10" x 14"
It's 6:18 am and as I sit at my desk and work computer for the last time, I am filled with mixed emotions. There is so much of 'me' that I will be leaving here at the college and Arboretum, and so much to look forward to as I start the next phase of my life, that I feel I have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, and there's that awkwardness that standing in such a place engenders.
I am sad to leave for a lot of reasons, joyous for so many more. But today, as I say goodbye to the life I've known and lived for 11 years, it is, as expected, bittersweet.
I will miss the accomplishments, the friends, the families who have made my work and stay here such a joy. Having been fortunate to have a career in 'blue jeans' has been a blessing, as has working with plants, the creative endeavers of garden design, teaching, planning, lectures, workshops, community events. I leave the arboretum, as I'd hoped, further along its development. I'm grateful for the Trustees and supervisors who've entrusted me with the vision and responsibility to bring the Arboretum forward. And I'm grateful for the gifts, donations, grants and hard work of supporters and my loyal staff for making it all possible.
This last week has been typical and wonderful. I finished my "Art in the Garden" class and this rudbeckia was the project for my students. The sunshine of its colors also matches the week of bright sun and beautiful weather. Our trip and tour of coastal gardens yesterday was sheer delight - and today, we end with my retirement party and my incredible, loving, generous volunteers and staff.
The week has been a gift, as has been the work I've loved.
Tomorrow, another phase begins. Thank each of you for being with me through all of it.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
10" x 14"
Sunday, June 24, 2012
10" x 14"
I uploaded several photos from my garden and posted them as a challenge here: (www.flickr.com/groups/watercolouristpwl/discuss/721576301...)
I used the photo of the lace-cap hydrangea to paint. (I'm having my students work on the golden rudbeckia). In the painting, I see more yellow in the leaves and pink tones in the blossoms on the original than on the screen - Still, it was fun to do -
These will be my last four days of work: 1 day of finishing paperwork, 1 class, 1 trip, then a farewell/good luck party - and then 11 years of living out of town four days out of seven will be over - and an Arboretum and more accomplished. It's a good feeling -- scary too in a lot of ways - endings are never easy for me - and the transition to 'being at home' is another adventure - a bit planned, a bit uncertain, a lot open ...
I plan to continue teaching classes - from watercolor to crafts to altered books to gardening to herbs and cooking to heaven knows what else. I plan first get my house in order, reduce the clutter that has managed to accumulate, get my garden a bit more under control, paint, paint and paint.
I've already got a number of classes booked, promised visits to my mom and my daughter, and time promised with my son's children.
C and I are planning some long weekends - and for the first few weeks, I hope to catch up on my sleep and energy - the last few weeks of intense finalizing has made me a bit flagged.
Thank you all for your well wishes and kind thoughts. And thank you for your friendship and keeping me company along the way!
You are my blessings!
Have a great week!
Friday, June 22, 2012
There's been a bevy of last-of-the-tasks activity at work, and nights spent working on demonstration pieces for my students and mock-up works for a commission - so time to finish a painting of my own has been limited. We've also had a slam into summer with mid 90sF heat - WHEW! The cool, mild spring really spoiled us all!
Still with only four work days remaining until retirement, when I got home last night I could feel my mental and physical focus moving more and more toward what needs doing at home. Closets, room reorganizing, divesting books that are no longer used, painting, gardening, and much more. There are new classes to start, advertise and find space for, a website to finish, grandchildren to spend time with, visits with mom, long weekends with Charles ... it feels a bit overwhelming right now and it will take a bit of time to realize that I no longer have to squeeze it all into three short weekend days.
My 'wild' garden has been a joyous, peaceful gift in all this sea of change. I arrived in time to see even more cone flowers in bloom, more Queen Anne's Lace, the hydrangea even bluer than when I posted photos, and golden rudbeckias as abundant as the cone flowers. I was elated and blessed! The blueberries were ready and I picked a gallon from shrubs no taller than me ... and the peaches are so abundant this year, they've bend the poor tree over like a wedding arch.
We're in for more hot weather and some rain this weekend - we need the rain as it does a lot of the south.
I painted these roses earlier this spring - trying for just a splashy, loose approach - much like the roses that were blooming in my own garden.
Hope you have a great weekend! Stay cool!
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
10" x 13"
I am teaching a four-part watercolor class at the Arboretum this month, and I painted this day lily (from the Arboretum gardens) as a demonstration for my students to show the various techniques I am teaching - washes, textures, glazing, splatter, dry brush, blowing paint.
Today we'll begin some of the flowers I've uploaded and see how everyone progresses. With only 2 classes remaining, I am anxious to get the students to begin to apply their newly learned skills.
I'd like to share a link to the interview that was done for the Clayton Arts Reception earlier this month.
I was truly honored and humbled by the incredible reception they held, the professionalism, the care they took to showcase my work, and the marvelous, wonderfully warm and generous folks who came out to share that evening with me.
We've another intense week as retirement 'count-down' continues. I'll be pretty much gone the rest of the week and I'll catch up as I can.
Have a great day!
Monday, June 18, 2012
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Friday, June 15, 2012
It seems poppies have captivated me this spring! I can't stop painting them! Even at the Lavender Farm we visited this week, I found more to photograph with the intention of painting them!!
These particular poppies were from the first lavender farm we visited this year. I combined them with the Queen Anne's Lace that in my own garden, is a foot taller than I am! We've had almost weekly rains, which has given the garden a large boost - and every time I come home from my workweek, I am astonished at the size, colors, NUMBERS of flowers that have graced my 'wild' flower garden! Blanket flowers, rudbekias, cone flowers, Queen Anne's Lace, butterfly bushes, roses -- everything but the poppies I planted!! SIGH!!!
It's been another intense week at work -- and with merely two remaining weeks before retirement, the intensity is going to reach record frenzy! My watercolor classes (which I am teaching) are going very well and are such fun! We're using the flowers at the Arboretum to learn flower structure and then learn how to paint the flowers we choose. Our trips have been so well attended, we are now up to two full vans for the rest of the trips this month! And the Lavender farm we visited THIS week - was incredible!!! Great company, awesome gardens, fabulous food, and terrific friendships! When I retire, I'll join these groups -- but this time, I'll be merely a passenger! And our volunteers have been harvesting vegetables like crazy -- 93 pounds of food donated yesterday alone! WOW!
This weekend too is busy. I'm working on several drafts for a comission, I have some sketching to do to prepare for my watercolor students, we've Father's Day to celebrate, and to begin finding places for all my things I'm finally bringing home from out of town.
I hope your weekend is fabulous -- and a most JOYOUS AND APPRECIATIVE HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all the dads, uncles, brothers, cousins, fathers, step-fathers, grand-fathers, and family members who serve as fathers!
HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
The hay season is still going on and finding old barns and hayfields is a hobby I enjoy as often as I can.
Charles and I found this old barn when we were photographing the 'yellow' fields earlier this spring. The owner of the property came by to see if we needed any help or had car trouble (we were stopped at the edge of the highway), and I told the owner that I admired her farm and was taking photographs to use for some paintings. C and I were then invited to join her and her husband for a 'horse-drawn wagon' tour of their property and the adjacent properties of their relatives.
We spent an incredible 90 minutes on the 'back side' of the farms - through the woods, over creeks and bridges, a cabin without electricity and on the grounds since the property was occupied, and more. And all the while, my camera was in action! What a joy -- and what a delightful, fabulous couple! We've been back to their farm for more photos and they've been by our home for some of Charles' music.
This barn was one of many on their property. The hayfields (and basic arrangement of the hay) was in another field, but I combined the two for this painting.
I sent our new friends several greeting cards using this painting to thank them for their wonderful hospitality.
We're off to see another lavender garden with Arboretum guests today .... Hope you have a great week!
Saturday, June 09, 2012
11" x 15"
My gracious, getting ready to retire is a mighty busy, intense time, especially when you live out of town and have been working in one place for 11 years, it's the end of the fiscal year, high gardening time, and a busy 3-days a week teaching schedule. WHEW!
I must say that at times like these I crave time to paint even more. There's a wonderful restiveness to the process that I need to relax and rest for the next day of demands.
I painted this lavender shrub this week in between commitments. In the painting (not sure on each computer screen), the painting is soft, with a pink hue - much like I saw at the lavender festival. I truly love lavender - its scent, the way the flower stems bob in the breeze, the calming effect it has on me, and the delicious flavor it adds to foods - especially chocolate chip, lavender ice cream! My son thinks it tastes like chocolate soap - but I find it HEAVENLY!
2 tablespoons culinary lavender
1 cup milk (I used skim)
1 small package chocolate fudge instant pudding (I used Jello)
1 – 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (cut into pieces – yes – small pieces)
2 cups ½ and ½ (I used non-fat)
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
In small saucepan, add the culinary lavender (I used the lavender tied in cheesecloth) to the 1 cup milk. Heat on medium heat until the milk just begins to boil (BUT DO NOT BOIL). Remove from heat, and let lavender and milk steep for 30 minutes. Remove lavender, strain and cool.
In the meantime, cut up semi-sweet chocolate chips. (You can also cut up a semi-sweet chocolate bar). When lavender milk is cool, mix and blend well with chocolate pudding mix.
In frozen ice cream maker add:
Lavender Milk and pudding mix
½ and ½ (or Cream)
Follow manufacturer’s directions. Ours takes about 30 minutes of spinning. Add chocolate chips after 30 minutes and have machine blend for 5 minutes. Remove from ice cream maker – eat and freeze whatever you can’t resist eating!
I have a couple of lavender plants to get into the ground today - and then I think I"ll spin up a quart of lavender ice cream -- for dessert, and well, just to relax!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Have a great weekend!
Friday, June 08, 2012
Clayton Visual Arts
Reception 6 7 12
What an INCREDIBLE night! The art reception at the Clayton Visual Arts showcased 18 of my paintings along with another North Carolina artist, Jo Lee Tucker. Here I am addressing the more than 50+ attendees.
Paintings sold, new work commissioned, and I went home in a daze from the night, the joy, and the deep, heart-felt appreciation and gratefulness for such a moment. I was truly humbled.
I sincerely thank the folks at Clayton Visual Arts for the awesome opportunity and event. What an amazing blessing!
(My dear husband apologizes for the blurry shots -- it was a busy night! LOL)
Monday, June 04, 2012
Like others on Flickr these last few weeks, I seem to be focused on poppies these days. This painting was inspired by our recent visit to Montrose Gardens, Hillsborough, NC. As happens each spring, Nancy's historic and glorious garden is filled with every variety of these beauties. The cottage-style of her gardens is just perfect for the poppy's effusiveness and multitude of colors. What a joy to see!
And to think, I will soon have enough time to see them more often!
I have turned in my retirement notice -- and will be officially 'retired' at the end of this month. It was a difficult decision to make after 11 years of dedicated work to the project of building an arboretum, starting a two-year horticulture program, creating a solid lecture series and volunteer core, annual plant sales, seeking grants and gifts, and more. My association with this arboretum has been so long and so productive, and the fine folks I've met along the way have meant so much to me - that the decision to begin another phase in my life was mighty challenging.
Still, I'm not as young as I was when I started this venture, and my grandchildren are getting older too - and after 11 years of living 4 days out of 7 away from home -- it is time that I turn to things less stressful and less intense.
My plan is to continue teaching the classes I began at the Arboretum: gardening, art, soapcrafting, collage, herbs, cooking, watercolor - but to do all those closer to home. I'm excited, nervous, and yet anxious to finally slow down my frenetic pace.
And return to my own garden - and plant some poppies of my own!
Have a great week!
Saturday, June 02, 2012
A GLORIOUS day -- low 70s, music provided, wonderful crowds, another incredible day! My paintings inventory has gotten low!! LOL I could have sold a dozen of my tee-shirts today!
And to top it off - lavender chicken salad, pineapple tea, lavender cupcakes, AND -- a double scoop of lavender ice cream chocolate and vanilla!!!
A special thanks to my dear husband who helped set up, helped with answering the many questions, helped arranged the paintings, talked to folks about my work and upcoming classes, and made the event more pleasurable. He is a blessing!
Friday, June 01, 2012
I've been asked many times, "Where do you get your inspiration for your paintings?" And the question always surprises me - not for the curiosity it suggests, but more from the challenge of articulating an answer.
Some days inspiration comes from the most simple things: the way the sun lights my dining room table, the light on a leaf, the play of colors in my garden; sometimes even sounds - like trickling water in a creek, the rain on my skylights; or the smell of gardenias when I open my front door. Many more times, I am inspired by scenes captured by photographs or paintings or line work or simple washes of paint ane the suggestions they imply.
This painting was inspired by a photograph by Early Riser - www.flickr.com/photos/31996407@N05/7232489912/in/faves-li... . I love the way he captures morning views -- they bring me right back to the early mornings I spent in Charleston when I worked for the resorts on Johns Island. I would leave my home before sunrise, and by the time I was crossing over the island bridges, the sun would just be breaking the dawn. I would be rising higher on the bridge as the sun made its ascent - and like morning magic, we'd meet at the highest rise. For some reason, that 'meeting' created such a feeling of hope and optimism for the day.... the sun above, the marsh below... and the day ahead.
And so when I saw this particular capture, I was transported right back to those days, those magical moments, and I tried to capture that particular feeling in this painting.
Thank you, Brian for the inspiration of your work, and for evoking a most precious memory for me and a painting of marsh memories.