Archives for posts with tag: stonington garden

Back at the turn of this new century, I made a big series of large works on canvas that incorporated metal washers. For me, they have passed the test of time so I decided to miniaturize the concept and incorporate my current resin-coated works on wood panel – some with pressed plants and – gasp – some without.

I’ll be showing these this season in a number of venues including the Artist’s Cooperative Gallery of Westerly, the Memorial Day weekend VIRTU Art Festival in Westerly, the Providence Artisan’s Market at Lippett Park, and later in the season at the Wickford Art Festival, the Warren Art Festival, the Strawberry Festival in Newport and more. I also have month-long exhibits scheduled at the Green Marble Coffee Shop in Mystic in June and at the Yellow House Coffee Shop in Stonington in July. Hoping to see lots of old friends.IMG_2264IMG_2270IMG_2278

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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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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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Having a great time with my new project but there’s a lot to protect. Note the latex gloves, and the waxed paper to protect my counter. Then there is the issue of my lungs. Need to upgrade to a full-on gas mask even though there are hardly any noticable fumes from the Envirotex two-part resin system I use. Better safe than sorry and I’m so happy with the process and results that I plan to gear up for a full series. This little guys are just 4″ x 4″. The abstract features azalea leaves and carnation petals, while the little landscape sticks to tried-and-true ferns. My next piece will be a boat at sea. Haven’t settled on what plant to use to represent land flora and sails. Last season, raspberry leaves made great sails, but, alas, my raspberry bush is not yet prepared to supply me with more.

I’ll be showing these at Lippett Park in Providence on May 17th, weather permitting, and at the big VIRTU art festival in Wilcox Park in Westerly, Rhode Island on Memorial Day weekend. Meanwhile they’ll be in my Etsy shop.

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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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Two young and still tightly formed stalks of Mexican feather grass appear to tower over a little forest of fern ‘trees’ and the whole scene might be glimpsed through a window bordered by stained glass.

Back to the drawing board for my next piece. No harvesting today — rain in Stonington.

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This simple composition consists of three leaves — scented geranium, ivy, and sweet potato vine — surrounded by a faux double mat. Sometimes simple is best.

I use Ralph Waldo Emerson quotations (and those of other wise men and women) in many of my botanical pieces. A lovely woman I met today at the Providence Artisan’s Market suggested I use this one from the great Massachusetts sage. While enhancing it with botanicals may prove a challenge — the quote is too long to repeat many times in a legible font — it brought tears to my eyes so it must happen!

“To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded.”

Here’s an example of literature as foundation for my work:

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