Friday, May 31, 2013

Just add water

A very wet spring has swollen the local rivers, and our midwest community is poised again to flood. In 2008, so much destruction was caused by powerful water surges. Time and tide have healed many of the locally affected areas, only to perhaps be undone within the next few days. At this point, we wait for news from the hydro-engineers on what to expect, prepare our sand-bagging muscles and pray for clear skies.

Tea is always a comfort. My mom concludes an exchange of any bad news with, "Ah well, go make yourself a cup of tea", and I do and it does make me feel better! And so I gravitate towards my kettle right now.  Recently, I've been visiting my herb bed first, before I make my tea...

Due to all the rain, I have a bumper crop of mint in the garden. My friend Simone showed me how she pours hot water over a good handful of fresh, clean mint, lets it steep for a few minutes and viola! (Simone is French!), a lovely light green hued tea awaits your taste buds. Use a clear glass teapot to really enjoy the tea color the best. Add sugar if you wish. And if you have those little colorful Morrocan teas glasses to pour into, you will feel like you've taken a trip to Fez! At least I feel I've escaped out of the rainy ol' Iowa rain for a bit.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Posters afield

Working on a little series of these, inspired by some vintage British subway posters I once ran across. First one, red-tailed hawk.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Morel Dilemma

To eat or to draw, sometimes that is the question.

I helped a friend dig up some bulbs around her new garden. She gave me a couple morel mushrooms we happened upon. This year I have heard is a good one for finding morels. They are such remarkable plants, so architectural and vascular looking, right from a fairy tale. The brown hues in their catacombed flesh are complicated shades indeed.

The larger mushroom was fairly dried out already, but the other still plumb and edible. I couldn't help but leave it next to her sister (the Morel Sisters- like character names from a southern novel!) to draw and study. Soon, the smaller morel was dried up, too. But not before I immortalized "her" in scratchboard and watercolor. Tried to make a real-time print from the larger one, inking it up with a brayer, but alas, the results were unconvincing. I may try a simple rubber stamp print of one, stylized, when I get a chance.

Next time, I'll create my morels with a palette of garlic, spring greens and butter!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Children's Book Week

Hoep you enjoyed it this week!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Words to Garden By

Today, I took myself on a short field trip to the Solon (Iowa) Public Library, a few miles down a country highway from Iowa City. A small but extraordinary display about Emily Dickinson and her garden had been installed in honor of Poetry Month. Display artist Toni Russo created a 19th century garden vignette, a vision of a corner in Dickinson’s garden and how it may have looked after the poet gardener's absence of a few years. Artifacts hinting of a quiet, mysterious life peeked out of the profusion of bloom. Books faithful to the period, Victorian seed packets, a desk with ghostly ink well and pen poised for the last poem are all in view. Birds, small creatures, and of course flowers punctuate the scene as well. So do a pair of poignantly muddied leather lace-up boots. Dickinson’s portrait engages you from the background, her face urging the viewer to carefully observe and wonder the details of our world, as she did in her own.

Several of my favorite Victorians found gardening important to the thinking process of their “other” vocations. Darwin, Beatrix Potter, and Dickinson all left behind bodies of work nurtured by time spent in their gardens.  

I have this tendency, to be transplanting a peony and all of a sudden a line to a story I’ve been struggling with drops into my head! If I could leave one lily petal, one finch feathers worth of work half as fine as Dickinson’s poetry, I will be content.

As it is Children’s Book Week, I’ll put in a plug for a non-fiction picture book by Jeanette Winter, "Emily Dickinson's Letter to the World", whose work I also adore. Lovely simple words and picture do great homage to a part of Dickinson’s story.

Thank you Solon Library and Ms Russo for sharing Dickinson’s work with this lovely display. 

The library invited people to write their own odes to Emily.
This one was my favorite, the young writer confidently proclaiming her solidarity with a rose.  

Friday, May 10, 2013

A wish from another era

Victorian calling cards call to me. I can't imagine a time so genteel that one had small cards to announce a visit to a home or business. We are saving lots of trees with our digital age of less paper (at least I hope that is a by-product), but I do so love a paper artifact, a proof of existence, like calling cards once were.

I found this beauty recently at an antique store. The art is actually two dimensional; the colored graphic lifts away to reveal the name underneath. The shop owner pointed out the little saying printed within the bouquet which reads 'Untroubled be thy days". How lovely is that.

So my wish for you on this American Mothering Sunday upcoming comes from another era, but it is still very apt-  be untroubled.

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