Camellias

Camellias

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Fading Hydrangeas

September 26, 2016

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Hydrangeas are maybe my favorite flower.  I love their colors, a changing palette — they age so beautifully.  And I love their round shape.  Even this late in the season, I see hydrangeas as fresh as the one above, which I photographed at the ocean in Bandon, Oregon.  But more common are those that are past their peak, fading, fading.

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Painting hydrangeas

Painting hydrangeas

Watercolor sketch of hydrangeas

Watercolor sketch of hydrangeas

 

 

Hydrangeas in pinks and blues

Hydrangeas in pinks and blues

One of my readers commented on my July 8th post that hydrangeas change color based on the pH or acidity levels of the soil.  Hydrangeas planted in strongly acidic soil (pH below 6) tend to be blue.  Those planted in alkaline soil (pH 7 and above) are pink.  And those planted in neutral soil (pH 6 to 7) display purple hues.

That made me think of mood rings!

I still don’t understand how one bush can bloom in an array of colors, from pink to purple to blue.

And, I read that white hydrangeas are not barometers of soil acidity.

Regardless of color, those hues are wonderfully represented in watercolors.

Painting hydrangeas

Painting hydrangeas

Hydrangeas in small vase

Hydrangeas in small vase

Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas

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.

 

 

 

Hydrangea Orgy

July 8, 2016

Hydrangeas in blues

Hydrangeas in blues

I don’t remember seeing hydrangeas when I was growing up in Minnesota, but here in the Pacific Northwest they flourish.  I just love the range of colors they display, from purple to blue to pink and white.  I took all of these photos yesterday when strolling through the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle.

Hydrangea bush on a Ballard street

Hydrangea bush on a Ballard street

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I was in Ballard for a visit to the Nordic Heritage Museum to see an exhibit of photographs by Nathalia Edenmont, who works in Sweden.  I was intrigued by her use of botanicals as garments, resulting in some unique fashion portraits.  I laughed when I saw some hydrangeas in her photographs.

Deep in Thought, 2012 by Nathalia Edenmont, Force of Nature exhibit.  Dress made with dried hydrangeas.

Deep in Thought, 2012 by Nathalia Edenmont, Force of Nature exhibit. Dress made with dried hydrangeas.

Consciousness, 2012 by Nathalia Edenmont, Force of Nature exhibit.  Pink hydrangeas on shoulder strap.

Consciousness, 2012 by Nathalia Edenmont, Force of Nature exhibit. Pink hydrangeas on shoulder strap.

Edenmont’s photos are weirdly wonderful — the poses are a tad dark or serious but the outfits are whimsical and colorful.  Here are a few more:

Baby's Breath, 2010 by Nathalia Edenmont

Baby’s Breath, 2010 by Nathalia Edenmont

Saga, 2011 by Nathalia Edenmont

Saga, 2011 by Nathalia Edenmont

Cousin Red, 2014 by Nathalia Edenmont

Cousin Red, 2014 by Nathalia Edenmont

Tasty, 2015 by Nathalia Edenmont

Tasty, 2015 by Nathalia Edenmont

After enjoying my hydrangea morning, I think I’ll try my hand at painting hydrangeas for my next subject.

Watercolor sketch of hydrangea

Watercolor sketch of hydrangea

 

Garden shed at Jello Mold Farm

Garden shed at Jello Mold Farm

Here are some more photos from my June visit to Jello Mold Farm.  Lots of gorgeous flowers in bloom.  I never tire of the beauty held in these fertile acres.

Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas

Poppies

Poppies

Dahlias (I put my hand in the picture to give you some idea of the size of these giants)

Dahlias (I put my hand in the picture to give you some idea of the size of these giants)

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Greenhouses

Greenhouses

Crocosmia

Crocosmia

Another view

Another view

Love-in-a-mist

Love-in-a-mist

Lupine

Lupine

Inside a greenhouse

Inside a greenhouse

 

 

Grasses and lavender, late summer

Grasses and lavender, late summer

“Spring was a fever and autumn will be a regret, but this is the month of its own successful achievement to be more than barely sentient. . . . August is the month when the solid and the domestic triumph, when the prudent come into their own.  The very birds, whose springtime was devoted to love and music, are now responsible parents who have forgotten how to sing.  The early flowers of the woods waved their brief blossoms and are forgotten, but the roadside and the fields are taken over now by the strong, coarse, and confident weeds.”
— Joseph Wood Krutch, The Twelve Seasons: A Perpetual Calendar for the Country

Weeds with empty kiddie pool

Weeds with empty kiddie pool

Dried hydrangea with picket fence

Dried hydrangea with picket fence

 

Short Winter Days

December 14, 2013

Winter's hydrangeas

Winter’s hydrangeas

“I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.”
— John Burroughs, from The Writings of John Burroughs, vol. 15, The Summit of the Years

Night falls early.  Like Burroughs, I find the days much too short for everything I want to do.  Unfortunately, picking up a paintbrush has fallen to the wayside.  One day soon I will get back to making paintings.  For now, I am enjoying reading and incubating some thoughts.

I did rouse myself to walk to a neighborhood coffeeshop, though, and took these photos along the way:

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Blue hydrangea petals

Blue hydrangea petals

I set out on a recent neighborhood walk to photograph a color wheel in the hues of a Seattle summer day.

Green acorns amidst green oak leaves

Green acorns amidst green oak leaves

Yellow -- floral suns in a blue sky

Yellow — floral suns in a blue sky

Orange signals summer road construction projects

Orange signals summer road construction projects

Red flowers in a hanging basket in the shade of a porch

Red flowers in a hanging basket in the shade of a porch

Violet clematis

Violet clematis

And back to blue -- the cloudless skies of a midsummer day

And back to blue — the cloudless skies of a midsummer day