Locally grown, organic vegetables inspire me. They feed me both physically and artistically. And, best of all, I know that I am supporting farmers who are on the front lines of improving our sustainability. *
I really enjoyed the range of greens in this painting, which are all mixed. The painting begins with a cobalt blue and winsor lemon, continues with a prussian blue and winsor lemon, then ends with Prussian blue and indian yellow. All relatively transparent mixtures.
Like several other vegetable paintings I've done in the past year, this head of lettuce came from the Pennypack Farm and Education Center last summer. I've recently prepared for the 2018 growing season by buying into the Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op. I'm looking forward to the variety and quality of produce they grow and I plan to continue this series of paintings. :)
*Notably, organic farmers are supporting our declining bee populations by not using neonicotinoid pesticides, or seeds treated by this noxious chemical which has become too common in the conventional agricultural market. Organic veggies support bees, and who doesn't love bees?
Upon reflection, I see a great metaphor in this watercolor study. Not only are these beautiful potatoes a product of organic farming practices at Pennypack Farm and Education Center last season (so delicious!), they refer to a common phrase.
I first approach that phrase in my quest to simplify. It acts as a mantra to avoid letting the small stuff block my sight of what's really important along the lines of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson. However, after finding a quote by Charles Dudley Warner who while gardening in 1870 wrote, "What small potatoes we all are, compared with what we might be!" I feel like my eyes have been opened. His view in this quote is that we often stunt our growth because we "don't plow deep enough." (Thank you Project Guttenberg, where I found Warner's book My Summer in the Garden.)
I am inspired by a new mandate to nurture my small potatoes into big potatoes by taking the time to dig deeper into the earth. Stay tuned for next year's crop!
Have I mentioned I love terrariums?
Something about the way they contain earth, air, light, water and plant life is so elemental. As a microcosm of an ecosystem, the relationship between entities reads like a metaphor for an environmental theory of well being. When I observe them, it is like they are talking to me. And yes, I've come into the habit of naming my terrariums.
This terrarium, I made three years ago. It is one that unfortunately didn't make it .
Old friend- I wish we had more time together. Thank you for all that you have taught me. I wish I had been better able to fit your needs. I am grateful that I made this painting of you during your prime as a way to remember you and to share the story of your brilliance with others.
As I was enchantedly drawn out my door to witness this kaleidoscope of color, High School Park (located just one mile from my house) provided me with a lovely semi-private outdoor studio this week. The birds kept me company while I painted this and one other painting.
The ochre area in the foreground is part of the newly installed rain garden which has opened up the back area of the park. Not only will this work ecologically enhance the site, it also has opened up some space to create a great view of the autumn trees.
It is extremely impressive what the group of Friends of High School Park have done in the past few decades to take an abandoned high school building site and turn the space into a reclaimed ecological treasure.
Again, I'm feeling lucky to live in Cheltenham Township.
Since it's still plein air painting season (meaning it's not too hot and not too cold to paint outside), I went to High School Park and found this lovely spot along the meadow walk built in memory of Joshua Schwartz.
It only seems fitting that if I am a resident artist in Cheltenham that I paint Cheltenham. I foresee "Meadow Walk" as the first in a series. I'm putting on the hat of being a tourist in my own town!
That "Tourist in my own Town" theme, by the way, is an excellent writing prompt that was given to me by the great Mt. Airy writing teacher, Minter Krotzer. I, in turn, assigned that topic to countless unsuspecting 10th grade students when I taught high school English. We read an essay entitled "A Tourist in my own Town" by an American author for inspiration. I'm a bit embarrassed that I can't remember the author. Can anyone help me out?
Hummingbirds love this stuff! It's like the blossom of this coral honeysuckle plant was made for them.
I planted this in our yard 3 years ago. It grows more slowly than the aggressively invasive honeysuckle plants I enjoyed while I was growing up, but it's much more beautiful and better suited to our ecosystem.
However, in its first year this plant's greatest threat was a local predator, my son.
Nowadays, the plant is big enough that I no longer have to protect it from his sweet blossom appetite. New growth outpaces his "harvesting." I painted this on a recent rainy summer morning, similar to the daylily I posted a few weeks ago. Doesn't it look delicious?
I love how during these few weeks in summertime daylilies like these create the illusion that they have a longer lifespan with their whole stem of buds that flower successively day after day. But, the fact of the matter is that each flower lasts for only one day.
While studying this flower last week, I realized that you can almost tell what time it is by looking at the flower. In the morning by about 8 am it is fully open. (The moment pictured is about 11 am.) Then begins the slow change of the edges of the flower petals until finally at about 6pm it starts to close then wilt.
This flower also has personal significance. It was in front of a patch of daylilies in Rittenhouse Square that 18 years ago this week my husband proposed to me. They also must have had rain drops on them since a thunderstorm had just rolled through, delaying a most anxiously awaited moment with which he managed to surprise me.
Today and Tomorrow originally referred to the open blossom and the blossom that opened the next day on the right. However, I'm sensing that I've also subconsciously composed a visual love poem. Love you, Josh!
I feel pretty comfortable when I do drawing demonstrations for the classes I teach. However, I realize with this painting that I started a few weeks ago as a demonstration for my current outdoor painting class that it's hard to explain what you are doing while you do it!
When I paint in watercolor, it's a deeper experience than drawing. The act of explaining does take me out of the zone where I create somewhat spontaneously. In fact, I needed to work on this painting for about 20 minutes without my students watching because I felt that there were some issues that needed to be resolved and I honestly wasn't sure yet how I would address them. I'd say it's mostly finished now, but I've saved several things that I have in mind that I want to show them..
One day my demonstrations will likely be more polished. In the meantime I appreciate the fact that my students accept my vulnerabilities as an authentic part of the process.
In the hour that I had to complete this painting, I challenged myself. I only spent about 5 minutes on the preliminary drawing. The focus is painterly, with minimal attention to architecture.
This approach allowed me to capture the light of the moment. (And get home in time before my kids got off the school bus.)
I still, however, also like working with a more finished drawing. Some subjects suit themselves for it. For example, last Saturday, I spent 5 hours on a painting that was the same exact size and won an Honorable Mention Award at the Chestnut Hill Plein Air Competition. (Yay!)
I suppose it all will depend on how much time my life gives me that day...
My next door neighbor in back in Mt. Airy had some peonies by her front step. I relished watching the incremental progress these plants made each day while I walked past them on my way to teaching high school English. I knew that by the time these flowers bloomed, the school year would be cruising toward the finish line.
Ant Peony I is the first in a series, inspired by my own peonies in my front yard. I hope I'm not alone in this, but I find it so entertaining to watch insects and plants symbiotically interacting.
I also finally pulled out my large sheets of 300 lb watercolor paper. This painting is pretty large, 24 x 18 inches and I submitted it to a regional juried exhibition...I hope it gets in!