Deconstructing strelitzia


The Bird of Paradise plant, or Strelitzia Regina, is a strong, powerful plant, with long, paddle shaped leaves and exotic flowers that resemble a bird’s head. When the flowers finish, they dry out and swell, twist and split to reveal glossy black seeds sitting in a bed of bright orange fluff. The seed heads are a bit like an alien being, complex and elaborate. Irresistible to draw.


There is so much going on in the seed head it isn’t necessary to draw it all, I refine the messiest parts to glean the essence of the plant, and sometimes exaggerate the twists just a little … I decided to work only in monochrome because I can get a better feel for the detail, and also remove myself a little from reality.


This was drawn with just an HB and a 2B graphite pencil, on Arches watercolour paper. The image is 36 x 23 cm.

A small PS – the drawing in my post in November, ‘In the Air’, has been accepted into the Adelaide Perry Drawing Prize, here in Sydney. It is one of the most prestigious drawing prizes in Australia, and it has been an ambition of mine for a number of years to get a work in. This is my third attempt. These prizes are very much a lottery – this time 43 works have been selected out of almost 500 submitted, so clearly there will be many good works that didn’t get in, but somehow my drawing chimed with the judge. I am ECSTATIC!!



Author: anna warren portfolio

I draw, I paint, I am a printmaker. Always searching for the interesting detail in the world around me.

41 thoughts

    1. They are interesting plants aren’t they – the one we have is well over 30 years old and very large. I always enjoy the different stages of its development! Thanks so much for your words – I’m still feeling a little shell-shocked!


  1. Your drawings bring a clarity that’s not apparent in the photograph. Good of you to have ferreted out the structure. And good for you to have been accepted into the competition. We can all do with a little ecstasy from time to time.

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    1. That is one of the really satisfying things about drawing something from life, it is possible to interpret and extrapolate the form, and hopefully end up with the best version of the object. And thank you – you are right. Its so good to have those highs every once in a while!


  2. These are one of my favourite flowers Anna, but I have never seen them go to seed like that, Victoria may be too cold perhaps. Your drawing is gorgeous, I keep trying to figure out what makes them look so delicate and intricate, such a special trait you bring to your work. So pleased about your acceptance into the art prize, so richly deserved. Inspires me to consider entering some myself. Karen

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    1. I would guess most gardeners de-head the flowers once they go over, which may be why you haven’t seen these seed heads Karen. You need to be a lazy gardener! Do consider entering some art prizes, but a word of warning – it can be an expensive and often disappointing process, I have many rejections and wasted entry fees, but the flip side is, if you don’t enter, you can’t get in! I am intending to enter more this year, so need to keep track of interesting opportunities. Thanks Karen, always appreciate your comments!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I donโ€™t think it is lack of laziness that my flowers never set seed, but I take your point. I tend to let many of my plants go to seed (if they will) as the seed heads are often as beautiful as the plant, as I know you appreciate too. Thanks for the warning about the art prizes, but at this point I would be thrilled just to enter, I know it takes a few entries to be considered let alone any other considerations. But you have inspired me to try.

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  3. As you already know from my FB comment, I think this drawing is exquisite. Well, they BOTH are. You are an outstanding artist and I’m delighted that your work was accepted to the Adelaide Perry prize. I’m glad you pointed out that the prize is in Sydney. I assumed by the name that it was in Adelaide.
    It is interesting to compare your drawing with the actual plant. The drawing is much more elegant than the dried-out spiky plant. See, for me, that plant is headed for the rubbish bin. But you have seen magic in it and made something beautiful and enduring out of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not a good photographer – I think a good one could make something very beautiful out of this plant, but in some ways it may be almost deliberate to only want to find the beauty of it by drawing. I am attracted to these odd, lumpy or spiky things that most people would only want to put in the bin! I’m delighted that you do like the drawing – your support is always appreciated!

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  4. How lovely to stumble on your piece. Your rendering of this (amazing) seed head is poetic and so eye-catching. We have this plant growing outside in England but unsurprisingly I have never seen them set seed. ๐Ÿ™‚ Congratulations on you success with the drawing prize too.


    1. I’m so pleased you found me too Bella! I love the word ‘poetic’ in your description. Maybe not all of them do set seed like this, several people seem surprised by it – our plant is very old, I wonder if that has anything to do with it. Thanks for visiting!

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