This body of work, which represents a departure from my usual process of on-site landscape painting, began in response to Albrecht Durer’s 1503 watercolor drawing, the Great Piece of Turf. Durer’s drawing is a nature study of grasses, dandelions, plantains, and other plants, growing out of a slab of earth. For this project, I too dug up weedy chunks of ground and brought them into the studio to paint
I focused on waste places – vacant lots, roadsides, parking lots, and the like. These sites had been altered by humans – built on, gardened on, covered with soil from elsewhere - and then had been mostly left to their own devices. The resulting plant communities were a feral blend of introduced and opportunistic species, the kind of plants we think of as weeds. These plants are nature’s equivalent of first aid – species that will quickly colonize the bare ground of a disrupted site.
The paintings present the pieces of ground as self-contained little worlds, resting on discarded materials – styrofoam packaging, old rotting plywood, bits of a torn down house, and so on, referencing the abandoned status of the plants’ original locations. The paintings are quiet harbingers of a weed-filled planet to come as humans continue disrupting natural ecosystems.