How The Petals Are Joined To The Stem

Four Rover Mums in a Glass 20x24, O:C.jpg

    Outside my studio the city decorates a tiny park with beautiful plants, both flowering and those with just beautiful foliage. Leaves with amazing shapes and colors. Autumn is the season when artists give most of their attention to simply leaves, the yellows and golds of the maples and the deep reds of the oaks. A thousand hues and shades; all the warm spectrums of the color wheel inspire artists to go out painting and turn to landscapes in the studio. 

For several years I've taken notice of the shapes and colors of the different flowers and leaves on the plants that the city decorates the parks with. Back in 1974, in Taos with my friend Ron Barsano, he first got me to notice such things, like the different shades of green on the plants of summer. We talked about how much an artist needs to really know about their subject. At the time, I argued if one could see it, one could do a painting of it. I still believe that, but over the years I have learned the knowledge of a subject can hold my interest more, making small things important both to me and to any taking the time to view my art. The delicate petals of a rose are so beautiful, so are it's rich green leaves and its so interesting how the petals are joined to the stem.

Some artists make beautiful paintings of flowers without placing any detail into their art. They let the viewer decide whether it is a pink rose or a pink peony they are looking at in their painting. My nature is that I want people to see a rose when that is what I am painting. I want people to see the rose that I raised in my garden or the peonies my friend Mary Kay gave me. The rule in my studio is never pick off dead leaves from my geraniums, they add character to my window plants. Different geraniums have different leaves. Some have orangish rings, while others have a ting of blue in them. Painting is about observation and editing. Is it important to me to place the rings and veins of a geranium leaf in a painting, for other artists not so much. What we observe and how we edit what we see is what gives painting a different look when we all are painting from the same subject. 

Crisp Air & Warm Sun on Our Backs

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Time to change my palette, to lean towards the reds, yellows and oranges. Autumn is here and for a short time the bright warm colors of it will dominate my palette. That is how it's been with me since art school. These last few years I’ve added blacks and blues to produce the grays I am now aware of. The silver branches of dead trees that hang around for years, that I’ve painted over with bright colors as though they were still alive. They’re like family to me now who have passed on their color. They are not so bright, but their wisdom is still there coloring my life with both joy and wonder. I see the delicate branches that held fruits and nuts and green leaves. Now silvery grey with those molds and fungi that will clear the woods for new growth and Springs green leaves. 

For now, there is a blaze of glory as the trees weave a blanket of reds and yellows to cover the forest floor for the life under the snow that will come. Mice, moles, insects and grubs gather these leaves in their homes among the roots of the trees we artists so love. For us, Autumn is a charge to visit the far side of the color wheel, away from the cool blues and greens. Autumn is about color, Indian corn, pumpkins, apples, jars of golden honey, and bright orange hunting vests.

Plaid shirts covered in paint are now in fashion. They show others we are serious artists who withstand the weather to get our masterpieces done. Hot cider replaces the diet cokes from Burger King. Deep Woods Off is retired for the season, as the smell of burning leaves keep what few insects remain active at bay. Crisp air and warm sun on our backs inspire us to paint a bit quicker, autumn maybe three months long but the colors are drifting away on those winds bringing winter. Winter drives most inside to stare at the computer for our inspiration. Or some of us will move on from the landscape onto still-life painting and figurative work. Then it's time to change the colors on the palette again, retiring the greens and many of the reds till summer with it's garish flowers.

Did I mention I love those grays I'm seeing these days?