Portrait of Garlic Greens

An odd project sprouts

Line art by the author. The flat ends of leaves are where I snipped off a taste.

One afternoon, I reached into my spice cupboard to find that one clove in the bulb of garlic I’d forgotten had grown a bright green sprout.

I planted it to grow as microgreens. According to a friend who knows these things, the correct way to plant it is actually to separate all the cloves and put them in a dish of water. Even with my inexpert planting in soil, each clove shot up a shoot, just like the first. I nibbled off the flavorful tips.

For several days, I had been prowling the house, ambushing each houseplant for a portrait. As well as the occasional outdoor plant or vegetable. It was an art challenge I’d set myself.

I call them ‘portraits’ because I was determined that the plants be represented in detail, as a subject. They would not be simplified into an artful tangle of foliage, as one does in landscape painting. I would draw every leaf and branch.

The garlic plant featured late in the challenge because it had more leaves than some others. I waited for a day when I had time to do them all justice.

At first, capturing all the detail seemed insurmountable. The leaves passed behind each other, casting sharp shadows from the afternoon glare from the window.

From doing these drawings a few days in a row, I knew that sense of impossible complexity would pass. I just had to pick a leaf and go from there, and remind myself that this had worked last time.

Even shapes that look too difficult to draw can be tackled, one nibble at a time.

Here’s my worksheet resource for having a deeply creative work session!

Originally appeared in Weeds & Wildflowers

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