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Flaming Hot

The Flamboyant Tree, Delonix regia     ©Shevaun Doherty 2013
They say that once you have drunk the waters of the Nile, you are destined to return.

There must be some truth in that, because for twenty five years I have been coming back to this beautiful country. It really is wonderful to be here once more, back to the palm trees and shimmering heat, and my lovely home by the sea. It took a few days to unpack, settle in, and  recover from the long trip. I am delighted to say that my paints, brushes and large tube of paper all arrived safely too.
My studio overlooks the gardens and the pool, and you can just glimpse the turquoise sparkle of the sea through the palm trees … it’s not surprising that I love it so much!
 My only grumble was that the air conditioning in my studio wasn’t working. It’s fine in the morning, but by early afternoon the sun has crept around to that side of the house and with temperatures of 41°C, it makes painting a challenge! Somehow I don’t think I’m going to get that much sympathy!!

Yes it is!!
Bird’s eye chili peppers Capsicum annuum 2014

The dates are still not quite ripe. They hang in clusters, small, green and hard, and tantalisingly just out of reach. They need a few more weeks of sun to ripen. However, there’s plenty to keep me inspired and busy whilst I wait. I decided to do a small study of one of my favourite trees, Delonix regia, also known as the Flamboyant Tree or  Royal Poinciana
It is considered one of the most beautiful trees in the world, and you only have to see it in bloom to realise why. It is covered in an exuberant mass of fiery red blossoms. Quite simply, it’s a stunner! 

Sketchbook studies 2010- I didn’t have a lot of reds in my art box then!!
I have painted this tree, or rather, I’ve attempted to paint it many times. One day I will do a painting that does it’s beauty justice. The flowers themselves aren’t too difficult, but the lacy fern like leaves with their multitude of tiny leaflets are not for the faint-hearted! It also has pretty impressive seedpods of up to 50cm in length! I was grateful to be able to look up my earlier studies to see what colours I used- it makes life so much easier when you take note of your colour palette!
Sketchbook studies 2012… better paper, a bigger selection of reds but a poor photograph (sorry)
Sketchbook study 2014
As this was just a sketchbook study, I decided to experiment and include a plein air study of the tree as well. Okay, I confess! The fact that there happens a tree growing right beside the pool where I have a comfortable sun lounger and an umbrella did play a part in this decision. It was great to loosen up and splash the paint about a bit, and I also had a bit of a splash in the pool to cool off when I had finished! 
This little piece will be stuck into a sketchbook upon my return for the Nature Trails sketchbook exchange.
A little plein air piece finishes it off nicely. The colours used were Winsor lemon, Winsor yellow, Winsor yellow deep, Winsor orange, Winsor red, Vermillon (Sennelier), Dark red (Schminke), Pink Madder (Pebeo), Alizarin, Quin red, Quin violet, Cerulean, Indanthrene and Perylene green.

So onto the next painting whilst I wait for these dates to ripen! The SBA are holding an exhibition in Palmengarten in Frankfurt in October, Poisonous and Medicinal Plants. I love this theme. I’ve already started a few studies in preparation. I won’t say much more, except that it involves a trip to the Spice Shop in the local Souk. Thankfully the air conditioning is now fixed… I’ve no excuse!

Plein air sketch of the local spice shop, 2009
I hope you are all enjoying your summer!
 “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”

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