gardening

Happy Summer Solstice!

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Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
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Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

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Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

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I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
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Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
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Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

–Mary Oliver, The Summer Day

gardening

Busy As Usual on the Homestead…

Been working on a personal illustration project that I am pretty excited about. I need to keep the momentum going and stick to the schedule I’ve been working on and the systems I’ve been using for continuous creativity. Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit has been really helpful with this.

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I’ve also been completing projects outside…the side steps are finally finished and a much better way of traversing the terraces!

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Here’s a before pic of the area underneath the redwoods in the back. I planned on cordoning off a chicken run using T-posts and vinyl mesh fencing, nothing too permanent yet.

Iris and I got a few pullets yesterday to expand the flock a bit…Littlefoot is pretty lonely since the fox got the others.

 

 

Littlefoot has been roaming the grounds and tearing up a lot of vegetable crops; this is how I feel about that:

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And so, we final grasp the wisdom of a run…

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I installed the 6′ T-posts this past weekend (man, that’s a shoulder workout) and now almost finished with the run…just need to put up an extra line of mesh at the top! This weekend, I’ll be building a portable A-frame coop for the new additions!

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This is how the upper garden looked last week…I’ve cleaned out a lot of the herb bed because many flowers have bloomed and gone. Cut back the thyme and oregano pretty hard, so maybe we’ll have another crop before the summer’s end!

Industrial agriculture has tended to look on the farmer as a “worker”– a sort of obsolete but not yet dispensable machine– acting on the advice of scientists and economists. We have neglected the truth that a good farmer is a craftsman of the highest order, a kind of artist. It is the good work of good farmers nothing else that ensures a sufficiency of food over the long term.

–Wendell Berry, “Agricultural Solutions for Agricultural Problems”

What have you been doing in the garden lately??

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Eternal Year–Drawing Stage

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Another drawing that will be part of my Eternal Year card deck. I am repurposing this old piece…I’ll be adding some kind of carnivore skull at the base of the mushrooms to symbolize “Decay.” This card will be part of the “Summer” collection.

The deck will have either 44 or 48 cards, possibly more, depending on how I progress. I have to finish my credential program, and part of that is completing my edTPA here in California, which is quite involved and time-consuming.

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Here is another finished drawing–“Emerge,” part of the “Spring” collection. You can see strawberry leaves and blossoms, fiddlehead ferns in her hair, and decaying leaves from the past fall. She represents the earth coming back to life, greening up, unfurling.

Eventually, perhaps when I get 15 drawings ready to go, I will start coloring in Photoshop. I have more to share, as I’ve been pretty consistent in my drawing routine for the past few weeks.

More to follow!

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Snowshoes and Chickens

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Finished one I started a while back, inspired by a trip to Donner Lake near Tahoe. The area has a gruesome history, but it sure is beautiful. And scary, too–my daughter did not want to go on the trails behind the cabin we stayed at. Just a little too close to complete remoteness for her, I think.

I just finished reading an essay in Wendell Berry’s collection Home Economics about this very subject: it’s natural to feel wary and apprehensive about pristine nature, even while being in rapturous awe of it at the same time.

He believes we feel most comfortable living with nature, not in it, and I have to agree. He mentions the ecological phenomenon ofย  “edge effect.” I live on those special margins that seem to bring out and nourish the health of the wildlife in the area–my garden and little orchard and “developed” land abut a big track of oak forest that covers the side of the canyon we live atop. I’ve seen more birds, animals, insects, etc. than I ever have immersed deep in the woods (fox, moles, squirrels, red-shouldered hawks, turkey vultures, crows, wild pigs, deer, swallowtails, western jays, finches, doves, owls, praying mantises, skinks, fence lizards, garter snakes, to name some).

That being said, Berry also talks about how we “need” wilderness, as much as a physical reality as an idea in our collective mind. I, for one, definitely feel that necessity to know that there are still wild, scary places out there, with creatures that could, in fact, kill us.

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Also finished another drawing, inspired by my girls feeding the chickens. They love to dig for worms in the compost pile and feed them to the chicks!

And I’ve been featured on the Doodlewash watercolor blog and community…thank you so much!

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New Works and New Domain Name!

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Finished a new painting for my sister-in-law’s engagement party invitation! Also works for Doodlewash’s May Challenge and sailboat prompt! Ocean/bay/sailboat themed! I completely winged this one, and I like how it turned out–I especially like the minimalist pelican and fish in there. And I love painting boats; I think it’s because of the lines–sleek and following the wind, beautifully shaped. The same reason I love drawing and painting horses. Here’s one I’m working on in acrylic, for a change:

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This is just the underpainting, plus a few layers here and there, but I really like the way it’s going. The plan is to do two more horse-themed acrylics and hang them up in the house somewhere. Also working on a little pencil drawing inspired by our chickens! Need to blacken some of the chickens, add some more detail to the ground and color in Photoshop.

And I finally got a personal domain name!! Instead of my name, which is hard to spell for some people on hearing it, I decided to go with wildcountryart.com–using some of the descriptor words in my blog subheading ๐Ÿ™‚

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Work and Leisure…

…pretty much the same thing for me ๐Ÿ™‚

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Working on a snowshoer. This one is inspired by Eyvind Earle, one of my absolute favorite artists. Our family recently went to Truckee around Donner Lake, and we did a bit of cross-country skiing. I hadn’t been skiing in 20 years, so I fell a lot in the beginning…but by the end, I had the hang of it!

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Don’t my kids look thrilled?

Also went hiking in Sunol, probably my favorite nearby park. And lucky for us, the Wildflower Festival was going on, so we brought home a mason bee house, some seed bombs, and some pressed flower bookmarks. I have a lot of pictures, a few of which I’m going to post later when they get uploaded, and many of these pictures are going to be interpreted into paintings. I’ve found that I really enjoy painting landscapes in the style I’ve developed.

I tend to get distracted by things and have been doing a lot of late night reading recently instead of more painting (which I want to do). I’m finishing up Wendell Berry’s The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, after just reading Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy: the Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. I’m also getting into David Orr’s Earth in Mind…and I have to say, all of these books, while having Jacques Ellul’s The Technological Society, Merchants of Doubt, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, Manufacturing Consent, and The Overspent American under my belt to name just a few, are not making me feel too optimistic about the future. But, these books are also getting me pretty fired up about teaching, and I hope after completing my credential program I’ll land an Environmental Science job.

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Genius–Guiding Spirit

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Finished a painting I started a while ago! This color palette was one of my favorites when I first began the piece. Using middle-grade cold-pressed watercolor paper, and I can definitely tell the difference between this and my normal Arches (the best!). But it still works pretty well with the tube watercolor pigments.

I notice that when I’m working with the mid-grade paper and Dr. Ph Martin’s liquid watercolors that the paint tends to bleed a lot more into the individual fibers of the paper. I’m working on a bigger painting where I only used the liquid watercolors and will post about that later–how the qualities of those differ from tube watercolor pigments.

I decided to name this one “Genius,” and the animal is supposed to be that–a guiding spirit. Potentially part of my oracle deck…still a long way to go with that project! And I still have a whole backlog of paintings I have to finish and a picture book I’d like to complete. Just need to take it day by day…