Ko’oloa’ula blossom


I’d like to work with a plant this month, so I searched online for endangered flowers. As soon I saw the first page of results, I decided to look for something red in honor of December. I found the Ko’oloa’ula, an endangered flower from Hawaii

A master gardener tells Hawaiians how to grow this critically endangered plant here: https://owlcation.com/stem/The-Stunning-Flowers-of-the-Critically-Endangered-Abutilon-Menziesii-Plant

note to self: paint the center of the flower first, leaving the white of the paper for the white stamens. Leave white in the top three petals, or at least keep things very light. Remember to work light to dark.


I painted the background first, spending far more time on it than you might think from the result, spent some time on the stem to the right, and then finished up with the flower petals and surrounding leaves.


I am happy with the flower petals (it’s an advantage that the flower has dark edges on each petal) and the center of the flower. I am less satisfied with separating the foreground leaves from the background. Traditional watercolor paintings of flowers tend to simplify the background more and I am beginning to understand why. It’s easy to overwork the background and then bringing the foreground forward is difficult.

Despite my expanded color choices (I now have a 48 color set), I didn’t have good tan options and didn’t capture the dried leaves at the bottom right of the blossom.

Painting is an act of love for me. The attention I give to the subject, trying to understand and reflect it is love. The self-compassion the process cultivates in me is love.


Posted on

November 28, 2020

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