When I was first exhibiting my woodland paintings around 1990 I entered an art competition at the Adkins Arboretum near Easton, Maryland. They specifically asked for art that represented ‘woody species native to the Eastern Shore’.
One of the most iconic trees in the area is the Bald Cypress, noted for knobby root growths called ‘knees’ that help it stay rooted in the wet soil of the swampy forests. My studio backs on to an area of The Nature Conservancy’s Nassawango Preserve and many of the cypress trees are within sight of my studio. I had to paint one and make sure it was represented in the Arboretum’s exhibit.
In the spring the area under the cypress glistens with the greens of emerging ferns and royal purple of Jack in the Pulpit flowers. I developed a composition that included them too. Although it was very early in my watercolor career I was rather pleased with the results since it was one of the first large paintings I had done.
The show at the Arboretum’s visitor center was well represented and well attended and I was delighted that my painting received the first prize! Even more exciting to me, the painting was purchased by the Arboretum to be included in their nature art collection.
Although I have painted hundreds of nature subjects since ‘Cypress Spring’ the trees and wildflowers have a special place in my heart and I have to smile when I visit my personally favorite bald cypress and see the flowers and ferns emerging.