Solstice Gardening

A little dirt on your hands…in December ???

You bet.

I’ve been watching the forecast like a hawk and we’ve got a slight warming trend for the next week or so…averages above 40 and near 50 degrees. And coupled with the sunshine Finn and I headed out this morning to soak up some of that vitamin D, and I thought you’d like to join us.

In the photo above you can see those beds which Kory and I tucked in for the winter. The two in the foreground have some plantings and a cold frame. Let’s take a peak…

Under that tunnel on the right is an earlier fall planting of carrots. I invested in those tunnels for the first time this year and they are terrific. The manufacturer is Haxnicks. I went just now to Amazon to find a link but they only have the fleece version. The one shown here has a poly netting. Very sturdy and allows a lot of light in as well as terrific insect protection. They also make a heavier shade version which I’ve used with great success in deep summer heat. I’m using this one to cover the carrots and provide a structure over which I can drape a heavier plastic sheeting for insulation. We’ve had weeks of sub-freezing temps and so far they are not dead…so that’s a win.

The mini greenhouses, one shown on the left, are new this year. They fit the bed perfectly and I anchored them to the wooden frames for extra security. I did find that link…click here. (Actually I just checked the link and it is not the exact one shown above but it is the same manufacturer. Might need to do more surfing than I have time for right now to find the right one.)

So far I love them. I had a larger version of them years ago and, in the warmer winters, it gave me a full extra season of growth for kale and chard and even some pop up spinach volunteers.

You can see this swiss chard, planted last march, is still going strong and is my go to smoothy ingredient.

Today it was time to experiment with the second one I bought, and so the flat of seedlings which have been keeping me company inside the studio were ready to rock and roll…

I popped out a few of the kale and Hakuri turnips and out we went…

My theory is that this one may be warmer than the other as it is sheltered from some of the winds by the greenhouse which may also throw back some warmth from the south facing sun.

Here you can also see the easy access from the zippered panels.

Boy did it feel great to sit on my garden bench and hold the Hori Hori knife, and just like that they were planted. I have zero expectations that newly planted seedlings will make it planted this late but I live in hope these days.

It wasn’t in the original plans, but I thought adding one of those tunnels here might give an extra layer of warmth, and it worked out perfectly as a support for…

Yep…the christmas lights.

Somewhere I read of a  gardener putting a string of lights inside a cold frame to add a tiny bit of heat during the night. Why the hell not. I can never get enough of christmas lights.

I’ve put the compost thermometer in there so I’ll have some idea of the comparison between the two covered beds.

As you can see, a solid 43 degrees before I covered was promising.

And here we are all bundled up and ready to grow…maybe.

 

It’s a sea of mud out there now, and shortly after I wrote last week’s post those pesky Muses actually did show up and have made up for my basket of angst by hurling half a dozen new and sparkling challenges my way.

So…as Finn conquers…it’s time for me to get back to the easel…

But Oh My Goddesses did it ever feel good to be out working in the garden on this almost Solstice day.

 

 

 


New Paintings

I’ve been playing catch up after an extended time away from the easel, and have been hitting the brushes hard for the last few weeks. So, I am a bit behind with this blog, and a long list of other things…

There are two new paintings which are out there in the gallery world and I wanted to let you take a peek.

This first one, The Self Portrait, is a painting of Zoe when she visited camp Gran and Mima last summer. There are traces of this chalk portrait lingering on the studio porch, and it warms my cold winter heart every day.

It is currently on display at the Sugarman Peterson Gallery, in Santa Fe.

The second is a still life, Reeling, for which I have Alex to thank. He’s the one who got me excited about learning to fly fish, and gifted me with that lure, and a few hundred stories about his fishing adventures. I have my new rod, Sister Bean, at the ready by my kitchen door and on sunny days I practice my casting out in the yard. That may be as close as I get to hooking a fish, which would be fine because I mostly just enjoy the time spent with Alex. He’s a keeper.

Reeling is hanging in the current show at Gallery 1261, in Denver.

OK, now it’s back to work.

You all enjoy these lengthening days,
and play nice out there.

H


The Reveal…

The Presentation

As I write this, on the coldest night of this snowiest winter, this little creek is frozen solid.
It flows just a few feet from our log cabin front porch
and all that magnificent autumn color has settled onto the forest floor.
The rods and reels, vest and fly boxes, weathered wicker creel and landing net,
which my brushes spent hours studying and rendering, have all been packed up
along with the finished painting, and sent north to the gallery.
Now I wait.
For this painting was a commission.
The fisherman found his way to my work, and told me his story.

Then, with a hearty hug and a healthy dose of trust, he said goodbye to his gear
and we dodged the vineyard raindrops, loaded it all up and drove back here to the studio.
I love to do commissions because,
beyond the familiar draw that compels me to the subjects I choose to paint,
there is the lure of listening for someone else’s connection to an object or a place.
For this project, there was the added challenge,
even though I live a pebbles’ throw from this creek,
of not ever having been a fly fisherman.
But, after painting every tiny hair on all those flies I can honestly say…
I am thoroughly… hooked.

This fisherman has requested to see no image of the work
until he can stand in person before it.
I can only hope that I have captured a hint of the grace,
of the peaceful sport and of the gentle man.
For tonight, I write these notes, while I await …
the The Presentation.

 And yesterday, at the gallery…

randy

And this morning, the creek which modeled for the painting last fall was displaying another kind of beauty…

creek


In a light filled stable kinda mind…

Stable Light

Immersing myself in the world of Bill Copperthwaite with the arrival of Peter Forbes and Helen Whybrow’s new book, A Man Apart.

Picture

The earth is shifting below my studio feet…
and I suspect it will be life altering.

More to come…

 


Day 2

The-Whipper-In

From 2003 – The Whipper In
This one has only been seen once in a show at the Granary. I think it is providing insulation in our bedroom at the moment. It’s our log cabin living room and, if you’ve been there then you are in a very special group of friends and family. The painting upper left is a reproduction of one I did for the Follansbees of their front yard. Kinda fun to see that again. As of last night, that fireplace is still keeping us warm…

Painter’s Notes – click here

Transit

2004 – Transit

This one hangs in the studio and I get to look at that ocean every day and dream.

Painter’s Notes – click here

The-Flyer

2005 – The Flyer
Boy did I love painting that red. That mail bag was a victim of the major flooding we had a few years ago. Loyal friend Susan Douglas took it home and lovingly cleaned it and I just unearthed it yesterday for a new painting idea. Then I went up to the old studio, which is now my prop room, and found that jacket too. It wasn’t quite right for the new painting, but it was a solid yes for The Flyer.

Painter’s Notes – click here

OK – Ken Vincent…you’re tagged.


Settling into Peace

the-view-from-my-easel

It’s not quite this white outside my studio window, but the valley is peaceful and the tracks are there, we just can’t see them right now.

New paintings are varnished and Herself delivered them to the amazing John Corcoran, he won’t mind me showing off his new website… click here . He will do his magic, as he does with every one of my paintings, and make a digital record before it heads back here for framing and then off to the designated gallery, or patron.

The early morning studio delivery wagon has just pulled out of the drive with the final tubes and boxes from our winter workshop.

The teakettle is rattling on its way to boil for the first thermos of darjeeling of the day.

A brand new panel is up on the easel, with sketch ready to transfer. Palette ready for some fresh new paints. Curtain pulled back and the view in the painting above is what I have beside me, and all I need is before me.

An email has just come in from Peggy, her thought for today for the artiste,

“Art should be like a holiday: something to give a man the opportunity to see things differently and to change his point of view.” Paul Klee

It certainly feels like a holiday here, the spirits of solstice are sparkling and the view is open to change.

Back to the easel now for me…YEAH !!!!!!


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.

 

 


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…

 


More snow on the way…

James Pond

Just for a few hours
I’d really like to sit on the porch
with my feet up
and almost all of the 15 layers of thermal woolen wear
laying in a pile to my right
and my snow shovel tossed into the weeds nearby
and feel the sun on my face
and have every joint in my hands be…not cold
and just listen to the birds
and the water lapping
on this shore…

pretty please.

 

 


Ted

Teacozy

I have a lot of things to say about this man…but right now the words are twisted up in my heart.

Last Tuesday, just about the exact time our electricity surged and vanished, so too did his heart.

The ensuing days in the cold and dark were made for the stalwart steadfast Yankee spirited New Englanders, like him. And the distractions of simple survival were just that, distractions.

Only now, as power has been restored and the outside world has followed the newly spliced cables into my studio space,
and the furnace has begun to restore my frozen digits,
and the breath is beginning to return to my soul…
only today am I able to return to the easel,
across from which is this painting,
which I am so glad I didn’t sell when someone pressured me a while back,
because I need him there,
since he is no longer sitting in his Chilmark wingback,
answering my phone call,
and directing the brushes from afar.

Ted Meinelt,
it’s all right then.