I recently started a new series of paintings about fairies and gardens. This has been a breath of fresh air for me, as I can complete a painting in a couple of hours, and they bring me a lot of joy.
This summer has been a hard summer for everyone, and getting paint supplies and committing to a large painting has been a bigger endeavor than it usually has. But also, America’s MidLife Crisis, it’s 250th anniversary of the Revolutionary War period (some call it America’s Pluto Return, as the planet Pluto comes back to the same place where it was during that time), and it is still dealing with some heavy karma from slavery and injustice to black people, as well as the xenophobic genocide of Native Americans/Indigenous peoples of North America. Protests and police brutality, a pandemic, rampant unemployment, and everyone in lockdown for months. It’s not life as usual, and so my painting took a different turn.
I took a break from the Yukon Cornelius paintings in May, and did a couple of paintings in response to the protests and police reaction. These felt good at the time–though I was scared of voicing my anger and disappointment., fearing reprisal. Frankly, those paintings were emotionally draining. I had to keep my anger and frustration at a roar to complete them, each over about a week. Columbus has been engulfed in police pushback. And I was afraid for weeks if I said anything (while that might have been wild to think, the police have been appearing at people’s homes to arrest them for participating in protests).
I have been doing little paintings and drawings for a penpal in Vegas, and one of those took a fairies in the garden turn:
Had a great crop this year, and it’s not done. We just started harvesting. Wow. The vegetables are big. So I decided to showcase the vegetables next to objects you’d recognize….my pen, a bottle of T-3s, my truck.
The one next to the bottle made me think about the difference between something that comes out of the ground and something that comes out of a bottle. I like ’em both, but I think if I had more fresh garden vegetables that soon I wouldn’t need anything else.
The garden was a work of art this year. I am so proud of the labor that went into it, into weeding, into caring for it. The carrots are big and sweet, the potatoes rich. And the greens they grow so high…
I learned a lot from growing the garden. The patience. The time involved on your hands and knees rooting out the chickweed. Sweating in the Yukon sun. These are mini-accomplishments, like trophies. And it’s a nice thing to do in the Yukon on these long summer days inside a quick and dirty summer–10 weeks, maybe. We had so much sun this summer. If you were thinking about leaving the Yukon after the last three summers, this summer wooed you back.
I’m gonna fix a sheep stew tomorrow–fresh Dall Sheep that was walking around last week (I did not shoot it, but I did help cut it up)–and fresh vegetables. A lot of work went into that stew and I’ll remember the two guys who trekked across the mountains in gale-force winds and rain to get this sheep to my kitchen. And I’ll remember the hours I spent in the garden waiting for the vegetables to get big enough to leave the garden and enter my kitchen.
And I’ll say to myself—hey, this cures whatever ails me–this summer stew.