Our national flower, the King Protea

I’ve always loved the way the King Protea looks with its subtle pink, magenta and cream undertones; and bright, leathery leaves. It’s incredible to see not only in colour and size but the sheer beauty and number of them that populate Table Mountain.

The King Protea has been South Africa’s national flower since 1976. According to South African History Online the Protea “is an emblem of the beauty of our land and the flowering of our potential as a nation in pursuit of the African Renaissance.”

In 1735 Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, named the genus Protea after the Greek God Proteus, who could change his form at will, because they have such a wide variety of forms.

Being South African I wanted to explore a theme in my heritage and so I decided to paint a King Protea. I was given some beautiful raw plywood and knew that it would be the perfect canvas to paint on. The size of the plywood piece is 1220mm x 1150 mm. I sanded the wood down and varnished it. I then drew the outline of the leaves and petals before mixing my palette; the paint glided on the wood as smooth as silk.

It took numerous hours to complete but it was worth it. I feel that the wood compliments the naturalness and beauty of the flower because the wood is also organic.


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