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Showy Orchis (Galearis spectabilis) in Ozark pigments

Originally, I had planned to do a series of my favorite woodland plants in grayscale. But that was before I found the stone that gives me a sort of green pigment. So changed up the plans a little. Now I’m doing a series of our orchids in my full palette of pigments. First is this Showy Orchis, one of our native orchids, in Ozark pigments instead.

The green won’t be quite right, but I like the effect these pigments do give the painting. The colors give my work a Baroque sort of feel, I think. It at least is light fast. The other colors are very close to reality.

As I make progress on it, I’ll post the pics. If you want to follow along closer to real-time posting, on the days I’m working on it, I post frequently to Instagram.

Here’s the reference I’m working from. It’s a composite of photographs I took plus an image of the roots from a botanical drawing.

My reference photo for the showy orchid I'm painting.
Galearis spectabilis is a native terrestrial orchid (orchis) of North America.

Where the magic begins

There is a liminal stage in every painting when the line is crossed from logic to magic. That blur began in frame no. 4, above. It’s when I begin to ‘feel’ the painting. Those feelings get stronger as I add contours, depth, and details. When it’s completely done, there’s a euphoria. The entire process of going from idea to blank page, to outline and ugly color blocks… to a finished beautiful creation … well, there’s nothing else like it. I love my life as an artist.

Showy Orchis

You might be more familiar with the term ‘orchid’. I was too. This painting is one I’m doing as cover art for the North American Native Plant Society. They’re just going to need an image to use it on the cover of their upcoming newsletter (in March 2021, I think. Maybe April.) The original has already been sold to an individual here in Arkansas who loves our native plants. I’m also writing an article to go with it. In one of my other lives, I’m an author and I still write. So during the research on this orchid/orchis, I found out that all of the orchids of North America are terrestrial and have fleshy, tuberous roots. ‘Orchis’ is the word that signifies that, as opposed to ‘orchids’ which live in trees or on decaying stumps and such in other parts of the world.

Author/Artist Info
Madison Woods is a self-taught artist who moved to the Ozarks from south Louisiana in 2005. In 2018 she began experimenting with watercolor painting, using her local pigments. She calls them Paleo Paints, and her artwork features exclusively the lightfast pigments foraged from Madison county, Arkansas. Her inspiration is nature – the beauty, and the inherent cycle of life and death, destruction and regeneration.

Her online portfolio is at www.MadisonWoods.art.

Click here to join her mailing list.

Photo of Madison Woods, artist and Paleo Paint maker, and her social media contact information.
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20 February 2021 8:06 pm

Beautifully delicate, Madison. I like it a lot! How’s your weather now?


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