"Art is the only way to run away without leaving home" (Twyla Tharp)

The Light Within ...

Nelumbo nucifera - Sacred Lotus Bud © Vicki Lee Johnston

I have taken a while to write this post, so many transitions happening in my life and through all of it so many opportunities to find hope and grace.  It seems symbolic somehow that this painting of Nelumbo nucifera - Sacred Lotus - came at a time when change was essential.  

There are so many plants I love and am drawn to, however my favourite plant of all is the Sacred Lotus, at every single stage of its development from seed to leaf to bud to flower to the transition of death of self to new life.  So much can be written about the morphology of the plant but I think for me the deep symbolic meaning drew me right in.  The lotus has been regarded as sacred by many religions and seen as a symbol of hope and light, being rooted in the mud and rising to the most exquisite bud unfurling to reveal a clean, beautiful blossom, reflecting purity and light.

 I had visited the beautiful lotus ponds at the Sydney and Adelaide Botanic Gardens and taken many images in the hope of one day spending a lot more time studying this beautiful subject.  I decided to begin by painting the bud itself, a symbol of new beginnings, and the photographic captures allowed me to look more deeply into it.

It was a case of gently approaching the bud first, it had an incredible glow about it and I wanted to preserve the luminosity which appeared to be lit from within the folds.

I then proceeded on to the layers and layers of watercolour yellows, greens, pinks ...

Then it occurred to me that with a full white background as is usual in botanical art, the light from the bud would be less visible as the background would dominate .... I decided to include the lotus leaves which surround the bud and push it more into the foreground.

By changing a photograph of the painting wip to grayscale it helps to see where more depth and light is needed, so I continued to fill the background with many shades of yellow, blue and green

Sacred Lotus watercolour WIP - © Vicki Lee Johnston

 Nearly there!  Time to add more shadow colour and fine tune the detail ..

Once I am almost there I like to visualise a painting on the wall, this is done with a useful display app
to see your painting in situ.
 Nice to step back and look at a distance!

Voila!  My first Sacred Lotus painting, the magical bud glowing with light, framed and hung at a local exhibition.  

© Vicki Lee Johnston

"There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." 

 - Anais Nin

All images © Vicki Lee Johnston

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