Something in my morning reading prompted me to make my way to the Gardens yesterday to draw the waning tulips and daffodils. I also remembered a conversation with my father-in-law years ago where he suggested I paint dying flowers. I don’t remember too much of what was said. Perhaps there wasn’t much. But I do remember him saying something like “There’s beauty in things that are past their prime.”
I situated my chair with watercolor paints, water jar, and brush resting on the side “table” waiting for when I’d completed a drawing. I first began with a patch of daffodils, some completely spent, others still hanging onto their petals. There was something of reverence in the air as I began to draw the deep ridges, curled edges of delicate, fragile petals. I chose a 005, very fine tip Prismacolor pen to render the thin, wispy remains of flowers on still strong stems. Light colors, light touch. Aging, mature, old. Beyond their peak for sure. But lovely nonetheless in their delicate state.
I moved my chair to sit at the feet of a large patch of tulips in a similar state of demise. Something in me began to feel that they were, even though delicate and partly wilted, somehow strong and virile with their twisted, grooved petals, their inner stigma still standing, their curled edges. I chose a thicker pen, 05 this time, and wanted to display bolder colors surrounding these aged beauties.
By the third and final drawing, I was working with the thickest pen, 08. Lines dancing around the page as I followed their playful contours. They now seemed jocund and full of frivolity, even though their days were numbered. Indeed, in some of the other beds, gardeners were working to pull up all the spent tulips and daffodils, making way for other flowers, who will surely bedazzle me as these flowers have done.
The thing is…I’ve been here, witnessing and drawing these flowers throughout their life cycle. Drawing shows me the full breadth of living: from seedlings to full-on riotous color (as in the drawing directly above this paragraph), to curling and withering petals fading in the warm spring sun. The flowers nod to me as I consider my own loved ones, their life span, as well as my own. I learn so much from these humble plants. I am hoping for the same beauty, strength, and frivolity in my own waning years.
Thank you tulips and daffodils. Thank you.
For those who might like to know: The pages with a crease down the middle are from my Hand Book Journal. I love this paper to draw and watercolor…off white, toothy. The other images are created in an 8 1/2″ x 11″ Aquabee Sketchbook. Though the pages appear off-white here in the photos, the paper is actually whiter than the Hand Book Journal. A staple sketchbook for everyday drawing, painting and collage.