I wanted to do a painting of a gardener in the middle in his allotment at the end of a growing season, poised with his shovel prior to digging up his bounty.
I had an allotment myself, at one time, though I would go away for a week or so on a commission, and when I got back, the plot would be overrun with weeds or half the produce would have died off through lack of water. I simply could not keep up with it and conceded defeat.
From then on, I decided that my skills are in painting allotments rather than growing them. For me at least, painting them is far easier.
All in the mind
I conceived this painting as a bit of a grower’s fantasy piece. Something like ‘the Fisherman’s tale’ for vegetable growers. Like the fisherman and his huge fish, the gardener has his record breaking crop with ‘The biggest Beetroots you ever saw’.
Also, when a gardener thinks of their garden, they think of it as a whole item not seasonally. So in their mind’s eye, the winter cabbage is in with the summer sunflowers which sits next to the spring radishes. The best is with the best.
A not too perfect allotment
You cannot be proud of anything unless there is some level of difficulty and challenge.
If I ever do a painting of a garden, I always make sure I add a bit of bindweed. I understand bindweed is a complete pest in the garden, however, it is undeniably a lovely looking plant, and when I ever did see it in the garden, part of me was always reluctant to destroy it. (Much to the annoyance of any neighbours I may have had at the time!) In the painting, I have wound them in and out of the hole in his unrepaired shed.
You will also notice the odd dandelion poking through. Another weed that is a lovely as anything in a florist.
I also like to add a few snail and slug nibbles here and there too. These to me are all part and parcel of the challenge of growing good vegetables. I felt too that my fantasy gardener would like a few battle scars on his crop to emphasise his success in chasing them off.
Finally, I placed in the digger himself surrounded by his prizewinning roses. Why his face has a slightly disconcerting expression I can’t say. Maybe he knows deep down it’s all just a bit of a fantasy?
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