Thursday, June 5, 2008

24 x 20 Oil on Linen

My peonies are about to bloom. I can't wait. I've been watching them for weeks. First one stem groggily pushes out of the ground waking from its long winter sleep. It's so slow and tiny, it seems like it will be winter again before this little thing flowers. Then suddenly there is a second stem, then a third, then a fourth. Now it is an army on the march, pushing forth in formation, very impressive. Buds begin to appear and my anticipation grows. I feel like I'm seated in the audience waiting for the curtain to go up, eager to see the show. The black ants have arrived on the scene signaling the great event is about to happen. Finally the buds burst open as if they can't stand to be constrained for another minute. I cup my hand under them as if holding a baby. Now they are growing faster and faster. Each day they feel heavier in my hand. Soon it's as if I am cradling a plump little bird, each petal soft as a feather, yet collectively they have enough weight to bend the stem. Three or four buds on each stem blooming in succession. It's like watching a cluster of fireworks in slow motion. First one blooms, then as it matures the second begins to open, gradually the third bursts forth. By the time the last bud opens the first has dropped it's petals to the ground. Each year I cut a few and bring them into my studio to paint. This time I decided not to set up a still life but to paint the flowers alone. I painted a group of three in the middle of the canvas. I painted too fast because I was so excited. I didn't think it was going well. Elizabeth walked in and her jaw dropped, "Oh my God" she exclaimed. I said I was about to wipe out and start over. "Don't you dare" she said, "If you want to start over use another canvas and give this one to me." I finished the painting and it hung in our living room for a year before I was able to let it go. Now my peonies are about to bloom again. I can't wait.....

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