December 4, 2019
Professor Rapee Sagarik’s 97th Birthday
Today’s Doodle celebrates horticulturalist and botanist Professor Sagarik on the 97th anniversary of his birth in Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand—a country that is home to nearly 1,300 native species of orchid.
Widely known as the “father of Thai orchids,” Professor Sagarik was also later president at Bangkok’s Kasetsart University and also served on the Faculty of Agriculture at Maejo University in the northern city of Chiang Mai. He is widely considered Thailand’s foremost expert in the breeding and conservation of these delicate, beautiful plants.
Once considered an exclusive pastime for the wealthy, orchid-growing became more accessible thanks in part to Professor Sagarik’s research and education efforts. He founded the Orchid Society of Thailand in 1957 and later became a regular speaker at the World Orchid Conference. In 1984, he organized the first Asia Pacific Orchid Conference. Thanks to Professor Sagarik’s efforts, Thailand’s first orchid library opened In December 1993.
Thailand is now the world's foremost exporter of orchids, and many of the most popular varieties were bred from wild Thai orchids.
“These flowers are not like the ones you see every day, which blossom and then wither away,” Professor Sagarik once observed. Because the beauty of orchids is passed onto future generations, he called the flowers “love in humankind.”
S̄uk̄hs̄ạnt̒ wạn keid, Professor Sagarik!
Doodler Q&A with Erich Nagler
Today’s Doodle was created by Doodler Erich Nagler.
Below, he shares some thoughts on the making of the Doodle and early sketches:
Q: When did you first learn about Professor Rapee Sagarik’s 97th Birthday?
What part of his story do you find most inspiring personally?
A: I first learned about Professor Sagarik when the Doodle team was reviewing proposals from Thailand and South Asia. I think orchids are incredibly beautiful — even though I have no talent for growing and cultivating them myself. I’ve heard they need just one ice cube for water, but I’ve never been able to maintain an orchid plant for long.
I was fascinated to learn that Thailand is the origin of over 1,000 species of orchids. I found it inspiring that Professor Sagarik dedicated his life to studying and cataloging these amazingly diverse and stunningly beautiful flowers.
Q: Can you tell readers about the process of making the Doodle for Professor Rapee Sagarik’s 97th Birthday?
A: I felt like I was stepping in Professor Sagarik’s shoes for this project because I had to study orchids myself in order to get the drawings and the colors of these species correct. I started by taking a trip to the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco, California.
They have orchid species from all over the world, which I spent the day drawing and coloring. Orchids thrive in very humid conditions, so I was sweating as I was drawing. They also have misters that spray intermittently, so I had to protect my drawing papers from the rainforest-like tropical conditions.
It was important to draw species that were native to Thailand for this Doodle, so I ended up finding more orchids than were on display at the conservatory. I would draw multiple flower specimens from different angles to understand their form, and then choose the best drawings to apply color.
Q: Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular for this Doodle?
A: I felt like I was in Professor Sagarik’s footsteps for this project. Studying and drawing these flowers, discovering the species’ Latin names and researching their native ranges, all gave me an immense appreciation for his work and expertise. I was most inspired by the incredible beauty and biodiversity of nature by documenting these incredible flowers.
Q: Do you have any technical tips or tricks to share with young artists?
A: I find that flowers are great subjects to draw in person because of their three-dimensionality. Seeing these living flowers in real life helped me understand how the parts and shapes connect, as opposed to just looking at flat photographs.
Also, flowers make for great models. Unlike drawing people or faces, flowers will hold still for as long as you need in order to capture the drawing and the color.
Q: What do you hope people will take away from this Doodle?
A: I hope that people appreciate nature’s delicate beauty through this Doodle, and also appreciate Professor Sagarik who worked to honor, understand, and preserve our knowledge of these gorgeous plants with their spectacular flowers.