Sharron O'Neil's Story Behind the Art
Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana) is an appealing small tree or tall shrub. In fall the leaves turn bright golden yellow and the gorgeous berries change from green to yellow to bright orange and finally to dark red. The trees stand out like flames among the forest's evergreens. The plant I painted grows alongside a path where I often hike, and I thought it would make a beautiful painting. This didn't happen for a few years, but every fall I noted again that I would like to paint it when the berries were ripe. I was very pleased when I saw that this plant was on the Bartram's list.
My specimen was growing in the wild, but Mountain Ash is also used as an attractive landscaping plant, especially for the striking fall color. The white flowers are very small , growing in clusters, and the berries are attractive to birds.
I enjoy painting a plant as it appears, "warts and all", rather than choosing an absolutely perfect subject. I am attracted to flaws and bug damage and have chosen to include this on the leaves. The biggest challenge I faced was keeping the various small berry branches sorted. It was very easy to lose my place with so many. I loved painting the colors and highlights of the berries, trying to make them appear as shiny and lush in watercolor as they are in reality.