Sunday, September 17, 2017

Pokeweed and Brambles

Rain and a stretch of unusually cool days have invigorated both people and plants. My nose caught the sweet scent of blooming vines before I saw them. Forty yards of fence had been completely enrobed in flowers, buzzing with happy bees. The afternoon sun came out for a moment, highlighting the pokeweed berries, bright as jewels. Mother Nature is busy sharing her end-of-summer work in an abundance of beauty.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Red Kayak

This image jumped out at me while I was looking for something else. Oh yes, I remember that day, standing on one of Ghent's small bridges. Down the River Leie came the man in the kayak, sliding so quietly through the water. I was admiring the way the reflections of the boats shimmered as he passed. Then I noticed the dog, so intent on the water just beyond the prow of the kayak. Perhaps this one should be titled "Dog Is My Co-Pilot."

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Succulents In the Ripley Garden

Of all the gardens scattered around the Mall, the Smithsonian's Mary Livingston Ripley Garden is my favorite. Red brick paths punctuated by a cast iron fountain curve through a sliver of space between the Hirshhorn and the Arts & Industries building. What was originally slated to become a parking lot is now a quiet haven for birds, butterflies and people. A new feature this year has been the wall of succulents. This living collage of textures and colors has grown and filled in as the summer progressed. It's an idea that could be replicated in a space as small as a balcony or a tiny townhouse garden.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Well Used Stencils

Stencils are easy to find and purchase. Now we can skip the daunting tasks of  drawing or tracing a design then cutting it out. The same design can be purchased in multiple sizes. Sometimes it all seems too easy, as if not creating the stencils from scratch is cheating. I’ve come to realize that a stencil is a tool and it’s all in how you use it. Layering blue checkerboards over green swirls then adding a few fragmented bits of gold metallic script--reversed so it’s more of a texture--is an exercise in how colors combine and how a composition can develop. Get out those stencils. Try tracing the shapes with colored pencils or markers. Apply paint with sponges or your fingers. Then you might want to go out and buy a few new stencils.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Late Summer Cosmos

Cosmos are easy to grow. Cast the seeds out onto a patch of soil and they will rise exuberantly. They turn their sunny heads in every possible direction, stretching their foliage out every which way. Roses, dahlias and boxwood hedges require work and watchfulness, which earns respect and admiration for both the plants and their caretakers. Cosmos seem to flourish as easily as weeds. Tidiness simply is not in their nature. I walk past a fence that barely contains them and am cheered not just by their colors, but their unbridled enthusiasm. 

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Tiffany Glass

The Cincinnati Art Museum is hosting an exhibit of lamps and stained glass panels created by Tiffany Studios. Wisteria and laburnum blossoms drape across shades, Madonnas glow from within and sunrises reflect in streams of watery glass. The colors and textures are heart-stoppingly beautiful. A table was spread with shards of the glass used for lamps and windows, as well as the small jewel-like molded pieces that were used as decorative elements. They illustrate the huge range of colors and textures developed by the studio. This looks familiar to anyone who hand dyes fabric. We love gradations, striations, unexpected mottling. That table alone is a wealth of inspiration and an example of how art often cross-pollinates.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Big Mushroom

After several days of rain, a few small mushrooms appeared in the yard, followed by this one, large as a luncheon plate. At first glance, there is nothing remarkable about it. But the more I looked, the more there was to see, starting with the subtle shading from  taupe to creamy white. Then there were all the textures; a split like lightning, disrupting the mushroom’s attempts to achieve radial symmetry. Scales, like the tips of flower petals go round and round in circles. For some reason, those scales made me think of the gigantic banners that hang in front of the Metropolitan Museum, proclaiming the latest blockbuster exhibit. They always have small rounded flaps cut into them, allowing the wind to pass through. Look closely at an unremarkable mushroom and you never know where your mind will go.