One Spring Day at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Night Heron and Cherry Buds

Gardens delight me.  At their best, in my eyes,  they are the hand of man working with nature.  This can lead to a lovely dance, filled with unexpected grace notes.

This painting, fresh off the easel, takes us to the Chicago Botanic Gardens.  The CBG is a wonderful place to encounter those delightful juxtapositions, because on the one hand it is a thoroughly groomed garden fit for the exacting North Shore, but it is also a research garden focusing on the ecology of this area.  As any good garden should, it has water woven through it.  In this case the designers used lagoons from the Des Plaines River (if I remember correctly; they are called the Skokie Lagoons).  So, a river runs through it, complete with wildlife.  That makes for some fun surprises, such as seeing a Night Heron lurking beneath the branches of a weeping cherry about to bloom.

When I composed this painting, I wanted to capture the liveliness of the bird against the stillness of a moment in a garden.  I was also thinking of those beautiful Japanese screens~ lovely and minimalist.

19 thoughts on “One Spring Day at the Chicago Botanic Garden”

  1. I think you succeeded in grand fashion with this one, Melissa. The heron and grasses do stand out in lovely contrast to the water and the hanging flowering vine adds a nice border and keeps us within the frame. ’tis a fine piece of work.

      1. Oh my gosh Melissa you’re too kind! Birding has taught me more about the importance of patience than anything else in my life. I still get antsy waiting though. 🙂

        Truth…I envy your talent to paint, and draw. I’ve tried, and tried, taken classes, and failed. It’s going to take a lot more years of rulers, grids, and practice before I ever paint or draw something out in the field that looks good.

  2. Even though this is a painting rather than a photograph, I was surprised by the bird. I couldn’t remember ever seeing such a heron. I went snooping,and found that there are species in Illinois we don’t have here, such as the green-backed. It’s not surprising, of course. I’m just so accustomed to photos of the common ones, like the great blue, from northern states, it never had occurred to me to see what else might be living up there!

    Be that as it may, the curve of the neck is perfect, and the eye. How they can remain so still, and yet so alert, for such long periods, of time, is beyond me. But it does make them great models!

  3. Ha! yeah, they do make excellent models!
    You nailed it exactly~ the reason I paint and then share on my blog is exactly that, to encourage people to see beyond the usual in nature. Thank you for you kind words.

  4. This is a gorgeous painting. The colours remind me of a watercolour I bought maybe 20 years ago of a riverside scene. The heron’s posture is spot on. As Steve says, a very fine piece of work.

  5. I love the way these great birds can sit and pay attention to what they are focused on and not be bothered so much the noise and activity around them. I think that’s what you’ve captured here. Very nice.

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