The Queen Blooms in Darkness

Catherine Conrad
2023 Annual Juried Exhibition

In the summer of 2022, I had the opportunity to watch the blooming of the Queen of the Night flower (epipyllum oxypetalum, sometimes known the Dutchman’s pipe cactus). This exquisite flower blooms only once a year, in the darkness of the night. When the sun rises in the morning, the bloom is gone. It was an emotional experience to witness the emergence of something so beautiful that it was almost otherworldly, all while knowing that its very existence was fleeting.

I took several photos of the Queen of the Night while it bloomed and I began painting the bloom from a more realistic perspective than my other works as an abstract artist. In “The Queen Blooms in Darkness”, I play with the contrast of colors in the shadows (the flower’s milky white petals versus the darkness of the background).

As I painted, I realized that some of the petals reminded me of the shape of a swan’s beak and neck, which I exaggerate in this painting. In addition, I took a great deal of liberty with the pistil (the inner part of the flower); the beauty of the flower repeats itself within the pistil on a microscopic level, perhaps infinitely.

acrylic, pastel, and colored pencil on canvas

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