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15th Annual International

American Society of Botanical Artists at

The Horticultural Society of New York

Parrot Tulips

Tulipa x hybrida


Can you describe your piece to me? What is your personal view of the artwork, for instance in terms of media, colors, composition? 

My painting is of three hybrid parrot tulips past their prime but aging with grace, dignity and beauty until their return to the earth. It's about the graceful dance of aging.

It is an oil painting. The colours are vivid yellow, orange and saturated reds but much more muted in the shadows and in the petals as they age. I painted these tulips from life under north daylight to best capture the subtly of colour, texture, and nuances that give each flower its character.

I love to paint in oils. This medium is more malleable and expressive for me than water-colour. I can paint looser, freer and convey emotional content. I stand at an easel to paint and it is quite comfortable over the long term.


Why did you choose this subject to portray?

The bulbs for these parrot tulips came from my late father's garden. He was a very avid gardener and worked a big vegetable plot and flower beds. These gorgeous tulips arrived each spring in his garden for as long as I can remember. They bring good memories of time spent with my parents especially in their later years.

When closing up my parents' house in Toronto after it was sold, I found the bulbs had been dug out of his garden. A thorough dig, however, turned up these three last straggly little bulbs which I brought back to Ottawa and planted in my garden. Amazingly the trio came up the following spring! 

For me personally, this painting represents my father's struggle with aging, and his tremendous tenacity and will to live fully until the game was up. It's about the richness of his life and joy of gardening yet also about his decline, letting go and passing from this world to the next. The last tulip at the bottom has one petal unfinished, deliberately so, suggesting a return to the earth and the passing of the spirit into the next world.


Did you face any unique challenges as you worked on this piece?

Flowers do change over time if you work from life, especially tulips. So that the tulips would change as little as possible over the course of many, many days, I kept my studio really cool, worked under the steady north daylight and layered on the sweaters. The tulips were in cold water, arranged in oasis and put in the frig at breaks and overnight. While I worked as much as possible on the entire painting, I concentrated on finishing the top flower first and amazingly the lower two flowers gradually declined into their exquisite shapes over the days.


What would you hope people would notice or appreciate when viewing this work?

It was important to me that the painting have a strong emotional undercurrent readily tied into the theme of aging by the viewer. It is a botanical work about the joy and richness of life but also about tenacity and grace through life's decline. 


How does this work relate to your body of work?

I have mastered my painting technique in oils with years of figurative and still life painting. It was just a matter of time until I translated my love of this medium to purely botanical subjects. This painting establishes my artistic voice within the parameters of botanical art. I was able to paint a strictly botanical subject in oils, yet convey emotional content. My best works across all subject matter have an underlying emotional quality which I hope to bring to my botanical paintings. 

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15th annual-weller - tulipa x hybrida

Tulipa x hybrida

Parrot Tulips

Oil on Board

© Kerri Weller


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All artwork copyrighted by the artist. Copying, saving, reposting, or republishing of artwork prohibited without express permission of the artist.

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