Vegetable Explosion

It’s the season of abundance! Farm stands, farmers markets, and gardens are at their peak– full of rich color, variety, and freshness the likes of which no supermarket can match. It’s time to celebrate! Pick your favorite vegetable and you are likely to find it feted somewhere: there are OkraFests, GarlicFests, Potato Festivals, even a Butterbean Festival in Alabama, a Great Northern Squashfest in Wisconsin, and an Eggplant Festival in California—every veggie, it seems, gets its due. My personal favorite was a family celebration held each August called Corn Sunday, a gathering… Read More

Full of Life

My garden is full of life this month! Butterflies, bees, hawkmoths, and hummingbirds are coming daily to feast on July’s main attractions: coneflowers and beebalm. I’ve seen swallowtails and skippers, fritillaries and whites. What a grand display! Mind you, my garden is not perfect. There are gaps here and overcrowding there, some plants didn’t come back this spring and others are looking meager. But it is enough for me to pick out a bouquet or a painting, or to simply enjoy the show. Tips and Techniques- I always find that adding wildlife… Read More

If you build it…

Since we moved to our house five years ago, we’ve been converting several areas that were formerly maintained as mown lawn to meadow. This is the first year that wildflowers and milkweed from seeds sown and scattered are blooming and it’s a delight to see butterflies, bees, and dragonflies take notice. A monarch caterpillar was our best resident to date, and I’m glad I sketched it before it either became a juicy meal for a lucky bird or crawled off and hid itself to begin its transformation. Alas, it has been a… Read More

Slow Painting

There’s a bias in urban and nature sketching for working quickly. The idea is to get the subject down while on location and to capture the moment, place, or experience. It’s a worthy practice and many people do it well, completing sketchbook pages with lovely drawings and paintings in an hour or two. But there’s also a lot to be said for working slowly. Careful observation and allowing time for a subject to resonate gives you time to figure out how best to approach it on paper. Sometimes I build a painting… Read More

Showstopper

The color of poppies is outrageous—so bright and red you can scarcely believe it. But there it is, once a year, a showstopper in the early June garden. When other flowers are just contemplating what kind of tune they might sing, the poppies belt out their solo. Confidently, they command center stage—knowing, perhaps, that a good rain will soon end their performance. Tips and Techniques– Because I work during the day, I am often snatching time for sketching and painting in the evenings. I made several trips to the garden this week,… Read More

Catch it while you can

Today, the allium. Tomorrow poppies. Coming and going, a garden is ever evolving, never static. A bee, a swallowtail, if I’m lucky, a hummingbird. Even now, one moment makes way for the next. Catching it while you can makes all the difference. Tips and Techniques– Because I was away for much of May, I missed the flowering spring trees, many of the ephemeral wildflowers and bulbs, and the unfurling of ferns here in New York. When I got home the allium were in bloom but starting to fade; I knew I had… Read More

Burning Twice as Bright

I have been waiting for my Oriental poppies to bloom for two years. I am not disappointed. Their papery thin, flaming orange-red petals are outrageous in the garden. Still, some of the blossoms lasted only days. A few were knocked out by heat. Others by heavy rain. Only two of eight remain. Alas, I’ll content myself with these, plant more perhaps, and paint them again next June. Tips and Techniques– For the strong warm reds and depth of color poppies demand, I tapped the intense colors of Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus Fine… Read More

Oh, how beautiful

Rudyard Kipling was so right when he wrote, “Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.” Except in this particular garden, that’s exactly what I did. With the sun casting a warm golden light at the close of the day, I sat in the shadow of a large maple tree and surveyed a lovely field of grasses and allium. I had no hand in their planting or care. The only finger I lifted was the one that carried lines and watercolor across this page. An unknown… Read More

A moment in the shade

After a hectic week in which I did no artwork, it was a pleasure to pick up my pen and paints and sit under two old maple trees to sketch wild columbine growing in the shade. The nodding delicate flowers, like tiny silent bells, are a welcome sight in spring woodlands and gardens. The flowers attract hummingbirds, bees, butterflies and hawkmoths to feed on their nectar, while the leaves serve as a host plant and food source for the eggs and caterpillars of the duskywing butterfly. A child could well imagine fairies… Read More

A Host of Golden Daffodils

Ten thousand saw I at a glance, tossing their heads in sprightly dance… Wordsworth’s classic poem of daffodils, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” seems timeless. Who doesn’t appreciate a host of golden daffodils or, later, the memory of them fluttering and dancing in the breeze? They are in their full glory this week in my yard and I am enjoying the show. The trouble with daffodils– I can only imagine that Wordsworth’s poem flowed more easily from his pen than this painting sprang from mine. The trouble with daffodils is not… Read More