The afternoon light was fading into dusk when I took this photo that inspired Magnolia Express. It was taken in the winter of August 1982; I should have been studying for the High School Certificate trial exams. Instead I was lying on my stomach holding my breath, trying to keep the camera steady, while peering through the cream petals at the centre of the flower.
Just ten minutes before, daydreaming from my study window, I was captivated by the sight of the flower on the Magnolia tree. Out came my macro lenses. I’d decided another 15 minutes away from study would be ok. After all, in the past hour of study I’d managed to “Mr Sheen” the desk, straighten out my filing cabinet, grab a hot cup of Milo, and vacuum the carpets. Besides I needed to review my biology notes; therefore, this was related.
This year, as my son prepares for his HSC exams, I knew I had to paint this flower as a tribute to the skill of daydreaming. While I analysed the composition, I could sense an Art Deco design flowing from the flower’s stamens and petals. The colours of blue, gold, brown and magenta belong to an Art Deco scene. I like how the bright curled gold and yellow stigmas on the stamens contrast with the purple and magenta base of Magnolia Grandiflora.
The centre of the flower is like an Art Deco building and I can see the blurred petals taking on the shape of a 1930s express steam train and an open top sports car. The shapes, composition and colour palette in the artwork Magnolia Express triggered my imagination to paint a second composition based on the hours of daydreaming in completing the first work. The second painting is from imagination and is called Magnolia Express 2.