Sharing the light of the plants out loud
I first met St. John’s Wort many ago on top of a mountain bald here called Max Patch. It is one of the loveliest places on earth. Being on Max Patch on a beautiful day makes me feel like my soul is shining out of me as brightly as the sun beats down on the mountains. It’s easy to feel the magic of life when you’re in such a place. I was there for a class with my teacher Daisy and some other wonderful folks in a flower essence course. At that time, St. John’s Wort grew rampant on the mountain top with little stands of yarrow and clover and a handful of other wildflowers amid the tall grasses.
Me and Amelia, my best pup, years ago on Max Patch
I started using St. John’s Worth in a muscle salve I often made. I was a massage therapist at the time and would get incredibly sore after a busy weekend working. The salve combined St. J for nerve pain and hops for muscle pain. It worked remarkably well! I bought the dried hops in bulk but I would gather the flowering tops of the St. John’s wort, let it dry for a few hours, then use a mortar and pestle to smoosh the buds and flowers and a few leaves. Doing so released their secret red juice that was hiding inside. After the plant has macerated in the oil for almost a month, the oil is transformed from the greenish tint of olive oil to a deep, luminous red. It looks like magic in a mason jar.
Reference photo taken in my garden.
A couple years ago, on a sunny day in my garden, I started to feel like St. John’s Wort wanted to be a part of my Plant Spirit Series. Started many years ago, it’s an ongoing project to paint the stories of people’s experiences with plants. Through my paintings, I visually tell stories of the magic and connection and healing that can come from working with flower essences, or simply cultivating a close relationship with a plant.
For several summers, St. John’s Wort grew in this little side garden, one of the few places we get full sun. This particular year, it was HUGE and taking up nearly half the garden bed.
Sitting with my patch of St. John’s Wort, an image started to formulate in my mind.
It was like the sunshine feeling of the plant was radiating out of me, helping to give a voice to the stories of the plants. A deep connection to nature bringing a complete sense of peace and joy, and it simply spilling out of me.
And that’s what I wanted to convey in the painting.
Finished oil painting, 18″ x 24″
Below are some process shots from the painting: