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


Paphiopedilum 'Desert Spring'' x lawrenceanum 

As a pleasant distraction during the long Montana winter, while local plants are largely unavailable, I bought this orchid in tight bud without any real plan or expectation. Over several weeks the flower gradually unfolded and the different facets of its character captivated me as it bloomed.


I made dozens of drawings of the flower as it progressed from tight bud to full bloom and it was difficult to select just a few to portray the complete transition. The bud, shy and reclusive, gradually becomes more eager and confident as the flower’s petals and sepals loosen and unfurl, and finally, with petals wide open, the flower is an attention-seeker, inviting appreciation of its elegant structure and coloring. Fanciful though these imagined changes of temperament may be they are not far from the flower’s biological purpose. At first the flower protects itself in a bud then gradually opens to invite, and even entice, pollination. The painting is a story of packaging, display, and marketing – botanical style – all performed by a wonderfully intricate and beautiful flower.


Although the opening flower is definitely the painting’s main subject, the beautifully marked leaves of this orchid are also worthy of attention. These I rendered in graphite to maintain focus on the bloom sequence while still including important information about the whole plant.


This study with a cultivated orchid variety complements a personal project to illustrate all of Montana’s native orchids. With every new orchid investigated, whether native or cultivated, I become more familiar with the basic pattern of orchid flowers and the myriad variations. My appreciation for the ingenuity and tenacity of this group just continues to grow.


  • © 2017 Jane Fournier
    Paphiopedilum 'Desert Spring' x lawrenceanum
    Watercolor and graphite on paper
    10-3/4" x 9"