Magnolia Glow – 7 x 11″ watercolor. Available.
Every year I wait for the magnolias to come into bloom at Descanso. The tulips burst open at the same time, which seems fitting. The downy buds thrust up, covered with a soft casing that seems like velvet or suede. Eventually it begins to show color. This is usually about the time that a rainstorm threatens to spoil the blooms. But, with luck, the tight buds will make it through the showers, to open fully on a warm day. From this tight urn-shaped form they will expand gracefully, the petals laying back in ecstasy. The colors are more subtle in the shade, but I like them best in early morning or very late afternoon, when a slanting ray causes the white of the petals to glow with a hot inner fire.
In this case, the flower was painted first, in general terms. Then the background was added to gauge the contrast. Finally, I went back and added the final color accents to the bloom. I rather like the trapped negative space between the stem and the leaf – it reminds me of certain art nouveau motifs.