Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince'

I spent the afternoon sketching my Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' in it's late bud stage. It is still in it's ugly plastic pot on my back porch. I snagged it from my daughters nursery last Thanksgiving. I had felt some guilt about not planting it before winter, but now I have the advantage of bringing it inside on a 35 degree day.

How often as gardeners do we get a close up of this stage of the plant? I parted the older foliage on this one and peaked inside. What a wonder~ the buds are softly tinged with velvety mauve, and are hugged by tiny, protective, and perfectly formed leaves. The Ivory buds are lightly washed in a pale green. The stems are a deep red. It is perfect for a watercolor study. In this initial sketch I accented the color with colored pencil, in case I don't get to paint it right away. I can always refer back to this sketch later. Doing the sketch before painting it I can look at shading and values ahead of time and work out the kinks.

Because Helleborus, also known as Lenten Rose bloom so early, often in the snow, we don't always see the blooms at all, finding only the beautiful sepals when we venture out in warmer weather. That is what is so great about this perennial favorite. The sepals are still beautiful months later as they form seed pods.

I often don't really get intimate with the beauty of a plant until I sketch it. This forces me to really look at how the fruiting parts of a plant really form, It is an opportunity to see just how the bud or flower is attached to the stem, how the angle of the bloom hangs, and just how the flower petal evolves from the sepal. In other words...It's true anatomy.

This variety of Helleborus has a beautiful blue green leaf color with silver vein's.

I will continue to sketch this plant as it's buds open and change color. the challenge for me is to paint this 'Ivory Prince' and it's beautiful and subtle colors
as well as nature does......


This is my last week of winter hibernation. Last fall I intended that I would focus my wintertime to my art work. It will be quite a transition back out into the world.
I spent all winter quietly painting. I Imagine my body will be experiencing boot camp soon. Fortunately, March is a transitional month and a few bad days will give me time to recover and heal in between workdays.

I have been fascinated with watercolor paintings for most of my life. Ten years or so ago I began taking drawing classes from my frind Merri Nelson. Merri is a very accomplished artist. I met her when she was teaching botanical illustration at the Smithsonian. We share a love of gardening as well. She convinced me I could learn to draw and taught me very quickly that I could do much more than the stick figures I had scribbled all my life.

My sister was the artist in the family. It came natually to her. She hasn't painted in years, but recently she showed me some quick leaf studies she had recently done and I recognized the automatic gracefullness of her stokes. I have had to really work at it.

My parents sent her to art school, they sent me to gymnastics. Since siblings are often competitive, my sister convinced me at a very young age I had no talent.
I do find it interesting that she is now an accountant. Somewhere along the line, she also convinced herself she had no talent.

Years ago I dug her collection of fairy artwork out of a dumpster and framed them. She had incredible talent.

She painted the fairies she saw while we played in the woods. This ability to see fairies made me very envious, and I was convinced I was a dud because I did not have this gift.

Fairies are big in our family, we all have a very strong connection to the devic realm. It took me years to realize that the elemental kingdom worked with me in the gardens.

A channel told my daughter that fairy folk floated in the wake of her footseps across the ground.
I have been encouraged to ask my grandaughter to tell me about the fairies she sees as she gets a little older.

Though I have been painting for quite a while, I have never had the time or space to paint all day every day. This winter I wanted to bring my art up to another level.

Watercolor is a difficult medium. Most often described in books as unpredictable. It takes a lot of trial and error to get the watercolors to represent your inner vision of beauty. It is difficult to not undermine the quality of light you would like to have in a painting. I felt the unpredictablity of watercolor can only become somewhat predictable after doing hundreds of experiments.

So that is what I did. I ignored my former blog, my boyfriend and my dog.
I gained a lot more confidence in my painting, and I had a great time~

It is time to get outside and play again, my dog misses me...not so sure about the boyfriend, he may be over it by now.

This butterfly painting was done from a photograph I took in a biodeisel sunflower field.
I had never attempted a butterfly before this....Very Fun~

Enough to painting now before I return to the gardens next week.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Snowdrops are blooming

This is it...spring is emerging from my dog ravaged garden.

Meet Finn....

This cinnamon colored lab is my constant garden companion during the warm months. In the winter he is on his own. I lock myself inside and focus on learning the art of painting botanical watercolors. At the ripe old age of fiftly, I have become a winter weenie...

Enclosed by an electric fence bordering my half acre wood, Finn stays home, safe from his crazy puppy behavior, while the neighbors dogs are still allowed in for play dates.

It is a wonder, that the pack, consisting of the Cinnamon Lab, the Golden Retriver and the ever spunky Cockapoo have not squashed EVERYTHING!

But Look...

So far all clumps of Galanthis novllis are intact.

I planted them last spring and fall. Some are from my friend Carols garden, that originally came from a plant rescue operation at a construction site over a decade ago.

I love the way they clump and naturalize in woodland areas.

They originally came from a neighbor, a holocaost survior from Holland. She brought the bulbs to Virginia from her home in the old country. By the time Carol & I rescued them from a neighbors new driveway they had become large drifts of white delight in the mostly dismal mountain landscape in April. We dug huge clumps and wrapped them in burlap diapers. Her garden is now massed with them. I tend to move often, Carol doesn't. She keeps the mothers of all my collections in her garden, so that I can get the originals for my latest home.

I have now transported them to North Carolina, blooming in late February now. I live in a wooded area, it looks as though they are enjoying thier new home. I am grateful to have moved south, spring is clearly on it's way. Virginia is still experiencing ice storms.

My Heronswood Helleborus is in Bloom....So, I painted it.
I have left it sitting in a pot all winter. Still waiting for inspiration on it's permanant home.

It also had to survive the winter construction project.

The new garden shed.

It is waiting to be painted as the weather settles. My Son in Law built it during Christmas, while I cooked and played with his little honeydoodle......and her Mother, my beloved youngest daughter.

I already have the Cinnamon Ferns planted in the area in front. I think it will need a window box.

Soon I will be able to get to these things. After all, the snowdrops are blooming already.

After a quiet painterly winter, that did produce some worthy plant studies, I look forward to working up a sweat, growing some food and creating beautiful gardens everywhere I am called.