30 in 30: Violet Vanda Orchid

Violet Vanda Orchids
Acrylic and Copper Leaf on Canvas
5″ X 7″

Under alternate lighting, the painting changes color

Under alternate lighting, the painting’s background changes color since it is copper metal leaf

Today I painted one of my all time favorite flowers, a rich blue-purple orchid. This one is a favorite for the depth of its color. I placed it on a copper background to take advantage of a secondary color scheme. The background changes color depending on the lighting, but I like how it contrasts with the deep violet.

Denver Botanical Garden's Tree of Orchids and Epiphytes

Denver Botanical Garden’s Tree of Orchids and Epiphytes

I love to garden.  This vanda orchid plant is in my orchid tree (a tree with many orchids planted in its branches). I have always wanted an tree filled with orchids ever since I saw a fabulous example at the Denver Botanical Garden. Theirs is a concrete structure festooned with air plants and orchids, but I saw the possibility of placing orchids in trees, and definitely wanted to plant one of my own.

My orchid tree is a magnolia tree that we were lucky to purchase with our home. It was already mature with fragrant white flowers the size of a bread plate. In its branches, I have grafted six different orchids of pink, white, purple, and magenta. The first orchid I planted on the tree is about 2 years along and has bloomed several times and gained a remarkable size. I saw its success and decided to add more orchids, but I want to be careful not to crowd the tree too much, so I have the six I mentioned for now. I place the draping orchids high and the upright orchids low. If you want to plant orchids in a tree, you need to check which climate zone you live in, which species of orchids can survive outside, and then consider water. Are you willing to water? Do you get enough rain? If you live in a rainy tropical or subtropical climate, the watering will often take care of itself and it may be easier than keeping them in pots. Simply tie the orchid to a tree branch using string or bird netting with a little puff of sphaganum moss around the roots to keep the roots wet between storms.

Magnolia Tree with the first of my orchids (not the same ones I just painted) grafted 2 years. It's larger now, and the roots encircle the tree branch.

Magnolia Tree with the first of my orchids (not the same ones I just painted) grafted 2 years ago. It’s larger now, and the roots encircle the tree branch.

They will quickly grow to anchor the plant on the tree and become free of maintenance, though if you are a doting plant parent, you could give them an occasional spray of orchid fertilizer. So far my orchids need nothing additional. They are getting everything they need in the trees. The colder climates might not be able to support outdoor orchids, but there might be a surprise species of cold-hardy orchid (A lot of them are bulbs, but you never know), or you might find a climbing vine or rose bush to give you a similar flowering tree effect. It’s nature’s original vertical gardening.

I have a couple of orchids on the trunk of a palm tree as well. I placed them on the side that gets shade in the hot afternoon sun, and they are also doing well.

30 in 30: Mejiro with Croton Leaves

Mejiro with Croton Leaves by Wendy Roberts

Mejiro with Croton Leaves
Acrylic and Aluminum Metal Leaf on Canvas
5″ X 7″
SOLD

The mejiro is one of my favorite little birds to paint, so I was thrilled to receive this commission of a mejiro in a croton plant, peeking out from the leaves. In the original photo, the bird was hidden a little more, but I rendered its tail in front of the leaves to help give it more emphasis. I really liked the color scheme naturally present in the purples, yellows, grays, and greens of the croton leaves.

This is day 8 for me of the 30 in 30. If you want to learn more and see the other paintings, you can see my 30 in 30 gallery here.

30 in 30: Baby Bulbul on Orchids

Baby Bulbul on Orchids
Acrylic on Canvas
5″ X 7″
SOLD

Aloha! Today I am back to painting birds. This time it’s a commission piece. This is a portrait of a bulbul that was rescued and rehabilitated after falling from its nest. The rescuer wanted a keepsake of her beloved bird. It’s very fun to take an existing photo and give it some changes to make the composition more pleasing. I added more orchids, because… orchids! Also, it is art, so I can make features of the bird that get lost in the original photo emerge more clearly. Black feathers around the face that were absorbing the light and losing some of the form. The head is now clearly seen because I can use grays, blues, browns, and blacks to make it all a little more visually clear, closer to how it would be in person. As long as I can wrap my mind around the form, I have gotten to the point where I can render some of the loss that a camera lens will create. Cameras usually push values to be more extreme than they are in real life. Shadows become impenetrable black where they might look blue, purple, gray, and brown in real life. This is the difficulty of working with photos, but if you know your subject matter well enough, you can sometimes correct the lost information.

This is day 7 for me of the 30 in 30 painting challenge. You can learn more and see the other pieces as they are revealed here:

30 in 30 Gallery

30 in 30: Kamehameha Butterflies with Red Ohia

Kamehameha Butterflies With Red Ohia by Wendy Roberts

Kamehameha Butterflies With Red Ohia
Acrylic on Canvas
5″ X 7″
SOLD

After I had painted the butterflies on orange ohia in the prior painting, I decided I wanted to paint them with Red Ohia too. The name of this butterfly in Hawaiian is pulelehua, which roughly means “to float from flower to flower”, but it could be thought of as “floating flower” or “floating color” because it’s derived from the word pulelo which is “to float” or “to undulate in the air” combined with the word lehua, “reddish,” or “rainbow colored” which is also used in the Hawaiian name for the flowers of ohia lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha), iconic flowers of Hawaii that are endemic and sacred to Pele, the Goddess of Volcanoes. In my imagination I think of the butterflies landing gently on the ohia tree, only to transform into a flower, and then later, changing from a flower back into a butterfly.

This is day 6 of the 30 in 30 painting challenge. You can learn more and see the other pieces as they are revealed here:

30 in 30 Gallery

30 in 30: Kamehameha Butterflies with Orange Ohia

Kamehameha Butterflies with Orange Ohia
Acrylic on Wood Panel
8″ X 10″

Kamehameha butterflies are one of Hawaii’s two endemic butterflies. Its Hawaiian name is pulelehua, which roughly means “to float from one flower to the next”. The name also includes the idea of reddish coloring (the lehua flower is a very similar color, especially the red ones when the sun is shining through its wings). In my imagination, when I hear the term, I see a vision of an ohia flower that has come to life, floating and shimmering in the sun in the form of a butterfly as it glides from flower to flower through the forest. Perhaps it is another step in an imaginative metamorphosis for these beautiful butterflies. Here I have placed the small kamehameha butterflies with the ohia lehua mentioned in their name, but I wanted to see them alight on the orange variant which is a more rare color of ohia.

Special thank you to Kim and Forrest Starr for their generous sharing of photos in the public domain that allowed me to render the orange lehua. They are photographers who seek out many native and endemic plants and animals and post them online to educate and share their vast knowledge and talents with others. I do not know them personally yet, but I imagine we may meet someday (it’s a small island!). I have found their photo collection useful several times over the course of painting Hawaiian plant life and birds, and appreciate how long it takes to hike into areas with these rare endemic Hawaiian plants. It is very kind of them to share so freely with the online community!

This is day 5 for me of the 30 in 30 challenge. I took a quick detour from birds for a couple of days, but I know I will return at least a few times to painting them. I really enjoy birds! Tomorrow I will post my red ohia variant of kamehameha butterflies, however. I couldn’t just paint one! Not with all the pretty colors of ohia that we have in the islands!

If you want to see the entire series of paintings, you can see it here:

View the other 20 in 20 paintings in this gallery >>

30 in 30: Mejiro with Jade Vine


Mejiro with Jade Vine
Acrylic on Canvas
5″ X 7″

As I have been painting birds, I find myself returning to certain birds that are extra enjoyable. The mejiro, also known as Japanese white eye, is one of my favorite birds to paint. Here, I have jade vine, the only flower I know that is naturally a gorgeous turquoise combined with the green of the mejiro, the blue gray of the distant mountains, and a warm summer blue sky to create a palette of fresh, breezy blues and greens.

This is the fourth entry in my 30 in 30 painting challenge. You can see the entire series here:

30 Paintings in 30 Days 2017

30 in 30: Amakihi in a Mamane Tree

Amakihi in a Mamane Tree by Wendy Roberts

Amakihi in a Mamane Tree

Amakihi in a Mamane Tree
Acrylic on Canvas
5″ X 7″

Recently our family took a summer vacation to Maui. The largest volcano, Haleakala (Meaning House of the Sun in Hawaiian), rises up above the clouds in a cone so massive and so perpetually obscured in clouds and mists that it is impossible to understand the scale of the massive volcano. On the road to the summit, there are several biomes, and one of the most exciting landscapes was right around the visitor center where the endemic Hawaiian plants are healthy and plentiful. Mamane trees flourish there, their yellow flowers gracefully curving in bunches among the lace-like leaves. The moon was rising in the sky, and out of the corner of my eye, I glimpsed a small green honeycreeper bird gliding from tree to tree, rapidly hopping through the branches. Most of the honeycreepers are gone from the forests of Oahu, so it’s a wonderful treat to see them on the neighbor islands in preserved wilderness and parks. I wanted to capture the moon, the mamane flowers, and the beautiful little bird all in one image.

This painting is available for online purchase. If you are buying more than one, or need to arrange shipping to an International destination, please contact me and I can send a custom invoice that will account for accurate shipping costs.




30 in 30 Red Whiskered Bulbul in a Poinciana Tree

Red Whiskered Bulbul in a Poinciana Tree

Red Whiskered Bulbul in a Poinciana Tree
Acrylic on Canvas
5″ X 7″

Bulbuls and Poinciana Trees share a vivid red coloring that inspired me to pair them together.  Bulbuls not only sport an adorable red cheek that reminds me of a vintage doll, but they are highly intelligent for a passerine (perching) bird.  Bulbuls are a wild bird, but if rescued, their sweet, intelligent personalities make them a favorite of many rescuers. I enjoy watching them hop curiously through the treetops, tilting their heads to observe the world around them. 

This painting is available for online purchase.  If you are buying more than one, or need to arrange shipping to an International destination, please contact me and I can send a custom invoice that will account for accurate shipping costs.



I spent day 2 of my daily painting challenge on this bird.You can see the entire series here:

30 Paintings in 30 Days 2017

30 in 30 Aeo in Kalo Loi

Aeo in a Kalo Loi 
Oil and Copper Leaf on Wood Panel 
16″ X 20″

Sept 7, 2017
Aeo is the Hawaiian name for the Hawaiian Stilt, an endangered and beautiful wetland bird that gets its English language name from the long salmon-pink legs it uses to wade in the shallow waters.Here, I have placed it in a loi, a garden growing kalo (also known as taro). Both the roots and leaves are edible and nutritious. It is a staple food of the Hawaiians, used to make foods such as poi and lau lau. It is cultivated in terraced, shallow ponds called loi that are very scenic and iconic of Hawaiian agriculture.

I had been working on this painting off and on for a few months, inspired by the patina of the copper to create a wetland scene in order to allow the greens and browns of the copper shine through. I spent day 1 of my daily painting challenge finishing this piece.

You can see the entire series here:

30 Paintings in 30 Days 2017

Welcome to the 30 in 30 for 2017 (Despite a Huge Renovation)!

I am joining Leslie Saeta’s 30-in-30 painting regimen this year.  It’s a group effort where listeners are invited to take on a daily painting habit to improve their work habits.  Her online podcast “Artists Helping Artists” is a favorite of mine.  The whole point of the 30 in 30 is to paint more, and to paint daily for a month.  I am resuming with some small bird paintings – a continuation of the 16 in 16 series, and will see where to go from there.

The 16 in 16 bird series from 2016 is going to be a starting point for the 30 in 30, expanding upon what I learned about painting birds.

I knew I would be moving for the first week of September, so I started painting a little early and planned to post on time, but I had to race the clock to get our home completely emptied and ready for demolition, so I will join a week late and will conclude a week late as well. Considering the extent of the demolition being done on our home, and the many days of non-stop work it took to prepare, I am really quite all right with giving myself a bit of wiggle room as long as I make it to the finish line with a new batch of paintings and the lessons they teach me.  Check out this photo of our before and after demolition photo – wild!

Top: The “before” home with a line of tiles removed where the home was sectioned off for partial demolition. The front looks very nice, but the left/back construction was of lesser quality with corrugated roofing instead of monier tile, and termite-ridden single wall wood that let the rain flood the laundry room every time a modest storm soaked the ground.
Bottom: the precise demolition, leaving behind the segment of the house with bathrooms and bedrooms intact.

The demolition took only about 10 hours so far, and seems close to completion.  The new structure will take about 6 months.  It is a lot easier to destroy things than to create them!

We are rebuilding about half the structure and repairing some serious flaws with drainage and termite damage while still retaining the 40% of the home that works well for us. My largest part of the work is done.  I am free to return to my easel on a daily basis!