‘Columns of Cactus’, is my first painting for 2018, no wonder, as I have a section in my garden dedicated to cacti. I initially painted this in acrylics, but I was not happy with the outcome and repainted it in oils. Oils always gives life to art. (This is my personal opinion.) Once I did the repaint, the cactus did indeed come alive! A few people have told me that if they reach out to touch the painting, they might prick themselves! Ha, ha.
INTERESTING CACTI FACTS
Cacti are located in the hot, dry areas of the world and are especially prone to drought-stricken areas and just as well, as deserts would be devoid of flora without these amazing species of plants.
There are about 1700 species of cacti and they range in size from minute to very large. Some grow up to 20 metres. The reason why Cacti can withstand drought is that they store water in their surface, tap roots and stems. If you cut a cactus stem it releases a thick viscous liquid. I tasted the liquid from the cacti featured in my art and it has a bland taste, much like one would expect from a normal leaf, however, I am sure if one is desperate for water, this cactus juice would do just fine!
An interesting fact is the little thorns which are found on the stems. The purpose of the thorns is to protect the plant from water thieves in the animal kingdom.
Some cacti produce beautiful flowers which sadly only bloom for a short while! So if you plan to photograph the flowers, you had better act fast. Pollinators are bees, hummingbirds and bats. The fruits of some cacti, like the dragon fruit, prickly pear, and the Indian fig are nutritious and industries that produce these fruits are worth millions.
Like everything in nature today, some Cacti are under threat of extinction. Cacti cannot be exported without a licence and are internationally protected. Just as well!
It comes as no surprise that these uniquely shaped plants featured in the art of the Aztecs. In the last decade or so with the rediscovery of their beauty, and the awareness of conservation, people are taking an interest in this diverse species.
This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.
‘The Hollow Men’ by T.S Eliot
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