October buckeye

Autumn is a time of big changes around here, although this year that's been hard to see sometimes. We've had record highs, chilly nights, clear blue skies, dreary grey days. Ok, a typical midwest fall.

The buckeye tree has compound leaves (technically that means that what you might perceive as leaves are actually leaflets on a leaf stalk; you can tell by looking for the bud for next year's leaf) As with most compound leaves around here, the leaflets fall off, leaving the bare stalks on the tree for a few days. In the case of a Kentucky coffee tree near the buckeye, the stalks are red and really stand out. The buckeye currently has yellow leaf stalks, no leaflets in sight unless you look on the ground, and a few pieces of open buckeye pods.

So this piece began with the inspiration of the clear deep blue skies and the leaf stalks and the curly, fuzzy seed pods. The basic background is a piece of old damask tablecloth that had been dyed with osage orange to an ochre color. Using masking tape stencils to mask out the leaf stalks, I painted the sky with Setacolor paints.

After that dried, I removed the masks and painted the stalks to give them some depth. Three pieces of a curled up pod were scanned and printed onto raw silk. I cut these out and fused them to the background. The quilting lines remind me of the floating and soaring of leaves in the autumn wind. The words 'October Breezes By' were stamped on the lower edge.

When I started this series in January, I was obsessed with the shape of the tree, and thought it would dominate this series. But the last few months I have been playing with the seed pods. I guess it goes to show that is one of the benefits of doing a series is that you don't know where it will take you. The series takes over to some degree. Of course, the next two months, leafless months, may cause the tree form to come back to my art. Wait and see.

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