“The Floating World” series focuses not so much on water lily blossoms but on lily pads themselves — palmate, heavily veined and deeply coloured. Often there is a certain amount of tweaking that I, as the painter, do to satisfy whatever arcane motivation drives me to render that particular image. But this, Number VI, rendered me gob-struck; it was love at first sight. As the dubious owner of 20,000 digitals (because you never know what you might want to paint), probably far fewer than several dozen have passed muster and needed no touchup. This time I wouldn’t, daren’t, change a thing. Not this baby. Cinderella arrived already dressed for the party.
Whoever found and cultivated this particular variety of lily deserves a medal. The long reflecting pool in the sculpture garden in Assiniboine Park is always ornamented with waterlilies and whenever I'm in town I gawk and drool over their glossy palmately-veined pads. But the leaves of this variety are blotched with deep colours, hallucinogenic pinks and purples veined with limes. This particular plant was winding down and the wind had flipped two leaves over, where their jewel tones ranged from turquoise to magenta and scaparelli pink. Add to that not only an open flower in which the elegant stamens cast blue shadows but unopened buds and a few hickory leaves in autumn dress. Here and there the sky smiled back at itself and sunken leaves and stems glimmered from below. All I had to do was kneel down and reverently press the shutter.
She is almost done. I’m waiting for the shine to dull down before I decide whether or not she is finished. This is one lily I feel absolutely no need to gild!