Artist Rod Cook Finds Inspiration In His Own Back Yard
"One Red Canna Lily"
Artist Rod Cook and partner Charlie Browne, together 14 years this August, had a dream of owning a house at the beach. Charlie wanted a condo; Rod wanted a "Big House" with a yard to play in. Rod won! Two years ago, they built a house in Rehoboth. Now Charlie has a house to play in and Rod has a yard.
Unfortunately, Rod's yard was sand, so weekends have been spent hauling dirt, plants, fertilizer, and lots of waterand time and energy to turn this pile into a beautiful garden. Rod who is no slouch painting flowers and landscapes, has become preoccupied with a new intensity for painting gardens. It has become a spiritual thing, a growth thing, a view of energy and blessings, and the basis for his show at the Blue Moon in September.
The paintings in the show were done on location around the public and private gardens of Baltimore and northern Baltimore County. A group of artists with Rod in the lead traveled around to various spots in the Piedmont visiting Marianne's garden on Chilcoate lane, or the old house at the Corbett Mouse Farm, or the woods by Carolyn Murphy's studio. The local arboretum and conservatory were especially lush in the Fall of 98. The orange canna lilies at the Conservatory Gardens were tall new hybrids dramatic with bright flowers and purple leaves.
Painting the red canna lilies "en plein air" at the arboretum was a special treat. Such activities are an artistic tradition established in the 1800's. Artists began to paint the color and light of a particular moment. Sketches were done to document visual information with the goal of creating much larger paintings in the studio.
The still lifes in the show are a "picnic" diversion playing with flowers and patterns and children. A number of Rod's friends have energetic young children who just love to pretendand so does he. The children are another "Garden Delight" in a show which represents the past couple of years learning about plants and developing a garden with dirt and paint.
In the past ten years, Rod has had at least one, if not two, solo shows a year. In 1999, prior to the Blue Moon, he had a large exhibit at the Gordon Center for the Performing Arts in Owings Mills, MD. He has had a substantial career painting large wall murals in public and corporate spaces, and is well known for his complex urban landscapes in watercolor. Baltimore has long been his primary bread and butter subject.
Rod currently teaches drawing, painting, and design at Maryland Institute College of Art, Dundalk Community College, and Villa Julie College.
Rod is donating a painting to the SUNDANCE 99 Auction.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 9, No. 12, Aug. 27, 1999