Helianthus annuus – the annual sunflower. Bright like the sun with its radiant yellow petals surrounding a giant disc. We plant the seed every year waiting for it to sprout, with childlike excitement, until finally the plant grows into a towering beast. Birds love to feast on the sunflower’s seeds and perch on it’s strong limbs. We too enjoy it’s oil, seeds, and the many horticultural pleasures it brings. Oh yeah, the bumblebees think it’s okay too.
There’s something about winter that makes me want to paint night scenes. Probably because in the northern hemisphere there is more darkness this time of year. Night can be magical and mysterious, which is what I’m trying to convey in this painting with a dramatic sky and a full moon shining through the clouds. “Creatures” tend to become more active at night, though in the dead of winter, I’m not so sure. I bet most sensible animals slow their heart rate down and buckle down until warmer times. I like to think of ourselves as slowing down too, to take a breath and look around? Nah, of course not.
Winter of 1780 in Morristown was a brutal situation for the continental army – solders were given almost nothing to eat and supplies were scare. Meanwhile, General Washington and other high ranked officials stayed at the Ford Mansion with plenty to eat. I suppose little has changed since then; a few benefit while the majority struggles.
At this time of year, I am always grateful that I can get warm whenever I want to. This painting is a representation of the hardship that these men endured as they fought for independence from Britain. Fire was crucial for both survival and sending warning signals of British attack.
Winter of 1780 in Morristown, New Jersey
Here’s are work in progress photos for this painting.
This painting was created for my cousin as a wedding gift. Plants included in this bouquet are all native to northeastern North America. This piece is somewhat imaginative because plants, such as flowering dogwood bloom in early spring, in contrast with our native hibiscus, which bloom closer to August. Therefore, this particular arrangement of fresh flowers may not be possible in practice, but it is way cool as a work of art 🙂
The photo I worked from to help guide this painting was taken a couple of years ago. I’m not sure what made me go back in time; maybe the light effect, maybe the time of year. I wanted to show the light coming in from the background to light up the river with enough contrast with dark areas of the river, to keep it interesting. Things may seem just gray and brown this time of year, but I think the lighting in the winter is tremendous – like a lamp with a dimmer adjustment, yet positioned at a certain angle to still create dramatic effects.
I missed the peak “leaf peeping” time at Harriman this year. No bright red orange gold here. Just the remnants of gold and russet. I think I prefer this bittersweet ending scene instead of the “everything on fire” autumn scene. Can you tell I’m an introvert?
This place is not far from home. A swamp, a wetland, a breeding ground for a myriad of organisms. Some we consider charismatic, some consider us their host, and some we don’t recognize. It’s hard to walk by without noticing things here, especially, in the fall. What was a sea of green is now a textury color kaleidoscope. This season seems more fleeting than the rest. So little time, so much to paint.