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Thursday, 27 August 2015

Aerides thibautiana: Bird-like Orchids and Colours Permanency

Blossoms that look like a band of birds praying

When I first time saw Aerides thibautiana while glancing through orchids in my favourite nursery, I almost missed this remarkable subject of painting. The orchid had tiny blossoms and modest, all purple colour, unnoticeable pattern and common petals shape. However, after I could not find what I looked for, I scrutinized again the Indonesian orchids that were blooming. As I paid close attention to the Aerides thibautiana, I was surprised to see what I saw, an orchid that resembled band of birds!

I had seen some pictures of unique orchids that looked like other species, but only on the internet. That day, I finally found one myself and it was native to Indonesia. What a prize!
 


Do you see what I saw? Doesn't Aerides thibautiana look like a band of bird praying? 
Since the plant was quite expensive, I was so grateful that Mrs. Tarigan (the owner of the nursery) gave me an inflorescence to bring home. She even offered me to take more than one (I refused) and other orchid blossoms as well.

At home I quickly photographed the flowers since I didn't want to miss their prime time. Later, I was happy to be able to paint the illustration based on my photograph and the specimen, which surprisingly remained intact for almost a week.


Colour Permanency

I knew I would want to use Opera Rose to imitate the vivid colours of the blossoms. However, since I learnt that Opera Rose is one of those fugitive colours, I replaced it with WN Quinacridone Magenta, which used the same pigment PR122 but without the fluorescent dye.

Fugitive colours are colours which are based on impermanent pigments or dyes that lighten, darken, or otherwise change in appearance over time. The opposite of fugitive is lightfast, which meant (a dye or pigment) not prone to discoloration when exposed to light and the atmosphere.

The recognised testing system of lightfastness is ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials). They rate and classify paints to: I (excellent), II (very good), III (moderate) and IV (poor). If a paint has not been rated, it is described as N/A= No assignation (Not Rated). Reputable paint manufacturers usually provide information about the lightfastness and other qualities of the paints, such as Winsor & Newton. You can check their websites or check the label of your paints. Further, you consult an easy to read yet informative blog post, "What are fugitive colours?" by Katherine Tyrrell or read (and bookmark!) a very useful source, Handprint.

I learnt that some florilegiums and botanical societies and some reputable exhibitions require artists to use only paints with good permanency rating (I and II only). Thus, rather than finding my work got rejected from an exhibition, I resisted my personal satisfaction in seeing vivid opera rose colour for this botanical work. However, I still keep some fugitive but favourite of people paints on my paint box, e.g. Alizarin Crimson, Aureolin, Rose Madder Genuine and of course, Opera Rose and sometimes I use them for short-term or reproduction-orientation commissions.

The replacement paint, Quinacridone Magenta has exactly the same pigment PR122, which "is a lightfast, semitransparent, staining, dark valued, intense violet red pigment", said Bruce MacEvoy from Handprint, "PR122 has the strongest violet hue of any violet red pigment available in watercolors". However, after using it a lot in this painting (along with Winsor Violet (Dioxazine) PV23 and Permanent Rose PV19), I found that it underwent a drying shift. The dried paint was not as bright/saturated as when it was still wet. Sadly it slightly lightened. Adding more layers of the same paint somewhat helped but only to a certain level, not as intense as I wished.

Anyway, I am happy to gain this insight. I love to know how different
each paint behaves (oftentimes not a big deal) and how practice gives me idea on how to deal with it.

Here are my work in progress and scanned illustration of Aerides thibautiana.

11 comments:

Vicki Lee Johnston said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Really informative blog post Eunike. It is so important to do the best job of preserving a finished artwork's authentic colour and in particular for important pieces which are archived and sold. Open Rose is a very enticing colour and while many do their own lightfast tests one would hope it lasts decades rather than years. I collect as well as paint and I wouldn't buy a painting where the artist insists on using colours which don't have the best lightfast properties. Sometimes we can't emulate nature perfectly and maybe that's a good thing. As for your beautiful work here, rest assured it is still gorgeous and voluptuous and has heaps of personality. Windsor Violet is a useful colour but often deadens in the drying shift. I love the quinacridones I just wish all paint dried the way it looks wet! Beautiful work and a great post.

Eunike Nugroho said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Vicki Lee Johnston Thank you for your precious opinion and useful information.
I am grateful to be able to paint as well as learn about watercolour from people like you and our communities. The more I learn, the more I realise how little I know.

Have a lovely coming weekend, Vicki!

Vicki Lee Johnston said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Thanks Eunike I see my IPad is autocorrecting madly it should read Opera Rose and Winsor Violet of course. There is so much information out there and we are lucky to have access to it, if only we had more time!

Polly said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates


Love this informative post Eunike. Those orchids really do look like little birds about to fly. Your use of colour is exquisite.

I have also found it frustrating to experience drying shifts with these colours and haven't found suitable (lightfast) alternatives. Perhaps, as vicki says, it's a good thing. It keeps us experimenting and learning!

Maywyn Studio said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Beautiful work. Thank you for the information.
I see the birds right away. They are amazing!

Eunike Nugroho said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Vicki Lee Johnston Good to know someone has the same problem with auto-correct as well :D Thanks, Vick!

Eunike Nugroho said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Polly Thank you, Polly! I couldn't agree more with you and Vicki. Keep learning and keep painting :) xx

Eunike Nugroho said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Maywyn Studio Thank you for leaving your kind comment. Glad that you saw the "birds" :D

Reda said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Amazing work! I am very glad to have found your blog. So inspirational, I want to paint my own orchids now :-D
www.animalsindresses.com

Unknown said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Thank you for your work Eunike. I am an ecologist and forester. Your work has reminded me to Van Steenis on his The Mountain Flora of Java. I feel we Indonesian need to continue his work, there are a lot of flora haven't well-documented, especially not in the form of painting art.

Eunike Nugroho said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Unknown
Thank you for leaving a comment. I couldn't agree more with your suggestion. Actually I am looking for people with same interest in botanical art to work on Indonesian plants in paintings. If you are interested in doing the same, please contact me. My email:inikeke(at)gmail(dot)com. Looking forward to hearing from you. Thank you.