My aim for this illustration was to present the poppy with as many of its developmental characteristics as possible: leaf development, basic bud growth, flower, fruit development and finally seed. The poppy bud is composed of sepals that are fused together into a dunce cap shape called a calyptra. The sepals fall off when the flower opens. The flowers have four petals that usually open in the morning and close again at night, but sometimes staying closed if it is cloudy. In order to show that poppy flowers open and close based on sunlight, I painted the flowers open, closed and in-between. California poppies, the California State flower, are native to Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Sonora and northwest Baja California. They grow best in sandy, well-drained poor soil with lots of direct sunlight.
I was able to show how the poppy is naturally a little chaotic by using wild poppies as reference. In addition to the developmental stages, my illustration includes a couple of bees to demonstrate how important they are to the life of the poppy. Poppies have both male (numerous stamens) and female (two fused carpels) reproductive organs. Bees transfer pollen of one flower to the stigma of another. Once pollinated, the ovary matures into long narrow fruit that dries and explodes open dispersing seeds.
Interesting side fact: Indian tribes once ate the leaves and used the pollen as makeup, used it to kill lice and as a mild pain killer.
I took many photos of poppies around my home in Monterey to create this illustration. My illustration is a composite of those photos.
Some of the photos used for reference:
The bees were referenced from still shots of bee positions from videos and some online photos. I was able to add detail by referencing dead bees I collected in my yard.
This illustration was rendered using gouache on 300lb Arches Hot Press paper.
Poppy painting in process: