Friday 7 August 2015

Buds and Blooms

Agapanthus bud, Shevaun Doherty, botanical art
Agapanthus bud © Shevaun Doherty 2015
"Each flower is a soul opening out to nature." 
-  Gerald De Nerval

They say that there is no greater motivating factor than a deadline, but for a botanical artist, the realisation that the flowers are just not going to wait for their portrait to be painted is enough to get even the slowest of brushes flying!

After months of waiting patiently for the flowers to appear, my beautiful blue Agapanthus africanus flowers are now all blooming at once. Mild panic sets in as I suddenly realise
that I need to get a move on, and fast! I feel fairly confident having taken the time to familiarise myself with the structure and the colours. Now I need to prioritise- buds, flowers, foliage.

Agapanthus buds, botanical painting, Shevaun Doherty

I quite like the idea of including a bud in the composition. So putting aside thoughts of the fast blooming flowers, I decided to concentrate on my last few buds, capturing their emergence. Agapanthus buds are a delight to behold as they open. The buds wriggle and twist out of the encasing bracts with surprising speed. Even the bracts undergo a rapid transformation, going from a healthy green to yellow, pink and purple within a few hours.

As always I begin with a light sketch, and then begin by adding the yellows (a wash of lemon yellow) and the blues (Verditer and cobalt). Adding transparent yellow to the same blues makes a nice green mix. The blues turned purple (ultramarine violet) towards the tip of each bud. The bracts also had some naples and some raw sienna.

Within a few hours, the bracts had undergone a colourful transformation
I couldn't resist another bud!

"Hello!" This one was waving at me.
It was fun to paint the buds and they are a lot easier to than the flowers. They also seem to have quite a bit of character. 

Agapanthus buds, botanical painting, Shevaun Doherty
'The Three Degrees'  Agapanthus bud studies © Shevaun Doherty
I got a bit carried away and ended up painting a trio of buds. Now I need to get my skates on and get those flowers started! They aren't going to wait.

Agapanthus studies, Shevaun Doherty, botanical painting
Agapanthus africanus studies
“Deadlines aren't bad. They help you organize your time. They help you set priorities. They make you get going when you might not feel like it.”
Harvey Mackay


  1. There is something embryonic about those buds. Almost like you're not supposed to see them until they've unfurled. We have a couple different kinds of allium that I will 'dissect' as buds and I always feel naughty doing so. "Mustn't see me till I'm fully formed."
    You've captured the translucent bracts beautifully. I can almost see what I'm not supposed to!

    1. Thanks Candice. It's a bit like watching someone undress! What surprised me was how much they move. Every time I'd look up from the painting, the buds would have changed position slightly! No rest for the wicked though... I've to get the agapanthus painting finished!

    2. Step away from the computer . . .

  2. Lovely...I enjoy your blog.

  3. Gorgeous buds Shevaun and I sympathise with their speed of opening. Looking forward to seeing the finished piece.

  4. Beautiful Shevaun.....soon be finished :) deadlines are good for us.....hope it's going well


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