Arthur On His Own

Arthur, my pet avocado tree has been having a hard time. I planted him the other day, but he almost immediately began wilting and turning brownish.  So I pulled him out (carefully) and put him back in the Mason jar. Of course I had to use new tooth picks, so he wouldn’t fall in. The roots actually would have held him up, they were so long, but I didn’t want to put any pressure on them.

Arthur’s decline did not seem to progress after getting back on the jar. However, I felt as if I could do more for him. The Healing Garden gardener suggested that I get some potting soil, a clay pot and give Arthur another chance at dirt. So that’s what I did.

I watered Arthur thoroughly and left the pot to drain, as per directions on the side of the potting soil bag. The weather was turning colder, so I took Arthur in for the night after he was all drained.

A day later, Arthur doesn’t look much different. Time will tell if Arthur takes to the soil.

Today’s experiment

I sketched Arthur in his new home. We were on the porch. It was a beautiful sunny day.

Watercolor Sketch - Arthur, my pet avocado, planted in a clay pot, seen from the top

Arthur in Dirt
12″x9″ 140# Hot Pressed Watercolor Block

In preparation for the watercolor, I took look my pencil line for a walk. I have been exploring the pedagogic work of Paul Klee, who taught at the Bauhaus in the early part of the 20th century. While he is very clear that an artist’s creative impulse is the driving force behind a pencil he or she moves, he is not clear about the linkage between that impulse and motion.

I began the watercolor part of the study with a yellow wash of the leaves. From that point, I could wash with a blue color to get a green leaf, or red to get the orange-brown color of shriveled leaves. I left some intermediate shades from yellow to green and yellow to brown.  The study might benefit from another wash or two of yellows, blues and reds.

I used Warm Sepia (Sennelier) for the shadows and a combination of this pigment and Van Dyke Brown (Daler-Rowney) for the dirt. These pigments seem very similar.

I will keep everyone updated on Arthur’s progress. Hopefully I’ll be using more greens than browns.

4 thoughts on “Arthur On His Own

  1. Thank you for sharing your pencil’s walk today. Now, I think you realize how much of a collaboration everything is. That is a vegetable joke, Jack. I am admiring the pencil work. And the courage. We think we are sighted until it is our turn to walk the pencil.

    You could wash Arthur with a few more glazes. I think, personally, that your have roughed him up enough already. You are good with glazes and I have learned a lot from seeing your work. I am learning that even similar tints are compounded differently. These compounds produce different qualities where two wet washes of differently compounded pigments meet. This is my preference. To be savvy enough to work with the forces of nature in my favor.

    Rendering the invisible visible is no more magical than magical thinking. In the process I prefer having nature on my side. I am looking forward to more glazing when I get to BIG leaves. Also, someday, I would like to consider the OUTLINE of leaves. With shades. Of course (No, not leaves with sunglasses).

    Regarding Arthur, we are thinking it would be less expensive to put a kid through college. He will need some real estate, because of the taproot. You want to mind that as you repot him when necessary. For your new addition, plant at least a 60′ (height) this works if you have a small footprint. Arthur is sensitive to drafts, BTW. Based on the Arthurness you have captured (and honestly, a snap would not have been as useful in diagnosis as this image of Arthur in his social environment), Arthur is critical, but has a chance. TLC. I recommend a window with about two hours mid to late afternoon sun. Water every few days. Hold off on shocking him with any fancy foods. If you are expecting avocados, you’re about a decade out from knowing if he’ll need a graft. Okay. That should do it. THGg


    • I agree, THGg. Taking a pencil for a walk is not for the faint of heart. I would imagine that Klee would say that walking the pencil is not a matter of sightedness, but rather a conduit for creativity… It’s the linkage, that is the tough part, or at least that is the premise I am laboring under.

      Have fun with glazing, THGg. From what I’ve heard, it is very helpful to know your colors: which are transparent, which opaque, for example. Get a practice sheet and try them out. You should make a set of color chips with the paints you have, marking each with their properties. You could use them to choose your colors as well.

      Regarding Arthur: Is it too late to make him a bonsai? Or is that cruel and unusual?

      Thanks for your comments, as always.



      • I will always be working on my brushwork. From what I understand of your interpretations of Klee, he too, thinks our neurosensory apparatus, our brains, and our neuromuscular system communicate with the brush through our arms and fingers. Should we become so consciously accomplished, what is it we express when taking a line for a walk. What ‘presence’ do we bring to our lines?

        BTW, Arthur should be in a window in intensive care. He has a tap root, or should when he grows up. This is not suited to bonsai. Soon you will be painting a picture for his requiem. Not to worry. Do your best. When he is gone, rest his vegetative soul, we will get you started on a keeper for modeling. Don’t throw out the old foot either, it looks like it has some understanding left. — THGg

        PS. It is not so good studying Klee through you. Although I have profited greatly from your tussles with him. This Spring I have asked for my own copy of his notebooks. Let’s compare the Tao of Painting with Klee’s notebooks. This is rich ground for learning. We will see what arrives.


        • I am very interested in your first-hand experience with Klee’s notebooks, THGg. I’m sure you’ll pick up some pertinent information that I overlooked. I renewed my copy (Volume 2) from the library once already and will probably do so again. It would be great to have a library of Klee’s work. I also look forward to reading the Tao of Painting. By all means, lets compare notes.

          As for Arthur, I am sure he is on his way out. Like my dragonfruit model, I’m sure I will paint many portraits of Arthur, irrespective of his state of health.

          Stay tuned for tomorrow’s (4-10-14) post, inspired by you.




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