Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A couple of buckeyes for a couple of Buckeyes

I pretty much hate Facebook these days. It just seems like every day is another dose of outrage and unhappiness. While I do believe there is much about which we should feel outrage right now, I don't think it is healthy to have a diet that consists solely of anger. So, I am spending less and less time there. Who knows, maybe I'll stop going to that particular coffee shop altogether one of these days.

Anyway, back in the day, FB was a great place to meet people with like interests whom one might never otherwise have met. Such is the case with a nurseryman from Oregon and his high school chemistry-teaching wife.  As I said, I've never met Mike in person, but over the past few years he has graciously answered my questions about all things garden-y, ranging in subject matter from the proper way to espalier apple trees (about which he was a LOT more helpful than the fella in this story) to identifying leaves for paintings. And a couple of times, all the way from Oregon came a package chock full of homemade jams and salsas--once as a kitchen-warming gift after our remodel, and the second time, last year, as payment for a commission of a leaf painting.

Unfortunately, it proved difficult to paint the particular leaves Mike requested, since they didn't travel well through the mail. And since I find it very difficult to paint something I don't know from a photograph, it left us scratching our heads about subject matter. It seems that Oregon's trees are different from Texas's trees.

But then Mike and Luann moved back home to Ohio, and lo and behold, what is in the backyard of the new house but a Yellow Buckeye? So we waited until the buckeyes were starting to open, and then at just the right time, Mike packed up some specimens and sent them in the mail.

Unfortunately, the buckeyes became separated from the branches in transit, and all but two of them fell out of their husks. So I spent a lot of time scratching my head again, this time trying to imagine how they all went together (I have never seen this tree...AT ALL). But in the meantime, I took the best buckeyes--the ones still in the husk, and did a sketchbook study of them. (I also asked Mike to take some photos from every possible angle and send them to me, which he did. Sadly, I still had trouble making sense of the details.)

Then life intervened and I had to take a break from that project to work on something else. When I came back to the sketchbook, though, I was tickled at the little buckeyes staring out at me from the study page. I thought, as I often do, that it is a shame that the preliminary work that goes into a painting is seldom seen. And that gave me an idea on how to paint the piece...

So there you have it, a study of two buckeyes, for Mike and Luann, and all those jams and salsas.


  1. Great story. And lovely sketching to go along with it.

  2. I like this story...and the buckeye study.

  3. I haven't been to Facebook since the spring and I still hate it fiercely. Deactivate your account right now. You can reactivate it later if you really want to. I wish everyone would deactivate their accounts for a day like they were supposedly silent on Twitter recently.

  4. You've captured perfectly the buckeye!

  5. Maybe these things are cyclical. A lot of us moved to FB and did less blog work because FB seemed more useful for communication quickly rather than writing a comment and having it approved and the author commenting back...and so on. But although a fair bit of my regular work is to manage FB Pages for clients, I am becoming less inclined to use it personally, except to post photos to help cheer people up. Maybe we'll all move back to websites. It's hard to say. I did about three posts last year on my own blog though I dropped in to visit others when I had the time. Anyway, I'm thrilled to see your botanical art, and look forward to seeing more of it.


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