Daily Sketches – June 30 Flowers – 5. Geranium phaeum

This is one of my favourite flowers and this is due in part to the beautiful botanical illustration of Arthur Harry Church representing a cross-section of the flower and showing the grace of its curved filaments. So often an exceptional botanical illustration made me pay more attention to a botanical subject, which I would otherwise have ignored. That tells me how important it is for us artists to try to bring all possible knowledge, skills, attention and patience in our work to create an art that communicates the beauty of nature.

Geranium phaeum (gr. geranos = crane; lat. phaeus = dusky) is commonly called mourning widow in reference to the unusually dark violet flower color or dusky crane’s-bill  in reference to the appearance of the plant which resembles the head and beak of a crane.

The flowers can be seen in late spring and early summer in the woods and moist alpine meadows in Europe and Asia. In Romania I often find it at the edge of forests or in the soft shade of oaks.

Due to its dark color and the fact that it is very small (1-2 cm) the flower can go unnoticed. Maybe just the continuous humming of the bees that absolutely adore this flower can stop you and tell you that there’s something in the grass that’s worth a closer look. And here it is: 5 gorgeous violet petals, slightly turned backwards in order to conspicuously project gracious stamens, sculptural anthers and style.

The stamens curl and stretch, releasing pollen from the anthers in turn, so that the pollination period lasts as long as possible. Then the stamens all bend towards the base and the stigma opens to receive pollen from other flowers. This is the reason for the spectacular display of stamens characteristic of this flower.

1. In this photo you can see the three stages of the stamens: a. Curved with unreleased pollen b. Extended, covering the style, with released pollen c. Curved, removing the anthers after the pollen has been collected 2. All the filaments are now turned backward and the stigma opens 3. The petals fall off too, there is no need for them, all that remains are the filaments and the opened stigma 4. Arthur Harry Church – Geranium phaeum © Natural History Museum, London 5. My own field sketch, few years ago

In today’s tutorial I’m drawing with ink and watercolor a side view of the Geranium phaeum flower, with focus, of course on the wonderful display of fine curling stamens:

© 2021 Alina Lupu. All rights reserved

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