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How do you know what to paint?

behind the scenes with My Friend the Maple Tree

First, I go on an Adventure

To paint something it helps me to know the something.  To get to know it I go on an adventure to visit what I want to paint.  Sometimes that adventure is walking through the park to see the flowers, ducks and toads.  But sometimes it's a bigger adventure.  To understand how maple syrup is made I went on an adventure to the Highland County Maple Festival here in Virginia where I live.  Virginia is the furthest south sugar maples grow and they make delicious maple syrup.  But over 70% of the worlds maple syrup comes from Quebec, Canada.  So of course I had to go visit Quebec as well!

Second, I create an imaginary world and paint a windows into it

I thought about everything I saw and did and build an imaginary world with a story.  Using my inspirational photos I built windows into that world so others can enjoy it as well.  Because it's my imaginary world I can bring anything I want together.  In the picture below the maple tree grows in Highland County Virginia, the squirrel lives in Mont Megantic provincial park in Quebec and the little house stands in Rigaud, Quebec.

inspiration photo - Red Maple

Male Flowers of the Red Maple tree. Some maples have only male flowers, some have only female, some have both male and female and some go back and forth!

male maple tree flowers

inspiration photo - Red Maple

Red Maple seeds exploding out of their buds

maple tree seeds growing

inspiration photo - Making maple syrup

The sugar water collected from Sugar Maples must be boiled down to make maple syrup.  40-100 gallons of the sugar water makes 1 gallon of syrup!

maple syrup boiling Virginia

inspiration photo - Red Maple 

Female flowers of the Red Maple in the studio

new maple tree seeds

inspiration photo - 'Cousin' Sugar Maple

The Red Maples 'cousin' makes a sugar water that is collected and turned into maple syrup.

sugar maple with buckets Virginia

Red Maple Painting

My favorite Red Maple tree at sunrise

maple tree sunrise watercolor painting Virginia artistJulia Marshel
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