Spring & Art & Crafts

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The work of spring is not super-glam. At the moment, my most recent gardening toils sit at the curb in large brown bags awaiting pick-up. However, previous efforts are richly rewarded.

Colors are just starting to appear in the sidewalk garden. Our weather has been on the cool and damp side, for which we are grateful, though it’s difficult not to wish for warmth. It’s like being a kid and wishing you were older: it will happen full-force in no time.

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I don’t know if it was the late frost or what, but some citizens of the garden are more colorful than ever. They cannot fail to cheer me, even if I am involved with sweeping up forty trillion metric tons of leaves.

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The wet weather gave us a great number of colorful mornings and evenings, too. One morning it looked as if the landscape was emerging from a cauldron.

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As the days go by, small leaves close up become in the distance the kind of pale green haze our landscape takes on for a few weeks every March. Last week when I checked on the honey mesquite at the park, it had not presented any greenery yet, so we could not assume we were safe from frost. I think Travis and I will walk over there this afternoon just to make sure before I empty out the greenhouse for the season. What are your “sure signs” that winter is over?

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I had to grab this next shot from behind my desk, as they refused to pose when I saw them while outdoors; but those of you in the north will be heartened soon by the arrival of the hundreds of fat robins we saw all over the place a couple of weeks ago. I can’t think when I have ever seen so many. They swooped out of the trees by the dozens and gathered in the air by hundreds. We had our last little freeze on their final weekend here; maybe they just gave up on central Texas and thought, For this crummy weather we might as well be home.

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Likewise for the cedar waxwings that filled our live oak out in front the other day. I knew better than to even try to get any closer than the front room window. It would be nice if I could look at this photo and see beautiful birds instead of green pollen-machines I shall have to gather up in large brown sacks in a few weeks, but there’s spring for you.

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Here and there across lawns and throughout the woods, flowers planted by birds and wind begin to signal spring. Makes me want to dust off the macro lens and find the shortest little tripod in my collection, to head out and collect some portraits. But mostly I just walk around with my phone.

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At the end of our driveway, a big pot jam-packed with Queen’s Tears seems to have enjoyed our mercurial weather. It’s the most blossoms I’ve had outside of the greenhouse.

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In the master bath, a minor miracle: two orchids I haven’t killed yet. One was a good-bye gift when I departed my therapy office at the beginning of the year, and it’s still amazing:

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That little one in the background was a gift from daughter last Mother’s Day, and it’s the first time I have ever had a re-bloom. Heck, it’s the first time I haven’t killed orchids outright.

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On the art front, progress is maddeningly slow. Online tutorials are really fun, though, and very forgiving as I can run through them a dozen times if I need to. I have in in my mind that I need to learn to paint “loosely,” which is fun

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but you still need to be able to draw, which is not my strongest suit.

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Note the non-existent staircase beneath that suave curved railing. Loose becomes wayward in the hands of the unruly.

One guy I take lessons from on SkillShare likes to slap on swaths of color (though he describes himself as extremely stingy when it comes to using paint) and then “take stuff away” to make the painting emerge. This is a fun technique. We were supposed to paint a landscape of the imagination. Of course, this one is from his imagination, but it’s techniques I’m collecting here.

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I have also continued to fight the good fight to paint one damn halfway decent ocean wave. My holy grail.

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Yeah, well. The quest continues.

Looking for some easygoing fun, I sent off for some gels and mediums that a nice lady was teaching us about on bluprint (which used to be Craftsy).

IMG_9066Of course in the back of my mind there are an infinite number of garden posts waiting to be decorated with such delightful things. Having sold two posts one day (wholly by accident), I am sure this is where my retirement fortunes reside.

 

When the attempts to create actual art give me headache, I have a most wonderful prescription: CRAFTS! Who needs to be an artist when you can just have fun with paint?

Acrylic pouring has quite a large following these days, and it is just the kind of profoundly messy enterprise someone like myself can appreciate. There are many formulae and techniques, but I became enamored of a method called “Dutch Pour” because a delightful woman from the Netherlands has brought it to many peoples’ attention on YouTube. (A number of people would like me to remind you that she didn’t invent it, but we have no time for sour grapes here.) Check her out here: Dutch Pour.

Now this is a learning curve I can actually enjoy.

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For me the line between craft and art is multi-faceted. Creativity is one aspect, although the woman I knew years ago who made holiday brooches out of turkey wishbones and ostrich feathers was certainly creative in her endeavors. With painting I think you need to study the basics, understand your medium, and have some idea how to create depth. Not to paint a thing, but to paint something that evokes that thing.

So the pouring thing is a craft, the way I practice it. Mix it, pour it, hit it with the hair dryer and see what happens. This is my latest attempt, and I am pretty sure that when it dries I’m going to cover it in resin and make a tray out of it.

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Many people are fond of all those little dots called “cells.” They happen when the paints and the medium(s) duke it out chemically. I don’t live or die by the presence of cells, but they sure are fun to watch as they develop! I think it’s the unpredictable, surprise aspect of pouring that appeals to me out in the spattered garage and away from my angst-covered painting table with the easel and pencils and brushes on it.

Besides, I end up with a splendid pool of color that I use to print sheets of paper for notepaper, wrapping paper, and really imaginary landscapes on old canvases. Slap ’em down and lift ’em up and see what you get.

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Add a few metallic gold and blue leaves and it’s a forest.

The more I think about it, the less interesting the line between art and craft becomes. Who cares? I’m semi-retired and just trying to have fun.

Fun, and spaghetti. This was lunch today. As my dear late first mother-in-law used to say, “Jaz eat jet?”

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And of course, even if you had just eaten, there’s always room for spaghetti.

 

 

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