18 May 2013

Green, part II - Inspiration from an olive tree

I have had such fun collecting 'GREEN' this month that I don't think I'll actually get a chance to post everything. It feels like we are practically immersed in green right now, so it's been easy to find...and oh-so-welcome after winter.

A visit to the Rose Garden earlier in the week inspired its fair share of green. From up here, overlooking the city from the terraced garden, you can make out the full palette of Tuscan greens: groves of olive-tree green, columns of cypress-tree green, umbrellas of stone-pine green, fresh-spring-grass green & everything in between. In the garden itself, the rose bushes are fully leafed out at last (and dotted with colorful blooms).

You may recall past mentions of my favorite olive tree at the Rose Garden; its branches create a little room of sortsa wonderful place to sit and contemplate the view. While not as showy or dramatic as the rose bushes, I very much enjoy the olive tree's subtle change from one season to the next. Sprigs of pale green foliage extend from the older growth, gently, lightly curving up at the ends, reaching toward the sun, and spring's delicate flowers will eventually give way to dot-sized olives that will turn from green to deep purple as the months pass. I love how the leaves, distinctly colored & textured on front & backwhether the new growth or the older, more leathery oneseach catch the light in their own way, making the tree appear to glitter. And how the long, narrow leaves project so decisively from the stems, often at right angles, casting an appealing network of shadows on one another. 

A backdrop of cypress trees that borders one edge of the Rose Garden creates a ground of indigo that beautifully sets off the olive trees (seen in first quartet of images below). The second quartet is layered against greens, and the images in the third set reveal pieces of sky between the branches.


While sitting under my favorite olive I noticed, nestled among the blades of grass and patches of mint & tiny wildflowers, a fallen leaf in mottled shades of green, yellow & brown. It didn't take long to gather a collection of fallen leaves, each with its own markings. Then I started noticing the even-better-camouflaged, older leaves that had curled tightly as they dried on the ground. I was intrigued by the long, sharp forms, so they, too, went into my little collection cup.

Once back in the studio, the various stages of leaves found themselves arranged into a series of 'story strips' (seen in the image at the top of this post). As part of my ongoing quest to find ways to preserve some record of time's passage, I've been assembling rows/lines of things I encounter in the course of my days (and photographing the results). Though the olive tree leaves stand on their own, my 'story strips' are often composed of strips of paper, ribbon or string from around the studio, which are layered with flower petals, buds, leaves or other objects/shapes I'm working with. I haven't quite figured out what they're all about yet, or where they are 'going', but the inspiration to continue the ritual continues... I will share another one in a future 'GREEN' entry...


{More green still to come...}


  1. What a fascinating post. We have lots of olive orchards in our area. I will look at them with new eyes. Beautiful photos and lovely shades of green!

    1. Thanks, Deb, I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the post.
      It's funny - I never really appreciated olive trees until moving to Italy, but find they have quite captured my heart! And they provide a perfect amount of dappled shade...
      - Lisa


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