The artist uses the
textures and patterns to
entice the viewer to look
deeper, beyond the
surface displays of orchid
Life forms are intertwined
with natural forms and
organic shapes in the
marshland they both
Petals and feathers are
The egret's lacey back
plumes imply the motion
of soft breezes.
Long white fanned
|Original Oil on Canvas, 48" x 36"
Gallery Wrapped on 1 1/2" Depth Stretcher Bar
Inspired by the Egret Flower, Pecteilis radiata and the Great Egret, Ardea alba
As an artist, I think of my work as an evolutionary process akin to what occurs in nature.
The more I study nature, the more I am deeply committed to conveying its spirituality.
My latest painting entitled, “WATERSHED”, expresses the essence of nature’s beauty
and wonder by bringing together two striking icons of evolution - the orchid flower and
the egret bird.
Beloved friend, collaborator, orchidologist, lecturer and respected writer for Orchids
Magazine, Tom Mirenda, introduced me to the Egret Flower. I was instantly inspired by
the orchid’s pristine beauty and its striking resemblance to the Great Egret. After
extensive research, I was delighted to learn that like orchids, which are perceived to be
so rare, egrets are found on every continent except Antarctica.
The painting “Watershed” illustrates that nature is a rich tapestry of complexities and
similarities. The human tendency is to often take nature, all of its beauty and wonder
for granted; that everything we value will always be present. We often view nature as
a separate entity apart from ourselves, something we can visit on the weekends or
holidays to get away and decompress. But do we see, and most importantly feel, how
magnificent and vital the natural world around us really is to our physical, emotional
and socio-economic well-being?
”Watershed” reveals a transformative moment in the biorhythm of two extraordinary
organisms. Both bird and orchid are poised and dressed for seduction sharing the stage
of their wetland habitat. Streamlined forms are juxtaposed, one with feathers one with
petals, each gracefully beckoning to achieve a living purpose. For the egret, a mate for
the orchid a pollinator; both characters share grace, elegance and undisputable powers
of attraction to secure the longevity of their species.
Like plants, egrets experience physical transformation during courtship, including
extreme changes in the color of their eyes, bills and legs. The most ostentatious is the
growth of lacey plume feathers on their backs which are used in an elaborate
advertising ritual. In “Watershed”, I emphasize the egret’s optimistic skyward gaze as
part of the flamboyant courtship routine called Stretch – Snap. The egret flaunts its
fitness with an upward stretch of its long slender neck (1 ½ times its body length) and
then retracts it, all the while fanning its long white feathers, heightening the enticement.
In the painting, the suggestion of soft breezes whispering through airy plumes
is mirrored by gracefully swaying stems of the egret orchid. As if they possess wings,
the orchids float forward ethereally. The interplay of sunlight and shadow animates
their fringed angelic forms. Snow white with fringed oscillating lips, their allure is
almost hypnotic. As if their flirtatious appearance wasn’t wildly attractive enough to a
pollinator, they bear a long emerald nectar spur which emits an attractive nocturnal
fragrance that promises a sweet reward for seeking it out in the darkness.
“Watershed” breathes life into forms that are intertwined with natural patterns of
organic textures and shapes, some intended to convey fluttering wings outstretched in
flight. Countless layers of vibrant transparent oil color create the painting’s marshland
backdrop, which illuminates deep shadows and filtered sunlight. Oil color glaze
animates both bird and flower to accentuate their remarkable features.
My artist process and intended message are deeply layered to initiate an uplifting story
of grace, hope and promise. “Watershed” illustrates that humans are just one drop in an
ocean of complex interdependent relationships within our fragile global ecosystem;
albeit the one with the most power to effect change.
I believe we have a moral responsibility at this unprecedented time in our evolutionary
history to be altruistic stewards of our planet. My paintings will always seek to inspire
wonder and to advocate for preserving nature’s beauty by symbolically using orchids
and other species as ambassadors of our interconnectedness. We are the gatekeeper
species who can come together to make the difference... we are the watershed.
Scents at dusk embark
Airborne paramours entice
Timeless dance of love
Haiku by Tom Mirenda
By magnifying the
flowers much larger than
...the artist illustrates to
the viewer their
wondrous structure and
groundwork of botanical
Some resemble the motion
of feathers in flight.
of oil color
coax light to animate
the bird and flower forms.
The artist notes the egret's
change in eye color from
yellow to dark orange
The artist's signature style
oil color glazes ...
...enhancing the interplay
of sunlight and shadow.
Streamlined forms are
juxtaposed to accentuate
their elegant and graceful
|Read about the
Egret Orchid in an
Tom Mirenda in the
issue of ORCHIDS
Detail Photos of "Watershed"
Emerald nectar spurs
emit an attractive
that promises a sweet
reward to pollinators.
Orchid History and Culture Notes:
Native to Japan, the Egret Orchid is regarded as one of the country’s most beautiful orchids. The Japanese
name for the species is “sagisou” or “egret grass/herb” and the flowers, imperiled and facing extinction in
the wild, share the same marshland habitat with the Great Egret of Japan.
The Egret Orchid’s history is steeped in romance:
“According to legend, during the Period of warring states, a fair maiden from the castle of Setagaya
(now in Tokyo) sent a letter for help to her beloved in the war, giving it to a white heron to carry it
on. The heron was shot down, however, but where it fell to the ground, this beautiful flower started
to grow. Now this flower is the mascot flower of Setagaya ward, Tokyo.”