There might have been a post about this piece previously, before I added the background. It began as a botanical study of a dried branch from my jimpsonweed that echoed the shape of a calla lily, and remained in that state for a few months as I debated whether to keep it as a botanical or turn it into something else. I began thinking of the branch as not just resembling the calla lily, but as actually changing into the lily form through the process of death. The lily also put me in mind of brides and nuns.
The background was added to associate my subject with the 12th century abbess, artist, and composer Hildegard of Bingen. In Hildegard’s thought viriditas, or greening, shows the power of the divine in creation. I decided to have my withered branch levitating in front of a background pattern of acanthus leaves.
This piece was juried into the 53rd Southwestern Watercolor Society Membership Exhibition, where it won the Watercolor Artist/Creative Catalyst 2 award.
Lately I have gotten interested in botanical artwork, the result of realizing that work based on direct observation has always been an important part of my work, even when I was painting large abstracts. I’m also committed to finding my subject matter wherever I happen to be. For these two pieces I didn’t have to look any farther than the back yard.
I also prefer to paint my subjects as I find them, that is, not idealized, in the tradition of memento mori works. Sometimes I find things in fresh and full flower, but in November that is usually not the case. In the autumn, things have been through long hot summers and have been chewed on by insects, and are all the more interesting for it.
Here are a couple of recent pieces, some native Texas plants. Both of these are about 8×10 watercolors.
The first is turk’s cap, aka Malvaviscus drummondii. In the fall they form fruits as well as new flower buds. – SOLD
This second shows the leaves and acorns of some sort of oak. I’m not sure what kind it is that we have around here. Their leaves can vary so widely.
Happy Autumn to all!
Watercolor is the perfect medium for a series of paintings that has been percolating for a few years now. The subject matter is tree trunks, and how they show or heal over damage from insects, parasites, chainsaws, and so on.
A title for this series is giving me a little trouble. “Scars” is too full of drama for something that is a plain fact of life. There’s an appeal to “beauty marks”, but that’s too sentimental. Until I come up with something better, they can go by the title of “trunks”.