Friday, May 28, 2010

The Art of growing those Jersey Tomatoes.

I had lots of reasons to head down to South Jersey, yesterday.
Some business to do, and of course, see my Dad, and since it was
such an absolutely gorgeous day, how could I not go painting?!

Because of my roots, I'm always fascinated by the many farms, and the varied ways
they spread themselves across the horizon.Wonderful piles of architecture, complimented
by nature's curvilinear shapes. And when it comes to painting, first of all; it's all about the
shapes, no matter what the subject, as far as I am concerned.

Well, actually, if you're painting on-site, first of all the Muse insists the Artist
follows rule number one: "Find a shady spot." 

Then the Artist and the Muse wrestle with the paints and water and paper for about
an hour and a half, and if something acceptable to both results from all that struggle,
VIOLA'!...A painting!  (Sold to a collector.)

When I was finished I packed up my gear and drove the 15 miles or so further South to have
breakfast with my Dad; my weekly overload of calories and cholesterol.

As always at this warm time of the year, the subject of good old South Jersey
tomatoes usually comes up.We bemoan the passing (when and how?) of those
BIG, MEATY, oh so DELICIOUS tomatoes Dad, and so many of our farmer
friends, used to grow by the ka-zillions. For the past two years Pop has overseen
my planting of about two dozen tomatoes amidst the bricks in his patio.

Happily, about 3 miles away from my Dad's house, on the appropriately named
Garden Road, there is a wonderful vegetable and flower center, owned by very
pious members of a nearby Amish community.

And TA-TAA! Behold the beautiful, big, heavy, and DEEEELICIOUS hydroponic tomatoes they grow,
almost mimicking the beauties recalled from my youth. Gimmee two floppy slices of Wonder Bread,
slathered with mayo, and some slices of onion on slabs of tomatoes, sprinkled with
salt and pepper...and...HEAVEN! (O.K., I'll repent and  pass on the Wonder Bread.)

And amidst all the other overflowing but orderly bins of veggies, there are amazingly big, lush,
and sweetly juicy South Jersey Strawberries, the taste of which has not changed, over the years.

Loaded with my stockpile of freshly grown goodies, I finally headed back to Bala Cynwyd.
But of course, as the sun headed toward the horizon, and shadows lengthened, I once again
found myself seduced by the warm light illuminating all those passing "farm shapes."
So I went about 10 miles off my normal direct route, back to the site from early morning.
One more water color, adding to the fruits of the day.
(Each painting is approx. 9 X 12", $110.00.)


  1. You know Bill, this is odd but I think we have those tomatoes up here!
    When I took the Master Gardner Class a few years ago, I discovered that the U of Maine Farm/Garden Co-op extension sends their students to S Jersey to apprentice. There is quite a push to save heirloom seeds up here.
    I am busy growing hand made paper instead of tomatoes this year! However due to the galloping increase in small organic farms up here, I can buy my fresh, home grown, veggies!

  2. Pat my dear longtime friend;
    always such a pleasure to hear from you. I'll be coming to your neck of the (Maine) woods,
    sometime in June, for sure!
    I'll call you.
    The tomatoes shown are truly amaaaaazing.