A little birdie told me to get out my tea cups again! This time it’s a bluebird of happiness alighting upon the forget-me-nots plucked from my garden and an art deco teacup I found at a local antique shop.
I began sketching with my brush and thinned oils directly on the 12 x 12″ canvas.
Sadly, my sweet little drawing was off center and it’s important to me that the tea cup remains dead center in this series of little square paintings, so I wiped it out with a cloth and began again – this time measuring out my center point with a little dot.
Happy that I had my tea cup centered, I began to develop its volume using warm and cool hues and light and dark values.
Next I wanted to make sure my bird was going in a good direction, and blocked the blues. I started to work in bits of the background and flowers, working the composition and color story.
Not forgetting the forget-me-nots, I began layering them in behind and over he bird and draped over the edge of the saucer. This helps to develop the illusion of a depth of space. It’s pretty and light with bits of white showing through.
But I want to sculpt the image with shadows, anchoring the objects with a sense of gravity, so I layered in some darks. Tomorrow, more highlights!
Oh I’ll be thinking of a title too – I have the working title of Forget-me not Tea and Feathers, but maybe I’m also thinking along the lines of Souvenir of Happiness, or Remember me Blue….
OK, I didn’t see this coming yesterday! Today I woke up and wondered what my bluebird would look like with the rust breast of the male. It was a brave decision to make as I was pretty in love with the very simple color palette going on, but I thought this color break in a sea of blue might add a focal point and help the bird pop. Maybe I’m not so brave – it’s only paint after all!
Forget-me-nots are on their way out in the Valley of Hearts Delight but in full bloom up in the Santa Cruz Mountains. As I navigated the twists and turns of Summit Road, past an endless parade of classic cars on their Easter Weekend joy ride through the redwoods, I kept running into blue swaths of them.
Forget-me-nots are not native to California but are at least only minimally invasive. Not like the Scotch broom which is spreading like a blazing yellow wildfire – it does little to prevent erosion (with it’s puny tap root), it’s toxic to deer and interferes with forest regeneration. These non-natives were battling it out with the native miner’s lettuce, stinging nettles, poison oak, blackberry brambles, ferns and Paleozoic Horsetail at the feet of the Jurassic redwoods giants.
The majesty of the redwoods above, the verdant battle underfoot and the sentimentality of the foget-me-nots imbues everything with a certain poignancy – maybe this helps to explain the following photographs from the remnants of someone’s trash to the little chick that didn’t make it despite being nursed through the night. The forest seems timeless and we are but small moments.
I love the idea of terrariums, miniature gardens under glass that can be so magical and whimsical, like little worlds unto themselves. On the weekend I was messing around with materials that I had lying about the studio, bits of broken pottery too full of potential to throw away, parts of antique porcelain dolls that had been unearthed from the reject dumps of the doll factories of Thuringia, Germany (c.1850 – 1920) and bits of ground cover and flowers from my garden. Here’s what I came up with, though some of them are really vases or planters.
Charlotte’s Blue Star Creeper standing knee deep in a field of moss under a glass dome.
Hands Up Pitcher holds various antique porcelain dolls arms reaching out of the sedum.
I love the reaching gesture of both the sedum and the little flowerlike hands.
Baby Doll Blue sprouts sedum as well, suspended by a wire, she can be planted or hung.
Remember 1 and Remember 2 serve as little vases for forget-me-nots with a big presence for all of two to three inches!
I hope these little constructions don’t come across as too creepy. I feel it’s rather appropriate to use these figures in conjunction with earth and plants and flowers, referring to the history of these broken or imperfect dolls that were long buried because of their defects are at long last seeing the light and being played with.
I so love this project! Conceived as the first of many installation pieces to compliment my Florilegia series, this casket full of forget-me-nots combines my love of gardening, antiques and art. Rooted in of the Victorian language of flowers where the message of the forget-me-not is, not surprisingly, “remember me”. This early wicker casket is as much a basket as it is a coffin. I love the underlying sentiment of this piece, the unending desire to be loved, to be remembered.
So you may be wondering where exactly did I dig up a casket, and a wicker one at that? From another artist, of course, who had put it up for sale on Craig’s List. I hadn’t even known they existed before doing a little light research. They are known as Victorian mourning caskets and would be used for wakes and for transport as they were light and affordable and I must say, good looking.
Anyway, It’s been the elephant in the middle of my studio all year storing odds and ends waiting for the forget-me-nots to come into bloom. And now that they have my desire as a gardener to see my garden thrive has been in conflict with my drive as an artist to see vision realized while the weather has been ignoring both sides of me. But I did it! I got out my shovel and my boots and I lugged everything into the ravine behind my studio, all in the name of art. And why do all of this? There is such satisfaction in seeing an idea through, past the cluttered and private recesses of the mind and into the world where it can be shared in such a real and tangible way.