First in a series of paintings exploring the sculptural shapes of trees left after the Yosemite National Park Rim Fire of 2013.
Elan ran a profile featuring several of my botanical paintings in their December 2014 issue.
Farmers’ Market, Marblehead, 9AM
Yosemite National Park
July 2014–Two sketches from Hetch Hetchy, an area just north of Yosemite Valley: the reservoir itself escaped last year’s Rim Fire and the back burning, but most of the 14 mile drive to Hetch Hetchy from the Rt. 120 ranger station was through land eerily without trees. Some were piled in charcoaled heaps and the dark skeletons of others stood out waiting to be chopped down.
Quick sketch (8 x 8 inches) of Kolana Rock. It was 97 in the shade and the paint was dying as fast as I put it down!
The Washington Post published “Wild About Muir at 8,000 ft.” about the trip.
May 2014–This fall-blooming soft yellow salvia grows in the shade, sporting four-inch furry leaves. It makes a surprisingly good ground cover in damp, clay soil here in Maryland. Borage’s cobalt blue flowers bloom from July on in zone 6b, strong enough to push through the large leaves of the salvia. I just finished this painting for an exhibit with the Botanical Art Society of the National Capital Region.
Salvia koyame, 20 x 16 inches, acrylic and latex house paint on board
Click here for a You tube video interview from 2013.
Italian Wooden Microscope
May 2014 — Just finished a commission in my historical microscopes series: this wooden microscope was built pre 1686. Wooden screws on the right adjust the focal length by loosening or tightening the thread on the left, and the object to be examined sits on the top of the large wheel, under the lens, at the left. This microscope is the oldest held by the Billings Collection at the National Museum of Health and Medicine here in Washington, D.C.
I’ve gotten away from painting on Yupo, the plastic surface I used here, but painting this microscope reminded me of how much I like playing with the flow of the watercolor, tilting the paper and encouraging one color to bleed into another. In this painting, I used the lighter cobalt blue paint to chase the darker blue French ultramarine to the edges of the microscope, creating the dark outline.
October 2013 — Watercolor paintings and felt…students did both media at my teaching site up in Wawona, about 40 minutes south of Yosemite Valley. The ground stood inches dry in dust that seeped through shoes and socks to my feet; it was no surprise that the huge Rim Fire was burning out of control 50 miles away. Somehow the sugar pines and incense cedars created their own shade against the dryness and made a backdrop for the cooling sound of the fountain at the Wawona Hotel.
July 2013 — I’ll be an artist-in residence at Yosemite National Park this summer during the third week of August 2013 teaching felting, the process of turning colorful merino wool into art fabric postcards and cloth. When I’m not teaching, I’ll have a chance to soak in and paint the grand trees, mostly evergreen, that I think could be the next subject for a series. In this piece, 6 x 8 inches, I was looking at new spring leaves against pine trees in Cunningham Falls State Park. Look for more art felt images under Paintings, above.
Poppies (and recent studio work)
Thanks to everyone who stopped by the show in April and made it a sell-out! I’m working on the next set of paintings, based on sketches I did over the summer up in Boston and Philadelphia. Here are poppies from the Chanticleer Garden, the sketch on newsprint first, next the painting in progress. It has the main shapes and colors, but without the veils of translucent white on top, it looks flat and slightly too bright.
I had my 3rd solo show at the Lombardi Cancer Center in Washington, D.C.in April 2012. Here are 4 of the the 10 studio pieces I did for the show. The studio pieces are 20 x 16, acrylic and latex house paint on board. The other 7 include a triptych of 8 x 8 paintings, and direct prints and monoprints of leaves done on site at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C
Sunflowers, late May
Hydrangea, mid-August Sassafras, late October