Greenhouse with Fig Tree
From the Original watercolor on paper, 18” by 24”, 1976
Note: Please click on closeups for detailed images.
This watercolor painting featuring a fig tree inside a greenhouse was painted during the summer of 1976 when I had a fellowship to study art at Yale-Norfolk, Yale University’s Summer School of music and art in Norfolk Connecticut.
It was the summer that I turned 23 and it was my very first painting executed inside a greenhouse, the subject occurring because I was looking for a private studio-like space in which to set up. It was with tremendous excitement that I discovered this intimate greenhouse. A large Fig Tree grew smack out of its center, dramatically filling the space, as if the glasshouse had been constructed around it, for protection, and perhaps expanding as it grew; its enormous distinctively lobed leaves pressing and unfurling against the many panes of glass.
It was a perfect studio space for me, as at the time I was painting exclusively in watercolors and I could easily set up my paints, palette, water etc. and work for hours undisturbed. I had three pieces that I was working on at the same time, changing watercolor blocks every few hours as the light changed. The grid ceiling of glass and bars filling the tiny glasshouse with lively and dramatic rhythms of light and shadow that danced and spun across, off, and through the Fig Tree’s delicate leaves and illuminated the smooth gray trunk with subtle and surprising colors. Outside the greenhouse was a line of foxgloves and a large spreading copper beech, its rich reds and maroons filling and breaking up the square panes.
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