Each time I draw or paint a subject, I get to know it better. I see more detail, and notice how it is different to how I thought it was. For this reason, I like to create detailed sketches before I paint a flower. In this case as well as a pencil drawing, I'm also going to create a pen and watercolour drawing, and a watercolour painting, before painting the study in oils.
I want to capture the whiteness of the orchid, in a white space, because I feel that white orchids evoke modern urban white interiors, along with all their associations - light, simplicity, modernity, yoga... spirituality even - but perhaps a spirituality that is bought rather than discovered? White space, the White Company, the white cube galleries, the iPhone - so much of modernity seems to be made of the pearlescent plastic whiteness of orchid petals. Orchids are ubiquitous, for sale in every supermarket - they are the flower the moment.
For me, still life studies of flowers always have a momento mori element. They are an attempt to capture unchanging the life and fleeting beauty of the plant as it strives to breed and pass on its genes. These paintings of a white orchid are therefore connected with trying to evoke the present plenty, and a feeling of a time and place I see around me before it passes.
The pen and watercolour style will contrast the tradition of botanical watercolours with the modern associations of the flower.
I'm going to paint the subject in watercolours (without pen) too as I feel their potential for delicacy and transparency will help in studying the subtle whites of the flower.
The final image I have in mind is a small square box canvas of a white orchid against pale light.