“The Bud Stands for All Things” 24×24 inches, oil on paper

I discovered this poem last week by Galway Kinnell and immediately started planning a painting in my head. Originally, I had intended for this to be my day 31 offering, the finale to this month’s work, but I have another idea for the month’s conclusion and there is now just one day left to see if I can pull it all together. 

When I was a teacher in my twenties, I went to lunch with some coworkers at this place called Martin’s Wine Cellar where they rotated art exhibitions from local artists. I don’t remember who the artist was that I saw that day, but I remember the paintings. The artist used multiple canvases in each piece, having attached smaller canvases to larger ones and letting the painted image flow from the more raised canvas to the base canvas. I loved it so much I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And apparently I’m still thinking about it nearly twenty years later.

And finally, I tried it. The circle portion of this piece is a thin circle canvas attached to a larger square canvas. When the floral borders emerged in my work starting on day 16, I knew this might be the way I would approach a multi-canvas piece. 

All the plants and flowers in this piece are healing flowers. The orange blooms are marigolds, known to relieve pain when applied topically. The grass-like leaves shooting from the reddish stems is rosemary, which is often used as an oil to treat nervous system pathological conditions like anxiety. 

The long skinny leaves are spider plants which give off lots of oxygen, helpful for respiration. And finally, the rounded leaves are Eucalyptus which both cleans the air and is known to have a calming effect.  

“Sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness” says the poem that inspired this piece, and it in St. Francis lays hands on a pig. I wonder if it is the laying on of hands– on a canvas or guitar or yarn or paper in pen, that reteaches us our loveliness. 


Saint Francis and the Sow



The bud

stands for all things,

even for those things that don’t flower,

for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;   

though sometimes it is necessary

to reteach a thing its loveliness,

to put a hand on its brow

of the flower

and retell it in words and in touch

it is lovely

until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;   

as Saint Francis

put his hand on the creased forehead

of the sow, and told her in words and in touch   

blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow   

began remembering all down her thick length,   

from the earthen snout all the way

through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,   

from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine   

down through the great broken heart

to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering   

from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:

the long, perfect loveliness of sow.



Please note: All 31 paintings will be on display at our gallery celebration February 24th from 5-8pm. The show will also feature other artists who have been part of a 31 in 31 community.

st joseph painting



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Written by Denise Hopkins

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