Friday, 24 July 2015

Peony Progress

The peony has proved itself to be an interesting subject to do this week. The greens and browns have been lifted by the different textures, and sizing up the subjects means bigger leaves to deal with. Taking my time with the papery bits, using a tiny brush to get the textures and shading has also been quite therapeutic. There is something very relaxing about painting the details of folded up bits of dead papery plant.  

Crispy brown bits need lots of tiny strokes.

Indanthrene Blue, Lemon Yellow and Perylene Maroon
Ultramarine, Sennelier Yellow Light and Perylene Maroon. 

using a bright green mix to add a wash to the edges

Sennelier yellow Light, Ultramarine and a touch of Perylene maroon

Bringing out the character

So many bits to do

So what about Peonies?

Peonies are often seen as problematic to grow successfully and are therefore viewed as a bit of a 'dark art'. However, I was determined to have them and decided on getting some bare root plants to start with. They take a while to thrive and may not flower for a year or two, but we were lucky, and got a couple of lovely blooms. Species of Peony include the tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa), a woody deciduous shrub, and the common peony (Paeonia lactiflora), the popular herbaceous perenial, and the Japanese peony (Paeonia lactiflora "Nippon Beauty"), a scarlet common garden cultivar. 

Peony was known in China for over 2000 years when it was first used for its medicinal value. The roots, bark, seeds and flowers were all believed to be of some healing use, with the plant being held in high regard. The peony is so well loved in China that it is the national flower and symbolises honour, friendship, good luck and beauty. It always represents elegance and poise. Also linked to Greek mythology, the translation of peony from ancient Greek is 'praisegiving'.  

Greek Myth time:

It is believed that the Peony is named after Paeon (also known as Paean), a healing deity who had healed the wounds of Hades and Ares. Paeon was also a student of Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing. Paeon was instructed by Leto (Apollo's mother and goddess of fertility) to obtain a magical root found growing on Mount Olympus that would soothe the pain of women in childbirth. Asclepius became jealous of Paeon and threatened to kill his pupil, but Zeus intervened and saved Paeon from the wrath of Asclepius by turning him into the peony flower. In truth, peony seeds were used by pregnant women during ancient times. So there's something in it.  

'Bread feeds the body indeed, but flowers feed the soul'

The Koran 

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