Saturday, June 9, 2012

Strawberries & Blackberries

What is the taste of summer?

Mmmm.... that's a hard one...
... so many vegetables and fruits... 

There's nothing like picking a berry, giving it a little blow to knock off (most of) the garden dirt, and taking a bite! Right at that moment when it's still warm from the sun and juicy from the vine, it's the best flavor ever.

When I was a kid, my two neighbors and I picked wild blackberries and sold them on the dirt road beside our mailbox for 50 cents a quart jar.  (I bought a quart of them at the farmers' market last Saturday for 6 dollars! And, I didn't even get to keep the box they were in.)

We had a certain routine for our blackberry picking - and I want to say in advance that nearly every bit of this whole process seems completely unsafe and just wrong now; however, back in the 70's, it kept us from getting bored.

  • Walk down the trail behind my house to the lake. (but stay a few feet away)
  • Toss rocks into the blackberry patch. (to scare all the snakes away)
  • Put in a fresh stick of juicy fruit gum. (the sweet flavor would keep us from eating what we picked so that our jars would fill faster)
  • Take high steps so that our feet would go straight down into the vines. (to keep from getting as many scratches on our legs)
  • Glance behind and under the berries. (just in case a snake hadn't heard the warning rocks earlier)
  • Stick an arm straight in, pick the berries, then bring the arm right out the exact same way. (to avoid all the stickers)
  • Fill the jar
  • Get the sign "Blackberries 50 Cents" and lawn chairs and wait by the mailbox.
  • Hop up and run to the edge of the road whenever a car of big truck was coming.
  • Make the sale.
  • Split the money.
Well, we never got drowned in the lake; we never got bit by a snake, we often did get scratched by the thorns; we never got hit by one of the oncoming cars; and we never got rich from our berry sales.

I'd forgotten all about this process until I was working on this painting.  It was tricky for me to figure out how to make these purple and red blobs look like actual berries.  I had to stop thinking about them as berries and study the highlights, shadows, lost edges, and reflections.  Then... voila... It still amazes me when it works!

I did this painting as a challenge for Studio Atelier.  Visit the site.  It's fun to see the varied styles and versions all done from the same image.


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