This year I took my time to learn more about what I was drawing. After a while of seeing the same places over and over, returning faithfully to the scenes to notice what growth had developed, I began to notice not only the seasonal beauty of these small triumphs in nature, but I began to wonder if perhaps these plants had a purpose in my life unbeknownst to me.
While in Colorado, I met a wondrous lady who shared a fascinating reference, namely a book by Sunsun Weed called "Healing Wise" which talked about the medicinal powers found in many common weeds. Sadly, many of the plants in her book grow in the North rather than in the South where I am. Her profiles of plants, like the dandelion who I do see often, revealed the potential of a dialog between myself and the weeds I was drawing. Perhaps we are all more than we seem.
Is this why I am being drawn into these plants? It can't just be beauty because there are so many beautiful things to focus on otherwise, so many different paths to take in creation. I certainly never intended to become a drawer of flowers or a botanist. However, there remains this desire within me to know the names of what is growing around me, to tell a story that is no longer just my own. I began by trying to paint what was familiar to me as a child who spent a lot of time in the woods, and now that I'm familiar I want to go further. The pine trees in this area, for instance, are tied to Lacombe's history as a lumber farm. The colonial transformation of this landscape which was once predominantly Choctaw has had a number of ecological consequences. The burning of our forests is a result of lightning storms which used to naturally create fires but no longer happen due to civilization. We now have controlled burning in our wildlife refuges. An interest in natural medicine is not the norm here, and I'm just starting to learn that there are an abundance of antibiotics, detoxifying agents, and healing plants growing right in front of me, and I've only scratched the surface by documenting them.
Towards the end of last year, I began keeping a journal for each month of the year so I could more specifically record the landscape as things change. I do hope that 2016 will allow me to focus and gain a more complete understanding as I fill the pages of my journals and expand my references for identifying my subjects. I plan to learn more about the nature and history of the plants I draw, and I'll share those findings with you here.
All photos: Mia Kaplan