Saguaro Bloom Serial Painting


Saguaro Bloom 2016 pastel plein air 40×50 M.Milstead

Tumamoc Hill is a place in Tucson where I observe and experience “biodiversity” in an “artistic” way. This Spring I chronicled a saguaro cactus blooming. It took about two months with 12 two hour visits to the same cactus. I made a different drawing for almost each hour of the day. (The painting shows, from upper left to bottom right, the dawn to dusk sequence).

The color of light changes throughout the day and, since I am interested in color, it made sense to come at different times to look for different colors and color effects. I also learned more about the Saguaro (and myself), which is always a subtext of work, to learn more.

The most memorable insight gained was unexpected. I was able to visit the Cactus 11 times while it bloomed. When I returned for the last square the bloom was over.  As I sat on the rock and observed the evening light, the feel was very different.The frenzy of reproduction over. The cactus came across calm and strong, so different from the bloom-time in the strong sunlight. I had thought that my project was a failure because every square was not blooming…If I hadn’t made the last trip, after the action, I wouldn’t have had the experience of the calm quiet strong spent cactus, which transferred to me, enabling an unexpected equanimity aka. peaceful feeling. A mutual Adieu!

Nature is the best teacher, no doubt.


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