Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Fourth Season of Maples

6/8/13 watercolor, Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook
The Japanese are very much into the four seasons of the year – philosophically, poetically and commercially. If you go to Hiroshima in March or April, you will see nothing but cherry blossom icons. In the humidity of August, refreshing motifs of the natsu mikan (summer oranges) will help you forget how much you’re sweating (not). Visit Kyoto in autumn, and everywhere you look, both in reality and in merchandise packaging, maple leaves will be turning.
I don’t think of myself as being very Japanese in most ways (as I get older, I keep seeing myself turn more and more into my mother, but that’s not the same thing), but the symbolism of the changing seasons appeals to me.
Now that it’s June, I was finally able to sketch this stand of Green Lake maple trees in full leaf. In the past year, I’ve sketched them five times – twice in the fall when they were blazing for months – so I’ve now completed the cycle: Four seasons of maple trees. Like Hokusai’s 36 views of Mt. Fuji or other artists who have depicted the same scene multiple times, maybe this stand of maples at Green Lake will become the one thing I sketch over and over, never tiring of it, its seasonal cycles giving me a sense of completion.
See the other seasons:

Autumn: Oct. 11, 2012, and Nov. 5, 2012

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