Years ago, on a trip to Florence, Italy, I saw five potted orange trees in a courtyard. The trees were wrapped in translucent white cloth to protect them from freezing. I came upon them after spending an afternoon in the Uffizi Gallery, looking at Botticelli's painting Primavera. In that painting, six women and two men, along with a cupid, are gathered in an orange grove. Three of the women, the Three Graces, dance together, wearing flowing white diaphanous garments. The wrapped orange trees in the courtyard somehow reminded me of the Three Graces in Botticelli's painting. Here is one of the trees (a work in progress):
Protected Orange Tree
2019-present (in progress)
colored ink, watercolor, and gouache
14 1/2 x 10 inches
Next I will paint the cloth using translucent white paint so that oranges and leaves will still be visible.
I am interested in the various ways that human beings relate to trees, especially our attempts to nurture and protect them. The wrapped orange trees I saw in Florence instantly brought to mind my earlier painting Self-Portrait as a Waiting Tree. This, my first image of a protected tree, was painted from my imagination:
Self-Portrait as a Waiting Tree
10 1/2 x 7 5/8
Studies of protected trees for future paintings are inspired by trees I see in my Seattle neighborhood. They reside in water-filled bags that provide slow, steady nourishment, and they are supported with cords, wires, and stakes. These methods sometimes look tender-hearted, and sometimes funny (as in the various shapes of the water bags), but they can also look rigid and controlling.
pen and ink, colored inks, pencil