“I always feel like I’m starting over, every day.” -artist Darren Vigil-Gray-
In Carmel Valley, George Rodrigue and I live surrounded by flowers. Annuals flourish here, and for the first time in years, we’re on the West Coast long enough for me to not only plant, but also nurture. Our rose garden rewarded us immediately for this bit of attention; the hollyhocks, a passion leftover from my childhood, threaten to bloom at any moment; the hummingbirds hover in disbelief as I water the long-neglected geraniums, and the deer, salivating, stare through the garden gate.
-click photos throughout to enlarge-
(pictured, Flower Children, 2013 by George Rodrigue, 30×40 inches, acrylic on canvas)
These flowers thrive in a tiny fenced-in area behind our house, the only place inaccessible to Bambi. They also thrive within vases throughout the house, complementing the artwork, no matter what the flower, color, or artist. Recently, in fact, I found jewel-toned royal blue orchids at our California grocery store, impossible to resist, and now extending, appropriately, into the air of Blue Wendy
In the front yard, just outside of his studio, George encourages the deer. Although we don’t dare feed them for fear of wood rats
, we quench their thirst from a fountain, a mound of granite topped with a now freshly-polished bronze sun. Without fences, the deer visit several times each day for water.
While I care for the back, George loves this area because it borders his studio. He fills it with palms and evergreens, resistible to the animals. From his easel, he watches them, and they watch him.
“Every time I come to California,” explains George, “I look at it differently. Fresh eyes, fresh feelings, fresh emotions. Something unexpected always comes up.”
(pictured, I Have a Colorful Life, 2013 by George Rodrigue, 30×40 inches, acrylic on canvas; click photo to enlarge-)
We chose this property more than a decade ago because of its lace oak groves, so similar to Louisiana’s live oaks, the trees
that called George Rodrigue home from California and art school
some forty-five years ago. Yet in recent years it’s been difficult for us to spend much time here. Now, with the West Coast firm in our long-term plans
, we adopt this land, or let it adopt us, embracing the California lace oaks as though Evangeline
herself wept beneath them.
Last week we pruned the trees for the first time in five years.
Oh they’re beautiful, I whispered, when George asked me what I thought about the trimming.
Following a long pause, he replied, also whispering…
(pictured, George Rodrigue outside of his studio, Carmel Valley, California, May 2013; the deer’s water source, a granite fountain, stands behind him; click photo to enlarge-)
In recent paintings, George often adds a single or several flowers to a Louisiana landscape. He uses flowers as design elements vying for attention with the Blue Dog. I asked him about this unnatural feature, inserted as if for balance and color patterns. Always okay in my book, but is there something more?
“Nope, just the obvious. Flowers represent a re-birth every season. And I like the way they look in my paintings.”
That’s good enough for me.
-pictured above, Springtime is a-Comin’, 2013 by George Rodrigue, 60×40 inches, acrylic on canvas; for details regarding pricing and availability of these new works, contact Rodrigue Studio–
-for more art and discussion, please join me on facebook–