Grapes by the numbers

Brandi Malarkey, Artist.


38 pounds of grapes, 40 cups of grape juice, 75 jars of grape jelly, and one painting.

I’ve spent a chunk of my summer at the gardens maintained by the Northern Plains Botanic Garden Society. Aside from being a lovely and beautiful respite from daily life, there is an array of painting possibilities as well as ample opportunity to hunt bugs. If you haven’t had an opportunity to visit them, go check them out! It is completely worth the visit. And there are plans in place for it to be even more fabulous next year.

The gardens are geared toward attracting the wildlife–there are hummingbird gardens and butterfly gardens…and gardens for people. The gardens provide many pounds of food, most of which is delivered to the local food pantry each year. The living fence is covered with Concord grapes and I volunteered to turn them into jelly. Every year or so I get excited about canning something, and usually go overboard. Some years things take over the house and go on for weeks, and my husband threatens to move out. However, I wasn’t in charge of the picking, so it was limited to one batch. Also, my daughter was old enough to help, which makes it a teachable, bonding moment, rather than an insane endeavor. So there. Although I admit my daughter was less interested in learning, and more interested in using the potato masher with gleeful abandon, and working the “squisher”.


However, when sorting through the grapes there was one small bunch that cried out to be painted. I don’t know why that one was so special, out of all of them, but it was. So the last couple weeks have been spent immortalizing this small bunch of grapes.

Brandi Malarkey, Artist.
Vitis labrusca
Concord Grapes

Naturally, with a refrigerator full of painting fodder, I felt so moved to paint the smallest one that takes up the least amount of space. My family is terrified to snack for fear they will accidentally eat a “project” and feel the flaming edges of my wrath. Is it my fault that it is harvest season? It is not.

Though I admit that it is probably petty of me that I am pleased I can instill a (healthy) amount of fear.

Also, the scorpion is still living in my kitchen, by the toaster…and I am afraid I simply couldn’t resist:

One of these things is not like the other….

3 Responses

  1. Brandi,

    Once again I must say, you are a natural born writer. That should be your next endeaver! I love your sense of humor, I know you didn’t get that from me :). I also love your work, amazing the detail you capture!

  2. Dear Brandi,

    The painting of the grapes is beautiful. I think I can hear them calling “thank you Brandi for hearing our call to be immortalized by you”.

    The scorpion and jelly picture is priceless. Glad that Landra liked the process of jelly making!

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