My grandmother is 94 and I am her primary caregiver. She needs someone in the house at all times, needs help getting to the bathroom, preparing meals, shopping, etc. But she’s all right - she has a sense of humor and is pretty chill.
Here are a few facts: Her house has been my studio for the past 15 years. With her care needs I am there more than ever before. My work depends on drawing and painting from nature. It often involves new landscapes viewed while traveling. Grandma is now blind from cataracts - but likes to get a full report on plants and flowers in the yard as well as potted plants and cut flowers in the house.
This all leads to the idea of this current body of work, Surroundings. I am painting my way through the plants in the yard because:
I have to be here
I want to be working outside when I can be
I need to draw from life, I can’t abstract from nothing or rather, it becomes stale and boring.
Grandma wants a careful accounting of whats going on out there.
So here we go, the work I produced over the course of the growing season 2018 in her yard that I am including in this exhibition:
The first gem that blooms in her yard is the Magnolia Tree in the front yard. I have been drawing and painting this tree during its blooming season for many years, its gorgeous. It bloomed this year from April 26 - May 7. I did two versions of the tree - one called Magnolia Tree (Opening) and one called Magnolia Tree (Peaking).
The next major painting came in June, with the blooming of the giant overgrown rhododendron in the backyard. Most people keep rhododendron as bushes, pruned to be about 4 feet high. Not this one, it is massive, a small tree, reaching as high as the top of the first floor and wide and wild. I decided to make a really large painting, 6’ x 9’ to convey this sense of being overgrown. Painted during its peak bloom, June 4 - June 26.
In July, poison ivy was growing everywhere. I did some very careful observation and sketching of the poison ivy and realized we have two varieties, Virginia Creeper and Poison Ivy, and made two paintings of them.
A further note about these two paintings - Over July 4th I painted the front door this green - I made the paintings with the left over house paint. I was inspired by the gorgeous wall paper in this summer’s Sharp Objects on HBO.
At this point, the name of the game in the yard was becoming OVERGROWN. Everything was becoming too big and too tall and not where it was supposed to be. August ended up being filled with challenges of how to stay on top of the grass and how to keep the bushes from overtaking the path, weeds growing out of everywhere. Here is an interpretation of the side of the house, the overgrown sidewalk path along the side of the garage.
September was super busy at work preparing for City-Wide Open Studios and I had less time for painting. So I started something I could do in bits and pieces - I made new batches of homemade paper. I pressed cut flowers, weeds, and grasses from the yard and recycled the large stack of old statements and bills into new paper. I will be giving away paper at City-Wide Open Studios Alternative Space Weekend Oct 26-28.