Oregon Summer Harvest Series by Betty LaDuke
We have been so fortunate the past two years to be a part of international artist Betty LaDuke’s endeavors. Betty’s spritely presence in our fields, quickly sketching us as we harvest, has been such a blessing. Truly an inspirational and calming soul is she!
Betty’s artistic process is magnificent. She would find us out in the fields and sketch us while we harvested. Always asking “are you going to be here for a while?”, she is the one thing that has ever actually made me want to slow down a little out there, so she could capture the essence of flower picking. And with such a quiet presence, she was so powerful!
The transformation of quick pencil sketch to the final paintings, bursting with color, is mind blowing. What a lovely time we all had with her, and going to her gallery showing, and seeing the large wooden panels of us, was breathtaking. Being a part of an artists subject has been an honor and such a treat! Thank you Betty!
(This series of The Summer Harvest prints is available for purchase from us for just $20 for seven prints. Email us if you are interested)
Here is Betty’s experience in her own words:
“My sketchbook visits to the local Fry Family Farm and LaMera Gardens began during the 2010 harvest season. These farms participate in a Community Supported Agriculture program, but instead of payment I received an invitation to exchange flowers and food for my artwork. For three months my small family would receive every other week a bountiful, boxed assortmen of freshly harvested vegetables and flowers. In turn, the farmers Suzi and Steve Fry, and Joan Thorndike selected giclee prints of my large paintings. They were: Asia Rice Harvest inspired by my journeys with Heifer International, a humanitarian organization dedicated to ending hunger, poverty, and caring for the earth; and the Farmers Market, a public mural commission for the city of Martinsville, Virginia depicting pride in their community based agriculture.
During my many farm visits I followed the harvesters up and down long rows of green beans, strawberries, squash, and a dazzling variety of flowers. I quickly sketched their motions as they stooped, squatted, or stretched to gather the harvest into boxes, buckets, or carefully carried bundles of flowers to water containers. Later, in my Ashland studio I reworked these sketches further emphasizing the interaction between plants and people before selecting my painting themes.
First, I outlined the basic harvest activity with brush and acrylic paint on a 3/4 inch sheet of plywood approximately five feet tall. This shape outline was then routed by my assisstant, Barney Johnson. The varied routed surface depths symbollically emphasized the pattern of sunflowers or a green bean plant, the hands that cut, harvested, and filled buckets or boxes with vegetables or flowers. Finally I applied many layers of acrylic paint selectively mixed with sand to add textural contrast to the panel surface.
During the fall and winter months a crop of wood panels, my Oregon Summer Harvest series gradually evolved in my studio. I appreciated the dignity, pride, and hard work of our Rogue VAlley farmers and farm workers and the nourishment they provided for the body and spirit. Now, when colorful flowers and fresh vegetables are present at our kitchen table I also see the hands that brought them to us.”