I recently saw an article about botanical artists being a dyeing breed. I say “saw” because I skimmed it. It made me both sad, ache, & wonder all at once. But especially wonder because I’ve been so drawn to botanicals for most of my life. I paint them and I practice the ancient art of coaxing the colors they keep inside in order to color fibers.
Me and flora, particularly wild flowers have had a growing romance since I was 4. The heady crab apple blossoms, vibrant clovers, smooshy mosses I’d wait to experience all winter long in my beloved Bowdoinham yard gave me life by way of singing to me through the needle stabbing wind of March, hopeful thawing breezes of April & finally giving way to warm earth in May. My parents planted black/purple tulips, and daffodils with tufts of grape Hyacinth all along our ancient stone wall that boarded our yard from Rt 136. And in front of these stone walls that I’d quietly dismantle just at the edge for my cook stove, would be carpets of bluets. The tiniest of flowers that were so white with a whisper of blue & a smidge of sunshine yellow in the center. When they were in bloom, I’d collect handfuls in my tiny grasp and deliver to my mother in a pixie paper cup knowing it would make her day the happiest.
I spent so much of my early childhood outside seriously hoping a bird would swoop down and start talking to me. Or a deer would come out of the woods and want to lay down for a nap with me in the grass. I’d stare at a leaf or blade of grass until I could see rainbows dance across its structure. I didn’t know it yet but I’d grow up to be so fascinated with studying nature with paint while also figuring out how to extract color from nature.
Now at 41, I’m married with 2 little kids and most days consist of chasing my son to change him out of wet pants, again. Or staying home with my daughter with the 2nd ear infection in a month. Negotiating with my husband on who will pack lunches and who will do bed time. Our floor never feels clean no matter how much I vacuum and I wake up with a thousand versions of “wheels on the bus” in my head. I card my out of control collection of washed wool fleeces in 5 minute increments. I write on the go. I stay up late to bake a treat. I go into town once a week to learn some new dancing (hello salsa and bachata). I carry my cross stitch in my purse and I’m reading one of the most boring but equally fascinating books about New England Textiles and I’m eating way too much chocolate lately.
But today I took a day for just me to check out this Glass Flower Exhibit that I’ve been hearing about for years. It immediately gave me a kind of “this is so stunning and inspiring that I think I might be sick” kind of feeling. Does that happen to you? It happens to me when I see paintings that use color, line, shape, in a way that reaches through the painting down into my soul and kind of squeezes it until I’m breathless.
These are all hand blown GLASS. You can read more about it at the above link.
This was my first visit to the Harvard Museum of Natural History. I went for the flower exhibit but spent hours in awe. The mineral collection is stunning and a bit overwhelming. I know nothing of minerals. I just love looking at all the shiny things. It’s incredible. I also became fascinated with the bugs.
As much as I enjoyed these hours to myself, I was also thinking of when I thought my kids would be ready to experience this.
I ended my day absorbing this contrast at South Station: