Arthur’s Roots

I feel really bad for Arthur. He was doing so well. But his roots were getting dense and started to curl around; he looked crowded, even though he was getting another sprouting of leaves.

Arthur is my pet avocado tree that I started on top of a Mason jar. The other day I decided it was time for Arthur to experience dirt. I got a really big plastic flower pot, the kind with the holes on the bottom, put a broken piece of a clay pot in the bottom (I don’t know why, but that’s what I understood one should do) and got some dirt that was in a bag in the garage. I think the bag said mulch, or something like that. It was really dry.

I took the Mason jar (barely) containing Arthur into the front yard and started to soak the very dry dirt. I made room for Arthur’s roots and gently filled in the pot with the wet material. I put Arthur out on the back porch, partially in the sun.

Over the next couple of days, I watched in horror as Arthur’s leaves started to turn from green to yellowish. I even took Arthur in one night in case it got too cold outside. I thought perhaps the water ran right through the soil and out the bottom of the pot, so I gave him more water.

Finally, I couldn’t stand it any more and took Arthur out of the pot and put him back in the jar. I hope he’s going to be alright, but so far he hasn’t perked up too much.

Paul Klee inspired today’s study of Arthur

I moved on from the first 23 pages of Paul Klee’s Notebook, which discusses leaves and their pictorial development. In the next section, he compares the latent energy of a point, to a seed. He calls this type of point, which is the beginning of an idea, an irritated point.  The seed contains energy that, when released, gives rise to the form of a plant – not just any plant, but one with the special character of that species of seed. I believe Klee is saying that the latent energy of the irritated point, when released by the artist, gives rise to the idea in the artist’s mind.

Today’s study

I did a quick watercolor sketch of Arthur’s roots and the beginning of his trunk. Since the roots are a big tangle now, I don’t think I could have drawn them from Arthur’s ‘irritated’ point of the origin. Maybe Klee’s example of seeds, roots, stem and leaves is just a metaphor. Perhaps I am looking to express the idea of the crowdedness of Arthur’s roots, not Arthur, my pet avocado tree.

Watercolor Study - Avocado Plant in Mason Jar - Focus on Roots

Arthur’s Roots
12″x9″ 140# Hot Pressed Watercolor Block


Since my mission was to display Arthur’s roots, I had no choice but to draw the glass Mason jar. I did not have the time (or skill) to attempt to represent the reflections and distortions that are characteristic of a transparent glass container, to say nothing of the embossed Mason jar logo on its surface.

But, I was successful in representing the dirty water in the jar by applying a yellow-orange wash.

I hope to absorb more information from Klee’s Notebook and apply his seed example to my drawing and painting.


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