The Garden continued

The Garden cont

The Wildflower Paintings. Garden Paintings. Botanicals.

My “memento mori.” Why is my work always about death? Isn’t everything?

Aren’t flowers and decay a time honored symbol of our short time in the world? I have a long list of flowers to paint:

Funeral Flowers for Floyd,

White Island flowers,

Flowers on fences in the aftermath of shootings and violence.

And those I have painted:

Execution Wall Flowers (Cinders),

Black & White Botanicals for Black Lung,

Pompeii Garden Fragments (Ruins).

For now, my watercolor paintings of wildflowers from last summer have a life, and death, of their own. I couldn’t see them in oils nor justify the resources I would have had to invest in oil paints and canvas etc. I’ve painted in black and white too long. My first love in painting was watercolor. I’ve invested seriously in watercolor supplies over the years. And a Pandemic Summer was the time to utilize my hoard. My watercolor studio was already in action thanks to challenges of Quarentini Painters (QP).

I did not start out with any plan for the Wildflower paintings. They weren’t intended to be on public view. I didn’t see them fitting into or becoming a body of work. Then again, what public? It’s just me. And since I was posting watercolor paintings for QP I started a new Instagram for just my studio artwork. (Rachelbarminskiboundsstudio) As I finished something I put it out there. This became a good practice to tamp down self-criticism and self-consciousness.

Originally, I started out just numbering each Wildflower painting. There’s a little process when a wc painting is finished that includes cutting it free either from tape or block, wetting the back and pressing. I use 4“Japanese wash brush with plain water, sandwich the paper between two watercolor boards and stack books on top. Once dried, I flip to the back and sign, date, number, and title - if known - in pencil. The QP wc paintings include the challenge and notate the source.

The Wildflower paintings needed more then numbers and so I began a list of potential names/titles. The source of the list were episode titles from a British murder mystery series, another obsession. In my sketchbook I had the lists of Morse, Lewis and Endeavor episodes. I was re-watching them throughout the summer. I realized how poetic and thought provoking the Lewis titles were. Of the 33 episode titles only two or three were unusable. They seemed to fit certain paintings. Thirteen of the Wildflower paintings were deemed worthy of titles. Another ten, not so much.

Seeing the paintings as a group, a progression, and documentation of a safe summer spent is satisfying.

List of Wildflower painting titles, from Lewis:

  1. What lies tangled

  2. Old unhappy, far off things

  3. Down among the fearful

  4. Entry wounds

  5. Wild justice

  6. Falling darkness

  7. Beyond good and evil

  8. Gift of promise

  9. Down among the fearful, again

  10. One for sorrow

  11. The great and the good

  12. The Lions of Nemea

  13. Intelligent Design

My camera was the sketchbook for the paintings. By camera I mean my phone. My actual sketchbook is pages of lists, poems, and other writings. There are occasional diagrams, floor plans, and yes, some drawings.

Here’s a poem from my sketchbook dated May 4, 2020

Summer is beginning.

It’s warm even hot in the afternoon

Dry desert wind

Clear blue, thin sky

The night is cool

even cold

It’s May, June, July, August

Sometime in September

The next season begins

Standing among the pine trees

early in the morning

the shade is still winter

and the sunny spot

is summer.


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