November 12, 2013

Never Pick a Lady's Slipper

“You shouldn’t pick Lady’s Slippers” my mother told me about this unusual pink orchid we had growing in our woods. We didn’t often see these flowers and it was a rare treat when one grew out of the forest floor and blossomed. My mother and I loved those woods and all the amazing flora and fauna that could be found there. It was the perfect respite after coming home from Princeton High School.

Recently the memory of the woods and the flower came back to me when an old friend from Princeton High School sent me a photograph of a painting that I had made almost forty years ago of a Lady’s Slipper. It was amazing how an image could bring me back so vividly to a different time, a different place. I almost felt like a teenager again for a moment. I recalled how I had first made a sketch of the plant (Not sure what ever happened to that drawing) then set up an easel and painted it in acrylic on location. Generally I used to pick flowers to study them closely but the Lady’s Slipper was not one that could be harvested for closer scrutiny. You can’t pick Lady’s Slippers. Although then as now I didn’t paint on location much I recall that doing so was a quiet and peaceful exercise.

The painting and the memory that it evokes is interesting in that although it was probably my earliest work on record and has a decidedly untutored look it still embodies ideas and artistic proclivities that remained consistent throughout the decades. It recalls a love for nature, textures and details. It reminds me that I am tied to this love of the woods and the need to get my hands in dirt and paint. It also reminds me of the miracles of personal ties to family and friends that remain strong despite the passage of so much time.

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