Went for a walk in the North Georgia Woods and found some oaks, hickories, and even a river birch in the bottoms but the Dogwood is still the glory of the understory this time of year.
I’ve become enamored with starting out on saturated paper to establish shapes and tones (see the process shot right). Some paintings. I continue to work entirely from this start. The process I’m starting to explore now is allowing this first pass at the painting to dry overnight. After the piece dries I begin to refine the image adding more color and sharpening the forms. I like to move between transparent and saturated watercolor. I’ll even add a bit of white gouache (it’s pronounced, gwash) to some of the colors to create some opacity because it helps. Using gouache and watercolor can be problematic but you can achieve wonderful results with a little patience and practice.
Among the plants growing in the old field behind my home is Rabbit Tobacco. This plant has long been used by the Native Americans and Southern Herbal Doctors as a remedy and treatment for many ailments especially involving the respiratory system. It is also considered good for nervous disorders. You can smoke it for the croup and drink it to quiet the nerves or break up congestion. The tea you make with it takes some getting used to but I can personally attest to the efficacy of this herb.
Because watercolor actually moves on the paper, it is the most active of all mediums, almost a performance art.
This tiny blue/white flower growing in my back yard along the fringe is the rarest variety of Birdsfoot Violet and you can see them popping up around my neighborhood in what the unenlightened would consider neglected parts.
The more I read about Charles Burchfield; the more I see of his work; the more I admire it and what he achieved. Burchfield was a superb watercolorist and an artist of his time and place. One thing I especially love is the journal he kept most of his life. It grants us such insight into the mind of the artist.
Charles Burchfield is becoming one of the greatest influences on my own work as I strive to become more and more what I am: a watercolorist, a Southerner, an artist celebrating his time and place.
“To produce great work an artist must first have a high aim and ideal. Then his difficulties and obstacles will not hinder him ―” Charles E. Burchfield, January 7, 1931
The only reason to paint is to grow, to make progress and live the journey. Sometimes the easel calls me and I move from one work to the next. This one inspiring and demanding the one to follow; I can not pause and reflect. I believe there is nothing wrong with obsession when it is not quite all consuming and turned to positive pursuits.
The Birdsfoot Violet is a tiny plant that brings a lot of beauty to the fringe. Many home owners see this lovely flower only as a weed in their lawn and that is because of it’s unassuming nature and size. Standing 4 to 6 inches with flowers only an 1 and a half inch across it thrives in our shallow acidic soil in the areas you can’t mow. I didn’t have to go very far to find this plant because it is one of the delights in my yard. The spots of color low to the ground are visible from the kitchen window. We have the rarest variety of this violet growing out there the alba or white birdsfoot violet. That will be my next painting.
“Reflecting on the impermanence of my art, I envied that of the composers, or writers, whose art never can deteriorate but is always good as long as the human race survives…”
The Mountain Spleenwort grows out of rock crevices in the Appalachians. In Georgia in can be found mostly in the extreme northwest corner of the state. In New England the plant is threatened, endanger or even extirpated,
I find interesting that when I first began to see myself as an artist many years ago I wanted to offer up the common things in life up close so that others could the beauty in every day. That is what I’m trying to do with my small paintings of our native plants. I had not realized I was returning to what I thought of as my mission long ago. I’m also working in watercolor my first medium and the medium that most intrigues and challenges me.
One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, ‘What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?’
This is a delightful member of the fern family that you find nestled in rock crevices from Newfoundland to the piedmont of Georgia. it has red rachis and narrow arching fronds that stay green year round forming mounds that break up rocky places with soft greens. It is a perfect addition to a rock garden.
I try to construct a picture in which shapes, spaces, colors, form a set of unique relationships, independent of any subject matter. At the same time I try to capture and translate the excitement and emotion aroused in me by the impact with the original idea.
The Tulip Poplar is one of the greatest treasures we have in our native forest. Not only does it present us with lovely tulip shaped yellow and orange flower it also adds the most brilliant yellow to our fall landscapes. The Tulip Poplar is the tallest tree in the southern Appalachians. The tallest known tree is in Kentucky and towers over 192 feet. Here’s the kicker the Tulip Poplar is not a poplar at all; it’s a member of the Magnolia family. When you look closely at the flower and the catkins it later forms you can see the family resemblance.
I love Persimmons. Ripe Persimmons that is; very few things have the pucker power of an unripe one. When I lived on a farm in Madison County, Georgia, there was a Persimmon tree along the edge of one field and I would check it out with regularity waiting for the chance to grab it fresh, ripe and right off the tree. There is only one problem with this scenario the deer were even more vigilant.
Took a drive down past Macon this weekend and saw all kinds of things blooming right now in Central Georgia that have not started to bloom up here in Northeast Georgia. The one that jumped to the eye was Carolina Jessamine. This beautiful vine richly deserves it’s status as the state flower of South Carolina.
It is one of our native plants that has made it’s way into common usage in the landscape in the south. You can find it adorning mailboxes and fence lines all over. Jessamine or yellow trumpet flower as it is sometimes called is a perennial with shiny evergreen leaves.
This painting was done on soaked 140lb coldpressed watercolor paper. using cobalt blue, lemon yellow, yellow ochre, dioxamine purple and burnt sienna. I’m going to start using 300lb watercolor paper just as soon as i make it over to that palace of wonders, my locally owned art supply store.