Last summer I was drawn to the Georgia O’Keefe show — Visions of Hawaii — at the NY Botanical Garden. It was interesting to see the work of a serious artist, painting as a guest of the Hawaii Pineapple Company. Though well received at the time, the work felt somewhat constrained and it seemed to me that it took her time to warm up to the subjects and the place. From the show, I moved on to the Conservatory, which completely captivated me, and I decided to do a series of paintings featuring exotic plants.
Of course life and art intervened. I had imagined setting up my easel in the conservatory but learned that they don’t allow that, so shuttled back and forth to take reference photos. I was also lucky to travel to Berkeley, California over the Christmas holiday and photographed many plants that are exotic to us growing quite happily all around.
By the time I began work on paintings for the Spencertown Garden Show, I had a treasure trove of reference photos and spent most of the winter huddled by the space heater in my frigid studio painting tropical plants. It also took me awhile to warm to the subject. I quickly learned that the most interesting thing about many tropical plants is the hidden worlds revealed through their leaves. But a garden show must have flowers, so I focused on those, keeping my images small. Maybe this winter I’ll come back to this warm place and paint the dramatic paintings that are waiting to burst into a larger format when I’m ready.
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