"Cordyline fruticosa" watercolor, 17x13 inches framed

"Cordyline fruticosa" watercolor, 17x13 inches framed

  • Professional watercolor and gouache on 140gsm 300 g/m2 archival grade cold press paper.

  • Framed with archival mat and ready to hang.

    • Art unframed: 5.5x8.5 inches

    • Art framed: 13x17 inches

  • Painted en plein air in Honolulu, Hawaii.


"Brother, the power of love appeases our
will so – we only long for what we have;
we do not thirst for greater blessedness.” (Dante Alighieri, Paradiso III, 70-78)

Cordyline is a plant native to the western regions of the Pacific Ocean, including the Philippines and the Pacific Islands. In the Philippines (my parents’ mother country), it was used by female shamans in healing rituals as the leaves were believed to be able to hold souls. In ancient Hawaii, Cordyline fruticosa, aka Ti leaf, was also regarded as a plant with such great spiritual and healing powers that only shamans and chiefs were allowed to wear the leaves around their necks. They were also associated with the goddesses of fertility and the hula dance for which Ti are made into lei and hula skirts. I’m not sure if my parents-in-law know this, but they’re typically planted around homes for good luck and to keep evil spirits away. That said, you’ll find them all along the perimeter of their backyard.

I was first attracted to the Ti plant by its striking dark green, red and purplish leaves. It wasn’t until after researching it that I learned it is the same plant used to make lei. It is a Hawaiian tradition for the groom to wear a Ti leaf lei on his wedding day, and my husband did just that. We were married in New York City so his parents hand-carried it over ice packs all the way from the island of Oahu. The Ti plant has many ancient meanings, but for me it will always symbolize my husband’s role in our family as a source of strength, protection, fortune, and love.

The initial paintings were done over two plein air sessions in Hawaii. After coming back home to California, I added several more layers to deepen and highlight the rich jewel-toned hues for which people choose to cultivate this strikingly beautiful ornamental plant.