As we near the end of March (who can believe it?!) it’s time to show you what the inspiration for this month was and what I created with it. This month’s painting was warm and vibrant and full of the promise of high summer. It was a relief to work with subject matter full of color in a month when there’s the desiccated palette of window outside my windows. It definitely feels like it should be spring by now and wildflowers should be blooming, but our weather hasn’t gotten the message and I think winter has made itself comfortable. So this painting was a joy to muse on while planning how to design jewelry.
The painter is Marianne North. I was introduced to her last year courtesy of a book I was reading that discussed Victorian botanical art. Her life was a dream of high adventure. Marianne was born in 1830 to a wealthy family. Upon her mother’s death in 1855, Marianne took up floral painting and accompanied her father on his travels, touring Europe and Egypt. After her father’s death, Marianne continued to travel, embarking on trips that would last multiple years at a time. She traveled throughout Asia, India, Australia, New Zealand, and then headed across the western hemisphere to travel throughout South America, and even spent time in California. During her lifetime she painted over 1000 scenes of botanic interest, forming an important record of floral species of interest. She exhibited frequently at Kew Gardens. Sir Joseph Hooker, the director of Kew, was a family friend. Her legacy and contributions to science are honored by a permanent gallery at Kew, which rotates her collection of paintings. According to Kew, her gallery is the only permanent solo exhibit of a female artist in Britain.
She was a traveler, a scientist, an artist, and an adventuress. Truly a remarkable woman. We are very fortunate that her work was esteemed and preserved so that we can enjoy the observations of her keen mind and the artistic renderings of her brush. This painting features a vibrant red lily from southern India, which she painted in 1878. I love the lush, tropical feel of this scene. Not only does she accurately depict the flora, but she draws you in an a special way so that you feel the heat and steamy atmosphere, the buzzing of the dancing dragonflies, and the heady perfume of tropical plants. It utterly transports you to a world of romance, adventure, and discovery.
I wanted to capture some of that feeling in what I created. The 1800s was an amazing time of discovery in the natural sciences and I’m obsessed with the Victorian age of botany. To pay homage to an incredible woman and a unique period in history was an exciting challenge for me. Reds and deep pinks are not normally colors I work with and what I have in the way of beads is few. But as I pulled out my collection of Humblebeads, I found a set of tropical foliage beads that I had bought last year (probably in the depths of winter-induced depression) and I thought they would be perfect for the color palette. I also wanted to adventurous with the design and do something different from my normal layouts.
After playing around with the focal bead, I decided to use it horizontally. I had purchased a set of brightly colored agate beads at a show on a whim and have used a few of them in various projects. I decided to create the body of the necklace by linking these beads all the way around to saturate the necklace with color. To give some visual punch, I draped chain along the focal bead and added a dragonfly and lily pad charms. I added a light patina of greens to the lilly pad to bring some color to the charms. I’m giddily pleased with how this came out. And it feels just like the painting to me, which was something I really wanted to capture. Just look at the cane work on that focal bead! The detail in the leaves and the tiny pink flowers is just amazing.
For the earrings I used disc beads that coordinated with the long bead. I dressed these up with some bead caps whose shape mirrors that of the water lily. For the bead caps on top, I curled the edges up to give more of a blossom effect. Additional patinated lilly pads dangle from the earrings.
I love this set so much and it was exciting to work in a more vibrant color palette than I usually do. Now all that we need is warmer weather and a profusion of floral blooms. Perhaps while waiting for summer to arrive, I shall content myself with a trip to the greenhouse and dream of the exotic visions that Marianne North enjoyed and painted.
Blessings to you,
Very nice work, Sarah. I love your interpretation!
Thank you Eliza! I appreciate your comments.
Beautiful Sarah! It’s so joyful to see the rich saturated colors when outside remains gray and gloomy.
Thank you Sarah! Yes, i’m ready for color in the landscape again!
The horizontal use of the fabulous focal makes a big difference! Great choice of elements and colors to complement it, too. It carries the impression, provoked by the painting itself.
Just lovely – any chance you’d share the source/maker of the lily pad charms?
janeujhazi, thank you for your comment. I got the lily pad charms from Vintaj.
Hi – went to find this charm on the vintaj w/s site and couldn’t find it. Is it current or discontinued?
Hi janeujhazi, they are called wooded ivy charms. I bought them from Hobby Lobby a while back. I don’t know if they’re discontinued, but I did a search and you can find them at Fusion Beads, Lima Beads, or on etsy. Hope that helps some.
Perfect – searched ‘ivy’ and there they are! Thanks again!