Botanicals seem to be on my mind lately—at least, that’s what’s coming out of my studio. I’ve completed three selections: Come into the Garden, Botanica Marina, and My Love for You is Green and Growing. No, I haven’t been painting plein air in my garden like Monet! In fact, the inspiration for each piece springs from very diverse sources, none of which has anything to do with actual gardening.
Come into the Garden was inspired by the book The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I recently re-read it. As a former teacher and children’s librarian, I read and taught this book a number of times. It’s considered a children’s classic, but was originally serialized in a magazine for adults. Frances Hodgson Burnett was deeply interested in the connection between the mind and body. And, of course, that’s what the storyline portrays—the power of mindset as a garden, with the ability to replenish, regenerate, revive. It also has to do with the connection to spirit, and the inspiration and direction that comes from that connection. I am interested in those ideas, and I wanted to express them in painting.
The idea for Botanica Marina came from a memorable, though ill-fated scalloping trip (also inspiration for Search for the Elusive Scallop.) We were snorkeling about five miles off the Florida coast. Unfortunately, the scallops were about nine miles off the Florida coast. But there were plenty of sea urchins and starfish—beds of them, lying on the grassy floor of the Gulf. Like a beautiful, undersea garden. You can see where I am going with this. This captivating mental image stayed with me, but it didn’t come together until I heard The Beatles song Octopus’s Garden courtesy of Alexa. Scalloping trip + Octopus’s Garden= Botanica Marina. You’re starting to see how my mind works now, aren’t you?
Let’s see…a book, a boat….Oh, yes. A baby. Several weeks ago, Hurricane Dorian threatened to sweep right onto Florida’s Atlantic coast as a Category 4+ storm. That did not sound like something I wanted to stick around for. So, we took a little ‘hurricane holiday’ and headed west to Texas to visit family—especially a certain little Miss. Our little granddaughter lives deep in the heart of Texas. Of course, I am so in love with her, and she seems to like me, too. After our visit, I began to think about generations of family as layers of a garden. Each new layer brings forth a new, fresh love that multiples and grows through the years. But it also connects you to the past—in learning how to be a grandmother, I look back at the experiences and love that I received from my own wonderful grandmothers. And I’m grateful to those women, and connected to them, in a whole new way. And that notion was the foundation for My Love for You is Green and Growing. If you look carefully at each panel, you will see many details-- new things coming to light, experiencing new life, nurturing new life, in the process of transformation.
So, not so much as a trowel or a flower pot behind the inspiration for these three botanicals. But you may look at these paintings and find your own story within them. I hope so.
Today, I did quite a bit of cooking—preparing a meal to take to a sick friend, and fixing a hearty lunch for my husband and my dad. I know what you're thinking. Flowers as a metaphor for cornbread? Never. Artistic inspiration from soup? As if. I'll admit that that particular light bulb has not yet appeared over my head. But I’ll keep you posted.