APPLES HAVE INSPIRED countless artists over the centuries, attracted by their dazzling colors, interesting shapes, and iconic cultural status.
A web search for “images of apples in art” reveals hundreds of pictorial renditions of this worldly fruit, including several by such noted painters as Claude Monet (Apples and Grapes), and especially Paul Cézanne, for whom the apple held great fascination (Apples, Dish of Apples, Still Life with Apples and Pears, Still Life with Jar, Cup, and Apples, and Still Life with Apples and Oranges).
We present a few contemporary examples here.
“One morning in the early 1990s, I walked to my art table and saw a painting of a grove of eight apple tree silhouettes. It was almost an out-of-body reaction, hardly remembering that I had actually painted it the evening before. I began to recall how I had long been fascinated with the often-compelling sculptural forms of old apple trees, and how they can represent simultaneous decline and rebirth. It also came to me the religious and health symbolism that the apple represents.
“But why eight trees in evenly spaced orchard formation? It dawned on me that I had grown up with eight orchard trees planted on our Michigan mini-farm in 1940, the year I was born and also our house number on Lapeer Road. Subconsciously, it seems, I had replicated a vivid fulfilling memory.
“We had a cherry, peach, and pear tree along with five apples. Along with Baldwin, Red Delicious, and Yellow (Golden) Delicious, we had two Wealthy trees, an especially cold-hardy apple and my mother’s and my favorites.
“The high-contrast painting, dark with many infused colors, drew comment and encouraged me to experiment with the subject. I often added a red apple to the compositions despite the stark leafless form of the trees. It is now 30 years and perhaps 200 apple tree paintings later. They are all different and I return to the subject annually for commissions and re-experiencing the subject.
“These paintings purposely walk a tightrope between authentic reality and the symbolic. The apple tree paintings are not unlike Japanese woodblock prints in their sharp-lined starkness.
“They say an artist paints components he or she knows or has experienced, and/or is competent at, but only in a ‘new arrangement.’ Topics such as skies, trees, rocks, fields, and water come to mind. My topic is certain to include apple trees. I have even painted labels for cider bottles and similar.
“My deep exploration of this theme is the discovery that there is always so much more to learn in a subject you have explored and have become familiar with. It proves so far to be a good way to learn!
“The other way is of course to try some new subject. Having started something new every 10 years, I picked up the watercolor brush at age 50 in 1990. It was choral singing in year 2000. Apple trees came early in my painting career and they continue as a worthy subject.”
HOME PAGE IMAGE: ABANDONED ORCHARD, Walter Cudnohufsky watercolor on paper, 15×22 (22×28 framed)
To view more of Walter Cudnohufsky’s work, visit cudnohufsky.com
“Growing up, we purchased a large old house which left behind several surprises for us, the most exciting being a large professional wooden pool table deep in the cavernous basement. The most elegant part of it for me was not just the deep emerald green woolen felt surface, but the aged, heavy, wooden, colorful pool balls. I don’t remember that we ever really learned the rules of the game. For me the most exciting part was watching the glossy oil-painted spheres of color splashing and clacking about the surface.
“Years ago, when I retired and began painting full-time, I found the same beauty in a spilled-over bag of green and yellow and red apples. I became obsessed with painting them. I viewed them not just as fruit on a linen tablecloth, but as landscape.
“The shadows intrigued me endlessly and I have painted various assortments over and over again. Yes, our mother took us to Harvard orchards when we were little, and yes, we practiced biting the apples while they were still attached to the trees. Fantastic!
“The shape and color and the fact that apples roll like the vintage pool balls on the table in that basement — not to mention the taste of my favorite apple, Honeycrisp — who could ask for a more?
To view more of Nancy Meagher’s work, visit nancymeagherart.com
RUSSELL STEVEN AND SALLY POWELL
“Apples and cider practically flow in my veins. Both of my grandfathers grew apples in Brookfield, Massachusetts, where I grew up, and my great-grandfather owned an orchard in Ghent, New York. Twenty-five years ago, I stumbled into a part-time job with the New England Apple Association, and I have been writing about, photographing, and producing educational videos about apples and orchards ever since.
“Painting is another way to translate something of the essence of this beautiful, complex, ever-evolving fruit.
“My mother, Sally Powell, 98, grew up among apples on Elm Hill Farm in Brookfield, and went on to a career teaching art. Now 98, she painted these watercolors about eight years ago, at age 90.”
To view more of Russell Steven Powell’s work, visit russellpowell.net
Al Lachman is nationally renowned for his colorful paintings of American barns and landscapes. He lives and owns a gallery in New Hope, Pennsylvania, and he frequently teaches in New England. Russell Powell has studied with him, and Al was kind enough to share this painting upon learning of this post.
To view more of Al Lachman’s work, visit allachman.com
ART IN THE ORCHARD
The orchard can be a beautiful setting for sculpture, too. Art in the Orchard is a biennial installation of sculptures nestled in among the apple trees and gardens at Park Hill Orchard in Easthampton, Massachusetts, with a gorgeous backdrop of the Holyoke Range. The artwork ranges from large to small, realist to abstract, serious to whimsical, reflecting materials as diverse as the artists’ interpretations. It is an innovative way to heighten the already powerful sensory experience of the orchard, combining food for the body with food for the soul.
Entry information for the 2021 Art in the Orchard is here.