I first became interested in Mediterranean agriculture when my older son, Steve, joined the Peace Corps and was sent to a small village in the Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco. When my husband and I visited him there, I was struck by how similar the landscape was to the landscape of northern California-hillsides studded with oak and olive trees, wet winters, wildflowers in spring, dry summers with brown grasses. I was amazed by the sheer number of crops common to Morocco and California: olives, wheat, almonds, figs, wine grapes, citrus, apricots, artichokes, peaches, prickly pear, persimmons, and pomegranates, to name a few.
I'm equally fascinated by the differences in agricultural practices. Farmers in California plant crops in uniform rows and keep the ground free of weeds. Moroccan farmers jumble date palms, almonds, olives, and pomegranates together into the same watering basin. The availability of water, machinery, and labor, the quality of the soil, the geography, the size of plots, and the farmer's production goals-all affect his or her farming methods. In this series of paintings, I reflect on the richness of Mediterranean agriculture and on each region's unique relationship to the land and its resources.
I paint in dabs of red, yellow, and blue, akin to the technique of the Impressionists. Using dabs of bright, pure color is the best way I know to capture the brilliant sunlight of these hot summer regions. This palette might seem confining, but it is in fact freeing. The limited palette forces me to consider more fully the quality of light and the range of colors of the scene. And it encourages experimentation. I am constantly learning new things about the nature of color and of art.
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