Studies show that looking at pleasant imagery including nature’s blue sky, trees, flowers and plants can have a healing effect on the spirit. I have noticed that spending time in the garden always improves my mood.  Digging in the dirt, trimming, planting, watering, tending my garden can cure most ills for me.

I paint images of nature too.  Creating a painting of a landscape, a flowering cactus, bees flying through the air…all contribute to my well being, and studies show that even looking at a painting of nature can improve our spirits and help lighten the weight of difficult events.

One spring morning, I was hiking in O’Neill Park and I wandered over to a garden full of blooming native Matilija Poppies.  As I looked up at the six-foot-tall blossoms, I marveled as hundreds of bees worked to collect pollen from the field of poppies.  I returned again on several mornings and  photographed the bees from below as they came in for a landing, their legs loaded with pollen.

Drawing from these images became an obsession for me.  I began each painting with a quick watercolor sketch.  After the sketch dried, I used overlapping layers of pastel to capture the movement of the bees and the warm light glinting off the poppy.

Click the link below to see a fun, time-lapse video that shows how I finished my pastel painting titled Pollen Party.

–Elizabeth Wallace