20th Annual International American Society of Botanical Artists & The Horticultural Society of New York


Cardoon Seedhead

Cynara cardunculus 'Rouge d'alger'

The cardoon is a favorite plant in my garden, massive and dramatic with beautiful colouring and one of the first things I grew when we moved to France.


I prefer to paint subjects that I grow so they are readily on hand and I can make drawings and choose the right moment to capture them. I rarely paint the same plant again but I have painted this particular variety Rouge d’alger (an Heirloom variety) at every stage of growth from new buds, flowers, leaves and starting to fade. This latest painting completes the cycle.


I cut and dried several of the dead flower heads hoping they would prove to be a good subject to paint during autumn and winter. I wanted to paint something with a restricted earthy palette, although when you look closely there are hints of purples, magenta, and blues. Painting on dark veiny vellum enhanced the palette.


The painting shows the cardoon seed head expanded to the point where it is ready to burst with the pressure of the seeds inside. They are about to be forced out and float away to start a new life cycle. I’ve aimed to make the solid seed head look convincingly heavy to contrast with the floating seeds.


Currently I am painting rare and unusual plants with the added challenge of keeping them alive!

Read more about this artist’s work: 17th Annual International
  • © 2017 Annie Patterson
    Cardoon Seedhead
    Cynara cardunculus 'Rouge d'alger'
    watercolor on vellum
    19" x 13"