This painting “appeared” to the painter a year ago as she walked along Seattle’s Marion Street in the direction of 18th Ave., where the Immaculate Conception Church stood behind a screen created by the branches of an embracing cherry tree. The image brought to mind Camille Pissarro’s painting Les Toits Rouges, which can be seen in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. It is a painting made near Pontoise, France; a group of houses with brightly tiled roofs behind what the d’Orsay curator calls “densely intrusive vegetation.” Your local painter wanted to see if she could bring home some of the liveliness of Pissarro’s work. At the same time, she found herself intrigued by the Cezanne-like geometry of the neighborhood scene with its intricate web of diagonals and verticals.
Sadly, a recent inspection of the motif, just after Hallowe’en, revealed a fresh stump where the cherry tree once stood. It was marked by a plastic gravestone reading R.I.P. A plastic hand next to the “stone” reached up from the ground as if the personified tree had been buried alive.
Camille Pisarro, Les Toits Rouges, oil on canvas, 21 x 26 inches, 1877