I decided to give my blog page a little lift with its own name. I’m calling it Sycamore Notes and some day I will explain where that comes from. For now, know that it is based on my belief that art can be something that lifts us out of the ordinary and inspires or challenges us. So here I will “go out on a limb” and share new works that are being added into this site’s galleries or tell you about coming events and opportunities, or share techniques I use; or perhaps I will share a thought that I feel needs to be shared. My hope is that this will become interactive and to that end, I invite you to share your thoughts or questions as we proceed.
Sometimes multiple interests come together in a single painting. Such was the case with this piece which combines my interest in nature, art, and native American history. Phew! All in one little roughly 9×9 watercolor.
The image is of a gulf fritillary that has a unique relationship with this flower, commonly referred to as the Passion Flower. Both are beautiful creations in themselves, but what is so interesting is that this little butterfly MUST lay its eggs on this particular plant because that is all their fussy little caterpillars will eat! This is just like the relationship that monarchs have to milkweed. My practical side says, how inefficient, how unwise to be so dependent on a single food source. Could it be that these butterflies need beauty in their lives too??
And there is more to this story. The Cherokee who used to inhabit the very land I live on here in southeast TN called the fruit of the Passion Flower “u-wa-ga” and the area around the river where it grew was called “u-wa-go-hi,” which means “where the passion fruits grow.” To English speaking folks this sounded like “o-co-ee” and so the river became the Ocoee River and the land nearby was called Ocoee, which is where I live. So I live in the Land of the Passion Flower! There is so much in this story that I love, so I had to paint it and I finally did. I have painted the flower several times but this is the grist time I have included the fritillary as well. Purchase information can be found in the Birds, Butterflies, and Beasts gallery or in the Blossoms and Blooms gallery.
On a weekend following a number of days doing relatively non-creative tasks, my insides demanded some play time. A very energizing exercise for me is to do one of my woven paintings. To do this, I generally paint two paintings, often on yupo, that have some similar elements in color and/or line. After painting and letting them dry well, I slice them in opposite directions and then weave them back together. The fun part is that I never quite know what the finished piece will look like. This is one of those surprises. It could remind the viewer of a spectacular sunrise or sunset, thus the title “Solar Flare.” The image itself is 10×14 and it is matted and framed to 16×19. You can see more woven watercolors here.
Hetzel Gallery, located in Cleveland TN, is a new gallery operated by two sisters, Beth Hetzel and Becky Hetzel Fowler. It is exciting to these two energized and eager young women launch into this enterprise, especially during 2020. Through the summer they have courageously opened their doors to limited numbers at a time and displayed beautiful art. When I asked if I could join them in this exhibit, they were eager to bring me in. The metamorphosis theme intrigued me and made me immediately think of the butterflies in my garden. This is one of three pieces that will be included in this exhibit, September 19 through October 18. “Welcome Visitor” is a 15×12 watercolor.
I was introduced to Mary Oliver several years ago and since then have grown to love her poetry and recognize it even before I read the by-line. Her writing is full of awareness. The day I painted this I had read her poem “Why I wake up early” From that poem came the title for the painting. It just seemed like such a good way to start a day.
John Muir may not have had art in mind when he penned this: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.” I know he had places like Yosemite and Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks as he talked of places and I think I did too as I painted this. I suggest that “places” can also be non-tangible spots where our hearts find some reprieve from whatever may be troubling us.
You can view additional paintings inspired by land or sea, click here.