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The Poetry of Pears

July 23, 2016

The poetry of pears is in their flavor.

Pears

Pears

Watercolor, three pears

Watercolor, three pears

“Pears, it is truly said, are less poetic than apples.  They have neither the beauty nor fragrance of apple, but their flavor . . .”
_ Henry David Thoreau, journal entry, October 11, 1860

Trees are Poems

July 22, 2016

“Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky.” — Walt Whitman, 1892

The Lawrence Tree by Georgia O'Keeffe, 1929

The Lawrence Tree by Georgia O’Keeffe, 1929

Trees are such miracles of nature.  Their diversity simply astounds.  I am looking forward to making more paintings of trees in the coming years.  I am inspired by this painting by Georgia O’Keeffe, one of my all-time favorites.  You can make a quick acquaintance with this O’Keeffe painting at this link: http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/okeeffes-the-lawrence-tree.html

There are many lovely books about trees, and here are two incredible ones:

Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time by Beth Moon.  I love her photographs of old and noteworthy trees.

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Quiver Tree from Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time by Beth Moon

Quiver Tree from Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time by Beth Moon

Double page spread from Anciet Trees: Portraits of Time

Double page spread from Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time

Strange Trees by Bernadette Pourquie and Cecile Gambini.  This is an English edition of an award-winning picture book from France.  The art and text tell the stories of 16 truly unusual trees from around the world.  My favorite is the “Dynamite tree” from Trinidad, whose seed capsules explode with a sudden bang.

Strange Trees picture book

Strange Trees picture book

Baobab tree from Strange Trees

Baobab tree from Strange Trees

I was familiar with only three of the featured trees:  the giant sequoia, the ginkgo, and the baobab.  I had seen a baobab grove in Botswana, and was interested to hear it called the “upside-down tree” because it looks like it has its roots on its head!  Like many trees adapted to dry environments, the bulbous baobab can store water in its trunk. The author calls it a “potbellied giant.”

Baobab grove, Botswana, 2007

Baobab grove, Botswana, 2007

Watercolor sketch of baobab trees

Watercolor sketch of baobab trees

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Watercolor painting of hydrangea

Watercolor painting of hydrangea

“Ever since the invention of photography, making a painting at all is an act of wilful inefficiency.”
— Amy Whitaker,  Art Thinking

I like my photographs of hydrangeas.  I like this watercolor painting as much or more.  Thank goodness life is big enough to embrace multiple ways of seeing, doing, and being.  Efficiency isn’t the most important thing.

 

Watercolor painting of hydrangeas

Watercolor painting of hydrangeas

Another watercolor study

Another watercolor study

“Still life is a minor art, and one with a residue of didacticism that will never bleach out; a homely art.  From the artist’s point of view, it has always served as a contemplative form useful for working out ideas, color schemes, opinions.  It has the same relation to larger, more ambitious paintings as the sonnet to the long poem. . . . Still life has been a kind of recreation, a jeu d’sprit, for painters.”
— Guy Davenport, Objects on a Table: Harmonious Disarray

I can see Davenport’s point of view about still life painting.  I see my efforts to translate what I see into a painting on paper as beginner’s marks, trying to understand what works and what doesn’t.  I don’t feel ready for more ambitious compositions, and that’s why I chose to paint just a single or a few objects.  I still love messing about, trying to improve.  Occasionally I surprise myself with something that I actually like.  Maybe if these happy surprises occurred more frequently, I would be ready to challenge myself to larger subjects.  I’m not there yet!  So I’ll stick with “homely art” for a while.

 

 

 

Brown pelican, Westport, WA

Brown pelican, Westport, WA

The beach at Westport, Washington sports a long jetty — the perfect place to watch seagulls, pelicans, and other birds fly by at almost eye-level.  When I saw this brown pelican, I was reminded of this humorous poem:

“Oh, a wondrous bird is the pelican!
His bill holds more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Enough food for a week.
Though I’m damned if I know how the helican.”
— Dixon Lanier Merritt

In one of those serendipitous occurrences, one of the bloggers I follow, Linda at “The Task at Hand,” just served up a post about pelicans.  Luckily she had done the research and I could properly attribute the poem to Merritt.  Her timely words saved me some time in writing my post!

Watercolor sketch of brown pelican in flight

Watercolor sketch of brown pelican in flight

 

Westport, Washington

Westport, Washington

What is summer without at least a few days at a beach?  My husband and I took a day trip from Seattle to Westport, Washington.  The Pacific Coast is about a 3-hour drive from our home in the city.  Hours at the beach and nothing to do but watch the waves and clouds, settle down with a good book, enjoy the parade of families and dogs and surfers frolicking in the water, listen to the rhythmic pounding of the breakers and waves lapping at the shore — quintessential summer.  My husband brought back enough fish for supper.  I brought back a few patches of sunburn (yes, I burn even under cloudy skies) and a few good photos.

I do love our ocean beaches.

A patch of blue

A patch of blue

Bluff overlooking the beach at Westport

Bluff overlooking the beach at Westport

Dune path

Dune path

Seagull

Seagull

You never know what you’ll find washed up on the beach.

Sand dollar

Sand dollar

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Some views from the jetty:

Surfers, Westport, WA

Surfers, Westport, WA

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Blackberries

Blackberries

It’s that time of year when I can go a few steps out my front door and pick a bowlful of blackberries for breakfast.  Our yard is pretty much a wild mess, and I vow to someday cut back or get rid of the blackberry brambles, but now is when my procrastination pays off.   Every day there are a few more berries ripe for the picking.  A free serving of fruit!

Blackberries growing in my yard

Blackberries growing in my yard

This morning's breakfast

This morning’s breakfast

One morning this week I even gathered sufficient berries to make a small batch of jam.  I’ve written about my friend Shirley’s jam before (see link here) but I’ve never provided her recipe.  She was generous enough to give it to me before she retired.

Small batch of Shirley's blackberry jam

Small batch of Shirley’s blackberry jam

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Shirley’s Blackberry Jam

In a large kettle mix together:
5 c mashed blackberries (no need to remove seeds)
1 box Sure-Jell
a little dab of margarine (I used butter)

Cook on high until the mixture is really boiling and then add about 5-1/2 c sugar.  Continue to cook on high until it comes to a full rolling boil that you can’t stir down.  Then cook for one minute more.  Remove from heat and ladle into jars.

I don’t worry about sealing my jars properly because I put my jam in the freezer.  But you can also do a water bath or follow the directions in the Sure-Jell box.

 

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