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


Morning Glory Capsules

Ipomoea sp.
Over the years I have been painting various types of dry fruits, and found I had never painted a valvular capsule. Morning Glory (Ipomoea) is one of the few flowers that produce this kind of fruit, and, since there was a vine growing in my daughter-in-law’s garden right next to my front door, I foraged through the greenery and found ample examples of the tiny round capsules. The fruit is consistent whether we are talking about the ornamental Morning Glory or the despised cousin Bindweed, a three carpellate valvular capsule. Once I had gathered a couple of handfuls I was able to set up my composition and proceed. I wanted to show a few capsules in various stages of growth, including a valve that had fallen off, and the rather large black seeds (that accounted for the aggressive nature of the genus).
I found a branch that fulfilled my needs and chose to portray it erect, so that the whole roughly follows a triangle, with the seeds and a fallen valve to fill out the wider base. Remnants of leaves, stem and capsules, with one showing the opening where the valve has fallen, form the upper part of the subject.
As usual I am dealing with a plant stage that doesn’t rely on color to serve its purpose and I get to work with shades of brown that I delight in. The other area that I love is the contrast in texture that becomes vital in the depiction of this type of subject. The parchment-like quality of the valves, the coarse rough surface of the seeds and the silvery tissue of the exposed septa, I revel in. When I do these enlarged paintings of dry fruit, it is always my hope that I am doing a bit of proselytizing. I want people to appreciate those stages of growth that are not the dramatic and colorful presence that most flowers and fleshy fruit display. Here, in mostly dry brush watercolor in muted tones, are details and architecture that are worth a second glance of material that is small, drab and unexceptional.
One of the challenges in painting subjects this small is the process of scaling up, and I have developed a whole discipline for proceeding. It is important for me to keep everything in exact proportion, and this means careful measurement, and consistent enlargement at every stage. Both for the viewer, and myself I want the final product to clearly and accurately show the finer points that I needed a loupe to discover when I looked at the original material.
Read more about this artist’s work: 17th Annual International
  • © 2014 Dick Rauh
    Morning Glory Capsules
    Ipomoea sp.
    Watercolor on paper
    34" x 26"