icons. I mean I have always loved the look of icons, but they are such complicated images to draw. As those of you who have been following my blog over time are aware, my icons went from the simple to the more and more complex. I am getting ready to start a new icon without using any pictures of related icons -- just the image in my head. We'll have to see if I can create something beautiful for God or not!

So, it is back to the canvas. May peace be with you all.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Another This, Another That

I almost didn't get around to posting anything tonight, but finally gathered up the strength from somewhere!

My legs have been acting up again and as a consequence, I got very little sleep last night. So, today, every time I tried to do anything, I would fall asleep (I am almost doing so now!). Anyway, I did want to post a couple of drawings and say a few words.

I used the title for this posting of "Another This, Another That" because the two drawings I am posting have "Another" as part of their names.

The first one (above) is entitled "Another Hydrangea" and although it is a variety of Hydrangea that looks different from the ones I have posted previously, it is still a Hydrangea.

This second drawing is of another variety of Peony so the drawing is entitled "Another Peony".

There is not really too much to say about these two drawings as I have commented on both plants previously. And as I am once again having trouble staying awake, I think it wise not to try to say anything too profound!

May you all have a peaceful night and a blessed Sunday.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Flowers and a Long-legged Cat

Tonight you get to see something other than flowers for a change. However, first I want to show you another flower drawing.

This drawing is of a plant called "Cistus". The common name for this plant is "rock rose".

The plant originated in the Mediterranean area but is now found in gardens in all parts of the world. The variety that I have drawn is a garden hybrid called x Halimiocistus wintonensis -- isn't that a great name?!

This second drawing is of a long-legged black cat.

I came across the photo I used as my model in an old library book about cats. At first, I thought this must be some kind of unusual species -- maybe even a small wildcat -- but according to the book it is just a house cat with very long legs.

To me it is a truly beautiful cat. The first cat that was ever "mine" as a young adult was also a solid black cat. His legs were not quite so long, but he had the same elegant look about him. He loved to be chased around the house, bouncing off the walls and furniture. His name was Furfur.

It's interesting that I started off with a solid black cat and have ended up with a solid white cat which is supposed to be my last cat according to my doctor (I have asthma).

So, I continue to do mostly flower drawings these days as I don't have any particular projects or commissions at this time. I do want to do a few more icons of various saints for my "Novena Icons" book, but there is no rush on that. Also, it is difficult to stay indoors these days as we are finally having day after day of beautiful (not too hot) summer-type weather after a summer of rain. I am really enjoying the sunshine and blue skies.

May peace be with you all.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Ron's Photographs

Tonight I am honoured to be able to post two drawings done from Ron's photographs. As you may recall, Ron is the husband of my cousin, Sharon and they live in Tennessee. Ron takes truly beautiful photographs of many things, especially wildflowers. They have a website where you can see photographs of everything from children (especially their lovely granddaughter) to flowers.

The first drawing (above) is called "Ron's Crabapple Blossoms". Ron took a fantastic photo of a crabapple tree in bloom. When I saw the photo, I knew immediately that I wanted to try to draw it. I am pleased with the way the drawing turned out, but if you really want to see how lovely a crabapple tree can be, go to his website and look at the original photograph.

Crabapple trees bring back many fond memories for me. There were so many of them in the woods around my home in Alabama. Every year I delighted in their blossoms in the springtime. One particularly lovely tree was located along an animal trail just off the dirt road I had to walk to get from the school bus to my house. The fruit on this tree always looked so delicious that each year I could not resist trying some -- and each year it was as sour as ever. Fortunately, the birds seem to like the fruit!

This second drawing is also done from one of Ron's photos. It is of "Coneflowers" (Rudbeckia).

It is a simple photo of a simple plant. Looking at it posted here, I feel I need to go back and revise the background. It seems a bit too green to me. I will work on it some more and see what I can come up with.

As you no doubt know, the more common name for these flowers if Black-eyed Susans. I am not sure where the name Coneflowers comes from but the proper name Rudbeckia comes from the name of a Swedish scientist who lived in the 17th century.

I hope you all had a good Labour Day weekend and are now happily making your way into the month of September.

May peace be with you all.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Playing Around

Just playing around tonight with drawings of a medicinal plant and a composite still life.

The first drawing is called "Hypericum". You probably don't know this plant by its proper name, but I am sure you will recognize it when I tell you more.

You will recognize it as St. John's wort, a medium-sized bush with bright, yellow flowers. The plant grows one to four feet tall and wide, with many clustered, upright branches with dark green, shiny, somewhat pointed leaves. Flowers appear in summer and can be an inch wide. The fruits are greenish-red and have become popular in flower arrangements.

A quick search on the Internet told me that St. John's wort has a long history of herbal use as an extremely valuable remedy for nervous problems. In clinical trials, about 67% of patients with mild to moderate depression improved when taking pills or teas made from the plant. The flowers and the leaves are analgesic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, etc. The herb is used in treating a wide range of disorders, including pulmonary complaints, bladder problems, diarrhoea and especially nervous depression. Yellow, gold and brown dyes are obtained from the flowers and leaves. Oh, one more thing I should mention -- don't pick the flowers with wearing gloves and maybe a face mask. Why? Because they smell really bad!

This next drawing is rather different from what I usually show you.

I am calling the drawing "Still Life with Poppies". What makes this drawing fall under the heading of "playing around" is that while the chair, hat, some of the yellow flowers and all the poppies are my work, the grass and the remainder of the yellow flowers are a photograph. It makes an interesting picture, I think, and uses some Photo Shop techniques, but once again we are confronted with the question of "is it art?"

Hope you are having a good Labour Day weekend.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Creeping Unknown

Here is another trumpet flower I have drawn. Obviously, I really like them. Actually, I am very fond of all the trumpet-like blossoms from Morning Glories to Cow Itch.

This one is known as a "Trumpet Creeper" as it creeps about the tree branches. There is not a great deal more that I need to say about this drawing as I have already described similar plants back in August. I can give you the proper name for this plant which is
Campsis radicans and tell you that the Family name for it is Bignoniaceae.

I can also tell you that is grows in Ontario throughout the entire breeding season of the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird as the flowers of the Creeper are one of the favourite flowers that the Hummingbirds feed on. They, obviously, are not susceptible to the poisons contained the Trumpet Creeper "sap" like humans are.

This next drawing is of an unknown flower.

I am, therefore, calling the drawing "Unknown Purple and White".

I found the photo that I worked from on a Facebook site and there was no name given. It looks very familiar to me -- another trumpet-shaped flower -- maybe it reminds me of Morning Glories. But it is not a Morning Glory flower or leaf. If any of you gardeners out there (Hylott, I am speaking to Patsy here) have any idea about the identity of this flower, please let me know.

Meanwhile, I am really looking forward to the Labour Day weekend as I plan to get lots of extra sleep. I haven't been sleeping that well lately due to problems with my legs so I plan to take lots of naps over the next three days! I hope all of you enjoy the weekend as well. It is almost impossible to believe that the summer is basically over for another year.

Peace be with you all.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Calming Effect of Plants

Tonight's first drawing is of "Passion Flowers". The drawing shows the magenta "petals" and the "crown of thorns" in the centre. The symbolism of Christ's Passion found in the flower gave rise to the name. Supposedly, this connection was made by a Jesuit priest in the 1600's in South America. You can also see in the drawing one of the yellowish-green fruit pods on the upper left hand side.

The Passion flower (
Passiflora incarnata) was used historically in South America and later in Europe as a "calming" herb for anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and hysteria. It is still used today to treat anxiety and insomnia. "Although scientists aren't sure, it is believed that passionflower works by increasing levels of a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA lowers the activity of some brain cells, resulting in relaxation." Native to southeastern parts of the Western Hemisphere, passion flowers are now grown throughout Europe. It is a perennial climbing vine with herbaceous shoots and a sturdy woody stem that grows to a length of nearly 10 meters (about 32 feet). Each flower has 5 petals and 5 sepals that vary in colour from magenta to blue. According to folklore, the passion flower was given its name because its corona resembles the crown of thorns worn by Jesus during the crucifixion. The passion flower's ripe fruit is an egg-shaped "berry" (it looks like more of a pod to me) that may be yellowish-green or purple. Some kinds of passion fruit are edible.

Tonight's second drawing is of some more "Hibiscus" flowers. I have done at least 2 other drawings of the Hibiscus plant this summer.

The following interesting information comes from Wikipedia:

"The bark of the hibiscus contains strong fibres. They can be obtained by letting the stripped bark sit in the sea in order to let the organic material rot away. In Polynesia these fibres are used for making grass skirts. They have also been known to be used to make wigs.

Hibiscus, especially white hibiscus, is considered to have medicinal properties in the Indian traditional system of medicine Ayurveda. Roots make various concoctions believed to cure various ailments. A 2008 USDA study shows consuming hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure in a group of pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults.

The natives of southern India use the Red hibiscus for hair care purposes. The red flower and leaves, extracts of which can be applied on hair to tackle hair-fall and dandruff on the scalp. It is used to make hair-protective oils. Its petals are used to cure fever while its roots are used to cure cough.

In the Philippines, the gumamela (local name for hibiscus) is used by children as part of a bubble-making pastime. The flowers and leaves are crushed until the sticky juices come out. Hollow papaya stalks are then dipped into this and used as straws for blowing bubbles. Dried hibiscus is edible, and is often a delicacy in Mexico. The red hibiscus flower is traditionally worn by Tahitian women. A single flower is tucked behind the ear. Which ear is used indicates the wearer's availability for marriage."

Well, that should be enough flower lore for tonight. One of these days I will get around to drawing something besides flowers again. But at the moment, I seem to be fascinated with them.

Peace be with you.