Archives for category: botanical

 

I have the tools, but not the patience (or, dare I say it?) time left to cultivate true bonsai. Maybe none of us has.  However I must concede that Jade Plant gives us the option of faking it because of the gnarled and easily manipulated trunks on even the youngest plants. Still, painting a bonsai takes less time and discipline. What’s more, any damage resulting from my less-than-green thumb is already done.

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For the last three years my work has been exclusively collage. Recently, though, I have focused more closely on my old love of landscape with the result that the collage aspect of those paintings has been limited to foreground grasses which do tend to add an element of depth and perspective by creating for the viewer the illusion that he o she is in close proximity to the image looking far into the distance.

Depending on the nature of the scene, however, and the size of the piece I am finding that adding plants is not a requirement to achieve the desired result. Hence my last three small works (the largest is 6″ x 6″)

While I have no intention of abandoning my work in collage, I did enjoy allowing the paintings to stand on their own.

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Until now I’ve mastered my resin-pouring skills on little wood panels ranging in size from 4″x4″ to 8″x8″ and I’ve learned a lot. Enough to brave a large 16″16 piece. Not exactly a piece of cake, but in the end it worked. For future pieces this size I may make life easier by using a larger squeegee tool than the playing cards I set out when I resin groups of smaller pieces. Maybe a deck of kid-sized Go Fish cards from the toy department will do the trick. Inexpensive sponge paintbrushes work well for smoothing out the drips on the sides of the panels in the first hour of drying. By then the resin has set enough to stay put during the rest of the cure time.

I made this background wash by dropping well-diluted acrylic paints into a thick wash of water. I allowed most of it to dry at it’s own rate but created some interest at the corners by blowing stronger colors toward the center with a drinking straw. I tried out a burst of dramatic papyrus but, in the end, settled on the smooth curves on nasturtium leaves which nestled naturally into pools of color. These washes are a test for my patience as I have learned that only slow unaided drying of pooled water yields the thin filaments of deep color that I love against the transparencies.

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The holiday art and craft show season is upon us and I am getting ready for four of them. On December 7 and 8 I’ll be at Briggs Nursery in North Attleboro Massachusetts. If you haven’t been to this fabulous venue you should make a day of it. It’s that good!

After that, on Sunday, December 14, I’ll be at the indoor Providence Flea whose founders have just been recognized among he best entrepeneurs of the year!
Meanwhile, I’m working on pieces for two season-long shows in Rhode Island. One is at Chapel View, Rhode Islands’s newest high-end gallery. The Chapel View complex is adjacent to Garden City in Cranston.
The second, Peckham’s Greenhouse Local Handmade Holiday Show, begins November 18 and runs through Christmas at Peckhams’s Greenhouse in Little Cranston, Rhode Island. features the work of some 20 Rhode Island and New England artists and artisans.

Once the season is over, I’ll be free turn my attention to new work for May. Meanwhile, hope to keep in touch through this blog and through my Etsy shop. Happy Holidays everyone!!

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This 12″ x 6″ resin-coated piece features several plants I’ve used before and one I haven’t — bald cedar. The long cedar leaf spans all three of the rectangles in the painting and ties the whole thing together, I think. Compositionally, it serves almost the same purpose as the garden asparagus I’ve used in some of my works on paper, but is sturdier and easier to deal with at the stage of adhering the plant to the support. Once the resin is poured, any leaf or part of a leaf that is not firmly attached to the wood panel tends to float to and through the surface–a problem that no amount of poking with a toothpick is likely to fix — so proper attachment is critically important.

When using white backgrounds, I don’t always leave the cradle sides white as well, but it works well in this case.

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This week I’m feeling confident in my resining techniques and comfortable with my full-sized propane torch, so I’m trying my hand at some larger pieces. This one measures 6″ x 12″. If that doesn’t sound large, try a few steps of the resin dance yourself and you’ll see it my way. The working window is only about 20 minutes from the first pour to removal of the last bubble and I work with up to six pieces at a time. Still, I’m on the march and have larger panels waiting in the wings.

For the real plants in the foreground, I chose a mix of weeds and garden plants — wild grass seed heads, a piece of Japanese maple, and a little leaf of curly coleus.

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This is  typical of scenes I pass by every day in and around my home town of Stonington, Connecticut. As summer goes into its third act, I wanted to spend some time celebrating the sea and the shore.  This little piece is just 4″ x  6″.   My next piece will be a night scene  looking across the Caribbean at the lights of villas and boats on a tiny island.  

I’ve been busy perfecting my technique applying resin, graduating to a full-sized propane torch for bursting the tiny bubbles that form in the mixed resin and need a little help rising to the surface. I started out using my husband’s little kitchen torch meant only for crisping creme brulee, but sadly, too much handling with sticky resin-covered gloves  quickly rendered it kaput.  The good news is that I have become sufficiently adept at applying resin that I can work on up to six pieces in a session. Considering all the prep for any given session, this is a real time-saver.

 

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Foam flowers or Heuchera, are fuzzy little white stems that don’t make themselves particularly useful for purposes of floral composition. The leaves of this hardy plant, on the other hand, still look three-dimensional even when pressed flat. I love the depth of color around the veining and I especially love the asymmetrical and somewhat tattered look of the outer edges. I added some abstract ‘framing’ to this one with touches of sap green, cobalt blue and gold and I popped on a couple of dew drops for fun. The edges are painted in the same colors and style and the whole 5×5 piece is coated in three layers of glossy resin.

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At the VIRTU Art Festival in Westerly, Rhode Island, last week, my little 4 x 4 landscape was the first to go so I felt emboldened to try my hand at an 8 x 8. The real botanicals in this piece are all in the immediate foreground. I used feathergrass against the white of the reflection in the water, added just the tip of a ginkgo leaf on the lower right, and a few individual sections of a Japanese maple leaf just for some added drama and color. As it turns out, feathergrass tends to lift a little on the first application of resin making it hard to reach a glass-like finish in less than three coats, so I had to wait a full 4 days to see the finished product. I think it was worth it though. Next in line for the resin bath is a farm scene in which I use only my ferns at the edges of a field.

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Yesterday was a perfect spring day in southern New England, so my husband and I paid a visit to our favorite garden center – The Farmer’s Daughter in South Kingston, Rhode Island. This collection of spiky papyrus, ruffled coleus, scented geranium and abutilon will spend the summer in a great planter on my deck and supply me with terrific foliage for my pressed botanicals. Meanwhile, in the garden, my ferns, miniature ivy, yellow archangel, and fringed bleeding heart have all come to life and are ready for a judicious harvest.

Meanwhile, work continues on my new project – pressed botanicals on acrylic backgrounds. For these I use wood panels as supports, and encase the finished work in two or three coats of two-part resin. This one features a single feathery Japanese maple leaf and awaits its second coat of resin. Out with the gas mask…

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