I can see how a thistle could be a controversial subject. On one hand, some folks may feel it’s ugly. In part, their reasoning might be based on the fact that it is a weed and, by default, weeds are hated, despised, and should be eradicated. I would concede that, despite being a nice purple color, the sharp thorns on the subject in Phinizy Thistle aren’t doing anything to help its pretty quotient. And I would agree that for golf courses and other sites that wish to maintain pristine grassy areas, controlling the weed population is essential. But where this subject was found, I would argue that they are just as important to the ecosystem as anything else. I focused my attention on it because it had a nice flower and because it permitted me to alter the perspective so that I could maximize the amount of yellow in the background. Being a flowering weed that is both pretty and ugly, perhaps thistle is just inherently contentious. The high level of detail allows pieces of pollen, surface texture, contours, individual hairs, and thorn points to be seen.
Shortly after composing the wild honeysuckle pieces I wrote about here, I wandered along the road searching for additional subjects while heading toward the entrance. Not far from the honeysuckle, I discovered some scary looking weeds. They were fairly tall and covered in thorns. Not something you would want to run into or fall on if you were wearing shorts.
Though not pretty per se (I do like the red bands and the yellowish tips), it certainly met my criteria of being interesting. As I began to more closely explore the subject in Barbed, I favored an abstract composition. To create a mixture of antagonism and beauty, I found a perspective that felt like I was looking down into a pain inducing tunnel or the throat of a monster. The reds, yellows, and spikes endow the piece with a menacing feeling while the greens and softer looking hairs help calm that back down. At the focal point, the high level of detail allows surface texture, individual hairs, and the sharpness of the barbs to be visible.
I found the subject in Thorny just a few paces away from the one in Barbed. With a decidedly less hostile look and feel (thanks in part to the colder purples and glowing greens), the sword-like thorns and sharp tips sticking out along its edges still give it an intimidating demeanor. I used a perspective that captured my intrigue with how each successive layer, moving away from the focal point into the background, repeats the pattern above it in a larger size. The high level of detail, at the focal point, permits surface texture, individual hairs, and the points of the prickly thorns to be seen.
When the pieces in this post were created, Hopeland Gardens had an Acacia tree that would bloom in the spring. Unfortunately, the tree was a victim of the devastating freezing rain and ice brought by Winter Storm Pax and no longer exists. I’m not sure if a bloom like the one in Wattle can be found anywhere else in the CSRA. I’m just glad that I have some compositions because I might not ever see another one of them.
The perspective of Non-native brings out the feeling that this tree is not from around here. The scaly branch the bloom is budding from adds support to that assertion. From what I was told, the tree may have been imported from Africa where it is also known as Mimosa, Thorntree, and several other names.
Acacia Pom-poms illustrates how colorful the tree could be by zooming out a little and taking in a wider view. The little flowers reminded me of pom-poms and made me feel like the tree was cheering on spring and the arrival of warmer temperatures.
It can be said that the Acacia tree’s colorful little balls are pretty, some may even suggest that they are cute and resemble a furball or a tribble, however, much like a rose, beauty can sometimes be accompanied by the possibility of pain. My intent with Adorned Thorns was to capture that dichotomy. I split the focus difference between the flower and thorns so that some parts of both could be seen. That also allowed me to hold the thorns in the middleground – as if this was a visual warning to be careful.