A drawing of one of my many house plants, this is of a Dieffenbachia cutting, in effect a thick stem that I had to chop from a larger base when the plant got way too tall to stand on it’s own. Rather than put the stub into the green waste cart, I had the thought to instead put it into a bucket of water and then I totally ignored it.
Within a couple of weeks a root system started so I stuck the stump with roots into an old plant pot with some old soil. I put it on my front patio, thinking that it would love the sunrise and morning heat. It did, it started a couple little green bumps on the top. Soon it sprouted a little green arm and shortly after a couple little spindly arms. I kept on watering it.
As the weather got hotter in May I noticed that it started to suffer in the heat, the little leaves weren’t blooming very quickly, they didn’t want to get scorched in the sun. I moved it indoors by a window.
When I was a kid my parents had a house on Prairie Valley Road in Summerland. The big windows were full of my mom’s plants, including some big Dieffenbachia plants. I always loved to hang out under their huge leaves so when I got older and started collecting plants myself I bought a small Dieffenbachia. It grew and grew and I have over the last few years had to rescue it from itself by cutting it back to start anew when it grew too big to effectively catch sunlight in the sliding door window.
I have a green thumb. I have a lot of plants and I keep making more and more and more from them. I just can’t throw any of them out because they all have life and they all deserve to grow. The other night I started sketching one of my plants. It was after a day hike in the forest with my sister, a excursion that I didn’t know I needed until we were well on the trail. I had the chance to connect with the forest again and it refilled my cup.
Drawing is like meditating, and although I have veered away from still life because I usually find them excruciatingly boring to do, this time it is different. I feel we are in a very complicated time right now. Things that used to be trustworthy and steady are well, no longer the guaranteed status quo. Things are fast, emotions are tumultuous, care towards others and the planet seems all over the map. Art, animals and gardens are a foundation. They hold truth.
This plant is nothing special, if I saw it at someone’s house I would think about it for a mere moment and then carry on. But in drawing this plant I came to appreciate it’s tenacity. It is merely a 12 inch section, a partial tree trunk. Every few inches it sprouts new branches, which grow huge beautiful leaves, which eventually whither and droop and fall off, leaving just a dried ring as evidence. This specific stump has been free to grow, hacked off, nurtured, exposed, and now protected and ready to become great again.
As I drew it the light changed and illuminated different variations in the leaf, highlighted it’s scarred burn from the sun, but still pushing life. The faintly sketched branch with leaves so comfortably wound around itself began to loosen and open during the 2 hours from when I had initially sketched its form - I found this beautifully symbolic; I was focused on what was happening with the details and light of what was right in front of me, and in the time of focusing intently, the future section changed and grew. I decided to leave it as is, a reminder of how life changes quickly. This survivor Dieffenbachia will never be in the same shape and form as it was this morning when I first decided to focus on it.
This drawing, a record of a million thought processes and observations happening simultaneous to the real life growth of a human and a plant.
Published July 9, 2019