I am taking an art class 40 miles from my home each Thursday for eight weeks. It is called "Cultivating Creativity" and really, it's independent study. I'm not sure I want any new techniques right now, since I am seriously attention deficit already with regard to my art. I'm drawing, painting in several media, collaging, and assembling. I take the class to enable myself to devote a day to improving my work or just to hang out with other emerging artists. It a weekly treat for me.
Yesterday though, I wanted more than anything to soak up some warmth and see some blooming plants. The class was all individually immersed in projects, and I had already completed a couple of my own at home. I don't enjoy packing up and hauling all my watercolor paraphernalia, but I will take along my sketchbooks and drawing kit. So I cut out of class.
I went down the road to Madison's Olbrich Botanical Garden, specifically their tropical conservatory. The glass enclosed building is filled with tropical plants, free flying birds, insects, even little geckos. There is a waterfall and koi pond, and their amorpophallus konjac, Voodoo Lily or Devil's Tongue, was blooming. This last is an Asian plant grown from a bulb, nearly as tall as I am, and smelling for all the world like ripe roadkill. I had always wanted to see one, and perhaps once was enough since an hour later in the car I could still catch a sickly whiff of corruption on my clothing.
I decided to settle on a bench far away from the stinky plant, and soak up the warmth and humidity of the giant terrarium. I had along my tin of pencils and my Moleskine, so I put aside concern about people who wandered past, and sketched some giant mutant houseplants. I'm not excited enough about the results to share them here, but the chance to sit, watch, listen and see sunlight filtering through tropical foliage was good for me, at least as good for my creativity as sitting in a cement block classroom on a not-quite-spring day.