New Jersey’s winter is cold and long. Trees are bare and wind is bitter. The splendid fall is long gone when the blooming spring is nowhere. Everything seems deadly pale. Yet, a quiet and invisible force is growing. The force is carried out by tiny buds. They are the hope for spring, the creation of the new.
After the snowfall of March 2, 2019, I visited the Princeton University campus to photograph the snow scene. The Winter Jasmine bushes along the Washington Road caught my eyes. I walked down the path along the half-a-mile-long bushes to have a closer look at them before they turn magnificent yellow when spring comes. Yes, though buried in the dreary surroundings, the buds were astonishingly lively. The tiny red tips were irresistibly pointing forward.
So much energy! I wanted to paint them out!
I created several versions of Winter Jasmine Budding soon afterwards. I particularly like the one shown here. The branches are old and unwieldy, standing out and open to the world. The buds are strong and full, eager to thrive. The cursive lines in the background bring a whirl of imagination beyond the visual boundary.
I like to look at buds because they transcend a sense of new life and growth. I even have a seal called “new bud”. Often times when I create a new style of painting, I would use this seal. Here, it is on the bottom right corner.
More special is that bud’s Chinese pronunciation is the same as that of my grandmother’s last name “Lei”. My grandparents lived in Suzhou China for many years and my mother grew up in Suzhou. During those years, my grandfather painted many Chinese brush paintings and taught my mother calligraphy. Sadly, all of the artworks from my family were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.
Suzhou is a special place in my heart.