Protea Explosion

90x65cm pastel on panel

I have not painted protea before because everywhere I go I see generic paintings of protea. These paintings often make up close to a quarter of the paintings in group exhibitions here in South Africa. They are usually in oil on a square canvas with a white or gray background with the flower head in the middle.

Protea are quite beautiful and the national flower of South Africa. I realized I was letting other people’s failed paintings affect what I paint.

When painting this, I wanted to capture the subtle colors and textures of the protea and enhance the feeling of depth in a compressed pictoral space. I created movement with the groupings and angles of the protea. It was important to me to include the leaves and hints of other fynbos. (I photographed this on a table easel to show the scale, though I worked at a standing h-frame easel.)

I am not going to start mass producing protea paintings too, but it felt good to break a self-imposed restriction. Hopefully I have done justice to a beautiful flower that is so often butchered. What do you think?

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