As with many larger painting projects this Cobaea scandens is being painted over a two year growing period. I first grew it from seed, in March 2020 and now into the second year, so hope to finish before the end of 2021. C. scandens is a plant that's remarkably easy to grow from seed, it germinates quickly and grows rapidly and flowers for a long time, from August and into late December, although this year it's only recently flowered. This is the story of my progress with the painting to date with the study page and initial composition....it's a fairly lengthy process from start to finish with such a complex plant.
|Details from the study page|
|The A2 study page completed 2020. I was able to take many large cuttings from the plant|
Cobaea scandens, is a member of the Phlox family Polemoniaceae, commonly known as the Cup and Saucer Vine, Canterbury Bells or Mexican Ivy, originally from South America it does well in many locations around the globe. The Latin 'scandens' means climber, Charles Darwin studied a number of climbers and his observations were published in 1875 in ' The Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants' which had been made available by the Gutenberg project. Darwin made special note of the vigour of C. scandens, which he said revolved more rapidly and vigorously than any other tendril bearer he had seen, with the exception of one species of passiflora. He wrote:
The long, straight, tapering main stem of the tendril of the Cobaea bears alternate branches; and each branch is several times divided, with the finer branches as thin as very thin bristles and extremely flexible, so that they are blown about by a breath of air; yet they are strong and highly elastic. The extremity of each branch is a little flattened, and terminates in a minute double (though sometimes single) hook, formed of a hard, translucent, woody substance, and as sharp as the finest needle. On a tendril which was eleven inches long I counted ninety-four of these beautifully constructed little hooks. They readily catch soft wood, or gloves, or the skin of the naked hand. With the exception of these hardened hooks, and of the basal part of the central stem, every part of every branchlet is highly sensitive on all sides to a slight touch, and bends in a few minutes towards the touched side. By lightly rubbing several sub-branches on opposite sides, the whole tendril rapidly assumed an extraordinarily crooked shape. These movements from contact do not interfere with the ordinary revolving movement. The branches, after becoming greatly curved from being touched, straighten themselves at a quicker rate than in almost any other tendril seen by me, namely, in between half an hour and an hour.
|The long twisting tendrils described by Darwin, you can see how they branch with their small hooks...grabbing anything and everything in their path|
|Keeping sections of plant in florist tubes to keep them fresh|
|The compound leaves with tendril|
|Studies of the newly opened flowers on coloured paper, pale subjects always look good on a colour background|
|Study on dark veiny vellum|
|Study on deer skin|
I made measured studies of all parts with colour notes, mature leaves, new leaves, stems, tendrils, flowers in various stages from bud phase to post pollination, dissection, suit and finally seed. This took a while as I had to wait for each stage to develop. Below you can see the development of the flower colour, note also the sequential opening of anthers, the male phase begins shortly after the flower opens, within 24 hours and then releases pollen sequentially, this maximises the time for cross pollination, once the pollen is released, the female style grows and the stigma becomes receptive, this reduces the risk of self pollination. Cross pollination is always favourable to plants because it increases genetic diversity, although I'm not sure if Cobaea is self compatible.
|Dissection of the flower, I also painted the individual male and female parts|
|Rough compositional sketches underway|
|Beginning the tonal study|