Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Color Mondays: Amber Waves Palette and Triple Flying Dutchman Sketch

here is my own version:
Actually I have most of these colors in a Kona jelly roll that I've been meaning to use for and elemental Earth, Wind, Fire and Water triple flying Dutchman design.
Check out my sketch:
Now if only I could buckle down to make the flying geese.
I use the no-waste method for making geese, which leaves you with 4 at once.  It is printable as a handy pdf to keep posted in your workspace.  You can find it at this link from patchpieces.
Happy Tuesday and Happy creating to all, wherever you are and whatever your medium.
Be well!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Rustic Woven Hoop Arbor Trellis for Butternut Squash

The butternut squash are already everywhere, and it's not even the end of May.
The Sweet Jack corn is as tall as I am and tasseling out ahead of schedule.  I planted very thickly indeed this year, since last year I had two stands of corn lodge over due to the prevailing winds in our backyard.  You can see my sideways trellises to help support the top-heavy stalks now.  No problems so far, and I hope that the close spacing will aid in pollination.  I hand-pollinated last year with good results, but it can be tedious.  (Believe me, I'm exclusively hand-pollinating ALL the yellow squash this year every morning...but more on that anti-squash borer solution later).

Squash borers aren't as fond of the winter squash like spaghetti and butternut, because those are much more closely related to gourds.  I grew two gourd plants all along the length of our backyard fence last year and they were never bothered by borers.  We had some leaf-chewing insects but nothing unmanageable.
I refuse to use Sevin insecticide.  Homemade garlic-oil spray has worked wonders on the aphids this spring, so that I hardly had a problem at all.  You do have to be careful not to mix it too strong though, or it will burn the leaves of your plant, especially if it is young.
But garlic-oil can't get to borer larvae once they're nestled all safe and sound inside your beautiful squash plant.  So butternut squash it is, and I had better start gathering my recipes.  Since the fence is obviously not big enough for these vigorous plants (we're not even into their peak growing season yet!), I spent some time trimming low-hanging branches from my black maple in the front yard, cleaning them and then weaving hoop arbors, which I fastened to the fence for a rustic and functional fence-topper to extend the growing space.

Weekend garden projects mostly got finished Saturday, so we're planning for some quality family time this Memorial Day.  And you?  Do you have projects or plans?
Be well,

Alpine Swift Watercolor

I have been outside almost nonstop the past few days working on the garden or other necessary projects, so I haven't gotten as much time for art projects as I would like.  But here is a sketch I've been working on in the evenings to just wind down a bit.  It's an alpine swift--this picture shows the pencil under-drawing and first watercolor washes.
Something about paint palettes has always fascinated me.  Maybe it's my partial synesthesia coming into play, but I can hardly help myself.  I take a picture of my palette almost every time.
It was only recently that I realized not every poet sees colors for vowels or considers different textures of consonants.  To me, English has very disjunct sound-colors that need to be managed carefully in poetry.  Welsh has a far different color scheme with all its aspirations and mutations, as opposed to German, Latin or French.  I didn't know until recently that there are at least 15 described variants of partial synesthesia and I have at least 5-7 of them.
Needless to say, color is something I take seriously.
It affects everything for me.  Everything.

But I digress.  The "swift" pencil layout before first watercolor wash:

I started this little guy as practice because I'm gearing up to work on the wall murals in Robin and Jay's room once more.  In there, there are no mistakes allowed.  My next two are a red-form Eastern screech owl for "O" and an uber-cool Red-eyed Tree Frog for "T".  I think I'll paint some aspen or birch trees on the other side of "T".  The room features a lot of different birds because Jay has been interested in birds from the start, just like his mama.  We're reading a fantastic book right now called "Have you Heard the Nesting Bird?".  He's getting more and more interested in reading as a result.  Hooray!
Have a lovely Memorial Day weekend,

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Harvesting Chamomile

Good morning lovelies!  I am going to show you one of my favorite spring harvesting joys:
Chamomile!  It is oh-so-delightful and I find myself intentionally brushing up against it whenever I walk past.  I've noticed my cat loves to rest around it, too.  He's not so fond of it as the enormous catmint out front, but that's to be expected. 
Be warned, if you have serious daisy-family allergies you may not want to grow chamomile in large masses right beneath your window, because these simple-seeming little flowers are potent. 
I wish you could smell the lovely fresh scent this morning...
Not only is chamomile great for herbal healing and insomnia remedies, it's also very useful around the house and garden.  I had a batch of nicely sun-dried flowers from the other day that I accidentally sprayed water on while playing around with Robin and Jay.  No worries, though, because that batch became anti-fungal spray for seedlings, to prevent damping-off and (I hope) as a preventive against early blight on the nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes).
And besides, the guys and I were having a great time anyway....