Archives for category: Gardening

Whenever I return from a vacation, I feel eager to start a fresh panel. ( I don’t use canvas)  We just returned from our fourth trip to Martinique and I was so psyched I finished this little 8 x 10 in a single day.  Well, that’s a little bit of a fudge. I don’t count blocking out basic shapes and toning the panel but the truth is that is usually just a half hour task, as important as it is.  Painting directly into white makes the job too hard.  This will be my 4th painting of Martinique but my first in 2018.

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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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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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As winter sets in, I’m going back and forth between creating new graphics for my sizeable harvest of ivy, ginkgo, and dozens of other plants, and using those same leaves as inspiration for a new series of acrylic paintings that mirrors my pressed botanical compositions. I love the freedom of choosing color schemes and degree of detail in the paintngs. I’ll bring about ten of them to the Velvet Mill in Stonington on December 28 and January 4th. Hope to see some familiar faces there. Others will pop up on Etsy soon or on request.

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With nearly 30 original pieces now on display at the Yellow House in Stonington Borough, the pressure is on to make some work for my next commitment in Providence on November 17. The first ginko of the year is ready to go with lots more in the wings so I worked on this combination in muted tones and added just a bit of pastel to highlight the lovely natural ribbing in the ginko leaf.

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Lots of people ask me questions about how I protect the color of my leaves.

The first thing I point out is that many of the leaves I used in my botanicals have already changed colors by the time the pressing process is complete. Still more, like the andromeda in the example above are harvested at various times during the season specifically to achieve variety within my collection from a single plant.

While many leaves stay close to their harvested colors during the drying process, others do not. Chartreuse sweet potato vine, for example dries to a chocolate brown with clearly visible darker brown veining. Scented geranium dries to a variety of shades from light tan to dark taupe. My first principle,then, is to embrace these changes.

Still, some plants are more likely to continue to change after mounting than others. While such changes do not detract from the beauty of the compositions in my mind, I still take steps to preserve my original colors. First, after mounting leaves on my graphics, I paint them with a specialized dried material preservative that includes UVA and UVB protenction. Next, I spray each finished composition with an acrylic finish before matting and framing. This also contains a layer of UV protection and prevents fading of the botanicals as well as the underlying graphics.

These steps, along with the use of acid-free papers, adhesives, and matting ensures that the compositions retain their beauty for many years.

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Now that the outdoor artisan’s, markets have closed for the season, I’m turning my attention to replenishing my inventory and showing my work in more traditional ways. First will be the popular Yellow House coffee shop and restaurant in my home town of Stonington, Connecticut. I’ll be showing there throughout November. For anyone unfamiliar with our little village, it is a perfect place to spend an autumn afternoon with a stroll along Water Street past the shops and restaurants and down to DuBois Beach at the Point. The water views are almost 360 there and there is plenty to keep you busy. The Yellow house has been a favorite of ours for breakfast and lunch since my grownup kids were little. Gargain hunters with discerning tastes shouldn’t miss FUN! It’s filled with little luxuries you never knew were such necessities!

While we haven’t had a killing frost yet in Stonington, the growing season is definitely over. As always, I missed a few harvesting opportunities, but took in a very good supply of ferns, ivies, ginko, sweet potato vine and grasses. I’ll be spending next week managing my hydrangeas and gearing up for a few holiday shows including the November 17th version of the upscale Providence Flea which has just moved indoors.

Winter will also give me a chance to return to brush and canvas — this time to compliment my real botanicals. Can’t wait to get started in earnest!

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I am keenly aware of the change of seasons as they impact my garden. Lately I have been keeping an eagle eye out for changes in my plants. Some mean that I must harvest or lose. Others mean that if I stay vigilant, I’ll have the opportunity to harvest fresh leaves in a color they only display for a few weeks each year. Nasturtiums come quickly to mind — especially since I love to use them as suns and moons and many of them turn brilliantly yellow before they begin to wilt from the cold.

I made these two small pieces to celebrate autumn. The quote by Camus is one I love not only because of what it says about fall, but also because it expresses my belief about the sometimes forgotten parts of flowering plants. Although I do occasionally use flowers in my work, my primary medium is foliage.

The second piece rounds out the series of landscapes I have built over the last few months. This one is meant to represent daybreak. the moon is still visible but the sun is about to burst about the horizon. The ‘tree’ in the foreground — in reality, a scented geranium leaf — is bare of leaves, yet the grass is still green and the hills in the background, spotted by evergreens, have not yet turned from blue to wintry gray.

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I don’t always start out with a theme in mind for my botanical collages. Just as often, I am simply experimenting with arranging elements and colors for my graphics and plants with which to build a pleasing collage. In this case, however, the composition immediately skipped my thoughts past this infant autumn and brought me to winter. When I thought the piece was finished, I sensed something missing. Finally, I decided it needed an overlay of pennisetum grass. Voila! It felt — to me at least — like snow.

Other plants in the composition include coleus, ferns, scented geranium and andromeda.

I love eavesdropping on the conversations browsers have with one another when I show my art. So often they find my pieces evocative of feelings worlds away from mine. That’s perfectly fine with me. If we all made the same associations we would all dream the same dreams. How boring!

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This is my version of an arrangement of bud vases. Even this late in the season I have a nice supply of new growth, and therefore tiny leaves in my garden.

The race is on to harvest enough before the first frost.