Years ago I read on a poster - one filled with ideas for living a good life - to pick a piece of fruit from a tree and eat it. How odd that we need to be reminded of this; so many of us are disconnected from where our food comes from. I’m so grateful that I was raised on two different plots of land in Woodacre, California – both planted with fruit trees. Since I can remember this has been my reality – that I could go outside in summer and pick a sweet snack from a tree. Even without fruit I can recognize many kinds of trees from the shapes of their leaves. Since I’m all about connection, this makes me feel right and good.
This was a little Fuji apple growing on a dwarf tree out at my parents – where they still live in Woodacre. This painting came from a photo that jumped out at me because of the pattern of light on the upper edge of the apple. But I had to have my way with the colors. As lovely as the soft greens and pinks are, my color sense is far more vibrant – it’s what I do!
I had just finished Global, my eggplant painting. Its leaves had given me fits to paint. Now another! But once I got through the leaves the apple was so fun to paint and it only took a few hours. It felt like play to loosely brush on the colors, layering pinks over greens – with of course a little cobalt blue on the front edge.
I often start thinking about the possible names of paintings early – sometimes even before I start to paint. This one has not jumped out easily or clearly. There are all kinds of ways to be clever with “apple” – both with common sayings and in its deep and ancient symbolism. But none of that felt right. It’s a simple painting and doesn’t call out for much in its name. I toyed with simply calling it “Apple” - good enough for a technology company. But this one needed to be even simpler. It’s a single apple. Just One. It’s enough.
22"X22" - August 2016 - Available - contact me for details
Persimmon Sun II
Sometimes things get painted because they're next. I had drawn this months ago when I was in the mood to do another persimmon - again one from my neighbor's tree down the street. This image came from the same visit as "Persimmon Sun." I had just finished "Dazzling," the painting of the two hibiscus flowers and was in Tahoe and didn't have anything else drawn, I had this with me so I started in on it. I loved making the background - all the circles and abstract shapes. I had fun playing with the shapes and colors. It happened really easily without worrying too much about how much I was reproducing the exact image. This is the third persimmon painting from Jen's tree - each three years apart. I can see how my style is changing over time - as is life. Jen is no longer living, there is a new family living in her home now with little kids, full of activity. All the while, the tree is still making these beautiful orange fruit and leaves each fall. Things end, things begin and things carry on.
22"x22" - August 2012 - Original sold
Persimmon Sun IIFruit
Family of Lemons
Out in our narrow side yard is a Meyer lemon tree. Planted by Paula Spencer, the previous resident of our house, this tree is indefatigable. There is hardly a time in the 11 years we've been here that I've gone out there and not found a yellow lemon for whatever I'm cooking or eating. Times when either Joe has pruned it severely or hard frosts have burned its upper branches, I've really worried about it, only to have it come back and be more prolific than ever. Several of our close neighbors know they can come in and get one or a few anytime they need to (don't tell anyone!). This is the side of the house where we keep the trash cans and recycle bins and it's also where we come and go when we are leaving on foot. I take our dog Bo on a hike nearly every morning and go by this tree. I love that the tree is where it is when the blossoms are blooming when I walk by - the scent is so lovely. I took the photo that became this painting because I was struck by how unusual it is to find blossoms and ripe yellow lemons right in the same branch. Add in beautiful light and interesting leaf shapes and this had to become a painting. Then when I started to draw it, I noticed there are also tiny baby lemons. The name came to me thinking about the last line in "Wild Geese" (the same poem I quote from on the home page of this site): "...announcing your place in the family of things."
22"x22" - August 2012 - Scott and Nancy Eckert
Family of LemonsFruit
When I was in Healdsburg last September (2014), after setting up, I went to park the truck on a side street a few blocks from the venue. On the walk back, I came upon a gorgeous Fuyu persimmon tree in someone’s front yard, loaded with fruit. The next morning I took a break to go take some pictures. Full of sun, bright green leaves and orange/yellow-orange fruit, none of the pictures I took called to me to be painted. The next month, I was up there again to lead my first art retreat weekend. When I was headed out Monday morning, I went to see if I might take more pictures of the tree – I’d not forgotten about it! It had rained softly Sunday night, and things were all covered with droplets. This image from that morning was the one that wanted to be painted. But the background was not exciting – it was the grey of the street beyond the tree. So I went to work in Photoshop to collage in another image from further back. I know this makes it not “real” but it’s a much better painting for it!
The “fuzzy background” on this one was really fun to paint – especially the lower right corner. I played with painting wet-next-to-wet and adding in colors that were not really there, more hinted at – purples, blues, pinks. It was the most fun I’ve had painting one of these backgrounds ever! I worked on this painting quite sporadically from the start of November. Between teaching some weekends, producing and selling my first calendar, holiday sales events and then family holiday celebrations, it didn’t get much of me. So, I didn’t finish until the first part of February.
I was lamenting how I started it in the autumn and it was meant to be painted then – it’s a fall painting! Then, it sifted in that it seems the perfect painting to be working on just before Valentine’s Day. It’s all here: two, cheek to cheek, still sprinkled with the tears of rain. The name for this painting had not popped out until one of the last nights I worked on it. Continuing with my intention to find one-word names – if it’s the title of a song, even better – I poked around on iTunes looking up words that were coming to me: “promise,” “embrace,” “vow.” They all have songs written about them, but none were it. Then I landed on “Always.” There are several songs with that title – Bon Jovi has one, and Atlantic Starr, but the one that fit was written by Irving Berlin in 1925 as a gift to his bride-to-be, Ellin. Here’s Sinatra’s version. It strikes the right note for me. All-ways, in all ways. The real always of being together and loving each other, one day at a time.
29"x29" - February 2015 - Original Sold
My visit back to my neighbor Jen's persimmon tree last fall was a bright sunny day. The birds had started to help themselves to the persimmons - many of them were half-eaten. The colors in the sunlight were brighter, more yellow. Persimmon Rain had been such a special piece, a favorite of many people, it's daunting to paint another. It is interesting for me to remember what it was like painting that one - how I struggled to find my way through it and to see how much I've learned since. Painting this was like traveling over somewhat familiar territory. I love the branches - painting branches is fun - having them take shape. I painted the persimmon last and grappled with the light and shadow - I wanted the light to glow on the left edge, while also in shadow. It is quite amazing to me, magical even, how these paintings end up taking shape, and become real things. 22"x22" - June 2009 - Malcom and Lindsey Sizes/Prices: 22"x22" - $395/$495* 15"x15" - $195/$275* 7.5"x7.5" - $60
* hand-torn and painted edges
On the street leading up to our house in Fairfax, there is a persimmon tree. Joe and I had been living there for several years and every fall as I went by it, I thought "I want to paint those persimmons." The fall of 2005 I knocked on the door and introduced myself to our neighbor Gen Racek, who was a spry 90 then. Camera in hand, I asked if I could take some photos of her persimmons. It had just rained, so I had the added benefit of water drops! That image just jumped out of the set of photos to be painted. The leaves were a challenge. I had no idea what I was doing. I just stayed with them, looked carefully at the image and painted what I saw. My dear friend Brenda fell in love with this painting even before it was finished. She says it reminds her of her deceased mother's love for her. The original now hangs in her dining room - it became the first painting I sold. Brenda's response to this painting and her support of my making art has propelled me forward as an artist. 22"x22" - October 2006 - Brenda and Jeff Hernandez Sizes/Prices: 22"x22" - $395/$495* 15"x15" - $195/$275* 7.5"x7.5" - $60 * hand-torn and painted edges
Pomegranates, Jacinta’s Garden
At the end of my stay in France, October 1996, I traveled throughout Europe for two weeks with two of my brothers, Matt and Mike. We met my parents on the Croatian Island, Brac, where my grandparents were born. Brac is a rocky, arid island; the water is crystal clear and life is much less complicated than ours. One perfect afternoon we had lunch at my mother's cousin Jacinta's. She cooked us a special meal of potato gnocci with a rich meat sauce. These pomegranates were growing from a tree in her garden - with a gorgeous view of the sea and the mainland. Like the island, painting this one was rocky for me. Most of the time I was working on it, I really hated it. I experienced first hand about how the life of an artist takes discipline. Somehow I knew needed to stick with it and finally finished it on the first two days of a solo painting retreat in August. I kept saying to myself "this is like being in a difficult labor, this painting just does not want to be done." Whew! It's DONE!
22"x22" - August 2007 - Original available - contact me for details
Pomegranates, Jacinta’s GardenFruit, Originals
Apricots in the Sun
These apricots on their tree are from Anne and Gary's backyard in San Anselmo. I began this painting while I was underway painting Southside Lily Pond. I was tired of the dark colors I was painting the water with and needed to play with some bright, clear color. I started in with the background on the lower right using even more intense and bright color than was there. With the scale of the fruit in this painting these fruits may be hard to recognize as apricots. I'm guessing they'll be mistaken for peaches - which doesn't matter, really. Most years this tree produces the most amazing crop - buckets and buckets full. This painting reminds me of the generosity of nature - and of Gary's faithful care of it in his garden. A side note: this same tree produced the apricots that I used to make the tart in Fruit Tart.
30"x22" - July 2008 - Nancy Searle
Apricots in the SunFruit
I've been really wanting to paint some stone fruit and couldn't wait to get out with my camera this summer as fruit started ripening. One Saturday, I got a call from Annie, Joe's sister telling me their peaches were really ripening and I'd better get over before they all got picked! It was mid-morning, tons of sun and I climbed up on Gary's ladder so that I was completely in the world of the peaches and their leaves. When I saw the streaks of light on this one photo, it was clear this was the one to be painted. It was a challenge to represent the light and still capture the shapes and shadings. Most of this painting was done while we were on Kauai this fall and it seems that Kauai worked her magic through me with the colors and light. They ended up looking so tropical! I love the colors and the intricate design that the tree and the light provided. This was a fun one. And isn't that just a perfect pruning cut in the lower left-center? Thanks, Gary for growing and tending such an amazing garden.
22"x30" - November 2007 - Cherie Gotti
Queen Anne Cherries
In June 2008, my dear friend Brenda called to tell me that the people were hoarding in to the self-pick orchards in Brentwood and were stripping the cherry trees. If I wanted some images, I'd better get out there quick. Life is always so full, and it was going to make me crazy to drop everything and drive an hour and a half each way. That evening Joe and I walked to the store in town and my eye was caught by color off to the left. I looked over to Jen's yard, where the persimmon tree I've painted several times and the Graham Thomas roses that became Blossoming Hope are. The tree RIGHT NEXT to the persimmon tree is a Queen Anne cherry tree, full of gorgeous fruit. And next to that is a Bing cherry tree. This is such a message that life can really be simple and easy - and full of delightful surprises. I love how all the colors came through so bright and clear in this one.
22"x30" - April 2009 - Original Sold
Queen Anne CherriesFruit
My friend Karen has a weekend home in Nevada City, CA. Our mutual friend Vicki and I spent a weekend with Karen there in July of 2009. After a scary brush with possible catastrophe involving Karen's spaniel, George, Vicki and a culvert of rushing water - still a bit wet and dirty - Karen and I visited this blueberry farm. I'd never seen blueberries farmed in large scale like this. The bright summer sun illuminated the various colors the berries go through on the way to our cereal bowls and pie plates - much like the grapes my brother Mike grows that I've painted. A wonderful new collector with whom I'd shared the image asked me to paint this for his wife for Christmas 2009. It was an ambitious undertaking to get it done to be framed and shipped to Oregon in time. As I painted it, I really appreciated connecting it with them, knowing where it was going. It was such joy. As I was finishing up, my dear friend Brenda's son Quincy played Moonlight Sonata on the piano over the phone to me. I was blown away - he's quite a musical prodigy. I e-mailed them the painting when it was done and Quincy named it. Vicki says it's apt as she sees lots of dance-like movement. I continue to be fed by all that others see in these paintings.
22"x22" - December 2009 - Scott and Nancy Eckert