I think The Healing Garden gardener is correct: Arthur, my pet avocado sapling is irretrievable.
I’m going to probably chronicle Arthur’s demise, since I did all I could to revive him. Is that wrong? It probably isn’t for a plant. The animal kingdom is probably different. Some would say it is definitively wrong to chronicle the demise of a person, especially in pictures.
The condition of demise
I believe that the portrayal of all aspects of the human condition is not wrong. As with any sensitive endeavor, there are those who choose to exploit and expose human weaknesses in a mean-spirited way. However, when done with sensitivity and love, the specific story of a human life at its end has universal application. We will all be faced with ultimate demise at some point. There is much to learn.
I have first-hand experience documenting the fragile human condition through my years of photographing my older brother who is autistic, low functioning and nonverbal. This was a journey for me and helped me to understand my relationship with him, since I did not know whether he knew who I was. Mike seemed oblivious to my photography.
My first experience with a photography book addressing death of a loved one, was in the late 1970s, when I read Gramp. It chronicled the end of a favorite grandfather by two of his grandchildren. It was quite a tribute.
Another book, a collaboration between Dorothea Lynch and Gene Richards, chronicled the course of her cancer that led to her death. This is the book, Exploding into Life. It is rare that a person grappling with death would allow the world to know the details of such a private and terrifying ordeal.
Nicholas Nixon had a photography show many years ago, called ‘People with Aids‘. This was not a point-and-shoot affair. He used a large-format camera, which as you may know, exposes a large negative (typically 8″x10″). This was another intimate experience between a subject in a terribly weakened state, and photographer. When I saw this show, I could hardly contain my tears.
Why bring this up now?
Our kids and grandkids are arriving tonight (that is Friday night, as I write this post). We haven’t seen them in a long time and William, our youngest grandson will be one year old next week. Sidra is looking forward to seeing her cousins, whom she hasn’t seen in a very long time. It is exciting and we are thrilled.
However, a week or so ago, one of Joy’s uncles died; the father of Joy’s second cousins had a heart attack while surfing and died as his grandson tried to revive him; another of Joy’s aunts is very ill and is not expected to survive more that a couple of weeks. Although I am removed from the direct experience of grief, it is still a very sad time.
Before I so rudely interrupted myself, I mentioned that Arthur, my pet avocado, is probably experiencing the beginning of the end. I took a clinical look at one of his leaves, which is not difficult, since I don’t have that much of an emotional connection with him, and focused on one of his leaves.
One of Arthur’s Leaves
12″x9″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block
The obvious characteristics of this leaf are: 1) it is not entirely green; 2) it is curling up; 3) it is brown around the edges; 4) the veins near the stem have metamorphosed into brown semicircles.
Comments about the watercolor
I used yellow ochre, Van Dyke Brown for the upper center of the leaf, near the stem. I washed this area with raw sienna to get a reddish hue. I re-painted the brown semicircles (that once were veins).
The curl on the left side of the leaf began as a yellow ocher as well. There is a bit of green at the lower end of the curl. I used an olive green here. After thorough drying, I washed this part of the leaf image with lemon yellow. That seemed to pull all the watercolor patches together. Ultimately, I overlaid a Van Dyke brown-white mixture on this area. I used a lot of white, since the brown is very dense.
For the green areas in the center of the leaf, I used thalo yellow green, Hooker’s green and olive green in varying amounts. For the green veins, I used thalo green.
I have been studying Paul Klee’s work to be better able to express my inner creativity. However, there are other modes of expression. The idea of being able to connect on a human level about the human condition is one such mode that also deserves attention. I would bet that these modes do not have to be separate.