Half-Way Through…

Painting in my new studio corner
Painting in my new studio corner

May is almost over! January’s resolutions have not faded completely, but I confess that I am knee deep in a constant cycle of gardening, exercise, kitchen work and painting. The metaphor of having fallen into a rabbit hole is almost irresistible. I’ve not given up on the plans laid five months ago. I am, however, fully grappling with a challenging present.

The new home “studio” in the corner of the living room, makes incorporating artwork into a daily routine much easier. April and May paintings were late nonetheless. After traveling to Maine and New York at the end of March, I came home to find the earth had woken up quickly after a few days of 80 degree weather. The weekly kitchen menu for market needed to change, the gardens had to be weeded & mulched, and farmers’ markets were on the cusp of the busy season. I have a love-hate relationship with the growing season. Each year I have to trick myself into enthusiasm. Extreme physical exertion and simply putting my head down as I shove my shoulder into it, is not magic. It is surprising how diving into a frenzy of activity allows ideas to float to the top of consciousness. Creative resolutions seem to appear out of thin air.

March into Madness, watercolor on paper, 2015.
March into Madness, watercolor on paper, 2015.

The calendar Bunny paintings for this Spring are centered on an idea of brute magic.“March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers”, is part of a English poem that was first recorded in 1610. A deeper symbolism in March’s painting is that which can be hidden in plain sight. The diaphanous rainbow kites devolve at their ends into less saturated tails. Translucent sheets of weather mingle with the fabric to suggest distance between Bunny and the Blue Ridge. As with actual clouds in high winds, these beckon to be touched.

March Layers
Underpainting for March into Madness

Bunny struggles to hold on to her dragonfly kite. She’s pulled up onto her toes, exposing her tail from under her raincoat. The wind is obviously making it challenging. What is not so apparent, is what has taken shape in the sky. In muted tones of purple and blue, what could be mistaken for just a bunch of clouds is actually a passionate embrace. Finding shapes in clouds is an old game. Quoting one of my earlier paintings, is a new trick for Bunny. As she struggles in the present, her imagination is very much elsewhere.

April Sketch
Tree sketch outlined and masking fluid applied

April is my favorite month. Warmer weather, daffodils, red bud trees and peepers all arrived at once this year. The transformation from Winter to Spring was dramatic. I’m never ready to bring forth ordered chaos from dirt. Unfortunately fresh herbs, vegetables and flowers are top priorities. An unkempt garden and local grocery stores leave much to be desired for my palette or imagination. Waking my body from hibernation to ensure my culinary and artistic predilections will be satisfied takes more than a regular alarm clock. It is usually a huge temper tantrum accompanied by lots of tears. After settling from my self-induced storm, I set to work with renewed enthusiasm–a single benefit of the neuroendocrine rush of frustrated anger. To capture this yearly ritual in a Bunny painting was not easy. The composition did not occur to me until after many loads of mulch were dumped.

April-What brings May Flowers
April-What brings May Flowers, watercolor on paper, 2015.

Carefully manicured gardens are delightful. I love visiting them, but I don’t have the attention span or strength to make them happen. Rakes, hoes, edging tools, roto-tillers and seedling trays occupy the same dusty shelves as crinoline in the practical world of a full time farm-cook and mother. Nonetheless, in semi-autobiographical Bunny paintings, I strive to be as true to wish fulfillment as to reality. To enact her ideal garden, a frustrated Bunny stands under a blowing Zephyr with a hammer. With the help of the West Wind, some brute strength and a few broken cloches, Spring will bear fruit, dammit!

May-Tea Time w: FloraAnd then Flora arrives. Barely concealed in goddess garb, she is daintily serving herself some tea. Her consort Zephyr slumbers as the Blue Ridge, too tuckered from April machinations to partake. Bunny’s calm demeanor and unruffled apron belie the herculean efforts that brought forth the lovely azaleas. Shards of glass and the red handled hammer hidden in the maple seed mulch are a stark contrast to the pristine porcelain cups and saucers. The savage birth of such delicate blossoms is a mystery. Who would ever suspect Bunny capable of the brutality required to bring forth another year’s harvest? Plainly hidden evidence will continue to feature prominently in 2015.

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