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Abundant Future: Cultivating Diversity in Garden, Farm, and Field



Prunus spinosa

When I read about the Abundant Future exhibition, I knew immediately what I wanted to paint for my submission: blackthorn had long been on my “wish list,” and it is a familiar sight in many of the places where I love to walk.

I discovered that the domestic plum is thought to have originated from a hybrid between blackthorn and the cherry plum. You can see they are related, but blackthorn is wilder looking—a much spikier tree—and its inky blue sloes are much smaller and harder than domestic plums. I have always found plums beautiful and love painting them, and this thorny, wild relative was equally appealing to me.

The specimen for this painting came from a nature reserve not far from where I live, a magical place with an ancient yew forest and Bronze Age burial mounds. I knew a beautiful clearing there, lined with blackthorn, and so I had loaded water into some floral tubes and took them to bring a branch of sloes home—the branches stay fresh for weeks as long as they have water.

Sloes change from green to pink and purple, then to a beautiful soft blue when they are ripe. They gradually become darker and shinier as the weather erodes their powdery bloom. I love this transience, the changes they undergo as they ripen. I chose some sloes that still had most of the surface bloom intact, but with a little weather damage that revealed the darker color beneath. I use a method that involves slowly building many layers of diluted paint with a fairly dry brush, which seems to be a good fit for a subject with colors hidden beneath a layer of bloom.


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Read more about this artist’s work: 23rd Annual

Abundant Future-ShippamSloe

Prunus spinosa


Watercolor on paper

12 x 9 inches

©2020 Liz Shippam

2024 ASBA - All rights reserved

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