My typical gardening routine each year is to start enthusiastically and then fizzle out as the weather gets hot and beds are overwhelmed with weeds. A part of that is I was battling beds filled with rocks, deteriorating weed-blocking fabric, and plants I didn’t like. There wasn’t a lot of incentive to care for it until we did an overhaul. This spring, we did a complete overhaul of the beds. It was a lot of work, but I’m enjoying gardening so much more now that I’m tending to plants that I like and we addressed some of the problem areas.
We’ve even been giving our grass more attention!
You can see how our garden beds have progressed in these posts…
We planted a bunch of Annabelle Hydrangeas, I split and relocated some hostas, and we weeded, cleaned out, lined, edged, and mulched all of the beds. We also added some stones to help with erosion. The work was spread over several weeks and weekends, but it made a huge difference in the curb appeal of our home. I’ve even been getting compliments on our flowers and beds from our neighbors.
And I love my Annabelle hedges! I’ve already been clipping bouquets, but I know they’ll be even better in future years as they become well established. The other hedges get morning sun, so I can water them a little less frequently, but the ones along the studio/garage side of the house get afternoon sun, so they need a lot of water. I bought a soaker hose a few weeks ago and turn that on for a while every day to make sure they don’t wilt or get stressed.
Now that the labor-intensive work is done, I’ve been taking a little time a few evenings each week to “do the work of gardening gnomes.” It’s the small detail work that makes the landscaping look so good. I’ll prune off anything that’s half-eaten or is browning/dried out, deadhead flowers, pull weeds, and just tidy things up. I’ll work my way around the house with a five-gallon bucket until it’s full and then I’ll stop. My mom and I even did that together one beautiful evening last week.
Some evenings, I’ll set out, certain that I won’t be able to fill the bucket, because I just filled one the night before, but I always end the gnome-ing with a full bucket. I’ve enjoyed the time outside as a bonus of this gardening by-the-bucket method.
(THESE are the pruning shears I use.)
From gardening to painting… (I’m learning why so many artists enjoyed gardening, too!) When our peonies bloomed a few weeks ago, I was determined to make a bouquet and paint it.
I’ve always loved peonies, but have never been very happy with my paintings of them. They are so detailed and it overwhelmed me!
One thing I’ve learned as I’ve been studying oil painting is that good pictures don’t always make good paintings. Paintings rely on light and shadow to show form, so when I’m taking a picture to paint, it looks very different. The ones above are to use as photographs, the one below is to paint…
I was happy with the underpainting…
…I was even okay as I was adding the shadows. I avoided the pink for as long as I could, which is so funny! Peonies are pink, so you’re going to have to mix up some pinks, Marian!
I’m telling you, I struggled through this one and was never really happy with how the petals and blooms turned out. I got way too fussy and muddied the colors. There were actually times that I completely sabotaged one of the blooms with a big smear so I could try the petals again.
I know that I’m just getting overwhelmed with the detail of the petals and I’m not slowing down to really look at them. I’ll try some sketches of that picture and try again at some point.
The good news is that the painting sold and found a good home. Sending them off in the world helps me to let go of the painting and any struggles I felt while working on it. It’s finished and out of my studio. I’ve learned from it and I can let someone enjoy it while I continue to practice and grow as an artist.
I was the same way with furniture pieces, too! It’s funny how your process can follow you from one creative medium to another.
While all of this angst was happening at the easel, Violet was enjoying the last bit of sun on the cabinet next to me. After a few paws landed into piles of paint on my palette, I banished the kitties from the studio while I’m painting, but I didn’t have the heart to move her…
So, there you go! A little bit of gardening and painting peonies!
This week, I’m going to take a few days off from posting on the blog in order to spend time with my parents and finish up a few more home projects before they head back to Pennsylvania. I have a ton of progress to share, though, from beams on the ceiling to wallpaper in the office, to wooden shoes hung in the foyer! We’ve been busy little bees…