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I am an artist with forty plus years experience.  Yes, I have been a creative force for a lifetime. My “force” has mostly been an interpretive one.  I am a theatre designer.  As a set and costume designer, I collaborate with the playwright, the director and all the production staff to interpret whatever concept of  whatever play I am being paid to work on at any given time.  In recent years I have freelanced in theatre less and less and have spent more time at my easel  I find that North Carolina wildflowers are my passion.  I know the fervor was handed down to me from my parents.  I grew up on 14 acres thickly planted in specimens of the flora of the Southeastern United States. Although I did not learn the vegetation as thoroughly as my father (in particular) I feel his drive to preserve it.  I am happiest during the production of a new painting when some wild plant is represented in it.  Though I never limit myself to a subject or a style, I like to paint small woodland wildflowers that bloom in the early spring.  Rather than representing them in the subtle and delicate colors of realism, I use bold saturated pigments.   I call it fauvism after the Fauvists from the early part of the last century.  They were termed “wild  beasts” by the critics of the day.  I think my color is wild and so, “fauvism” fits it. I hope that the color will shout at the viewer that this flower needs his help.  Human beings have the power over the preservation or extinction of species and few of them realize it.  I hope that my representation of these “unnamed weeds” that the urban dweller does not know of will raise some excitement in the viewer…. help him to realize that this organism does exist and does have a name and is important to our habitat.  The birds, insects, and other interdependent creatures are equally interesting to me. A flock of tiny finches spreads the seeds of many coneflowers to new locations where they can flourish and brighten the fields and roadsides. All life is fragile and our environment can be severely damaged with almost no effort.  I hope that the developer and the banker who finances him will ultimately come to realize that there are some things worth more than money……  some things we humans cannot make. My grandmother once scolded my father when he was five years old (so it would have been 1912) for killing a small bird.  She had a little rhyme for the occasion  that went “Don’t kill the birds, the pretty birds. Oh joyfully let them live!  Never seek to take the life that you can never give.”   Go grandma!.  I have no doubt that was the occasion when  she turned him into a conservationist.  It takes a willingness to be a “kook”.  You have to find comfort in knowing that you are right.  We must share the planet.  (I wish the wordplanet had not been so over-used and commercialized but  I still must use the word.) We live on such a tiny island in such a vast, barren universe. Some of us treasure this island. We need to pass this value system on to the next generation.

Posted October 24, 2010 by Sandra Lynn Gray

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