Thursday, May 28, 2009

Inspiration: Derek Hare

Ardnamurchan Lighthouse by Derek Hare

I've been enjoying these works by English painter Derek Hare, primarily because I like the gauzy light, and the way the seascapes are viewed through a delicate lens of mist and fog. My favorite mornings on the islands are when the world drifts in and out of a light mist, especially when it curls in gentle tendrils off a glassy surface so calm you can see down thirty feet to the rockweed covered floor. Hare's paintings are in oil, but I want to try to use my watercolors to mimic this kind of haze. I'll post successful results when I have them...but it may be a while!
More of his work can be found here.

Sanna Bay by Derek Hale

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Photo by SFD

All through the woods the fiddleheads were sprouting up through the dry leaves. Their tender shoots, covered with pale fuzz, symbolize spring to me in a way that few other plants do. Something about the unfurling leaves, perhaps. I always imagine them uncurling, slow and graceful, like a soft ballet set to the music of the dawn chorus of birdsong.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Photo by SFD

PK and I went deep into the mountains this past weekend, in search of new-to-us trails to high peaks, and for a chance to enjoy some isolation, surrounded by wildflowers and the sounds of running water. One of the beautiful things about the mountains this time of year is that the higher you go, the more it seems as though you have travelled back in time to an earlier spring. The trout lilies that were long dried up at the trail head were just about to bloom at the tent site. Trillium and violets were sprinkled across the higher hillsides, and near the summits the leaves were just barely unfurling from their buds.

When you hike with a photographer, the trip takes a lot longer, but you find yourself noticing the smallest details. Squint your eyes and look at a tree, and notice the spaces between the leaves. Watch a flower in the sunlight and then again in shadow, and see the changes in the way the light glints off tiny hairs on the stem. All the parts add up to make the whole, though each is a poem all on its own.

Photo by SFD

Photo by SFD

Photo by SFD

When you hike with a dog, some of that unrestrained exuberance is bound to rub off...

snails skyrocketing in price...

I've always loved this painting by Jerry Garcia. I first saw it on a tag for "Jerry Garcia Art Ties" back in the day when I sold menswear in a department store as I worked my way through college. I always thought there was something appealing about the brightly colored snail tucked in among the washed out colors of the garden behind it. A few years ago, I went to an exhibit of his work. It was an odd experience-the exhibit wasn't in a regular gallery, but in a function room tucked way in the back of a U-Haul facility. The artwork was laid out on white cloth-covered tables. Only one of the pieces was an original watercolor- the others were prints, like the one above. The whole setup was random, sketchy and a little unreal. I turned down the chance to buy a copy of my favorite piece for only $900. At the time, it seemed like a prudent move not to buy art when I should be buying things like rent and gas.

Or so I thought....

I randomly came across a gallery selling Jerry Garcia prints like the one above for $7900 each. Hmm...I wonder if anyone is buying in these tough times?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fading Lilacs...

Today the temperatures climbed into the high 80s, and the air in the garden was thick with the scents of sea salt and lilacs. The purple flowers are all open now, and some are browning around the edges. We're heading into the mountains for the weekend, hiking in two days what we could hike in one, just to slow ourselves down and enjoy the silence of the woods (although perhaps the black flies will speed us up a bit, and then we'll just luxuriate in our tent and read). I'm hoping the lilacs last a little while longer and won't all be gone when we return after the long weekend.

I finished the semester in a flurry of writing, late nights and early mornings spent whacking away at papers and paperwork. Now, I have three long months until I'm back in the classroom again, this time gainfully employed-hurrah! In the midst of all I've been thinking a lot about writing and journals. I struggled with papers this semester, mostly because I was just tired of writing papers for other people on topics that weren't my own, and because I seriously overloaded my schedule in order to finish my certification work. I made it, but I haven't had time to do much writing of my own in the last few months. I've been playing around with different journal types, such as my layered journal , and with the idea of writing a "brain dump" first thing in the morning, what artist Julia Cameron calls "morning pages." The idea of these pages is to clear the mind and get ideas flowing without the requirement of a finished product, and early enough in the day that you aren't distracted by the usual chaos of life. I find that they do bring clarity to my work, and am hoping to do them more regularly now that I don't have to be at work at 7am, or wake up early to get a few pages of paper written. I'll write some more about these journals and the process, because I think it is a really interesting way to explore your own mind a bit. I'm working on some ideas about combining my morning yoga practice with my journaling, since the two have so many parallels in purpose...

And many thanks to folks who have been leaving lovely comments on my garden photos-I'm looking forward to visiting all your sites and catching up on what's been happening in the last few months.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Only 2 days and 14 pages of writing standing between me and summer break! I'm looking forward to actually being able to blog, paint, play and write as much as I want again. In the meantime, here's what's happening in the garden...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Hens and Chicks Bits

Saturday, May 2, 2009

johnny jump-up: not just an innocent flower...

My favorite flowers have arrived in the gardens...

I stumbled across this tune while innocently trolling the webs for seed packets. Good fun...

Johnny Jump-Up

I'll tell you a story that happened to me
One day as I went down to Cork by the sea
The sun it was hot and the day it was warm,
Says I a quiet pint wouldn't do me no harm

I went in and I called for a bottle of stout
Says the barman, I'm sorry, all the beer is sold out
Try whiskey or paddy, ten years in the wood
Says I, I'll try cider, I've heard it was good.

Oh never, Oh never, Oh never again
If I live to be a hundred or a hundred and ten
I fell to the ground and I couldn't get up
After drinking a quart of the Johnny Jump Up

After downing the third I went out to the yard
Where I bumped into Brody, the big civic guard
Come here to me boy, don't you know I'm the law?
Well, I up with me fist and I shattered his jaw

He fell to the ground with his knees doubled up
But it wasn't I hit him, 'twas Johnny Jump Up
The next thing I remember down in Cork by the sea
Was a cripple on crutches and says he to me

I'm afraid of me life I'll be hit by a car
Won't you help me across to the Celtic Knot Bar?
After downing a quart of that cider so sweet
He threw down his crutches and danced on his feet

I went up the lee road, a friend for to see
They call it the madhouse in Cork by the Sea
But when I got there, sure the truth I will tell,
They had this poor bugger locked up in a cell

Said the guard, testing him, say these words if you can,"Around the rugged rock the ragged rascal ran
"Tell him I'm not crazy, tell him I'm not mad
It was only a sip of the bottle I had

Well, a man died in the mines by the name of McNabb
They washed him and laid him outside on the slab
And after the parlors measurements did take
His wife brought him home to a bloody fine wake

Twas about 12 o'clock and the beer was high
The corpse sits up and says with a sigh
I can't get to heaven, they won't let me up
Til I bring them a quart of the Johnny Jump Up

So if ever you go down to Cork by the sea
Stay out of the ale house and take it from me
If you want to stay sane don't you dare take a sup
Of that devil drink cider called Johnny Jump Up