I’m working at the art of gardening as well as creating work in the studio. Paintings for the Florida gallery are still my main focus in the studio — that is, when I can get myself in there to spend some quality time. In between rainy spells, I’ve been getting out to the garden to continue the prepping and weeding and cleaning and planting. And that’s saying nothing of the harvesting and preparation of several things that have wintered over, like greens and beets, which are labor intensive.
These rainy spring days provide studio time and a break from garden chores. The above painting is another one of 16 that I’ve sent to the gallery to date. I have several more in progress, which get some paint added, and then I wait for that to dry, and then wait for some inspiration for further direction. It’s a long slow process, but one that fits in well with my lifestyle. Nothing urgent or forced. Just slow, steady progress.
Note: The blue you see on the sides of these boxes is painter’s tape. I’ve decided I want to leave the natural wood on these, so I’ll protect them until the paintings are finished.
It has been a good, long spring, with a nice transition of temperatures from cold to cool, and no real heat just yet. This is the time that I do a lot of physical stuff outside, and even that is a gentle kind of work. I don’t push too hard, but know that it will soon be too hot to get these things done. Things like moving loads of pine needles, leaves and grass clippings from the pile way out back to the flower beds and garden paths, compost from the compost pile to the garden beds, and picking up tons of sticks and pine cones and tossing those onto the burn pile.
And then there will be planting. The little seedlings in my mini-greenhouse aren’t doing much. If a few survive I’ll be lucky. I don’t know what happened to them, but I think they’re confused by the cold-ish nights. On nights that are forecast to be down in the thirties, I bring the whole thing inside, since it’s very portable. I have to believe that when the warm nights come, they’ll start to wake up and put out better roots.
The iris at the top is one of a bucketful of bulbs that my sister gave me last fall from her yard. The pansies are in two big pots, still here since Thanksgiving. Pansies are amazingly tough and can stand a lot of cold temps.
Meanwhile, the garden is waking up as well. The fall plants that have wintered over are starting to grow greener and taller. We still have plenty of beets, red mustard, onions, and garlic, and the English peas that we planted in February are starting to climb up the trellises and are blooming.
Soon I’ll have to get the beets out of the ground and deal with those so I’ll have room for peppers and cucumbers in their place. By dealing with the beets I mean pickling them. That will require me to set aside a day. By the way, I save as many of the beet greens as I can by using up the small leaves in salads and freezing the rest for sauteeing and soups. Not much of anything goes to waste in my organic garden.
More art — just not the kind that’s done in a studio.
It’s time to sit back, take a breath, and share with you some of what’s been going on in the studio. When we last visited, I had started on a series of new paintings for Michael Murphy Gallery in Tampa.
In the two weeks since I started that project, I have shipped 16 new pieces out and will be starting on more soon. These paintings are small and are best displayed in multiples, so I like to do several at a time.
While all that was going on, I had just photographed and uploaded the first 8 images of the paintings for documentation. I always send thumbnails of my work on an inventory sheet for the gallery. I managed to get that done, but then soon after that the computer where I kept all my art images and art business files crashed. I had gotten complacent over time and hadn’t backed that one up regularly, and of course I came close to losing the photos of my newest paintings, which were already on a brown truck somewhere between here and the gallery. After a week of hand wringing and sleepless nights on my part, the computer tech pronounced the mother board dead, but thankfully managed to retrieve all of my photos and document files.
I now have a shiny, sleek, brand new laptop. It took a little while, but I’ve installed all my graphics software and copied the files I need onto this one. Whew. I can breathe now! Maybe I’ll sleep better too. And I have learned a very important lesson: Files you may think you could survive without . . . you probably really do need them, and would miss them if they were gone forever.
Meanwhile, back in the studio, shown above is a peek at some of the work I’ve sent to the gallery. Not all of these in this picture are new pieces. They are a mixture of recent ones that haven’t been shown in a gallery before, and some are brand new ones.
This week I spoke with a gallery that needs a number of new paintings to replace pieces that have sold, and that’s always very good news. But it puts everything else I was doing on the back burner for a few days. Now I am in full production mode in the studio. There are breaks in the work to allow for lots of drying time, so it’s not something that has to be attended constantly. In fact, there are times I wish I could keep going, but can’t because of wet paint. So I still get to go outside with the dogs and pull a few weeds in between.
As always, I’m sharing a studio shot of current works in progress. I like to go back and look at these after the pieces have been completed too, because sometimes they go through many changes.
In addition to these are seven more that are ready to go with wires, signatures, and titles. Those just need to be photographed properly so I can show them as well. Some of them are completed paintings that I’ve reworked. When I’m working in multiples this way, it’s easier for me to see what I want the standard to be with new work. I change or rework some pieces to conform to my current body of work. Not better or worse, just evolving.
As these come together, I feel good that I’ve done my very best work. It’s important to me to document and get good photographs to inform future work. After all, I’m sending these out into the world and quite possibly will never see most of them again.
The sun is finally out a few days a week, something we haven’t seen for several months. I think this year it was especially gray for longer periods, so that after a time a kind of sad feeling crept up on me. I’ve never been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, because I generally don’t believe labeling perfectly normal feelings as disorders, nor would I ever take a drug for it. But this year I noticed it more than ever before.
At first I would get a momentary nagging feeling and think to myself “geez I’m in a funk” or “why am I feeling so down?” I wondered why I was dragging around even after my 2 cups of coffee, and wanting to sleep all the time. I would look for reasons like hearing someone died or was ill, or watching too much news on TV.
But it wasn’t any of that. It was the absence of sunlight and fresh air. I know that now, because this past week I made sure I took advantage of the sun, even though it was still chilly. And toward the end of the week, it was downright spring-like. I got out there with my wheelbarrow and moved some pine needles and leaves around to use as mulch on future flower beds. I hung out with the dogs and weeded the old garden boxes. I lifted my face to the sky, breathed deeply, and savored it for as long as possible. We can now leave the windows open some nights, which lifts my spirits more than you know. And the difference is amazing. No more SAD days!
Here is another happy little collage that I created last week.