Late Boneset and Indian Hemp oil painting by Matthew Richter

“Indian Hemp and Late Boneset”

Oil on canvas
12x16, 2012


I learned about plants from my Grandfather by watching and helping him garden. More than that I learned the value of patience and how to appreciate the measure of time in slow moving lumps of afternoons stretching into weeks and months. I learned to love wild plants and the places that nurture them from my mother in the same way, just by watching in stretches of silence and feeling good about things growing which flourished without the pressure of human beings. I learned in my own time how nature's beauty has a terror to it. It is easily seen in the dark push of a threatening storm cloud but it is also there in the shadows at dusk around the base of flowering Boneset and Indian Hemp breathing their last just days before frost takes their lives. Blue from the frozen upper stratosphere pours down highlights onto the shadow blossoms and the last screaming rays of a burning sun flare in flames over deep yellow leaves.

I spent several days during a fall week working at this site in the McPherson Valley Wetlands a mile from my studio. The light at sunset lasted at peak interest for less than 15 minutes even though my sessions were a full two hours leading up to that moment. Most of what I painted in those sessions was useless from the perspective of formal art work. I was fascinated by the horizontal canopy shapes which Late Boneset blossoms create on contrast to the vertical grasses and flickering dots shapes of the brilliant back lighted yellow Indian Hemp leaves. What I built were hours of memories, the solid feeling of life's promise brought in the turning of season. I felt the dizzy speed of change and the understanding of how fragile and impermanent life is.

detail Late Boneset and Indian Hemp
copyright 2007, Matthew Richter, all rights reserved