Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kids in a Cherry Tree!

One must ask children and birds how cherries and strawberries taste.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Kids in an Okanagan Cherry Tree, April 2011. 11x14 " Ink on Paper

In preparation for the Cafe Nevermatters exhibition in Naramata this summer, I'm putting the Turkey sketches aside for a little while and focussing on Canadian/Okanagan themes. The next two paintings have to do with my childhood and growing up in Naramata (And arguably every childhood which has ever had the privilege of spending a little time in our idyllic little town.)
Since the painting is fairly orderly, I decided to add a little chaos with the birds- different colours, different angles, unlike the way I usually paint birds, orderly and in unison.

Summer for us really started when the summertime neighbours showed up. Grandchildren of Gramps who lived across the street, We'd spend the summers running around the beaches, jumping off the old train docks (which are sadly gone now) and stealing cherries and whatever fruit was in season for a quick free snack when we got hungry. We also stole fruit from the boxes at the packing house, which sadly met it's demise last week after being a landmark in Naramata since the 30's. But that's another story (and perhaps another painting!)

Reaching for that perfect cherry.One think I like about working with the transparency of the ink is that I was able to work that overlapping technique in the leaves successfully.

Strangely enough, I started out painting generic children, but as I progressed, the kids began to actually look like me, my sister, Tiffany Andrew and Billy- My sister actually pointed it out. It's funny how my subconcious can sneak into a painting from time to time! Undeniable!

Since the weather can still be chilly in cherry season (The first fruit of the year) The kids are in varying degrees of clothing. (The ones in shorts could be pushing the season!)
Though I will miss cherry season again this year (last year I was in the Emirates, this year I'll be in Vancouver, I think) I have enjoyed the frozen cherries my mom saved for me last year. There really is nothing like a fat juicy Okanagan cherry!

One thing we used to do is lay our beach towels on the ground and gently drop the cherries on it so we could take some to the beach. But often the cherries would burst upon hitting the towel, staining our lovely towels much to my mother's chagrin. (Come to think of it, it was probably the first form of natural dying for me!)
It comes as no surprise with the demise of the packing house that fruit is quickly being replaced with grapes for wine production, which is booming here in the Okanagan at the moment. But it's sad to see the fruit trees go; the Naramata Bench which is now famous for it's wineries were once a twenty minute drive of fresh spring blossoms, the first sign that spring had arrived. I think now there are really only two or three orchards that are in full blossom at the moment along the Naramata Road. The rest have been converted into vineyards already.

We also used to eat the cherries and spit the pits at each other. Kids will be kids!

The one downside of switching to vineyards is that we can't live off wine but we could live off fruit. But I can't blame a farmer in the Okanagan for wanting to make more money out of their crops. Being an Okanagan farmer can be a hard row to hoe, pun intended!

My sister says this little girl looks like me when I was young. But you couldn't catch me dead in a dress!
But I did have a bike similar to this (only blue).

Luckily there are wineries around such as Naramata owned and operated Elephant Island who make really delicious fruit wines. I was lucky enough to be invited by owner and operator Miranda Halliday to watch a discorging of Cassis and Apple sparkling wine/champagne yesterday. Mess, stained hands, wine puddles, machinery and rain gear. Melanie's painting subject heaven! Stay tuned for some fun drawing from my visit there in the coming weeks! It was super fun and I almost wished I worked in a winery for the sheer fun of it. Hell yeah, I could work a corking machine! And I've had the wine and it's extremely good.

And the ever loyal dog waiting for us to be finished and on our way for more kidly adventures in the Okanagan!

Now back to painting!


  1. i love the painting but the story behind the painting is way more charming...i almost sensed nostalgic feelings on that! ;)

  2. Yes, you are right, Lily! I think I will be in the Okanagan for the Cherry season this year. Why not pop up to Canada to eat cherries with me? ; )

  3. I can hardly wait till the cherries are ready. You are right. Nothing like an Okanagan Cherry.

    xxoo jan