Update on Succulents and a Few Other Things


So last time I wrote about succulents I’d just been to the garden center and picked up a few new wonders of the succulent variety as well as a handful of loose succulent leaves. Well, I laid them out on a bed of perlite and left it outside under filtered light (my covered porch) and waited. It’s been what…two weeks now? Well, I am happy to report that they are now pushing out roots. Check them out!

 

I’m going to wait a bit longer until it starts to form a new plant, so I will get back to you on that. They still have a lot of  juice in them. No watering is required. You know it’s ready to put into the ground when the leaves are desiccated and a new mini plant is formed at the end where the roots are.

I also showed you how you can propagate by just cutting off succulent heads, scabbing them over and putting them directly in soil. Well, I cut too many heads and didn’t have enough planters, so some of the heads I left sitting on the perlite. Well, wouldn’t you know it, they also started to push out roots. These should be placed in soil pronto as the leaves are getting really thin, indicating that it’s using all it’s juice to make those roots and needs water soon.

 

So that’s the most recent skinny on succulents.

 

The end of April brought the first BBQ of the year for us. Very exciting. Nice to have the longer days and the warmer evenings.

For our inaugural BBQ we grilled burgers. Not to be forgotten, sweet red onions drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt.

 

Look at its transition to absolute tastiness heaven:

 

Add to that my mother in-law’s home-made pizza…and we were so very good to go!

 

 

The accidental garden is doing well. Those petunias just keep on flowering!

 

And my hubby planted a lot of seeds that have been happily germinating on the window sills in our apartment. Look at this happy sprout greeting the vegetation outside our window:

 

Soon they’ll be ready for the outdoors.

Unfortunately pests have discovered my Bok Choi that was so happily flourishing in our planter boxes. I haven’t the heart to upload a photo. Have been experimenting with sprinkling cayenne pepper on and around them. So far no evidence that this has helped in any way. Does someone out there have advice for me? We think it might be earwigs getting to them. Booooo! Hisss!

 

That’s the latest. Will upload photos of recent artwork soon.

 

 

S

 

 

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The Only Vacuum I Want to Use is the Zen No-Mind Kind


I am no domestic diva. As I sit here and type a sink full of dishes lie waiting. I think about two days ago I broke down and used the vacuum, but only because the carpet was such a mess even I could no longer over-look it. Often my hubby cracks first and goes through a furious whirlwind of a cleaning frenzy. Other times I finally wake up to the grotesqueness around me (usually when I realize I’m going to have visitors) and start cleaning.

Why is it so hard to keep a decent household?

I know plenty of folks who keep a regular schedule of cleaning, so that never is there a time when they look up to discover mounds of clothes on the bedroom floor, crumbs and detritus collecting around kitchen floor crevices, dishes in the sink, hair and splash stains around bathroom sinks and mirrors. No, they never let it get to that point. I do, however. It upsets me, but I guess not enough to reform me into a domestic do-gooder. I’m sorry honey, but I’m never going to be that kind of wifey.

Everything takes time. To divide that time between all my interests and then also slice off a bit for those nasty chores, leaves very little.

How to be a dreamy creative AND a conscientious house keeper? I don’t even have kids! What kind of wreck will I be then? What will I have to sacrifice?!! Not my art, SURELY NOT!!!

Okay, I’ve worked myself into a frenzy. One thing at a time.

Home is where the heart is. Home is where the art is. …

 

This is my little corner of creativity. Can you tell I’m either outgrowing the space…OR…heaven forbid I am just not that good at keeping it organized?! In the moment of inspiration, I’m just not that focused on where things should be placed neatly.

I’m a work in progress. In an ideal world, all rooms in my house would be a minimalist, zen-like space, brightly illuminated and clean. But first, I need to train myself.

Anyone have any suggestions? I’m looking for motivation here. I know how good it feels when everything is in order and clean.

I think I’m going to start with that sink full of dishes. Wish me luck!

 

S

 

Kitchen Series


Hey there,

I’ve been distracted lately by succulents and knitting but haven’t been posting much about painting and drawing. I sat down the last couple of nights and reconnected with my love of drawing with simple colour (yes, I’m Canadian so I’m sticking with the spelling) pencil.

I fell back into one of my favourite subjects: my kitchen gadgets. A while back I started a kitchen gadgets series of paintings and had great plans for this work a.k.a. getting it shown at some of the local restaurants here in Calistoga. I have yet to build up to critical mass.

As I was drawing, though, I realized that maybe the series didn’t have to be all paintings, maybe it would do better as either ink drawings or colour pencil drawings. I’m posting the series here in hopes that you guys and gals might have some opinions.

 

Here are the paintings:

 

 

 

The ink drawings:

 

 

 

 

And the colour pencil drawings I did last night:

 

 

 

Lemme know what you think.

 

Thanks!

 

S

 

Never Go Near A Garden Center a.k.a. Human Magnet


I did it folks, I was led into temptation. I knew well in advance, as my legs took on a life of their own and carried me towards the alluring gates, that I should not enter the garden of Eden, because I would partake of the fruit. For a few moments I put on a convincing act of  ‘just looking’.

These were my finds:

Graptoveria Amethorum

Bear’s Paws

I couldn’t resist. They were $1.98 at Home Depot. I could say that it was out of the goodness of my heart – because though they look great on their abundant flats of succulents, they are not in the proper soil. Large stores like HD are all about the easy and express, so they just put these little guys in potting soil which is not prime for a succulent.

These two succulents are the juicy type, so they will not survive frost ( I learned that with last seasons juicy succulents, may they rest in peace. Juicy= high water content=freezes like water in an ice cube tray). These are definitely indoor guys.

As exciting as these acquisitions were, the most exciting were the freebies:

 I did not unscrupulously take them off a plant, I happened to find them at the bottom of the flat between the potted plants where they had naturally fallen on their own. This is a fantastic development as I now have the subjects for my experiments with this method of propagation:

1. Take leaves from succulent and lay them on a bed of perlite or gritty soil

2. Leave in area of filtered light indoors or out. Do not water

3.Wait for new growth to form at base along with tiny roots

4.Place in gritty soil and water lightly

Now I’m at step 3: the waiting. I will let you know how things develop.

In the meantime, here are a few shots of me transplanting my lovely succulents to a good-sized pot full of 1:1:1  potting soil/ Perlite / Gritty soil ( lava rock is apparently best but hard to find. Sand is too fine)

You must not be afraid to manhandle the succulent to open up the root ball – often they’ve been confined to a pot for too long and they are quite dense. Remember you are showing them tough love and they will appreciate it in the end.

Lightly spritz them with water and place in the sun.

Cheers!

S

Get Outside!…but check for keys first


Well folks, as is often the case, we intend to take the bull by the horns but in the end we discover it’s the bull who’s in control.

I sat down at my keyboard with the intention of writing a new post, sat with fingers poised… and then found nothing but static.  I’ve been feeling a little bit stressed of late  and when that happens it’s really hard to stay in a relaxed and creative zone.

I decided that what I needed was a dose of fresh air. It’s been raining pretty steadily, so whilst there was a break in the rain I thought I’d take some pictures of the wonderful spring growth occurring in our back yard. I grabbed my Nikon D300, slipped on my faithful flats, zipped up my hoody (rather chilly in the mornings), let the door swing shut and stepped into a rain drenched, glowing garden:

Happy with my shots I gleefully headed in to upload them. Surely this would make a great post!

Imagine my surprise when the door knob failed to turn so that with my forward momentum my body continued to travel until it met with the door.

Okay. Somewhat fazed.

I guess I must have failed to notice the doorknob set to the locked position when I exited. That’s fine, we’re prepared for this contingency: a spare in the shed.

Go to the shed. I remember the lock combo, good for me.

Can’t find the extra key. He must have moved it to a better hiding spot in the shed.

A thorough scouring of the shed in all its cobwebbed glory does not reveal a key. Think, think, think.

At this point, staring at the unforgiving door, I am just grateful that I am not in my pajamas. This could have been worse. I have no keys, I also can’t use the car, I neglected to bring my cell phone along with me, but I am wearing clothes! I know what I have to do: walk to my mother-in-law’s where I know there is a spare. Half way down the walkway I remember my trusty Schwinn ( this is an indicator of how infrequently I frequent the outdoors!). Miraculously the tires are not flat, the universe must be on my side!

To keep this brief, I got to my mother-in-law’s and we got a good laugh from my self-inflicted adventure; but most importantly, I got outside – really outside! Spring was not only in my garden, but throughout the neighbourhood.  Check out the flowers growing in my mother-in-law’s driveway!

It’s so easy for me to stay locked inside, doing my blogging, painting and knitting etc. But true inspiration is out in the world, in the fresh air. I am so lucky that I live in such a beautiful part of the world. Today I was reminded of that.

To carry my metaphor through, the bull was a gentle but insistent bull that pinned me between it’s horns and took me on a tour of my neighbourhood. Something I would not have done on my own unless properly motivated. I am grateful for today’s removal from the ordinary and predictable.

Biking in the crisp air, the wind cooling the tips of my ears, vineyards in my peripheral view, I felt inspired!

My key slipped into the lock and turned just as fresh rain began to fall.

 

S

Dogs in Hats Make Me Laugh


I recently participated in an art show at the local Calistoga Art Center called “Fools For Art”. I felt like the themes (“Foolishness” and “Spring”) fit what I wanted to do perfectly; I instantly knew what I was going to paint.

I had so much fun with this one that I am starting a series of paintings on canvas devoted to dogs wearing hats. Feel free to send me any photos you might have of your doggy looking dapper or silly in a hat. Who knows, he/she may become a work of art!

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Epic Art Fails


I know, probably the first rule of marketing is to present your work in the best possible light; don’t expose your weaknesses. But this is a blog about process, and art is definitely a process fraught with stumbles, errors and epic fails. Art is human.

I am most definitely human; subject to all sorts of weaknesses…brought nicely home to me this weekend by a whammy of a cold. I thought I could nip it in the bud with a good dose of oregano oil and rest, but oh ho no, this bugger needs to run it’s full and brutal course. Lying on my couch, wearing the same grubby outfit I’ve had on all weekend, a sea of spent tissues around me, my hair on end like a scrap of furry road-kill, I started to think about my art. More specifically, the failed art.

Wait. Wait, you say. How can you fail at art? It’s self-expression, it’s a piece of you, it can’t be an entire failure. Well, I beg to differ. Just as I can fail at health, I can fail at art. The stuff on canvas, those epic fails can be taken care of with a few layers of gesso. A lovely under-painting that hopefully no one will every discover (though in my wild imaginings, it’s a hundred years later and they’re examining my work with those x-ray things and they discover the fail beneath the win and they are all greatly disappointed).

No, the fails that are most evident are the ceramic ones. No gesso will make that lump of stoneware disappear. When I’m dead and gone, those pieces, even if broken to bits, could still be discovered by some future anthropologist who might extrapolate from their find that people of this time were none to intelligent.

And how do I ultimately know that my work has failed? My hubby gently and inconspicuously sets it aside, either on the floor beside the table I set it on or in a cupboard out of sight. Message received.

Exhibit  A:  A butter dish.

Intelligent Design: small birds on bottom half to help lid stay on.

Fail: Under high kiln temps, birds flex and the end result is this:

New Life as:   Shades rest and plant prop.

Exhibit B:  Two tea pots

Intelligent Design: built in tea leaf strainer in spout

Cute, right?:

  

While I did manage to side-step that age old problem of the all too Phalic spout…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fail: Glaze will ruin those carefully crafted strainer holes:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exhibit C: Square Tissue Box Holder

Intelligent Design: The tissue comes out of the monsters mouth.

Fail: No it doesn’t, because the tissue box doesn’t fit!

I’m not a precision artist, especially where math comes in. There can be a 20% shrinkage rate from wet clay to twice fired clay(depending on many factors). I did use a ruler and calculated approximate shrinkage, I swear!  Mostly I go with my gut instincts on designs and it usually works. This time was no different. My gut instinct said this probably would be a fail. I was right.

While oh so sweet looking, the sides of the box flexed under the heat, just enough so that a square tissue box does not fit in a not so square monster. I don’t have a tissue box to demonstrate it for you, because I’ve used all the available tissue on my bottomless snot producing sinuses.

So there you have it. The epic fails.

But failure is a good thing. Just as failing to remain healthy gave me an awesome excuse to do nothing and just rejuvinate, fails in art inform the process and ensure a win the next time round.

For a look at a true ceramic artist’ work, whose fails always still look like wins to me, please visit my friend Aislinn’s site:  www.aislinncaron.ca

Adios fellow process-ers!