Florida has a lot of interesting plants to serve up and this was no exception. Since I was a transplant from the midwest, I found it fascinating that what I saw as tiny houseplants up north, here in Florida were giant versions of them growing naturally. I was walking in my neighborhood one day when I could not believe how brilliant to the point of neon the color was on a patch of plants, their stalks nearly as long as I was tall. Having a camera phone came in handy as I observed the little green lizard sitting on one of the stalks. The green lizards are native to Florida, but you don't see them as much as the brown ones that have taken over.
While I enjoyed painting this piece, there is still no way to get the exact color that I saw in nature due to limitations of the color gamut (or range) that paint is able to produce. Our eyes perceive way more color variations than can be recorded even with a digital camera or color slide film. So, take my word for it, as bright as I could get this red, in person it was spectacular.
Many layers of paint went into this one, and as I normally might use masking fluid for this type of work, I went without and had to reserve those little spikes in the plant of the white watercolor paper and remember not to paint over them. This was the difficulty—a need to build up the red with layers to get intensity, but not overdoing it to deaden the lightness of that red as well. I filmed the painting as a time-lapse so I hope to put that up soon.
I found out that the plant is a type of Bromeliad—Hearts of Flame. I call it "Complimentary" because of the complimentary colors of the red plant and the green lizard which are color opposites.