Water the Thorns was shown at the UW Hospital, 600 Highland Avenue, Madison in April and May of 2019.
I had been looking for an image of roses to paint for quite a while. My father grew them around a bird bath and a man down the street from us dedicated his back yard to them. These white roses sitting in a bird bath presented themselves and finally I had my subject already posed and ready to paint.
While walking through Olbrich Gardens Bolz Conservatory, I fell in love with this exotic orchid (left). It’s delicate lining and blend of pale greens and burgundies, the unusual curly petals and of course, it’s ruby slipper. The two blooms tucked together at first deterred me from painting it, but then I decided to paint it that way to see if you would look twice.
One morning, while walking in the Pheasant Branch Conservancy, I looked down to see this velvet mullein with dew on the leaves and wonderful shadows, sticks and leaves weaved through it. I was about to attend a workshop with Bjorn Bernstrom in Whitewater, who would teach us about blooms and mistakes being left in the paintings, so I tried to imagine what that might mean in this piece and let the blooms become an active participant.
I was inspired to paint Michael’s Mortgage Lifters after receiving some luscious home-grown tomatoes from my friends Mike and Linda. I had also seen Lian Zhen’s watercolor work on tomatoes, grapes and other subjects through his watercolor workshop in Whitewater, Wisconsin.
The image I took of the two tomatoes I used for this painting were unripe, so I struggled with getting the color red right. I had to imagine what they would look like fully ripe. Chris Beck was teaching a workshop around this time and we were taught to paint a still life of hers with a ceramic tomato dish and cut tomatoes on a plate that gave me a solution for increasing the intensity and warmth of the red in my tomato painting.