Silybum marianum et al

Silybum marianum with dissections ~ Blessed milk thistle

Allium vineale ~ Wild garlic

Phlomis fruiticosa ~ Jerusalem sage

Centaurea solstitialis ~ Yellow star thistle

Eryngium campestre ~ Field eryngo


29.7cm x 42cm

Watercolour and graphite on Fabriano Artistic Extra White cotton rag

SOLD - Private Collection

The Blessed Milk Thistle is a large, extravagant and showy thistle in the spring. It has somewhat sinister qualities. As it dries, it evolves into a prehistoric, spike-ridden echo of its green self, set into eerie sepia shapes.

The leaves are astonishing in their stark beauty, with the major veins like bones whitened by the sun. The dissection shows the thistle’s sharp bracts and their construction, as well as the seed dispersal mechanism, the pappus.

Many minor accidents were had by the artist with this and the other thistles in the weeks they spent in the studio, spiking all unfortunate passers-by with violent regularity.

Thistles are an unfriendly but exceptionally well-designed example of nature at her reproductive best with seed dispersal.

This piece reveals the dramatic differences in the colours of dying plants. Brown is not simply brown. Yellow ochre; raw and burnt umber; sepia: all these pigments take their place in this picture.