More about the paintings of the little tree in Big Bend National Park
As summer comes on, and the usual spring rains do not appear, it becomes evident that the drought is still with us. Reminders are everywhere. The one that resonates with me personally is the image of the Dead Madrone. For my most recent Madrone painting, I used a brush instead of pouring, so that I could get more intense reds and yellows in the branches. My inspiration for this color choice was my memories of science labs in my teacher days.
When I was a high school science teacher, one of the labs I did was to burn steel wool, in order to demonstrate that burning is a chemical reaction between a substance and oxygen. Students were asked to record their observations of the steel wool burning, and to record the mass (weight) of the steel wool before and after burning. They were always surprised to find that the steel wool weighed more after burning, because of the addition of oxygen to its chemical formula. During the burning process, the color of the steel wool changed from yellow in the hottest parts, to orange, then red, and finally a bluish grey as it cooled.
I used these colors to describe the dead tree, burning slowly in the summer sun as it gradually decomposed.
Marsha Reeves is a watercolor painter living in Austin, Texas