Saturday, September 27, 2008

New Stuff

So, this is new. At 20" x 25", it is the largest pastel I've done. I think I like big. I also think it is time to put up the printmaking paper and ink and tools for a while and get back to my pastels. I think I have finally figured out something I've been trying to do for a long time, and now I want to do more.

And, I think maybe I have been spending too much time thinking and not enough time doing.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bestest Hydrangea Ever

Mary's Hydrangea 2.jpg by you.

I want one of these. Each huge petal is a different shade of purple or green or mauve. This one is in my aunt and uncle's yard in Virginia.

After searching the internet, the best I can come up with is that it is called "antique" and that they aren't something you can just go to any nursery and buy, and if you but one over the internet, there's no guarantee what colors it will be. And they aren't zone 5.

Oh well. At least I have a few pictures.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I have a small creek bed in back of my house, and along it grow these trees. I have a couple of them and my next door neighbor has close to a dozen. He told me they are shag bark walnuts. Two years ago, he lost a huge one in a storm. Fortunately, it fell away from his house. Last year, I lost my largest, which had to come down because of a split down the middle. In a storm this afternoon, he lost another, which missed his house by only a few feet.

I don't know what the deal is with these. Maybe they have a limited life span and they are reaching the end of it. They all look healthy and strong. Maybe it is the erosion after a heavy rain that carries away parts of my backyard, and the wear and tear of withstanding years of it.

I do know, though, that it is painful to see them spread out on the ground.
walnut.jpg on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
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Friday, August 15, 2008


hosta pastel.jpg by you.

So, I just came across this pastel I did last summer. I think this is the light I meant to try for in that lame reduction print a couple of posts prior to this one. Wow, did I miss.
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Thursday, August 14, 2008


The polar opposite of my previous post.

I've also been playing around with monoprints.

No carving, little planning, just experimenting and creating.

I like it.

A lot.

There are more of them here.

After a second look while checking the link, a little more planning might be a good idea.

Reduction Print 101 - Fail

So, this did not work out at all as I had planned. It is my first attempt at a reduction print. The biggest mistake, in hindsight, was waiting too long to go to a darker ink, resulting in a leaf that makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. In fact, I'm surprised I'm even posting this one.

I did learn a couple of valuable lessons along the way. The only difference in the top two prints is the paper they are printed on. I need to make a point of trying 3 or 4 different papers until I find the one I am happy with. Also, I like the detail view of this rather than the full image. The next time I try it, I am definitely going macro. Details.

Now the question is what to do with the 15 prints I've pulled. Several ideas have crossed my mind, including cutting them up into little pieces and shipping them off to my mom to make cards, or cropping them drastically. I've even considered making a new block to add a layer of dark. For now, though, putting them in a pile in some forgotten corner seems like the best solution.

All in all, I enjoyed the process, I just want to be better at it. I'll chalk this one up to a learning experience.
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Monday, June 23, 2008

OCSD - Obsessive Compulsive Statistical Disorder

Sometimes I mean to do something, and then I get busy and forget all about it, until I am reminded that I never did it.  I think that's what happened when I opened my FLICKR account a couple of years ago.  I meant to check it out more, but all I ever really had time to do was throw up a few pictures or scanned artwork every once and a while.

Then, a few days ago, I was reminded about Groups.  Then I realized there are Groups for everything.  Then I had to post some things to Groups.  Then I had to start sorting through thousands of pictures to find more things to post to Groups.  Then I had to look for more Groups to post some of the things I had already posted to other Groups I had joined.

It is getting to be a problem.  There is something I really like about trying to make the graph go up on my DAILY AGGREGATE VIEWS ON YOUR ACCOUNT chart.
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Transplants That Work - Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'

So, sometime in April I added to a planting bed which I filled with plants and starts of plants from elsewhere in the yard. I've had some failures, but this beauty, which came from the mess I call my nursery, is definitely a success. Its kind of a cool story.

When my mom was moving three years ago, I took a couple of feeder starts off her huge hydrangea and placed them in an area of rich soil in my back, back yard (back yard is behind the house while the back, back yard is the often neglected half an acre expanse beyond the creek and treeline, which I'm going to get to someday). For two years they sat, sad solitary sticks with just a few leaves. This year, they looked better. They were starting to branch out and I decided it was time to try and move a few of them. I took two, put them together to get a better shaped bush, and placed them in the sunny new spot I had chosen. Three weeks later I had about a dozen buds.

This thing is beautiful. I guess I could call it a successful double transplant.
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Welcome Guests

There is something I love about finding a snake living in my garden. First off, snakes are, simply put, awesome. Secondly, the fact that I have helped to make a habitat that some reptile wants to call home is very satisfying. And my kids love snakes. The excitement of catching one and then adjusting to holding it, and calming it down as it wriggles between your fingers for a few minutes before carefully placing it back in its habitat is quite an experience.

If I were ranking cool things you find living in your yard, a snake is right up there with frogs, a notch above salamanders and toads.

Not cool, however, is looking in you wheelbarrow after lifting and dividing a huge clump of grass and finding half a snake.

Blog Layouts

So, it turns out that I liked the prints from the following post juxtaposed to the title block to the extent that I had to add it as a permanent fixture to the layout.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Block Printing 102 - Registration

A huge thank you out to Steve M, a friend with extensive knowledge of the commercial printing industry, who this past weekend, in five minutes and with a two-inch sketch, totally took the mystery out of creating a pin-based registration system for use in my block printing experimentation. The examples above have between 5-10 impressions each and the registration was effortlessly spot on.

Next up will be "Unleashing the Secret of Thin, Transparent Ink." A good starting place would be the moment I realized, after struggling with ink coverage, that that I am using opaque ink and to get it transparent I'll need something called extender. Probably, I should pick up a tube of yellow ink as well. Trying to mix colors using gold in its place has yielded some interesting, yet slightly too metallic, results.

Updated once I saw the image next the title block:
The background from the title block is a section of a pastel I did a couple of years ago...two years later, different medium and almost the exact same color combination. One of these days I need to throw some other colors into the mix. It is fairly obvious which colors I reach for first, time after time. No wonder I have yet to buy yellow ink.
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Friday, June 13, 2008

Stella d'Oro - Maybe not so hateful afterall

So, I hate my day lilies. The Stella d'Oros. The ones that everyone and his brother has used at the entrance to anything. They are everywhere. I started off with about 4 nice sized plants 6 years ago and now I have about 25. I have discovered, however, that I don't find them quite so hateful when they are all out of focus and blurry in a picture. And I could lift them with success to cover up a lot of dirt in that new bed.

Oh yeah. Lavandula angustifolia is in bloom. Gotta love lavender.
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Transplant Fail

OK. I so know better than this. I've added about 40 S.F. of bed this year and I just really needed something that was about 30" tall. Having a surplus of spirea everywhere, including this unfortunate one which was growing along the edge of a bed and starting to block some better plants, I momentarily thought I had a solution. It wasn't easy to get it out of the position it chose to grow, and a lot of roots were lost in the process. For the first day it looked good, and from that point on its been all downhill. I'm sure it will be fine next year, but for now I'm left with a whithering, wilted, what-used-to-be-green plant, in a position of prominence. I'm afraid it will end up tossed or exiled once Lowes marks down its shrubs next month.

Also, looking at these pictures, seeing dirt in one of my beds is like fingernails on a chalkboard. And Mom, I hope that is more acceptable than "it really pisses me off to see dirt in one of my beds."

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

block printing 101

leaf print.jpg

So, lately I have been experimenting with some block printing. I use the term experimenting because I have yet to come up with anything interesting that is actually printed. Maybe a more accurate statement would be that lately I have been experimenting with some block carving.

More on this some other time, once I am finally successful at getting the carving and the ink and the paper to harmoniously work together as a team, a process which has thus far proven to be elusive.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tradescantia L. - Spiderwort Rocks

My Spiderwort is about to come into bloom.  I'm behind, as I noticed that others have been blooming for a week.  But I have it in a partially shady spot, so no complaints.  They are just too cool, and I tend to think that no woodland or woodland-ish garden is complete without them.
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Paeonia - A Love/Hate Relationship with Peonies

somewhere in the garden, 2007

I love peonies. Who can resist these gorgeous, full flowers, the bushy foliage and the wonderful scent? I adore them, and I have a lot of them. But yet, for all their glorious properties, they have the potential to totally piss me off.

I have a dozen or so, scattered about the yard, which all came from another yard. I hit gardener's pay dirt a few years ago. A relative's relative, who was a plant collector was moving out west, and her house and yard were being turned into a gas station. I don't know how many trips I made, but I wish I had a picture of my Explorer filled to capacity, with leaves hanging out the doors and windows and sunroof. The peonies were one of the payoffs from the plant gathering expeditions.

I think it was July, a point in the season where the best option was to cut back the foliage and put them all in my little nursery until the next spring when they found their permanent positions. Planted along the tree line, and as accents in beds, they quickly grew to produce some nice, bushy foliage. Flowers, of course, didn't come until the next year, and I was lucky if maybe two buds per plant developed into one of the beloved flowers.

Now having a son, who is fascinated by ants, is like a death sentence to what would be a potential peony flower. I wish I had a dollar for every time I've said, "Do NOT touch the ants on those!" And then gone onto some lengthy explanation that they only send out a few flowers and if the precious buds are bent or ripped off in the interest of ant study, I would be pissed. Needless to say, I have found countless potentially fragerant huge blossoms on the ground, victim to random acts of ant collection and unfortunate magnifying glass violence.

External forces have subsided this year, and now that I've entered into the fifth year for these beauties, what a promising year it was. The ones with the most light opened first, and I was treated to maybe seven or eight blooms on each plant. Only a few days later the others began to open. What a show. For a day, anyway.

Of course, we couldn't have had a few nice sunny days. It had to rain. Rain hard, for hours.

There is not much of a more pathetic sight than a shitload of peonies laying on the ground. Everywhere people have them it is the same, bent over pathetic blooms laying in the grass, sad giant flowers that don't have the power to stand after the added weight of a few hours rain. Freaking wimps. Even worse are the blossom's that still had a few more day's bloom left who are totally stripped of their petals.

At least mine are all part of something greater, scattered around with my other perennials. The most pathetic sight I see when I drive around is the lone peony or group of peonies, planted somewhere in the middle of a yard collapsed to the ground. The promise of could have been good lying in ruins.

Thanks a hell of a whole lot for that one, mother nature.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Photographing Pastel Paintings

I am getting a little frustrated trying to find the time to get some of the pastels I've been doing over the past few months photographed. Equally frustrating is trying to find the time to find the tripod I haven't seen in a year. I was on a roll with these for a while, before getting bogged down by work and distracted by experimenting with block printing, sometime the subject of its own post. I cranked out about 7 or 8 along the same lines as those I've pictured above.

Fortunately, or not, I've kind of lost interest in painting landscapes lately and have become turned on by just color and texture. Somehow, though, they kind of end up looking like something that resembles part of a site plan. I haven't decided if that's a good or bad thing yet, but if I want to get them onto my much neglected and disorganized Flickr account, I must like them. I guess since I took the time to hang them on a wall instead of stacking them with the ever growing piles of ideas and unfinished paintings that ended up forgotten, I like them a lot.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Magnolia X soulangeana

I'm not sure just what it is about this picture, because the composition kind of bites, but there's something about the light that really does it for me. I took it on the kind of day where the sun is just about to go down and the sky is dark and gray, right when the clouds part and suddenly everything the light hits has an orange glow. Just about at the perfect time. Maybe it is because there's so much light going through the petals... it almost seems like there are two light sources.

I have always called these tulip trees, but now that it has leafed out I took a look at the leaves and they aren't the right shape, so I figured it must be a magnolia. Surprisingly, after looking it up it is commonly known as a tulip magnolia, so I guess I wasn't all that wrong.
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Monday, May 19, 2008

Alchemilla vulgaris

The Lady's Mantle is about to come into full bloom. If I were ranking plants, this one would be close to the top of the list. I'm not sure exactly why that is. It could have a lot to do with the color, which is just about the perfect foil to the Japanese Maples. The flowers themselves are unspectacular, almost bordering on ugly, but their chartreuse color combined with the soft, blue green tint of the foliage in the shadows makes me go mmmmmm. Equally mmmmmm inducing is the unparalleled way water droplets collect on the hairy leaves. AND!!! They are self-sowing. Finally. Six years = about freakin' time.

This, I think, is the beginning of the week or so when the garden is at its best, before the dreaded Stella d'Oros become my nemesis. Oh, how I hate those f*$%@#s. They have their virtues... the grassy foliage is among my favorite, but the color of the flowers is lame. Some day they will all end up on the compost heap. Or exiled across the bridge to the back backyard. Or with their stems cut off right before their fleshy, make-me-want-to-puke-orange, in need of daily deadheading flowers begin to open, turning my garden into something that resembles the entrance landscaping of a Shell station.
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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Obama - 75,000 in Portland


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