A Gift for Generations

Living in the Washington DC area offers interesting opportunities to find little pieces of history that often go unnoticed. These seemingly-common remnants of the people and events that shaped our past fit into the scenery, dwarfed and shadowed by the obvious destinations of monuments and government buildings and museums. But when noticed, they add color and character to the big events of our past. Occasionally I will stumble upon a little gem of history after talking to some generous historian or visiting a garden or park that dots this region. It was in one of these moments, standing in the shade of a giant tree that dates back to the beginning of our country, a souvenir from early explorations, a gift between presidents, that I knew I wanted to create this painting.

The Osage Orange tree growing at River Farm was given as a seedling to Thomas Jefferson by Lewis and Clark from their journey west. Jefferson in turn gave it as a gift to George Washington's family, who planted it on a piece of his farm, now called River Farm and managed by the American Horticulture Society. This over-200 year old tree has lived through the growth of our nation, provided cool shade on hot humid summer days for generations under her reaching arms, and survived storms and wars and drought and industrialization through the chapters of our history.

As I stood painting this tree one late-spring day, picnickers lounged on blankets in her shade, children ran around laughing and playing, and visitors to the River Farm walked by on the path through the garden. I am sure that most did not know the historical significance of the tree for whose shade they were grateful. Similar silent witnesses to human events cover our planet, with no voice to speak up for their own existence, nothing but arms waving at the whim of the wind and roots holding strong to the Earth's surface. 

This is a gift that has lasted generations, out-living those who collected the seeds, out-living the gifter and the recipients and the ones who placed it in the soil. Generations have watered this tree, planted flowers in its shade, watched it grow. May generations continue to know the beauty and comfort of this grand tree and pause to contemplate the lasting impact we leave on this earth. 

A Gift for Generations, oil on canvas, 30"x40"

A Gift for Generations, oil on canvas, 30"x40"

Want to Commission a Painting?

If you have been dreaming of having a painting of your family, pets, or a special place made just for you, now is the time to make it happen. From September 1 through October 31, 2018 I will be accepting commissions. Please read this to learn more about the process of hiring me to paint for you. Paintings make unique and meaningful gifts, and all commissions will be ready to deliver by Thanksgiving. Contact me at HokeilenArt@gmail.com to ask questions and to get your painting started.

New Projects Near and Dear

With the return to regular routines that the beginning of school brings, I returned to my studio in September with again more ideas of what to paint than time or energy allowed. The scattered approach of painting whatever I feel like (or am commissioned to do) is hugely satisfying as I am never bored or locked in to a theme the grows tired or dull. But painting puppies and children-playing doesn't really convey the message I want or know I could. So with this new (to us) house, new neighborhood, new studio - this fall seemed like a good time to start a new series of paintings: one with a theme that connects my two worlds.

This is a very happy development for me as I have been wanting to merge space and science with art for some time. The periodic table of elements paintings were a successful first stab at that, but now that I have decided to focus on a science theme with my paintings there is so much to explore! I am now simultaneously working on seven space-related paintings and some 3 dimensional works as well. Though, I am very much in the experimental phase of this new collection, so we will have to wait to see what comes out of it.

With this new theme, I am also trying on some new painting techniques in an effort to minimize the adverse health risks with painting (it can be rather toxic). So bring on the palette knife (to reduce the need to clean the oil paint of my brushes in mineral spirits that fills my studio with fumes), and some attempts at using acrylic paints instead of oils. It is not an easy switch. 

I have no pictures for this post, as all pieces are still in-progress. But know that I am having a mostly-glorious though sometimes frustrated-what-am-I-doing time in my studio and I look forward to sharing my efforts soon.