Friday, March 14, 2008

Desperately Seeking Spring

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.


Teri C said...

Oh, it sounds like a perfect day either staying there or out enjoying nature.

Michael said...

Sherry, that sounds great. Those kinds of conservatories are some of my favorite places, too. I was at the Philadelphia Flower Show recently, which was good, but not as good as sitting any day in the National Arboretum or whatever it's called in DC. Has about four separate huge rooms. There is another one in Richmond, Va., part of a private estate whose name I can't remember now--great in winter, and they have 50,000 lights or something like that that come on with dusk, all over the grounds, quite spectacular. I'm rambling now, LOL... but it sure seems like spring here in Philadelphia. About 60 degrees and the crocuses are in bloom. Baseball is right around the corner.... : )

Michael said...

Ginter Estate... in Richmond. fyi--naturally remembered as soon as I had clicked.

bec said...

your photos are lovely! especially the fish. Enjoy the coming spring.

Sherry said...

I looked up the Ginter Botanical Gardens online. Impressive! Here in Janesville we have an excellent garden, Rotary Botanical Garden, and amazingly, it is free (though they'd like a donation). Rotary doesn't have a conservatory, however. I love gardens. There's one in Rockford and one in Chicago I still haven't seen. Road trip!

MissDaisyAnne said...

Beautiful pictures, ah! Spring!