When I was walking to BART last week I ran into Fletch who had just finished shooting photos of an amazing Proteus a few blocks from my house. I must have walked by this stunning plant a hundred times and never noticed it until he pointed it out to me. I couldn’t stop to sketch that morning but finally got back there this afternoon.
I got as close as I could without trespassing and sketched with my Micron Pigma .01 pen, trying to capture the many different forms the blossoms take along the way to fully blooming. Then I used my mini gouache palette and a tiny brush to paint the details. Gouache seemed like a perfect medium for doing this kind of detailed botanical sketching.
I also took a bunch of photos of these amazing and diverse flowers. Here are a couple of them:
Note to self: Find proteus at a nursery and plant them! But first I want to do some larger botanical illustrations from my photos (or from life if I can convince the woman who owns the plant to allow me to take some cuttings). Fletch told me she reluctantly allowed him to take one.
And here’s a bit of etymological (word origin) trivia about theProteus:
The Proteus got its name because of its amazing diversity of form: It was named after the Greek sea god, Proteus, who was able to change his appearance at will. From this comes the adjective “protean,” which means “versatile”, “mutable”, “capable of assuming many forms.” “Protean” has positive connotations of flexibility, versatility and adaptability.
7 replies on “Botanical Sketches: Proteus”
After visiting a Botanical Garden in Capetown that was full of Protea, I bought seeds, lost them, then swore I would find some plants as soon as I got home. They are so beautiful and strange. Your paintings and photos capture all the reasons I wanted to have them in my yard to admire. I realized I don’t have the room or the sun to grow them successfully, so I hope you plant some and I will come visit them, er, you.
Protea! Here, in Australia, they are known as Waratah. They are also the emblem of the South African Rugby team and the New South Wales (Australia) Rugby team.
To florists, they are a godsend.To gardeners in non-tropical climes, they are the garden’s backbone.
For me, now in the tropics, they are a struggle, but oh! so worth it.
Jana, if you can buy these, do get at least one stem, put it in a deep jar (milk bottle) with a couple of bits of charcoal and it will give you drawing opportunities for months. (Just let it suck up the water, they dry out.) They last for ages, and their “furry” tips are such a challenge and delight to draw.
Hi Jana I really love your artwork with your Botanical Sketches. I do some Botanical sketches in my free time myself. This is one beautiful plant! What I love is the way your artwork here just kind of comes up- you find something that you find beautiful or interesting then you just draw it down I must say art is truly spotaneous! The shape of the flower is really complex! What’s your technique?
I wish I knew more because I often can’t explain what it is that captures me, but I do love this . It’s a botanical, but the drawing seems to have something more added to it– your special style and a little oriental flavor?
What a beautiful painting and what intricate shapes! Lucky you to be living someplace with flowers in bloom already!
Proteas are great to draw but hard work! Some are native to Australia and I’ve drawn several at times. Yours is a lovely sketch of them.
Wow – how amazing to have that growing so near your house – gorgeous. I’ve got one or two gardens near me where I’ve thought about planting my sketching chair outside!
I love the way you’ve caught all the different stages on the one page – not easy when doing it from life and you can’t handle it!
Thanks for the comment about the computer woes – I’m back up and running again after the second system restore this week!