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The Dogwood Tree

The Dogwood Tree

We moved to this condo as spring faded into summer. We chose this as our new home after much searching and we opted for it over newer or more modern homes because of its location and view.

The building is 1970’s vintage and in need of some work, but it is set in a city oasis, a 50-acre parklike development with mature trees, shrubbery and flower beds. Our living area’s eight-foot sliding glass doors open onto a canopied deck overlooking a treed lawn and a lake with resident ducks.

Close to the deck, a dogwood was near the end of its bloom when we moved in, the ground beneath it scattered with spent blossoms, its branches transitioning to summer’s dark green leaves. As summer progressed, the tree produced red berries that attracted squirrels and its leaves began taking on a red hue as well. From autumn through November many of the leaves remained, their color transitioning from scarlet and chili red to carmine and maroon, still with flecks of green. As winter progressed, the remaining leaves became darker still, in shades of mahogany or rich sangria, sometimes spotted with grey or black until they all eventually fell.

I fully appreciate summer’s greenery (as I do my adolescence), but I am drawn to the more interesting autumn leaves, intrigued by the colors and patterns they develop in age. Perhaps we humans are like them, changing, developing, finding new pieces of ourselves as time passes. The dogwood is now bare, but its branches arch upward bearing the buds that will bring bloom and new leaves in spring.


As an artist, I find that I am also a collector of leaves. Below are some from this season passed, including two from the dogwood. When I look at the nuances of shape and color in a single leaf, I wonder why we bother creating art at all. Nature so outrageously out does us!

Beach 14

Beach 13


Beach 13 – Acrylic on Canvas – 20″ x 20″

This painting is the 13th in a series inspired by natural patterns observed on an ocean beach.

I am interesting in the space where water and sand meet. The movement of waves, the lines of retreating water, the deposits of sea foam soften that border, making the line between sea and sand unfixed and fluid. I used sand & earth colors of sienna, ochre, and grey, employing a number of thin color washes, with lines and dots applied with an acrylic loaded pen.

Janet Whittle Freedman

Beach Dawn


Beach Dawn – Acrylic on Canvas – 32″ x 44″


The night is slowly sliding away. The first hint of light appears on the barely distinguished horizon where dark sea meets sky. Stars, recently brilliant, fade slowly from sight as morning approaches the beach. Sand and water ebb and merge in changing pattern. I love the beach at early morning, yet I wonder what movement and beauty goes unseen in the deeper darkness of the ocean.


This painting measures 32″ x 44″ and is done with acrylic paints on canvas, utilizing molding paste imprinted with pattern, glazes, alcohol washes and drawn lines and shapes applied with an acrylic loaded pen.

Janet Whittle Freedman

Beach 10


Beach 10 – Acrylic on Canvas – 11″ x 14″

This painting is the 10th in a series inspired by natural patterns observed on an ocean beach.


I continue to be intrigued by the lines seen on a beach, especially the lines and edging left by the surf and retreating waves.


The work began with translucent washes of color in the tones of wet sand. Texture was added by impressing patterns into subsequent heavier coats of acrylic medium and also by drawing lines with a pen loaded with liquid acrylic paint to indicate the retreating threads of the surf’s froth.

Janet Whittle Freedman

Beach 8


Beach 8 – Acrylic on Canvas –8” x 8”

This painting is 8th in a series inspired by natural patterns observed on an ocean beach.


Nature continues to inspire me with the beauty found in small things. Again I have focused on the nearly embroidered or lacelike effect of sea foam deposited on the beach by the receding waves. This particular spot had a great deal of interesting shapes spread out on the wet sand.


The surface was stained with a rich brown. I then built up an additional undercoat of acrylic medium into which I imprinted and drew pattern. Further pattern came from cloth imprints in the initial glaze. Once the area was dry, I glazed it again with translucent zinc white, and accentuated the lines and pattern with additional applications of titanium white.

Janet Whittle Freedman

Beach Poems 1 & 2

Beach poem 1

cobalt sky
green-blue water
surf beating a
tan grey shore of
shell mosaics
salt smell

Beach poem 2

fat women, skinny men with
red chests
fat men and women with
high protruding bellies
stagger in the deep dry sand
carrying umbrellas, chairs and coolers

the slim bikinied young pass by
in their perfection and children
mindful only of fun
build castles in wet sand and
frolic near the pounding surf

people of all sizes
pedal bikes
chasing health
in their weekend recess
the dolphins swim by unnoticed

Beach 7


Beach 7 – Acrylic on Canvas –8” x 8”

This painting is 7th in a series of observations of pattern and color variations while walking a deserted stretch of beach.


The sand was two-toned — grey and mucky, almost claylike alongside a more golden grainy sand. I was especially interested in the faint patterns left by beach foam in the wet gray areas and the small fragments of shell and flotsam deposited there.


The patterning was achieved by imprinting and carving into an undercoat of acrylic medium. Thin washes of color were applied at different stages so that they would settle into the impressions left once the medium had dried. Additional paint was applied with both brush and dropper.

Janet Whittle Freedman

Beach 6


Beach 6 – Acrylic on Canvas –8” x 8”

This painting is 6th in a series inspired by natural patterns observed on an ocean beach.


I was walking a nearly deserted beach late in the season and was intrigued by a series of lines and furrows in the wet sand and wondered about their source. The lines were generally bulging but etched or inverted in others as though some small mollusk or wriggling insect were tunneling in a wavering pattern just below the surface.


The lines in the painting were formed with acrylic medium which I coaxed into shape with cotton swabs, and the painting employs a number of additional techniques including acrylic glazes, alcohol resist and liquid paints applied with brush and dropper.

Janet Whittle Freedman

Beach 5


Beach 5 – Acrylic on Canvas – 12” x 12”

This painting is 5th in a series inspired by natural patterns observed on an ocean beach.


The lacelike sea foam patterns left on the beach by waves long returned to the sea. These rows were each of varying pattern, illustrating for me the wonder apparent in the endless variety of nature.


I used a mixture of partially dried acrylic paint and gloss medium to carve and form the lacelike patterns. I used several thin color glazes applied with a brush and small dashes of foam and shell were applied in droplets.

Janet Whittle Freedman