With spring just around the corner, you might have to look closely outside for changes in the scenic landscape with the sprouting of new leaves on the trees expected anytime now. I love the spring and just can’t wait to see all of the beautiful colors it brings.
So you can imagine, like many of you, I’ve got Spring Fever!
The seemingly good thing about winter, is that you spend more time inside and supposedly have more time to paint. Well, I usually find more time to take pictures of what I would paint, more than actually painting. Winter snow falls, icy trees, and snow laden bird houses are all great subjects, then gather your art supplies and your easel and have a go! Whether watercolor painting, acrylic painting, oil painting, or whatever art medium, take time to paint!
However, when you have Spring Fever, you really just want to paint something colorful! So, with a stock pile of photos depicting the usual snow scenes and mountain sunrises, I sometimes must go searching for fresh colorful inspiration; sometimes indoors and sometimes miles away.
Recently, I took a road trip down south in our great state, to the Biltmore House in Asheville. This is one of my favorite places to find floral inspiration all year around. Besides, the exquisite architecture of the house, the historic furnishings and artwork, and the beautiful landscape, the Biltmore is the home of hundreds of various species of orchids. These tropical plants were a favorite of George Vanderbilt, as well as, other wealthy families, especially in England and throughout Europe. George admired them so much, that he requested a list of 800 species to be brought to Biltmore. Of that original list, 16 species still remain, as many others have been added throughout the years. These incredibly delicate blooms survive the cold winters of North Carolina, because they are housed in an enormous conservatory designed at the turn of the century by Frederick Olmstead, who also designed Central Park in New York City.
The conservatory greenhouse is filled with flowers, trees, and plants, throughout its many rooms and areas. There are several tropical palms as high as the roof itself. The orchids and other colorful floral examples are sprinkled throughout the greenhouse awaiting their turn to grace the stately rooms in the big house. Keepers of the gardens and conservatory will display the beauties in vessels and decorative pots to fit any holiday season throughout the year, and then move the creations to be enjoyed inside the Biltmore House from season to season.
Visitors can see this preparation being performed in the basement floral rooms that house the hundreds of baskets, brass planters, and pots that will cradle the precious plants. There are workshops in the rooms throughout the summer where guests can pick up tips on keeping many species of flowers and plants.
During my visit, most of the time spent on the grounds was in the conservatory. It was warm and humid inside, but just the right environment for the orchids and other tropical plants. I was so thirsty for bright color that I went crazy taking hundreds of pictures while I was there! Thank goodness for digital cameras! I really just wanted to sit down and paint! But, more time than I had would be needed to set up my painting supplies and turn out a colorful canvas or two! Oh well, maybe next time when it is a little warmer.
As I took the pictures one after the other, I got the sense that the orchids might have been a little high nosed! Look closely as some of them actually look like they are sticking their tongues out! Or maybe they were just about to sing about spring! Who knows! There were so many varieties of shapes and sizes and color patterns, but all were exquisite!
Here are some of my favorites and hopefully some of these will become reference photos one day!
Unfortunately, this time of the year, many of the outside trees and flowers are still dormant. So my attention was mainly on the greenhouse. Late March begins the “Biltmore Blooms” festival and the whole estate comes alive with color splendor! It is then that you know Spring has arrived! I guess I will just have to plan another visit!
I love this time of year. It is exciting to anticipate the waking of the earth; bringing more animals, birds, and flowers out into the landscape. The colors of spring explode as far as you can see and the world again seems so alive.
For some, colorful daily painting inspirations are found in their yards and gardens, or maybe from a bouquet from the grocery store. For me, I love to go looking for it all around. Take time to look around for beauty where ever you go. Take your camera and bring home all of that great inspiration.
Spring is definitely in the air even though Old Man Winter seems intent to hold on as long as possible! I just can’t wait for spring, but for now, I will be content to enjoy the beautiful orchid photos I brought home with me from Biltmore! I hope you are also inspired to go looking for beautiful subjects to paint, sketch, and draw!
Happy Inspiration Day!
Keep your brushes wet and keep on painting!
(These are reference photos, possibly for future artwork. They are copyrighted and I reserve the right to use them personally. I would encourage you to take your own photos which appeal especially to you. The artwork created from your photos will have more meaning and will preserve special memories of the place you took them. Thank you!)