Centerpiece II: Cholla and Desert Bird of Paradise

Centerpiece II: Cholla and Desert Bird of Paradise, oil on linen 16x12 in by Jean Reece Wilkey

Centerpiece II: Cholla and Desert Bird of Paradise, oil on linen, 16×12 in, © Jean Reece Wilkey

It’s the monsoon season now, but we’ve had an unusual amount of rain all spring so the desert treated us to an wonderful visual display. The Cholla cactus flowers are so bright they tend to look fake, and the yellow feathery blossoms of the Desert Bird of Paradise remind me of the Mimosa tree we had in the front yard of my childhood home in Texas.

Centerpiece II, like the Centerpiece I, shows vases holding desert blooms on a briefly indicated table. The landscape forms a backdrop to the scene as it does in our lives. The flowers serve as the table’s centerpiece but in a more formal sense the imagery is also centered. According to scientists, we are biologically wired to like order and so often find formal design pleasing. It’s a little thing we can control about our world and our lives.

I’ve been thinking a lot about order and chaos in art. I love this idea from Alfred North Whitehead: “Order is the lure of beauty; and beauty is the teleology (or purpose) of the universe.”

This painting will be shown at Unsettled Gallery. You can read more about these on my blog.


6 thoughts on “Centerpiece II: Cholla and Desert Bird of Paradise

  1. That magenta against the blue of the sky is sublime…c

  2. Beautiful Jean, and the quote you mention is really wonderful (and I learned new word) and it’s intriguing. I’m going to spend the day pondering it while I paint. I’m still finishing my final piece (eek) and I commented yesterday that it is a large, strange and ugly piece and I’ll be very happy if I can bring it to being a large, strange and beautiful piece.

  3. Well, my studio rings out: ‘Chaos is my friend.’ Bob Dylan. haha. Your two pieces will be lovely in Cruces, Jean. As always. Can’t wait to see the catalogue Adrienne’s working on to see what you sent over there, over there.

  4. A beautiful painting Jean such exquisite flowers.
    I read your post and look at a jar of roses arranged carefully to comply with some personal aesthetic and placed on my table a week ago. Now they are turning russet and papery and dropping petals all around, a magnificent mess an altered beauty.
    I’m thinking that with my painting it’s kind of the reverse, in the beginning scrubbing paint into the canvas instinctively with wild abandon, then moving it towards some point where I think it’s complete. Being notoriously indecisive I can get snagged for ages making small adjustments! Sometimes I wonder about why I decide a painting is finished. It’s almost like working backwards reassembling until the pieces fit to my liking.

  5. Thank you for your kind words everyone. I always forget to check for comments and it was such a lovely surprise to see all of yours. I used to work much like you Susan, but that was in my abstract days. Recently however I have been working on a figure painting and keep moving things around, deciding as I go, which I find very freeing and a gratifying way to work.

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