|7" x 5" ink and watercolor on Tyvek|
Trees are deaf, so the idea that music can help them grow is a myth.
But they can smell.
And they can sense when their neighbor is being eaten by a ravenous bug.
And they can speak. I know this.
I found the above group of young trees in a park. And they spoke to me.
I loved how they were spaced and their varying heights. I decided to paint them on Tyvek, which I had been meaning to do for some time as its virtues had been extolled again and again by Myrna Wacknov at her blog, Creative Journey.
Tyvek is synthetic; it is made by DuPont. (Interestingly, my son worked with Tyvek at the DuPont plant in Virginia as a part of his internship in chemical engineering - so Tyvek would have had a special place in my heart, even if I had never used it before.)
I don't even think that DuPont even calls it a paper - it is simply, Tyvek. Its uses include providing protection against moisture intrusion in construction, as covers for cars, as medical and industrial packaging, and for envelopes. There are many more uses, I gather. I believe that Myrna got her Tyvek from a hardware store but I've looked more than once and have not found it at ours. So I took a Tyvek envelope and cut it up.
This paper is thin, but cannot be ripped, and it has a varied pattern to it. So I laid out the general structure of the trees in pen and then laid brush to paper.
I don't know what I expected , but I didn't expect it to bead up. What an effect! It was like watching the world through a windshield in a light rain. And then, just as I finished painting the trees it began raining! And looking through my windshield, I saw that the painting was true.
|watercolor on 4" x 5" Fabriano Artistica cold press paper|
So let's see..trees can smell, they can sense bugs, they can speak, and, by the way, trees can dance! How do I know this? From Jennifer Edwards, that's who! At her Drawn2Life blog, In case you missed it, she wrote this poem (used here by permission):
I chanced to see
the trees dancing
in the breeze.
Said I to the trees
could we dance
And I curtsied
to the boughs
of the trees.
|watercolor on 8" x 8"Fabriano Artistica cold press paper|
Here in South Florida the trees, for the most part, stay green for the entire year. But green, in fact, should be plural like fish or buffalo, because there are warm greens and cool greens and bright greens and dull. There is an endless variety of green to enjoy and many, many shapes of the leaves and trees, of course.
Honestly, I'm embarrassed to say it, but I don't know one tree from the other. I can see their differences and I can paint them, but I don't know what most trees are called. But I know this, they share many gifts, including their gems, the birds.
Years ago I spent a fair amount of time birding. I never grew particularly good at it, but walking in the woods and listening and looking for birds remains the most freeing and relaxing thing that I have done.
Once at an Audubon walk, I spotted a bird in the distance. I signaled to the grey-haired experienced birder who was leading the group. He asked where it was. Signalling towards the copse of trees in the distance, I enthusiastically said, "It's there - in the green tree!" He looked at me. I'm sure he was impressed.
|ink field sketch of painted bunting in sketchbook|
There are always surprises. On October 1, 1996 (I cannot believe it is that long ago), I decided to go into the field and sketch what I see. Usually I would just enjoy the birds with my binoculars, and write down their names.
At a park called A.D. Barnes, there is a wonderful nature trail. But my surprise wasn't there. It was in some bushes along some railroad tracks behind a ball field. And that day I peered into those bushes, and there was a painted bunting. A painter designed that bird - it has to be - it is hard to believe it is real, because it had a red breast, yellow and green wings, grey tail, and a violet-blue head. And the true miracle was that the bird remained in place long enough for me to make this field sketch on the right, complete with lines to denote the colors.
So it's about time that I paint the bird - don't you think?
Nora MacPhail, a wonderfully free and loose watercolorist, spent the last week at her blog here making a variety of Artist Trading Cards (ATC's or ACEO's). I offered a trade, and she graciously said yes. So here is the card I will be sending her, painted today, the Painted Bunting that I saw so many years ago.
|ink and watercolor on 2-1/2" x 3-1/2" Fabriano Artistica cold press paper|
It's so true.