Posted in Southernisms

Housewifery Holiday

“Do you want to go walking earlier Monday?”  The text came from my exercise partner and BFF.  (Can you use that term when you’re over 50?)  She spends her days solving complex problems in a research laboratory.

“Earlier???  Off tomorrow?”  I’ve lost track of holidays.

“YES.”  She must think I’m nuts to forget Labor Day.  The unofficial end of Summer.

“Mmmmm….Off from work.  Must be niiiice.”  I texted back with subtle sarcasm.  I had just returned home from yet another grocery store run.  Parking in the driveway I winched at the uncut grass.  This is the week to do yard work.

“Speak to your HR dept.”  She smirked back.  Who says scientists don’t have a sense of humor?

 “My HR dept is taking a nap with an orange cat lying on his belly.  I’ll just check my employee handbook.”  Who says housewives don’t have a sense of humor?

Its a good thing too!  If I had an employee handbook the HOLIDAYS/VACATION section would have one entry:  PUT ANOTHER LOG ON THE FIRE.

I recently heard this titled Country Western novelty song the end of a long day of Housewifery – Laundry, Ironing, Meal Prep, General House Keeping.

It was evening.  I was wrapping up chores: gassing up the SUV, checking tire pressure – after visiting 2 gas stations to find a working air pump – delivering clothes to the dry cleaners and shopping at two grocery stores.  On the way home I was bemoaning the fact that the task of unloading and putting away groceries still awaited me.  But then this song came on the radio.

Laughed waaaay too much!  Good thing I was alone in the car.

So to all my working sisters – kick back, enjoy your day off.

I just might join you and spend the day making art!♥

 

FULL DISCLOSURE: My hubby is nothing like Tompall Glasser’s song.  I am the “kid sister” and he has taken me fishin’ – once. HA! HA!

 

 

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Posted in SKETCHES

Too Hot for Tomatoes

To a southerner, steamy temperatures above 90 isn’t a heat wave.  Its Summer.  Until it gets too hot for tomatoes.

 

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Tomatoes before Summer got stupid

We continue in our summer routines – cutting grass, washing trucks, fighting off blood-sucking insects. We take little notice of the oppressive heat until the tomatoes stop growing.  When its too hot for pollination its time to check on the elderly, drink plenty of fluids, stay inside air-conditioned buildings and thank God that you have a rickety ceiling fan and not a crystal chandelier in your bedroom.

 

THE INSPIRATION: With daytime temperatures staying above 86, there are no new tomatoes being produced.  I’m just trying to save the ones that are there.

THE CHALLENGE:  Plein-air work in the garden.  At 8:00 in the morning it’s already hot, humid and humming with biting insects!  Insect repellent is a must.  But it doesn’t keep the flies, gnats off your paper, pastels and paint pallet!

THE SKETCH: I did two sketches.  The 5″x 7″ watercolor postcard mailed to my daughter-in-law in sympathy with her gardening struggles.

Tomatoes Postcard
Watercolor on 5 x 7 postcard

Our plants are not thriving.  Just surviving!

 

Another sketch was done in pastels. This time I focused on what was still good about the plant – the ripening fruit.  Mmm… the glass is looking half-full!

THE TAKEAWAY: Nice imperfections. The smudges and unfinished lines allows the viewer’s eyes to fill in the gaps and form a completed picture in the mind.
I admire the plump, ripening fruit, despite the unforgiving heat!

 

Tomatoes Pastels
Pastels on a watercolor-wash background

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in BLOG, WORKING ARTISTS

Homesteading Artist Problems

Problem #1: ITS EARLY SPRING.  Prepare the gardens for planting.   Summer squash, tomatoes and vibrant annual flowers.  Trimming back climbing ivy.  More time spent outdoors than indoors.  “Mmm.  I’ll have to do art later.  Then I can post it on my blog.”

Problem #2: ITS LATE SPRING.  Roasting peanuts.  Fighting garden slugs and weeds in the garden.  Lots of rain keeps the grass growing.  First family vacation in 7 years.  Visiting our favorite coastal Georgia island.  “Great!  I’ll do some sketches.  They will make great studies for a finished piece.  Then I can post it on my blog.”

Problem #3: ITS SUMMER.  Finding great mark-downs on produce.  Put away several pints of peach preserves.  Harvest 14 quarts of squash.  Blanched and frozen.  Picking horn worms off tomatoes struggling through neglect and scorching summer heat.  Time for planting okra.  “Ahh!  Maybe the garden will inspire me to make art.  Then I can post it on my blog.”  

I know you are still waiting to see all those sketches.

Me too.

Found this short video about artist Clare Carver of Big Table Farm in Gaston, Oregon.   Carver’s work on the farm is what inspires her creations.  Great idea.  Now if I can set aside some time for art…

View more of Carver’s work at Clarecarver.com.

Featured Image credit: Freeimages.com/Witold Barski
Posted in SKETCHES

The Cat

THE INSPIRATION: I recently posted Claire the Cat’s somewhat apologetic letter to a little girl.  If you are new to this blog, you may want to read Claire’s backstory: Claire the Cat .  Want to read more posts about her?  Type “cats” in the search bar.

Clair_2017

THE CHALLENGE:  Animals move.  Cats move a lot.   Unless they are taking one of their daily 12 1/2 naps.  So one would think that would be the best time to sketch a cat.  Not for this artist’s model!  Evidently the scratching sound of charcoal on paper was enough to awaken and annoy Claire the Cat.  Who promptly walked away to find respite in her favorite human arms.

I followed.  Tried sketching again.  To no avail.  And had to resort to photography.  Claire the Cat was not pleased – as evident in finished piece.  Oh the paparazzi!

THE SKETCH: A tiny 5 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ ACEO piece.  Pastels and watercolor wash.

THE TAKEAWAY: The artist’s eye can see sense emotion better than any camera!  I’m going to try again when Claire is in a happier mood – perhaps a more wakeful moment.

 

 

Posted in Southernisms

Because Cats Can’t Write

Me-I-ow will not scare tiny people who visit my hoomans.

Me-I-ow will not scare tiny people who visit my hoomans.

Me-I-ow will not scare tiny people who visit my hoomans.

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Me-I-ow will not scare tiny people who visit my hoomans.

Me-I-ow will not scare tiny people who visit my hoomans.

Me-I-ow will not scare tiny people who visit my hoomans.

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Dear Little Girl,

 I am sorry I scared you when you came to my house to pee.  You were standing between me and the front door to FREEDOM.  I was just trying to escape.  It wasn’t about you.  It was about me.  My female hooman wanted me write a sentence lots of times to show you how sorry I am.  But cats can’t write.  So she wrote them for me.  And gave you a toy dog to play with.  I hope we can be friends anyway.

Sincerely,

 Claire the Cat

Me-I-ow will not scare tiny people who visit my hoomans.

Me-I-ow will not scare tiny people who visit my hoomans.

Me-I-ow will not scare tiny people who visit my hoomans.

Me-I-ow will not scare tiny people who visit my hoomans.

Crying Baby Image Credit: Freeimages.com/Jeff Osborn

 

Posted in WORKING ARTISTS

Artistic Collaboration: Luke Buffenmyer and Megan McNaught

It has often been said that Art Curators are simply frustrated artists.  Been there.  Felt that.  Got the t-shirt, coffee mug and tote bag!  Danielle Krysa of The Jealous Curator blog would agree.  On the other hand, Megan McNaught might not.

McNaught is the Curator of The Gallery at Macon Arts Alliance (Macon, Georgia). She has access to a list of more than 200 regional artists for exhibitions.  And submissions keep pouring in.  A prolific artist in her own right, McNaught has no cause for ‘jealousy’ or frustration.’ Rather she welcomes other artists to collaborate with her in the creative process.

She writes in her artist statement: “Collaborating for me has been a…creative springboard to new and exciting work.  Starting an image and handing it off to be finished, or being given an image to finish is intimidating, daunting and requires brave actions…expanding a creative process beyond oneself.”

A wonderful juxtaposition of artistic styles occur when McNaught collaborates with artist Luke Buffenmyer. Whereas McNaught work is a deliberate use of restrictions and rules, Buffenmyer’s allegorical images are a collection of memories and emotions.

Want to see more of their work?

meganmcnaught.blogspot.com

heragallery.org/luke-buffenmyer

Or visit the Emerging Artists group exhibition (Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, Georgia) through May 7, 2017.

 

Posted in WORKING ARTISTS

Painting: Michael Ross

“Hey!  This one looks like its in 3-D.”  This comment by a fellow museum visitor piqued my curiosity while viewing Emerging Artists (Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, Georgia). Optical art was not among the contemporary work.  Missing were strategically placed lighting effects.  Yet Michael Ross’ canvases were aglow with activity, color and light.

Ross notes in his artist’s statement:

‘The figures in my paintings are on the move.  They exist in transient flux but have a sense of mission: a decision is looming, an obstacle lies ahead that will leave them changed…Like a film director, I want to create  worlds [that] must feel real and lived, if heightened and cinematic. ‘

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Waxwing in a New Forest.  Image from Emerging Artists exhibit Museum of Arts and Sciences (Macon, Georgia)

Despite all this drama, it was Ross’s quiet lush landscapes that kept me captivated at the exhibition.  His oil painting Waxwing in a New Forest simmers with the thick humidity of the South.  The transplanted Marylander has embraced his new home “with all its beauty and tragedy.”

 Want to see more of Michael Ross work?

michaelrossart.com

Posted in GARDENING, Southernisms

Rosemary and Soil Conditioning

A Repost about early soil conditioning challenges and changes to the front garden featured in the Rosemary Sketch.

Dear Mr. Garden Guy,

Why didn’t you stress the importance of soil conditioning?

When we moved into the new subdivision, its lovely laid lawns and planted shrubbery disguised a horrible truth.  The builders had stripped the land of its top soil and left only hard packed Georgia clay encased in rocks. Lots of rocks.   We had to drench the earth with water, dig down deep, remove a layer of rock.  Then more watering-in, more rock removal until finally we were ready to plant.  And that was just our mail box!

I wanted a flower garden in my front yard.   Could it be done without all this digging into rocks and clay?  I turned to you Mr. Garden Guy.  You said plant an above ground garden.  No digging needed.  Oh yeah I was all on that like white on rice!  Following your instruction, I carefully mapped out the flower bed, smothered the grass under heavy black plastic, and purchased bags of garden soil and rotted cow manure.  I enthusiastically piled layer upon layer of the most beautiful black soil ever!  Yet something seemed so WRONG about buying soil in an area known for its rich agriculture heritage.  That’s like living on an island and having to buy sand.  Sigh.   Nevertheless I was ready to plant.

It was then that you reminded me that plants are much like people – some like the sun, others prefer shade, some like to drink, others are teetotalers.  Armed with this knowledge, I joyfully set about planting a flower garden that became my pride and joy.

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Thriving flower garden before soil depletion.  

But Mr. Garden Guy you didn’t tell me about caring for my soil’s needs.  As the years went by my perennials stopped thriving and my annuals weren’t lasting even a season.  Money was wasted buying more plants.  They simply died.  Even applying liquid fertilizer seemed futile.  Like a botanical sugar rush, it gave the plants a brief growth spurt.  But then nothing.  Stunted plants and devouring insects dotted my once lovely garden.  I worried: Could I be losing my “green thumb?”

One day I stooped down for a closer look.  Brushing away the mulch, I grabbed a handful of soil.   It was no longer the richly black, heavy soil I had laid.  Rather it had become an ashy grey, lifeless heap of dirt.  My soil was dead!  Augh!

I ran crying to you Mr. Garden Guy.  You explained that the plants got their nutrients from the soil.  But since I never “fed” the soil, it could no longer “feed” the plants.  My soil wasn’t dead.  It was simply malnourished.

I cleaned out the garden and began feeding the soil.  I fed it shovels-full of fresh top soil.  I fed it nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus.

eggs-3-1616608
Freeimages.com/Lizewiek

I fed it wood ash, used coffee grinds, diced banana peels and crushed eggshells.  I fed it earthworms.  Throughout the fall and winter, neighbors smiled nervously as they watch me till, turn and dig into the mound of dirt.  I didn’t care.  I was determined to nurse that depleted dirt back to life.   By spring planting,  the harmful insects who thrived in the once nutrient-starved soil were all but gone.  And when I saw a tiny black ant making its way home with a slither of eggshell, I smiled.  The soil was coming back to life again!

More changes were in store for this flower bed.  I will share in a future “letter.”

Author’s Note: After the soil was properly amended, I began successfully growing vegetables among the flowers.  The rosemary took over half the bed!

Posted in SKETCHES

Rosemary

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Summer 2014: Marigolds and tall stalks of okra.  The rosemary bush is behind the birdbath.

Unbeknownst to my suburban neighbors summer squash, okra, eggplant and bush beans have often been planted in among the dianthus and marigolds filling our front flower bed.  A lovely rosemary bush also calls this garden patch home.

THE INSPIRATION: Georgia’s winter 2017 has been unusually warm.  Its February and the rosemary has become a fragrant work site for impatient bees resulting in an abundance of tiny blue-violet flowers.  On a particularly sunny day, I decided on a bit of plein air work in the garden.

THE CHALLENGE: There is a lot going on in my garden, even in the winter – nuthatches, cardinals and house finches are always busy around the feeder. But to keep the drawing simple, I resisted adding the  birds and other garden elements. ( No bunnies.)  But the stately pines and surrounding hillside were tempting.  After 3 false starts to include these, I decided they were a subject matter for another time.

THE SKETCH: Pastels on medium weight drawing paper.

THE TAKE-AWAY: I like this sketch.  Especially the wispy clouds. The stiffness of the rosemary bush and concrete birdbath make a good foil for the sky’s lightness. But it feels a little too still.  Perhaps a bird or two fluttering nearby would have added movement to this sketch as they do my garden in winter!  One can oversimplify.