While doing some plein air painting on a brisk January day, I came across this gigantic rabbitbush. It still had several of its colorful blooms. Startled by the sheer size of the bush and enthralled by the sky and frozen pond, I knew this would be my next painting.
I hoped to convey the drama of Colorado’s winter sky. Will the storm blow in or move on? I also wanted to create a sense of texture and the feeling of windswept space. By creating such a large bush, I hoped to instill a feeling of the size and magnitude. How old is this bush? What has it seen? How long will it remain?
In the Victorian era, the hibiscus flower represented delicate beauty. In Hawaii, the hibiscus is often worn behind the ear as a sign of a woman’s marital status and as a symbol of hospitality. In Egypt, the flower was used as a medicinal calming tea. As I painted this flower over four months, I was reminded of Buddha’s Flower Sermon in which words are not required to understand its meaning.
The story goes, that Buddha had gathered his students for the daily teaching. On this particular day, rather than speaking, he held out a white lotus flower for each of his disciples and said nothing. Each of the followers seemed a bit confused, except for one – he saw the flower and smiled a wide smile – understanding what Buddha was saying, without words.
For me, the story represents that the world and all of beauty exists in the one flower. The flower represents all flowers and that nothing is permanent. And, that painting this flower contains all the lessons of painting within this one painting.
egg tempera, 6×6