Bougainvilla, hexagonal tile and chased copper bowl. Pen on paper, 9" x 12".
I've been wanting to buy a bougainvilla for years but they're a) expensive and b) hard to grow and winter-over in the north. Mexico City put me over the top, though, so when I saw some first-year seedling plants thsi spring at one of the flower kiosks near a metro station, I picked one up...and once you pick up the pot, you're done for. The proprietor was knowledgeable and I asked him some questions about wintering the plant over - he said he and his partner do it every year, and so long as there's enough sun and you don't over-water, it will be OK. What the hell, I figured -- this wasn't a $40 hanging basket. I've had good luck with lantanas at our studio, where the winter light is quite strong and constant and I can keep a good eye on the plants - I cut them back pretty ruthlessly when they get leggy and pale, and they come back every year. Have any of you tried this with a bougainvilla?
Anyway, I want to paint it before I put it in its permanent pot, so today it got sketched. The flower bracts are strange, kind of like poinsettias, very much like a different kind of leaf - and they are an odd shape - a set of three petals that almost form a cube or square. Like a dog that has to circle around its tail three times before lying down, I seem to have to study plants by drawing them before I can do anything else, certainly not the simplification that will be necessary here. Of course the color is the main thing, but I like the plant's sturdy gangliness too.
My father-in-law's birthday was a few days ago, and I've been thinking about him -- he would have been 105. Through his stories, bougainvilla also makes me think of the Middle East, so I added a chased copper bowl that is part of a set from J.'s family, and am thinking about some other characters who could play a part in a still life. The bowl worked a whole lot better when I turned it upside down.
Jonathan with a bougainvilla in all its glory, at the Shrine of the Virgin of Guadelupe, Mexico City.