Water Lilies

Water Lilies 2008        

This is a photo I took while visiting the Singapore Botanical Gardens (highly recommended).  It was hot, needless to say being Singapore - actually, it was positively steamy.  It started to rain as we entered the park, but we persevered anyway.  It rains a lot there.  I wanted to go to the orchid sanctuary because I remembered it as being fabulous, with so many incredible orchids.  That was okay with my family - but their main attraction was to cool off in the mountain orchid house.  Be warned, once you go into its cool mist, it’s hard to leave!   

Anyway, the rain let up and started to evaporate, making the path like a sauna.  We were sort of speeding to get to the cool orchid house, racing past a pond.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the rain drops from the trees making these cool rings in an ultra smooth pond.  Just a minute.  I hurried back and took a few quick snaps with my pocket camera.  I couldn’t even tell if they turned out because of the glare.   

Later - I was so pleased to see my couple of shots.  Wow!  Look at those rings.  Look at the flowers, the lily pads, the reflection!  I was so pleased especially since it had been such a spur of the moment snap - of a scene that only I seemed to notice.  The dragon fly on one of the blooms is sort of icing on the cake.


Water Lily series  July, 2008 in studio          Water Lilies 3  2008 oil 36 x 36 inches

When I got home I knew painting water lilies could end up as a horrible cliche if I held too tightly to the idea of water lilies.  I certainly didn’t want to copy a photo,  but rather to paint from memory - just using the shapes of the flowers and pads, and the rings.  I did a whole series of them.  The first ones you can definitely tell what they are based upon, but I don’t still don’t get a cliche feel. 

Moonlight  2009 oil on canvas 48 x 36 inches

Now, over a year later, I still sometimes start a painting with an underpainting of a few of these familiar shapes to get a basic dance going for the eye.  Then I just paint and see what happens.  Lately I have done a couple this way that turned out quite nicely, with a definite landscape feel.  Maybe it’s the colors.   It’s hard to tell from the photo, but it has silver in it. 

originally published: September 2, 2009

© Trixie Pitts 2009