Sea Rocket grows in the sand at the transition between land and sea. The seedpods are made of two parts which easily separate. One section lands in the sand or gets carried away on the wind. The other section is buoyant. It’s made for the ocean, where it can remain viable for weeks in the water. Eventually it lands on shore to start a new colony of plants. What an ingenious way to thrive while living on the edge. Having two options for success insures its future. The point of transition is where the magic happens, yet it can be hard being between things, letting go of the old and moving into the unknown. You must be tough and resilient yet tender, flexible and open. There is a lot to learn from Sea Rocket about transitions!
Last October I completed an artist residency at Sou’wester Arts in Seaside, Oregon with my friend Kim Dawson. We each focused on our own projects. Kim worked on a book and I painted. We stayed in a vintage travel trailer. Ours was the Imperial Spartan complete with a kitchen, living room, bunk beds and a tiny bedroom, (everything was small!) It was in a lovely setting among the trees with a short walk to the windy, gorgeous, Washington coast. Thanks to the Sou’wester for offering residencies to artists. It was a great way to escape everyday life and focus on making art and the contemplation that goes with it.
I created an acrylic painting of the Sea Rocket plant that I had discovered on the beach. I visited it multiple times on the sand where I sat and listened. I brought a piece back to the trailer for reference, and I did my best to express how it feels. I brought my easel outside one of the days, but most of the time it was raining and cold so I set up inside to paint with warm tea and the companionship of Kim, who was quietly working away on her own project. The rain was terrific to hear inside the cozy trailer, loud on our metal roof!
While studying and painting this miraculous plant, I learned that there are two varieties: the North American native plant, Cakile edentula, aka American Sea Rocket, and the European Sea Rocket, Cakile maritima. The European variety was likely brought over accidentally on a ship, and you can see how it could easily make its way here. I also realized that I was unintentionally painting both varieties in one painting, so I made some adjustments to turn my painting into a study of the European variety. Sea Rocket has fleshy succulent leaves which conserve water and a deep taproot which helps establish it in sand. This edible plant is in the mustard family, Brassicaceae. It tastes spicy and tangy.
Transitions I contemplated while painting: sea to land, summer to fall, flower to seed, day to night, earth to sky, personal growth, and hope that humanity is transitioning back to being centered around nature.
Having 5 nights and days to focus on art work away from normal life was a great experience. I added finishing touches to the painting at home in my studio.
Learn more about Kim and the amazing mentor/coaching/spiritual work she does at Revolution Business & Life Design.