Monday Art: The Queen of Dessert

Sun Spun Yellow Petunia

"Sun Spun Yellow" petunia, from

It’s been an unusual few days. Last Wednesday afternoon, following my first sewing session in months (I hemmed two pairs of jeans and made a headband), my lower back started to ache. I chalked it up to bad sitting posture and figured it would go away overnight, but it didn’t. The next day I did an hour of gentle stretching and then discovered I couldn’t sit at all without discomfort. So I didn’t — which meant that basically all my normal activities were off-limits. Instead, I tidied and cleaned the house, did laundry, tended the garden, and cooked — all before noon! After lunch I really didn’t know what else to do with myself, so I lay on my back and read Vegetarian Times and two issues of Sunset magazine. I devoured the gardening articles, especially this one comparing flowers to Lady Gaga and Bollywood pictures. We were going through a heat wave, so I kept my windows open morning and evening, and felt the breeze and heard the sounds from outside. In the evening Erik and I went for a slow walk. Aside from the back pain, it was a very relaxing way to spend the day!

Little Shark Agave

"Little Shark" agave, from

The next day I felt the same way, so I did more morning stretches and resolved to take another no-sitting day. But I got fidgety. The back pain was confined to a small portion of my lower spine, nice and symmetrical, and it only bothered me when I sat down. Other than that, thanks to all the stretching and my restful Thursday, I felt fabulous! So I ran some errands, including visits to two plant nurseries (inspired by all the lush photos in Sunset). I came home hungry for lunch and with some new herbs and a sweet little geranium with lemon-scented leaves. But that still only occupied me for half the day. After all that resting and all the horticultural well-filling, I really wanted to make something bursting with life and color and deliciousness.

Flame Thrower Echinacea

"Flame Thrower" echinacea, from

I got out my pencils and paints and promised myself I would take standing and stretching breaks as often as possible. On a piece of handmade paper I sketched a curvy woman, wearing fitted clothes and holding a dessert in each hand. I wanted her whole appearance to be as luscious and blooming as the spring! Once I started to paint, I gave her a luminous skin tone (very much like mine at its best) and a rainbow-hued top, and I put my own new shoes on her toes. When it came time to do the background, I added some landscaping — a nod to the beautiful plants I’d been seeing on the page and in person — and a bit of moss between the paving stones.

The Queen of Dessert

The Queen of Dessert

When I finished the painting I couldn’t have been happier. Although the girl I painted doesn’t look exactly like me, she looks the way I feel: confident, comfortable, beautiful, and surrounded by colorful delights! I can’t get enough of looking at her — or of admiring the plant in the lower right. I still feel that my painting style is flatter and more cartoony than I’d like, but that plant gives me hope that I can learn to paint with more depth and volume. And I have been getting lots of practice. On Saturday I had my first meeting of the IWL workshop, and it was so energizing and so much fun! For my first homework I am painting a story that I like very much. It’s more surreal than other work I’ve done, and possibly even more personal. It’s due on Wednesday so I will likely share it with you then.

In the meantime, I will continue to sit as little as possible, breathe deeply, and relax!