landscape art + design

Portraits of Nature: My Wish, in three paintings

Added on by rebecca kanfer.

The painting, My Wish, was inspired by an experience from a fall afternoon in early November several years ago. It must have been unseasonably warm, because I was out on my bike riding through the borough of Manhattan. Traveling towards the Brooklyn Bridge, a bike path carried me into City Hall Park. I felt transported as I passed between elegant limestone buildings and mature shade trees, along a cobblestone pathway.

 My Wish 03, oil painting on wood board (2018)

My Wish 03, oil painting on wood board (2018)

To my left - a stunning pair of ginkgo trees don their brilliant yellow hues. It was just days before the leaves would drop. Completely enthralled, I stop and sit on a bench across from them to take in the beauty of the trees. There is an incredible sense of strength, history, and wisdom from this spot. Surrounded by memorials from the Revolutionary war, stately buildings over two centuries old, and the ginkgo trees which are many decades old and will likely exist many decades beyond my lifetime.

Ginkgo trees carry symbolic meaning for eastern and western cultures including hope, peace, strength, and longevity. They are a pre-historic tree species with ancestors that survived the ice age, the blast of Hiroshima, as well as dramatically changing climatic conditions over hundreds of millions of years. In their presence, it is possible to see this history embedded in the very structure of these trees. The roughly textured cool gray bark, the angular shaped branches with alternating nubs that sprout bunches of leaves in the spring, and the fan-shaped two-lobed leaves speak of an entirely different age. In their presence, I feel transported.

 My Wish 03, process paintings

My Wish 03, process paintings

This painting developed over the course of a year, and evolved as I came to better understand this pair of ginkgo trees and what they represent. During the process I also created watercolor study paintings to explore the sense of light, architecture, and form and texture of the leaves/branches of the trees. These studies helped inform my approach for the oil painting and my language for describing the trees within their environment.

 My Wish, watercolor paintings on cold press paper (2018)

My Wish, watercolor paintings on cold press paper (2018)