Friday, January 4, 2013

Volunteer Park Conservatory, This Time with Watercolors

1/4/13 Zig markers, Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook
When I last visited the Volunteer Park Conservatory in mid-December, the poinsettias and model train in the Seasonal House were the stars of the show. It had been crowded with holiday visitors, so I felt constrained to stick with markers and colored pencils instead of paint. Today, that room and the Cacti House were closed for renovation, so Kate, Peggy and I were limited to the Bromeliad, Fern and Palm Houses. Luckily, we had the place nearly to ourselves, and those three houses kept us plenty busy (as we said, we could visit the conservatory every day and never run out of new things to sketch).
1/4/13 watercolor, S&B Beta sketchbook

I started out with a huge cycas revolute, or Sago Palm, above, using Zig markers to stay loose. Then I busted out the watercolors to take on some of the exotic flowers as I had wanted to do last month. The one at right is a Guzmania “Neon,” with fronds of Tillandsia in the background. 

Below is a ginormous leaf of the Tacca Chantrieri behind a blossom with a phallic-like stamen. I looked all over for the tag identifying the species but never found it. Anyone know what this is?

1/4/13 Platinum Carbon Black ink, watercolor, Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook
The only philodendrons I’m familiar with are house plants that live in small pots. But the one below right, a “lacy tree” Philodendron Selloum, is, indeed, the size of a tree – so large that I decided to sketch only its trunk, which has an intriguing pattern of “eyes” similar to that on a peacock’s feathers.

To fill the last few minutes of time before we had to go, I sketched a carnivorous Nepenthes Truncata, or “Tropical Pitcher Plant,” below left. With a seductive sheen and beautiful striped pattern, it could easily lure hapless bugs into its deep Christmas stocking of a mouth. (I made sure I kept my distance.)
1/4/13 Diamine Chocolate Brown ink

We vowed to return in the spring to sketch a new season of plants and the building’s exterior, too. (Last August when Nilda and I visited the park, I chickened out on the conservatory and sketched William Henry Seward’s statue instead. But I’ll be ready to take on the building next time.)
1/4/13 Diamine Chocolate Brown ink


  1. Wonderful botanic sketches!! You really did a lot of sketching which I think happens sometimes when we are with like minded people. It's like exercise, they spur us on.

    1. Thanks, Joan! Yes, it's true -- sketching with other sketchers is always fun, and we get ideas from each other, too.

  2. As I said yesterday, these are very nice! It was a good time.


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