Thursday, June 28, 2007


This month, along with working on two of the largest pieces I have ever attempted, I will also be focusing on a series of images for a show in Knoxville this fall. Here and there, I will be working out some of the color and composition issues as daily studies. This image is from my trip through Holmes County, Ohio earlier this year, of a deep canal cutting through some farms. I liked the rich, dark earth and the deep green of the banks.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

black locust

What better way to learn about plants and animals than to draw or paint them? When you spend time looking at forms and colors, they are burned into your memory in a unique way. I have long been embarassingly bad at identifying trees, but from now on will know the locust by its graceful leaves.


Yet again, my notes seem to be incorrect, since I had recorded this as a "whorled" coreopsis, and upon further research it seems to be "greater" coreopsis. I have just been informed that one one else is nerdy enough to care about the difference, but if I learned one thing about edible plants (which this is not), it is that one should be absolutely certain of identifying what one eats. Don't eat this one...but if you live in the east or south, go out in the woods and find one. They're beautiful!


After coming across spicebush in some previous reading, I was really hoping to learn to identify it, since I was not already familiar with it. It is such an "ordinary" looking plant, though, that I doubt I will notice it quickly in the wild. The woody stems are used to make a tea called spicewood, and the dried berries are used as allspice (finely ground for seasoning). Hopefully I will find a little of my own someday to try these tastes.


Next in my little botanical series is the lovely this time of year it shows large white flower heads, but is also known for small, dark berries known to make good country wine (or so they say).


Although I wrote down in my notes that this marsh-growing plant is called "arrowroot," after further research it seems that this version may be called "arrowhead," true arrowroot having a much different leaf shape. Both are reputed to have edible roots, although the arrowroots are dug after twenty years, so one would probably have a long wait.


After my little outdoor retreat this week, I am back in the studio (at least for now). Aside from my first success at casting a fly rod correctly (and catching a nice largemouth bass), I found the most fascination with the edible plants class that I took. We tasted and foraged and I learned a great deal...almost too much information to take in all at once. This exquisite plant is bergamot, also known as the distinctive taste of earl grey tea, which I am enjoying as I paint.