Wild Orchids - Digital - © 2016 (revised), 2015, Dia Sobin
(Newest version uploaded 2017)
(Click to enlarge)
"The genus name Cypripedium is derived from the Greek words "Cypris" an early reference in Greek myth to Aphrodite, and “pedilon” for sandal. This is because the fused petals that form the orchid’s pouch or modified lip (labellum) resemble a slipper or shoe. The staminode (sterile stamen) is often showy and seems to welcome the insect into the pouch where it makes its way to a back-door exit and in so doing transfers pollen to the stigma.
...The Cypripedium orchids of North America are hardy terrestrial plants that can grow in cold climates and flower in early to mid-spring when there is plentiful moisture and cool temperatures. Species such as Cypripedium guttatum and C. passerinum that grow in Alaska are so well adapted to cold their shoots sprout up under the snow in the spring.
For centuries Cypripedium species have been sought after and collected not only for their unique beauty but also for the medicinal trade. Widespread collection, attempts at transplantation, and loss of habitat have drastically reduced their numbers. Wild lady’s slippers have special requirements that make them difficult to cultivate, and rarely survive transplanting from the wild. Because of that, on federal lands it is illegal to dig or pick the orchids."
- From the U.S. Department of Agriculture cypripedium page: Meet the Ladies, the Slipper Orchids
Way back when - roughly about twenty years ago - there used to be a small, hidden patch of pink wild orchids in the woods behind (what was then) my parent's house. Mysteriously, one day, the lovely flowers vanished, and were never to be seen again. Perhaps, someone picked the blossoms; along with transplanting them, it's a sure way to kill the plant.
Popularly known as the Lady Slipper, or Moccasin flower, this orchid is one of the more strangely secretive denizens of the forest... blatantly wild, deceptively fragile, quietly erotic, it's always a pleasant, somewhat magical experience to happen upon them. Although I've always considered the plant a primarily North American flower, it's actually found in Europe and Asia as well; the ones illustrated in the image above, however, are a North American variety.
About the illustration: well, I did previously mention designing my own versions of a Green Woman and Three-Hare symbol (at the end of this post), predominately for carved reliefs. As it happens - and it always does regarding ones creative plans - while I was designing the Green Woman, I suddenly had the overwhelming epiphany that my Green Woman called for - no, demanded - tattoos. Perhaps, this was because I had recently considered getting a tattoo myself. As to why I'm suddenly drawn to illuminating my torso at this time in my life - well, that's another story. But, regarding the Green Woman, suffice to say, the tattoo idea changed the playing field, and, for good or ill, a full color digital image was required.
Moreover, as the tattooed person began to emerge, I had another inspiration. For whatever reason, Art Nouveau posters* by the Czech illustrator Alphonse Mucha (24 July 1860 – 14 July 1939) resurfaced in my middle eye. And, whatever your artistic taste dictates, poster art in the days of Mucha were phenomenal expressions of the marriage between art and commerce, and Mucha's images, in particular (see examples below), were awesomely designed and elegantly executed.