Monday, March 30, 2020

The Shamrock Plant



In my shop you can find my latest art print of the lovely Shamrock. It is the symbol of Ireland and Saint Patrick and associated botanically with two types of plants, Trifolium and Oxalis. It’s not clear which one of the two is the true shamrock but many species of each grow as wild weeds in the woods and open fields in many parts of the world and some are cultivated as house or garden plants. The Oxalis Pes Caprae or Cape Sorrel depicted in the art here, is native to South Africa and is often considered an invasive weed in North America and Europe. However like many weeds, the benefits of the Oxalis Pes Caprae are underestimated. It is ecologically beneficial to bees and butterflies that collect pollen from it’s little yellow flowers which appear when plant matures. It’s underground root bulb is also a popular food source for wildlife and as a ground cover in natural open spaces, it helps prevent soil erosion.

I discovered this Oxalis in my garden recently and I love the delicate heart-shaped leaves and how they overlap in different sizes as they grow facing upward. They seem ordinary and insignificant but yet up close they are truly charming. When I see them sprouting every spring, I gently pull out the ones I don’t want leaving some on the side for the pollinators to enjoy.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Winter Gratitude

The winter landscape around me changes every day, sometimes several times a day. The bare and solemn trees stand like quiet statues on a clear day creating lace-like shadows on the sparkling snow as the bright sunlight moves across the vivid blue sky. And then with a sudden wind, the snow covered ground and sky turn a numbing grey and the dark tree trunks with their delicate branches sway like like giant feathers as the the wind howls through them announcing the storm that is on it's way. We all respond to different weather in our own personal way, just like the trees.

February has ended and a frosty first day of March is here. I am enjoying looking outside from indoors because it’s too cold out there and the bright sun reflecting off the snow illuminates our home with sunshine which is quite invigorating - why go outside with all this beautiful sunshine inside?  I am grateful that I don’t have to go outdoors daily during cold and stormy winters anymore because I work at home. But I did endure many winters going to work five days a week when I was younger, with a family to raise and many responsibilities. For the most part, except when it was dangerous to drive or when we experienced long power outages, I didn’t mind winter because it was a familiar part of my heritage growing up in Montreal and I always loved the continuously changing beauty of the winter landscape. Snowy cold days for me were always quietly contemplative even in the traffic.

After many years, I realized that talking about what we hate and love about the winter weather is an experience we share with everyone we know who lives here in Canada. It’s a common social thread that has united us for ages, long before social media ever existed. I am personally grateful for winter. It reminds me of my childhood neighborhood and school. As an adult, I feel it forces us to quiet our minds especially in January and February and hopefully rest. Winter is uniquely beautiful in many ways but it also challenges us to cultivate endurance and self-reflection whether we are enjoying it or despising it.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Growing Moments


As I move forward into 2020, I look back at this past year and the new challenges I said yes to in my work life that have helped me feel more optimistic than I have in quite a while. I did a lot of thinking but a lot of doing as well, and both were mostly behind the scenes. I only completed twenty leaves for my 100 Leaf sketch project but that's alright because they are twenty more than I had before. I think they were my baby steps to the next level of self-awareness about creativity and making art and how I want to make it and that was a very important milestone for me. Before making the sketches, I researched, observed and photographed trees and tree leaves and other plants. In the process I learned so much more about botany, tree symbolism and the ecological and medicinal benefits of trees and plants. You can follow my progress with this project on my Instagram page - FILARIO Instagram

The other challenge was, the Take the Leap/Legacy Journey workshop I took with Sonia Di Maulo this past spring. This experience helped me to really reflect on my deepest feelings about my life and my work, past and present, define what is most important and meaningful to me at this stage in my life and what my aspirations are for the future.

After a lot of reflecting, a lot of writing and re-writing, these challenges have led me to re-define a more simplified and specific direction that feels purposeful - to create illustrations of plants, primarily leaves, that celebrate their intricate beauty and design as well as their cultural, ecological and medicinal importance. Gradually I would also like to explore the life cycles of plants and trees as well as culinary topics in my illustrations. It's a concept that has been looming in the back of my mind for many years and I have attempted to begin several times but I wasn't ready. Now, as I continue making leaf sketches, I will also be creating more developed artwork in colored pencil + digital lines for my Etsy shop, FILARIO and we'll see where this journey takes me!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Olive Tree Branch


This past fall, I have been busy completing my next botanical artwork, The Olive Tree Branch.
The ancient and sacred olive tree (olea europea) has always been an important gift to humanity. I have always been impressed by it's beauty, it's history and it's cultural and economic importance. I have had the privilege of being able to see these magnificent trees up close on my visits to Greece as they magically shimmer in the sunshine when the summer breeze rustles their leaves.

My inspiration for drawing the olive branch came from visiting two different museums in Greece. The first was an artifact I saw at the Heraklion Archeological Museum in Crete in 2016 - a reconstructed fresco of an olive branch from the Minoan civilization. I have always admired the minimalist style of Minoan art for it's simplicity but also for its functional and decorative design application which is elegant and sophisticated. The second museum, a very new and modern museum, The Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil in the city of Sparta Greece in 2017 has a beautiful display both indoors and outdoors with a lovely collection of art portraying olives and olive trees and an impressive historical exhibition showcasing equipment, tools and vessels used for the cultivation of olives, olive oil and olive soap from antiquity to modern times of the 20th century.

Heraklion Archeological Museum - Crete



Museum of the Olive and Greek Olive Oil - Sparta, Greece


In my creative process, I explored the anatomy and structure of the olive tree while photographing it's branches and drawing it's leaves from observation on location and from sketches I made in my home studio. The leaves can be large or quite small depending on the tree species and the shapes of the leaves can vary. The underside of the leaf is much lighter than the top which makes this tree uniquely beautiful. Using colored pencil textures and digital lines I created 3 different leaf shapes which I adjusted in length and width throughout the branch for a natural composition.

Archival art prints of The Olive Tree Branch are now available in my Etsy shop at filario.etsy.com






Thursday, May 2, 2019

Room to Grow



Spring is late but it is here! Feeling it’s energy for things that are about to blossom. Last week, my client, collaborator and friend Sonia Di Maulo provided me with a space to exhibit my botanical art prints in the room where she presents her workshop "Take the Leap, Grow into your Legacy"
She is helping me to grow my art business, and I am deeply grateful


Sometimes certain people appear in your life out of nowhere and they end up staying for a while because you were both looking for each other for important reasons. When Sonia asked me to illustrate her story, The Apple in the Orchard several years ago, this collaboration resulted into a gift of enormous growth between the two of us, and as individuals. This major book project led to many other creative projects we collaborated on, but it also led us to a relationship of trust and loyalty and to friendship. This spring, Sonia is offering a workshop with two important elements as a foundation: her story about a brave apple’s journey and her model of growth showing the different stages we must go through to achieve our legacy. I participated in this workshop and it is another gift of growth, but this time it is shared with many new and wonderful people I've never met who are on their own journeys! We are all searching for and discovering aspects of ourselves that we’ve either lost or never found in order to find meaning in what we are going through now, or in our lives as a whole. These discoveries will help us define what is most important to us so that we may live a life that is important, a life that we want people to remember us by. Sonia is helping us find these parts of ourselves, she is helping us listen to the whispers. We are also making connections with each other that will perhaps lead to even more relationships of trust, collaboration, loyalty and friendship. I am so glad and grateful to be part of this workshop and to be able to show my work and tell people about my botanical art projects. You can find out more about this workshop and more at www.soniadimaulo.com