The calla lily originated thousands of years ago in southern Africa, particularly from the range of South Africa to Malawi and the island of Madagascar. The most common tropical calla comes from the banks of the Nile River in Egypt it is called calla lily, Ethiopian lily, or common calla.
While not a true lily, the calla lily has meant different things at different periods in history, but its classic meaning is considered to be "magnificent beauty." The calla lily also represents, balance, sympathy, and nurturing, beginnings and endings, birth and resurrection.
At one time, cherished as a celebration of light, early Romans planted the calla lily just inside the entrance to their homes, timing it to bloom for winter solstice and giving the effect of bringing the light indoors during the darkest days of the year. The calla lily was also a sign of wealth in the days of the Romans. The more calla lilies you had, the more prestigious and wealthy you were perceived to be. Some even decorated the petals with flakes of gold because the flower was so important to ushering in the light.
In the Victorian Era, floriography, or the secret language of flowers, was practiced wildly in the exchange of private messages between the sender and receiver. Victorian etiquette was constructed of specific rules of good manner and behaviour to be precisely followed by society. With so many layers of rules governing behavior, being direct about one's intentions was not always advantageous. Communication in the Victorian Era required the greatest of subtlety. The most sensitive and private of messages could be shared discretely through flowers. For example, if you wished to let someone know that you think they are beautiful, you would send them a calla lilly or two. It was during the Victorian Era that a large list of meanings was assigned to flowers and the language of flowers came into being.
The most popular form of communication of the era was through flowers, notably, "tussie-mussie" which is a small bouquet of flowers or aromatic herbs. Although floriography was de riguer back in the day, it is still used as a form of communication still in practice today.
Calla lilies come in a variety of colors. White represents purity and innocence, pink connotes admiration and appreciation. Purple, which is often associated with royalty, denotes passion. Yellow ones can carry a multitude of meanings, but are typically associated with gratitude. Black calla lilies, which have a striking and dramatic appearance, carry a certain elegance and mystery.
For this painting, I chose to use yellow as the predominant hue in the painting. I wanted the composition to be bold in its pallette. Yellow is the most luminous of all the colors of the spectrum. It is the color that captures our attention more than any other color. It is the color of happiness, and optimism, of enlightenment and creativity, sunshine and spring.
I made a short little 60-second video showing various stages of creating this painting. I hope that you will enjoy it!
My painting of calla lilies is one of the new works I am creating for the 2016 Northwest Flower and Garden show , the second largest garden show in the United States, where I will be an exhibitor. This annual event will attract 50,000-60,000 garden enthusiasts over the course of five days, February 17-21, 2016 in Seattle, WA. Attendees of the show will be treated to lush colorful displays of flora, educational seminars, garden master presentations, and a plethora of vendors to purchase bulbs and bouquets and original artwork. I am really excited for this show (the first time as an exhibitor) because of my interest in nature and of painting landscape.
The calla lilies will bloom again and again and again, all year around as long as they have a sufficient supply of water, energy and nutrition.
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