Gettin’ figgy with it.


What a difference having permission to quit can make.

In preparation for my large mystery project, I have been trying to clear the decks of lots of miscellaneous small projects that were clogging up both physical and brain space. The idea being to finish them all up. However, it suddenly occurred to me that since they were MY projects, no one was making me do them but ME. And that meant I could choose not to do them.

*blink* *blink*

What can I say? I am slow.

So I gave up on many of the remaining things I had on my plate. Put them away, crossed them off the list, and prepared to start fresh.


About two years ago I was wandering through the produce section of a Minneapolis grocery store when I came across little cartons of black figs. I had never seen a black fig before. To be honest, I don’t think I have ever seen a fresh fig of any kind before. The only exposure I have had to figs previously being Fig Newtons and dried figs that I use in this fig bread recipe (which my darling spouse sneers at, but then eats anyway! I am pretty sure there should be a rule that states that if you sneer at it, and it is something I ADORE, that you are NOT ALLOWED TO EAT IT. Either sneer and leave it be, or admit you like it and take part. But do not sneer and eat it anyway. Hrmph.)

But I digress.

Point being I got very excited by all the rich colors. Such pretty blue and purple and red and gold. So happy!

So of course I bought them and took many a picture and then didn’t get around to doing anything with them. Recently I dug out the old photos and tried to make myself paint them. They are tricky, because they have so much bloom on them, and I have never painted anything with bloom on them other than a few test blueberries for practice. Which means, of course, that I got it all drawn up and then promptly began avoiding it. I even called in a crew of my friends to help keep me accountable. Still avoided it. Then, I gave myself permission to just give it up, along with everything else, and guess what? Suddenly I wanted to do it, and I got started.

Then, naturally, I hit the “ugly” stage of all botanical paintings where you are pretty sure it is going to be terrible (a legitimate stage in the process. It’s not just me), and I didn’t want to do it anymore.

So I avoided it for another 24 hours until I told myself that even though I had already started it, I could still stop. I didn’t have to do this.

Once I gave myself permission to quit, I realized “but I want to do this”. So I did. In pretty short order. So, much to my own surprise, I present my “Black Figs”.

Ficus carica “Mission”
Black Figs
14″ x 6.5″

It has all sorts of issues, which I can point out in great detail. I am not a delicate painter. I am far too impatient. HOWEVER, for the very first time of tackling something like this, I am so proud of myself. For giving myself permission to not do it, for acknowledging that I wanted to do it, and for trying something new and difficult.

It is always fascinating to watch the stages it goes through. It really isn’t surprising that I struggle to believe it will turn out when it mostly looks like a sloppy mess for most of the process:

Black Figs by Brandi Malarkey.
Ficus carica ‘Mission’ Black Figs Watercolor 14 x 6.5

Close up images:

Then, because I got excited, I entered them into the American Society of Botanical Artists 3rd Annual A Banner Year Exhibition contest with no expectation that anything would come of it. Winners get their art displayed prominently on the banner on the main page. I didn’t win, but! I was a runner up, so my figs will be displayed on the website, just not on the main banner. SO EXCITING! Hope you enjoy them, too!

Not sure when you will hear from me next. This year’s theme is “no promises!” 🙂

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