Progress Report…flora

And a fine good morning to you all from the studio.
Yes, it’s been a while since I checked in here on the blog thingy…but it’s SPRING…and I’ve been working overtime both at the easel and…in the garden.

As this life flies by, I have been paying more attention to slowing down.

My vow to spend more time in the sky chair,
which swung empty on its swivel hook for most of last year,
and to spend more time with my wife,
coming home in time for Jeopardy most of the winter,
and to let the brushes flow at their own pace,
surprising myself discovering new ways to say old truths…
and grabbing all the spare minutes in between to play…in the garden.

We have survived the major tree removal project and the sky has opened up for sunshine to reach some areas of the garden for the first time in a hundred years. I am seeing some changes already, especially in the greenhouse corner of the studio yard. Here then is a tour of the very much “working” progress.

Got to start with a glam shot of my favorite day of every year…the opening blossoms of our Chilmark beach rose…with the extra shot of sunshine she will be receiving now we should be treated to quite a show.

Then, the welcome to my garden view…

Wood chips provided by those dead trees.

This corner is tremendously satisfying as the new bed is brimming with salad greens, and beets, carrots, onions and kale coming along. I confess that I have no idea what that tall green veg is…yes I labeled the seedlings but that label read Kale. It looks more like a broccoli thing. I’ll get a better pic and ask for ID help.

Then a few steps further along we have the splendid newly refurbished arbor bed. The traditional herb garden has now been annexed with the greenhouse bed which I planted yesterday with a whole bunch of seedlings that I actually managed to raise to more than the first two leaf stage.

Then we get serious, and very messy.

The spinach bed, planted way back in March, has been steadily producing but the cover came off pronto when it started to bolt way too early. That thin bed on the right had held a crop of winter carrots which I planted way too late. They were producing full heads of greens but the roots were being chomped by some creature so I yanked them. If I can find a space between raindrops today I’m going to add a layer of new compost and plant edamame there.

The bed beyond, with the two pea towers, is an overachiever. The garlic planted there last fall has been, and will remain, covered in the hopes of deterring the dreaded alium leaf miner. Everything else is shooting up. A local garden guru said this has been an old fashioned spring for us. I really feel that vibe. A gradual climbing in temps, increase in rainfall with some good days of sun and no deep frosts. We have turned that corner now and it is wonderful to put the ice trackers away.

Some big progress in the back forty…

We got this new bed, which I am dubbing the Very Large Array,  almost finished. Not sure where I’m gonna find the dirt to fill her up but I can hear the carrots and parsnips whispering yes.

And now for Ruth…

This experiment may not look like much at the moment but it’s really fun.
While waiting for warmer temps to attempt some planting inside this bed, I threw all sorts of things in the outside bales. Extra broccolini seedlings (I won’t grow that next year…lots of time and space taking flats for Zero return. (some seen here below)

The leeks, and the onions which I nurtured in February… are thrilled to have a home and are soldiering up the perimeter like they were born for the job. Some carrots, kale and extra sage are in there as well as sunflowers and climbers for the Ruth Stout Memorial Archway.

But Potato Row is the star.

All varieties are up now. You can see here how the back wall of hay bales is collapsing into the potatoes. They are on the uphill side of the sloping yard so they have to fight gravity as well as decomposition. I am going to let them do what they think is best and hope that the veg planted in them will overcome the drooping attitude.

There are some persistent weeds coming through the hay all over the bed. I will be using the mountain of wood chips to fill in some walking pathways in here and all over the rest of the yard. It can just be seen out there beyond the fence…which is part of the problem… I need Kory’s help for that but we’ll get her done.

Elsewhere on the estate…

The blueberry bed is thriving.

The much neglected far corner has received a facelift incorporating some Ruth Stout hay mulching with shredded hardwood to tamp down the thready weeds and help establish a new blackberry bed. I saved some Soloman Seal from beneath the pin oak which was taken down at the log cabin and it seems to be quite happy in it’s new home around the maple tree.

And then we swing back down to the easel window, along the rose bed…

A clever shot of the view which the birds and squirrels have of the artiste…from without…

and her view from within…

Some re-positioned birdhouses…

And David’s gazing ball…

and the apprentice telling me that’s enough…get back to work.

She’s right. It’s time to get back to my day job.

I’m having just as much fun inside…working on a new series of a very old house on the Vineyard. We will check in on that a bit later.

Thanks for slowing down with me for a bit today.

Now go get your hands dirty.

H

 

 

 


Anticipation…

Beach Rose

Just that.

I’m waiting…or as Rex and Rocky Horror would say…SHIVERING…with anticipation.

This scraggly corner of the garden is supposed to be all abloom with beach roses…

scraggly

That three week behind thing is messing with my head.

But Celeste appeared outside my easel window last night, right on cue, to cheer me up…

celeste

The dear one is taking on the mighty task of helping me to weed. Love that bunny.

OK…PAINT !!!


Fiddly Dee

Fiddlehead-Primavera

It’s almost, almost that time of year again…

This morning my favorite mystery writer, Laurie R King had a post on her facebook page about the fiddleheads that she scored at a market in San Francisco and tried for the first time. It reminded me, among other things that I wanted to let readers know that her latest Mary Russell novel,

image

is a fantastic read. I usually save her novels to listen to when I paint especially complicated paintings because she is similarly in love with detail and I get swept away with her thoughtful prose. Makes the time fly at the easel and I always learn something new.

So run to your local bookstore and add this to that pile by your favorite chair. And then go take a walk in this fine spring air and hunt for fiddleheads. Warning, not all ferns are edible so do the research, or trust your local farmers market.

I am working too hard with the brushes to walk amongst the woods, but I am yours…

Dreaming of Fiddleheads


Tis the Season…

heuters

Yes, I am painting.
Most of the hours of most of the days.
But the apprentice has lately been insisting on beauty breaks…

the finn

And, after the winter of discontent that we all shivered through, I am taking deep breaths of every single blooming flower in my garden..

beach rose

My beloved Beach Rose and irises and even the daisy that always reminds me of J O’H

white iris daisy

and, with a cart full of color, and a pair of sturdy gloves
I am taking full advantage of every single space between the brushes
to get outside and work in the dirt.
in waiting

Herself chuckles and grins as she reminds me of the day,
sometime in mid-January,
when I hung my winter weary head
and swore I was not going to do ANY gardening this year.

Certainly no new plants, and definitely not the heavy lifting of the vegetable beds.
No, I was going to keep that head down low and focus focus focus on the paintings.
And right up until about March I was right on track with that dark pledge and doing fine.

Then some plague germs bullied their way into the studio and I spent the next few months crawling out of a very deep hole of un-health. (Spell check didn’t like that last hyphen and neither did I.) Which has thrown some curve balls of perspective at me.

BUT… the veil has lifted.
(Insert a choir of angels here please)
and all verdant bets are off…
Life is so damned short and…
you simply can’t keep a gardener’s soul from a wheelbarrow filled with marigolds…

marigolds
And then there are those newly revised beds that I dreamed of through the wintery gauze of tissues…

new beds

and the annex to the asparagus bed that wants to try growing some beans this year…

asparagus bed

Everywhere I look there are things growing…

nest
wild chives

And chairs that call to sit a spell…

chairs

or swing…

sky chair finn

And so yes, I am painting, but I am also living large in the tiny corner of the planet that we are taming. And, when the brushes begin to whine, I settle back into my chair at the easel with a tiny token of the garden wonders to temp the muses…

sir bernard and the rose

May your paths be filled with clover
and strewn with beach rose petals…
now go out there and grab a trowel.

 

 


Commissions

Shhhh,

it’s a secret…

but Pat is driving a snuggly wrapped and newly commissioned painting up to FedEx as I write.

It’s for a special anniversary so I can’t show you just yet…but I will, once the bubbly has been emptied.

Meanwhile, here’s a throwback to a couple of my favorite earlier commissioned paintings…

Outward-Bound

Outward Bound 2002, for the Pomeroy Family

Waking Early

Waking Early 2006, for Kate and Mary Jo

Working on commissions gives me an added layer of meaningful connection with the patrons and I enjoy the detours in my painting schedule.

If you’ve got an interest, here’s a link to the Commission Statement on my website.

Commission Statement

Simple and honest…that’s the way I like to work.

Now go find a daffodil to hug.

 

 

 


Spam spam spam spam…

Trinity

wave the flags of freedom…

OK that’s a bit lofty (and probably influenced by the book I am listening to about the French resistance), but I have reached my limit…

My webmaster called it a “brute force attack”,  something to do with blacklists and hackers, alls I know is that for the last year I have been flooded with bogus blog comments.
Seriously, daily dozens of ridiculously worded ersatz appreciations of everything from content to spelling of blog related matter in an effort to get me to “Approve” them and allow entry to the inner sanctum.
And today…
I have pulled the plug on those brutes.

If I unchecked the correct button, comments will no longer be allowed on my blog.
Not really a big deal except for the handful of loyal readers, you KNOW who you are, and the two or three others who occasionally wish to be heard on a given matter.
This shouldn’t affect any of you who look and lurk and generally like what you see here, and it won’t apply to all the facebook readers, but it hopefully will free up my emailbox for the countless other legitimate spam which tries to lodge there for my considered approval.

Meanwhile, life and creativity and many happy hours of painting continue on here in the studio. I’m working on a special commission which allows me to bring some blue skies and bright light into the last of these winter days. No sneak peaks since it is surprise !

But there is a whole lot of new work burgeoning on the spring horizon and the hint of an exciting new show to announce soon. Stay tuned and stay frosty out there…and…all you attackers…

keep your comments to yourself !

I feel better already.

Above painting, with flags at the ready, is Trinity and is currently waving it’s tri-colours over the hills of Santa Fe, at the Sugarman Peterson Gallery.


What’s that I hear ?

The Basket Weaver

 

This little pal has been very busy outside my studio window of late.

My numb and frozen digits can’t sense what her internal clock has registered.

But the switch has been thrown.

Clean up of all those storm downed limbs has begun…albeit on a tiny tiny scale.

But it’s a start, and judging by the monumentally increased activity levels…

the yard should be well sorted by the time I get to hang up my mittens.

Weave on my feathered friends…

 


The spaces in between…

When I settle in to work on a big painting my focus narrows, the creative energy tightens, and all the weeks of slogging through pondering compositional elements and deciding what to keep in and what to leave out, of sketching and panel prepping, and of reworking those sketches and printing out piles of detail reference photos…it all reaches a crescendo and, like the stretching of a rubber band, it suddenly snaps ! …and the first brushes hit the canvas. So it was, all that creative momentum strung taut, when I began the large painting, Severe Clear, for this summer’s Granary Gallery show.

But now, some 300 easel hours later, I am looking back and see, on my camera’s photo stream, that there were some wonderful moments in the spaces between all those long days of lifting brushes. When I paid homage to my most favorite springtime rituals. When I literally stopped to smell the roses, and to enjoy the first of the fiddleheads, and the first grilled pizza of the season, the annual pilgrimage to the Sheep and Wool Festival, to sit of an afternoon in the studio garden with loving family, and to enjoy this wonderful life we have together.

I’ll be telling you about the rest of the project, of which this painting is a keystone work, in little bit,  a series of paintings which feature a Marine Hospital on Martha’s Vineyard that is about to open a new chapter in its historic life, but in the meantime…here’s a sneak peak at the big one, Severe Clear, and some of the studio highlights experienced along the way…

And now, I give you… Severe Clear

Severe Clear


Fiddle Dee Dee

Ah the rights of Spring !fiddlehead-primavera

And the time honored traditions of the favorite meal of my “salad days” back in Watertown…Mussels and Fiddlehead Ferns…celebrated now in my dotage…

fiddle

I’m still lifting a glass of the bottom shelf chardonnay in toast to the delicacy…
But nowadays I am using my organically home grown onions and garlic from the studio gardens…

Progress