Capturing Bud Break On Canvas

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The idea of capturing the first growth of the vintage on canvas and leading others through the plein air creative process was a direct hit to all of my passions.

One March afternoon, I met with winemaker Karen Steinwachs at Buttonwood Farm Winery & Vineyard. We talked about the entire process from bud-break to harvest and which parts of the vineyard would be best for this project. I found myself enlightened and it provided a unique foundation for this holistic artistic experience. I felt so lucky and excited to be a part of this project to bring art and viticulture together.

vineyard paintingIt was an interesting process—getting an up close look at the vine. Before I went to walk through the vineyard with Karen I was afraid that the near dormant vines would be a less-than-interesting subject matter. I kept thinking, “this will end up looking like a dirty brown mess.”

At closer examination, I realized the twisting, crumbly, peeling bark is a myriad of black, brown, white and those little buds are practically fluorescent green. Getting the buds to become the focal point faded away as a concern. It actually helped make my decision to limit my palette for both the background and the vines themselves so that the buds would pop.

This project really led me to recognize just how little I knew about the viticulture process—the “behind the scenes” if you will, of wine. Considering how often I enjoy wine and how close I actually live to vineyards—it was sort of sad to realize how disconnected I was from the agricultural aspect of this truly sacred fruit.

painting in the vineyardIt was also a terrifically fun process to witness 18 other participants make this same discovery. The class I taught focused on capturing bud-break way up on the top of Buttonwood Vineyard, while Karen described the stages of vine growth. We nestled right up against the vines with small canvases to capture the tiny green buds on the craggy branches. Brambles, wind, chirping birds and smells of dirt and dried grass accompanied us as everyone produced an iteration of the beginning of great wine for 2015.

I can’t wait for the next installment in our journey.