Caesalpinia mexicana — Paradise in the desert

Caesalpinia mexicana, commonly known as Yellow Mexican Bird of Paradise

Caesalpinia Mexicana, common name is Mexican Yellow Bird of Paradise.  This desert/low water shrub is in bloom all over in El Paso.  I did several studies of the blossoms and leaf structure, and used a limited palette:  Aureolin yellow and Cobalt Blue (Daniel Smith) and Quinacridone Red (Winsor & Newton).  The paper is Arches 140 lb and the size is 10″ x 14″.  I had fun with it, did it over several days and tried to slow down and not add paint for paint’s sake, but to understand where it needed it.  These pale yellow flowers are challenging to create the form and shadows and not make it mud.  I enjoyed making the buds up the stalk a lot.  In real life, the yellows are a lot cooler(i.e. greener rather than orangy) than they appear in this photo.  Have to work on fixing that.

I’ve read somewhere recently, sorry to say I can’t remember exactly where, that you learn from your mistakes.  You don’t learn nearly as much from what is done well.  And on this painting, I’ve learned that cobalt doesn’t disperse as quickly or flowingly in water as I thought/hoped it would, and if I were to paint this again, I would do a smooth wash of a pale blue all over the top and then come back in later with extra layers of greens and blues to create the background foliage.  But as they say, live and learn!


2 thoughts on “Caesalpinia mexicana — Paradise in the desert

  1. Well I love the not so flow-7 background…. I would love a piece of hand dyed cobalt blue fabric just like it!!! The only thing I seem to learn from my mistakes is that I never want to do them again!!!


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