Saturday, November 22, 2008

Snowing and Blowing

It is unbelievably cold this last week or two. We have been dashing out to do last minute plantings and pond cleanings on the warmest of the days, but those have been few. The Ski resorts are thrilled with at least six inches of snow falling just in time for Thanksgiving. I am thrilled to be winding up the planting season and starting on the painting season.

I spent last weekend looking through and organizing hundreds of old photo's of the historic gardens I have worked in or visited over the last thirty years. I was getting ready to speak at the Highbriten Garden Club about my experiences working at Oatlands Plantation restoring the gardens with Alfredo Siani during the late 1980"s. 

I found a photo I had taken of the orangery at Dumbarton Oaks.  I decided to paint the scene. It was my last watercolor project for class. It makes a wonderful vignette of the corner of the room with the creeping fig scaling the walls and growing through the window. Garden scenes like this have always thrilled me. Much like the fairy tale books my father brought me filled with enchanted paintings of fairy tale gardens.  I am sure I had a painting in mind when I shot the photo way back when. Art and gardens combine so beautifully.  I love the vines growing around the oriental wood carvings along the walls of this building. 

I used to spend a lot of time at Dumbarton gardens, visiting at all times of the year. It was designed by a woman, very rare in the USA, Beatrix Ferrand from 1922-1947. It is one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever explored. Please enjoy the photo tour of the garden at the link above.

When I finished this painting I started reclaiming my kitchen, which has been an art studio mess for about a year. I moved all my art stuff into the basement I prepared last summer for a studio. It's amazing to have such a cozy painting space, I don't know why I clung to the kitchen counter for so long, except that that is where the sun shines into my dining room, and I get to look at my garden from the big glass  doors. I have many garden scenes I want to paint this winter. It is so nice to be able to see my dining room table again. It is also amazing how much I have painted in the last year. But that is what I set out to do, just about a year ago...I wanted to practice the discipline of painting everyday. 

What a difference it has made. Last winter, the last painting I did was frame able, after three months of disasters and experiments. It hung in an art show this summer. Today I realized my first painting done this winter is worth putting a frame on.  I can't wait to see what I am creating by the end of this winters painting marathon. 

Saturday, November 8, 2008

It is peak fall color here in the foothills of western North Carolina. It is so radiantly red and gold around here that I am feeling light headed from all the beauty! North Carolina is also now a blue state!
This painting is my homework for my
Monday evening art class. I have little experience with landscapes and water, but I do kind of like this one. Practice, practice....

It is fun to be painting the fall colors in the evenings that I am working in every day. Peak season has passed in Blowing Rock, but I did hit the peak season in Virginia on Halloween weekend. My fall color season has been wonderfully long. The leaf raking is continuous. Yesterday, I cheated and borrowed Michael's leaf blower.

Working is the word...we have started landscaping some of the apartment
buildings in Boone this fall. Some big and badly needed projects. Students living in the buildings kept thanking us for the transformation of beds full of cigarette butts and beer cans into living gardens. The weather was beautiful and cool,
which we were grateful for because we had to fill raised beds with amended topsoil, one wheelbarrow at a time, maneuvering around all the parked cars in
front of the beds. We are sore....but a great work out.

Michael was down after jumping out of his truck bed and badly spraining his ankle. So it was up to Matt and I to get the heavy work done in good time. One student, Thomas, did play the banjo for us one afternoon from his third floor balcony. We really loved that. 

Finn had to spend the week tied to a tree while we worked in the center of town. He was bummed, so many garbage dumpsters, full of remains from the tailgate parties at ASU, so little freedom.

The first project was done by Thursday, a great week, and we have a new President elect! 

I visited friends and family for Halloween weekend, taking Miss Barrie Ann trick or treating in Waterford made for some great laughs and memories. I loved Airynee's glow in the dark horns....and once Barrie got a taste of an M&M she wouldn't let go of her little pumpkin bucket full of treats even though her hands were about frozen by the end of the evening. 

The gardens in Waterford were transformed by the elementary school classes into Halloween celebrated around the world. Neil Keller's gazebo, became a Greek setting with people 
in robes with lightening bolts in their hands. The barn was a Mexican celebration of the day of the dead with a mariachi band. Another garden depicted Halloween in Japan, another had an Egyptian pyramid. It was awesome. I got to celebrate with so many of our clients in town, so great to see them all again. Lot's of hugging. 

Saturday we girls picnicked in Middleburg, and toured Goodstone farm in the gators so Barrie could see the new baby cows and sheep. It has been a long time since Airynee, Morgan and I spent an entire day together, just being. 

Barrie fits right in, with our giggles and stuff. We played in piles of leaves and on Barrie's new playground. 

I do love fall, and my family. 

My daughters both called, after they voted and after the election. It feels so good to talk to them at such an important moment. We all just hopped onto another timeline, in the history of things.

Barrie is just the happiest and busiest little thing. 

She knows it's all good.