As the magnolia tree finished blooming, a month of painting its flowers came to an end. My mind’s ear keeps replaying The Doors singing “This is the end, my beautiful friend, the end.”
The guitar and Jim Morrison’s deadly serious voice conjures up 1968: the American war in Viet Nam broadcast on a black and white tv in the background of a brightly lit wall-to-wall carpeted American suburban living room, a dark theater of strobe lights, and the solemn evidence of being savages in a technologically advanced civilization.
Then it’s back to 2008. Flowers in a vase change in constant, barely perceptible ways. It is noticeable by comparison between the start of a work session and one hour or six later. Every petal and leaf is in a new place. Natural light changes, too, position and color, so the shapes of bright or subdued areas, opaque or transparent, continually move. If you paint from life you choose which view to depict and let the others inform the process. By next morning the transformation is obvious. Flowers spread open, slump, droop, fall off. The stamen is baldly revealed like a general on a hill, petals spent beneath it.
There are a few pale flowers on high branches, out of reach for cutting to bring inside. The tree’s former blaze of pink-cream-magenta is gone. Long time passing.
ABOVE: Magnolia, 051208, oil on linen panel, 5 x 5 in (12.7 x 12.7 cm), 5/12/2008
Magnolia, 051108, oil on linen panel, 5 x 7 in (12.7 x 17.78 cm), 5/11/2008
Magnolia, 051408, oil on linen panel, 5 x 7 in (12.7 x 17.78 cm), 5/14/2008