Into the Unknown

Bow-tie Gentleman- InkSelf Portrait- James McGrath

The desire to be productive and create is always there and to not do either would be to suffocate. As an artist, it’s always easiest to draw or paint what is in front of my face, given that there was never any other way for me. Feeling the need to push myself out of my comfort zone I sometimes do an exercise of sketching quickly, moving my hand before my mind can decide where to place my pen. By letting the brain flow free and creating marks on paper I take my drawings to some very interesting places and some of my stronger drawings have appeared this way, with each of these being finished under two minutes.

Casa de Campo, Madrid

Life is no different, and there are times where the unknown can be daunting and exciting, forging a new perspective that pushes you forward creatively, sparking new experiences. Soon I will be pushing myself out of my comfort zone again..  In the past year I have often traveled to Madrid, getting to know the city and its beauty, because in a few months it will be my new home and Spain is a country I have always loved for many reasons.  A recent visit took me on a cable car ride above Casa de Campo,  situated just behind the Royal Palace and the largest park west of Central Madrid. Spreading out across 4,200 acres, it used to be royal hunting grounds.

Casa de Campo wildflowers

I didn’t know where I was going once I boarded and what I was going to see on this ride but was relieved at what I found. When I think of Madrid,  it is not usually gardens and plants that comes to mind.  The past has seen me working in display gardens, botanical gardens, urban gardens in NYC and London, and as a kitchen gardener, but what does a gardener do in Spain?! The views that unfolded from above were completely unexpected, with meadows of wildflowers in brilliant bloom stretching out before my eyes, dancing across the landscape and even lighting up the dark shadows created by the Stone Pine, Pinus pinea.

Casa de Campo, Madrid

It was a relief to witness such a wonderful floral display easily rivaling the paintings that hang in the city’s rich collections.

Casa de Campo, Madrid

The brilliant yellow hues soon mingled with regal purples, showing the intensity of color that Echium vulgare can possess adding more depth to the landscape.

Echium vulgare Casa de Campo, Madrid

I could imagine the Impressionists having a field day surrounded by such light, textures and shadows, and it got me excited, very excited.  The flora presented itself to me in the way a canvas presents a painting, filling my mind and thoughts with brilliant emotion, making me hungry for more.

 Casa de Campo, Madrid

It will be tough leaving the beauty of the green English countryside but Spain has its wonders to share. I have only glanced down into the colorful kaleidoscope for a short while, but it made my head spin. Realizing the unknown will be exciting and there is a whole new palette of plants to explore and get excited about.

James McGrath - UntitledJames McGrath Flapper Girl

And as my pen dances across the paper quickly, I know where I am going, I am going forward into the unknown, excited,  and that is always the best way possible..


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