Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pill Bugs

In a recent conversation I told someone that I was painting things that were growing in my garden and she asked if I meant things like roly-poly bugs. I hadn't, but I liked the idea. The previous owners of my house had spread chunky bark mulch everywhere so I had an infestation of these little guys to deal with when I started to garden. My soil is healthier now and not mulched but I still find wood lice under pots. I tried to get one to curl up in my hand but it was a brave bug and wouldn't give up the fight even though I shook it gently in my fist like a dice. I didn't want to hurt it so I gave up and let it crawl away. Do they eat my seedlings? Let's assume not. I grew up calling them potato bugs since I encountered them most often in our dark, dirt floor cellar when fetching potatoes out of the storage bin. I like them more now than I did then.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


I spent the last few days in Vancouver waiting for my daughter's passport to be issued. This gave me a chance to stay with my Mum and Dad and to paint some of the plants in their amazing garden. Their days are filled with environmental activism and plant related passions. In these photos my mum labels pots of seedlings in preparation for Saturday's "Adopt a Pot" event in which members of the Lighthouse Park Preservation Society will come and foster out pots of native plants during the summer before planting them in Lighthouse Park in the autumn. The seedlings have been propagated by my parents from cuttings and seed over the last year. Mum and Dad are really saving the world, one plant at a time.

While in Vancouver I started a painting of my Mum's hydrangea. I like that it has such complicated little green shoots while retaining last summer's dead blooms. Birth and death... a philisophical little painting. The shoots were so complicated that I couldn't figure out what was really happening with them enough to paint, so I brought them into to house overnight to open up a little. I think I can see each separate leaf bud now. I'm not surprised that they were so tightly curled up against the elements as it was cold and actually snowing yesterday and today. It really doesn't feel like spring and everything in the garden seems to be happening later than last year.I love dranunculus at this stage or later in the summer. It just gets weirder.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Corks, Sunshine and Primulas

A beautiful, sunny and nippy morning here on the hill. The sun makes garden photography difficult but my morning walk was glorious. I found this strange little garden near my house with a ground cover of wine corks. A fancy new form of mulch? It's hard to keep up with these trends... The visual metaphor of a mound of trimmed grass was a few inches away. How delightful.

I painted this potted primula and once it is planted out I can look forward to seeing it grow again next spring.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

More Magnolias

More lusciuos magnolias! These small trees are blooming along Olympic in Lower Queen Anne. I worked from my photos yesterday to make a painting of these trees, enjoying their exotic shapes and generous silky blooms.
When I photographed these trees the early morning sun backlit the fuzzy buds giving each one a light filled aura. I have tried to paint them lit this way rather than the more traditional style of icon painting in which objects are shaded darker toward their perimeters.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


The magnolias are flowering and I saw this magnificent tree on Highland Drive this morning. I love that the grass was scattered with petals, like Easter eggs. After taking this photo I turned the corner and found the Easter Bunny!
I think I will paint some magnolia blossoms this afternoon...

Thursday, March 20, 2008


The second day of spring and I woke to another chilly morning. NPR says that snow is falling in some parts of the sound. I will start a new painting today in anticipation on my "Spring Garden" show at Macrina which opens on April 3. I seem to live my life in anticipation of wonderful things and know that dreaming of the future is often more invigorating than its actual arrival. This is one of the reasons I love this time of year. The garden is bursting with anticipation.The cherry tree is covered in buds and I love the strength of their clean shapes even more than the cluttered extravagance of the full blown blossoms they will become.

I have so many plants in pots, waiting to be put in the ground. These hollyhocks were grown from seed last summer. I wonder if they will flower this year if I plant them soon...

The First Day of Spring!

My painting of a hellebore, one of the earliest spring time flowers in the garden. Here it is before, and after, I apply the gold leaf.