Back to Drawing! Powder Puff Tree (Calliandra haematocephala)

Happy New Year, all!


We have had a bit of an extended winter/holiday break from school since the polar vortex arrived here in Michigan. However, things are starting to thaw out and we will be back on schedule soon.

One bonus of the extra time was having the opportunity to get back into drawing after the holidays. Right before our most recent snowstorm and cold snap, we had a chance to get up to our local botanical garden (Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor.) Lots of wonderful plants blooming in the conservatory and my husband was able to take a number of great photos. I was thinking “reference photos!” for my files. Although not ideal, working from photos is still an opportunity to study a plant and practice rendering techniques, especially after a lull in creative activity during the holidays.

One of the things we saw really caught my eye, the Powder Puff Tree (Calliandra haematocephala.) It has beautiful, fluffy, bright red/pink blossoms and gorgeous buds right before they bloom. A challenging subject, but one I was really intrigued to figure out. All of those filamentous bits on the flower!!

So, I broke out the colored pencils and worked on a study of a blossom. I use Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils and chose a piece of 5 x 7 inch, 140 lb Fabriano Artistico Extra White, hot press watercolor paper. It has a nice weight and takes many layers of pencil well.

I started by using Payne’s Grey to sketch out the flower bud and dark ends of the filaments.

This gave me a bit of confidence by mapping out where I was headed with all of the individual “fluff” of the blossom. Some botanical art friends suggested using different shades of red, so I did just that. I began with Deep Scarlet Red, following the shape of the filaments.

I continued layering with Middle Cadmium Red, Dark Red, and Madder, adding some brighter Geranium Lake at the end. 

I was careful to leave some white space (shading in light pink) that occurs at the base of the flower where the bloom first opens up.

 

I finished up shading the unopened blossom and branch by adding in some May Green and Olive Green Yellowish. Here is the finished study:

I think it turned out rather well for an intimidating subject! As one of my artist friends stated, it is a great start! I would love to do additional studies of the buds, leaves and branches and put them together into a more finished piece. 

What projects have you started on or would you like to begin in this new year?

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3 comments

  1. What a great start to your artistic year, and a lovely warm subject to paint in such cold weather. I really loved that your daughters also drew the Powder Puff blossom, so sweet! Looking forward to seeing what you do next!

  2. Thanks so much, Erin and Shevaun! I look forward to doing some leaf studies of this tree and also the bark, though it looks a bit difficult to render. Always up for another challenge!!
    Carol

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