Thursday, December 16, 2010

red roses and a post card

Each morning I look around the house for something to sketch after I get my first coffee. This week we have a lovely bunch of red garden roses and a new (to us) vase to hold them. I think the vase is fine crystal it catches the light nicely and this bunch of deep red roses are perfectly suited to the shape. The post card is by a Dutch Artist named Dick Ket painted in 1932, "self portrait" with a red geranium was an interesting companion. This morning I am grateful for the flowers and vase brought home by Keith. The Ket post card came from Cor in Holland last year celebrating Sint Nickolas Day (Dec. 5th with Dutch chocolates) you also see a small abstract Cor Windhouwer painting behind the vase and a little red Buddha and the tiny marble & wood kaleidoscope.
blurry shows the winter's cold light

pen & ink sketch of my roses and post card. 
Dick Ket was a real home body, he suffered a heart condition that kept him living at home with his parents where he painted still life and self portraits until his death in 1940. He completed about 140 paintings, 40 of them self portraits. Wikipedia has a short Dick Ket bio here.  He was part of a artists movement called Magic Realism. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

raise the little tree

This week, while home for a few days, I helped set up Mom's Christmas Tree. This morning I drew some of the ornaments for my morning drawing and took a couple snap shots. We had a good time shopping round town the past two days, only finding a few things worth bothering to take home. Then we spent the evening setting up the tree, a rich family tradition. All the ornaments are full with history for me as many are inherited from dead friends and lovers. This week Mom got a copy of the Washington Post which had a really  list of holiday cookies here with dozens of new recipes and we might be trying several over the holidays.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

fell a big tree

The 10th St. dead Linden tree spring 2010 
I have been lobbying for the removal of a big tree in front of our building for the past two years since it died in the drought of 2008's long hot summer. It was a 'small leaf' linden tree, taller than our building, with a soft sweet perfume in spring. It grew up into a mash of various power and telephone wires that pass by and attach to our building.
This tree was a beautiful mess and it blocked the morning sun from heating up our building in the hot parts of summer. Now all that remains is a short stump. Will they replace it with a smaller redbud tree? In addition to the photographs I included several videos of the felling process which I watched for about two hours, all  from the comfort of our warm 2nd story apartment window on a cold and windy December's day.
*If you are reading this post in an e-mail you will have to open the actual blog web page to see & hear the videos.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

a little orange as winter approaches

On the corner off tenth and Michigan is a line of oak trees that have shown very beautiful orange late in the season this year and even more last year. There seems to be a variation in the colors each year or maybe I just miss the good days some years.
Anyway, I was out walking to deliver books to the post office a few times this past week and saw some interesting clouds in the sky. The cirrus type I believe but after about an hour hunting on The Cloud Appreciation Society's cool website, I couldn't figure it out for sure. I took a few photos to record this unusual overhead phenomenon that were swirling left then right and seemed to be falling out of the sky like little cloud tornados on my way home.

I came home from figure drawing the red bearded man Jon who is one of our favorite models, to find I had a new bouquet of orange orchids and bird of paradise flowers. Nice to draw in the morning and enjoy throughout the day but I wanted to share some orange with you all too! So here are a few shots of the orchids....

Saturday, December 4, 2010

drawing in colder months

This past two months I have moved from outside in the garden drawing each morning to inside the house. The little book I use gets a new sketch each morning after my journal pages are written. There is a great variation in my concentration and energies for drawing from one morning to the next but in the end it is always worth 5-30 minutes to do a sketch.
Early in the series, I gave up drawing after only two, out of three orchids.
Chartreuse and white lady slippers orchids in the studio. 

Drawing first thing in the morning makes me more aware of my state of mind each day. Eventually by creating a new sketch each day the books fill up faster. In winter my subjects tend to be piles of things in the studio or living rooms. The best of all subjects are the cut flowers and bowls of fruits.

Sometimes one orchid was enough effort to draw.

This is a cut flower I haven't had before, the exotic chartreuse green and white lady slipper orchids (Cypripedioidea)  Keith brought them home Nov. 5th and still today, Dec. 4th they are looking good. Only one has turned from chartreuse green to a mellow lemon yellow but since they are cut flowers it's amazing how long they have lasted. Let me take this as a chance to give a sincere thank you to the man who brings me flowers and tends our garden so well!

This angle is my favorite composition. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

azalea rescue part #2

Almost immediately after I posted the shocking story the letters from Arboretum decision makers began to appear on the list serves refuting and trying to explain the story in a different way. I waited to see what would come of the excited blogosphere's out cries over the holiday weekend. Thanksgiving passed happily.  I found a part two, on Washington Gardener's magazine, with a reply and a commentary saying the directors at USNA aren't talking straight. Makes me feel bad that they want to still cut down 20-25% of the azaleas which happen to be the biggest and oldest ones in the woods most of them 50 to 60 years old! Part two Save the USNA azaleas. 

I took an unusual step and wrote to my only congressional representative about the problem and today I got a response which is very gratifying. (see reply below) I also got word that my friend in Holland, Cor Windhouwer wrote to Interim Director Jordan Ramon PhD. He got the three excuses letter last weekend. Now the Congresswoman is asking questions and our pleas for help are being heard. Good work activists! Keep the pressure on write your Federal government representatives and ask them to add your voice for funding the full Arboretum's needs. 

December 2, 2010

Mr. Frederick L. Nunley

xxxxx 10th St. NE 

Washington, D.C. 20017

Dear Mr. Nunley:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the U.S. National Arboretum. I greatly appreciate hearing from you.

I am concerned about the possible destruction of the unique azalea collection. I have attached a copy of my letter to the U.S. National Arboretum seeking information and an explanation. I also am working with my colleagues to maintain funding for the U.S. National Arboretum. The U.S. National Arboretum is a national treasure, essential for horticulture research and display, and a great benefit to the District of Columbia economy, District and regional residents, and tourists from throughout the world.

Please continue to keep me informed of your views on legislation and other congressional issues, and I invite you to write me whenever you have a federal issue or a problem with which you think I can be helpful. I also hope you will visit my website, which is kept up-to-date on what I am doing in Congress.

November 29, 2010
Dr. Ramon Jordan
Interim Director
U.S. National Arboretum
3501 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002

Dear Dr. Jordan,
A constituent recently wrote me concerning a proposal to minimize or destroy the unique azalea garden and other plant collections at the U.S. National Arboretum. I have worked with the Friends of the National Arboretum and with the U.S. National Arboretum to maintain this national treasure, essential for horticulture research and display, and a great benefit to the District of Columbia economy, District and regional residents, and tourists from throughout the world. I ask that you explain and update me on this matter and on what can be done to maintain this national attraction. I look forward to your reply


Eleanor Holmes Norton
Member of Congress

Here is the response letter Cor received in resply to his letter pointing out how crazy it would be to destroy the Azaleas. It sounds reasonable until you read the commentary about what exactly he is talking about cutting out of the colletion... See Garden Magazine post part two

Hello Cor Windhouwer,

Thank you for writing to Drs. St. John, Spence, and/or myself to express your concerns about the U.S. National Arboretum’s plans to remove portions of one or more of our collections.  There are a few inaccuracies circulating that I’d like to resolve.  First, what you may have not heard is that the National Arboretum’s Gardens Unit will need to cut two gardener positions in 2012 due to the loss of long-standing support from a private donor. The lack of sufficient personnel to maintain all of the gardens and collections at the arboretum’s D.C. campus has forced us to evaluate the best use of the unit’s financial resources.  Without permanent sustained funding to support the minimum number of staff needed to develop and maintain all of our collections, we have determined that we have little choice but to de-accession certain collections.  
Second, Gardens Unit staff conducted a careful analysis of the collections and gardens to determine which should be proposed for de-accessioning. The analysis included the scientific value (germplasm) of each collection; its educational and interpretive value; its aesthetic value and appeal to visitors; and the current level of stakeholder involvement/support for the collection. One of the collections identified for de-accessioning includes a portion of the Azalea Collection (only the unpedigreed azaleas, for which we cannot justify long-term maintenance). The other area is the National Boxwood and Perennials Collection. 

Third, this action would NOT mean removal of all azaleas at the Arboretum.  It would simply mean that we’d take out the plants in the collection for which we don’t really have documentation of pedigree; native trees or meadow plants will be planted to restore the area.  As funding becomes available, we’d use that space for pedigreed Glenn Dale azaleas, organized in a way that it will look great and make the most use of the (future) limited gardening staff availability.

Most importantly, we do appreciate your passion and support for one of our major seasonal attractions at the National Arboretum.  In the short term, we will look at other alternatives to de-accessioning that might exist.  In the long term, we will take an aggressive look at other funding mechanisms to ensure that we can continue to provide the public with the opportunity to enjoy the U.S. National Arboretum.  I would be happy to speak with you to discuss ways in which you could help support this or any one of our 15 gardens and collections at the U.S. National Arboretum. 

Thanks again for your support,

Ramon Jordan, PhD
Interim Director
U.S. National Arboretum, ARS, USDA
3501 New York Avenue, NE
Washington DC  20002-1958

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

save it! your national azalea collection

I found this terrible news on our Washington Gardener Magazine yesterday.  I don't know how many of you have been to the National Arboretum but it is a beautiful natural refuge in the city which has been suffering since President Bush's government cut their funding 60% and froze all new hiring which continues under Obama. Keith and I have spent a lot of time there touring, learning and enjoying nature, ikebana, bonsai and so much more. Hidden in the forests they have one of the most amazing collections of azaleas in the country which I have been lucky to see and photograph a few times. See a few recent examples below...

The new director wants to cut them all down, he claims they draw too many visitors which they can't afford to host! With one click you can read all about this insane mismanagement and get three addresses to write and let the government know you want them to keep the park's azaleas standing! I know it only takes a few words from tax payers to stop this sort of plan. Let's axe director Scott Aker's plan, before he chops all the azaleas down by the summer of 2011.

Kids enjoy it and adults like when kids run and laugh. 


Even dogs love the national azalea collection. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

busy weekend delights

nighttime photographer Keith in the studio bent over his tripod
My weekend began making photos from all the great autumn leaves in the neighborhood. Keith had ikebana arrangements and flowers going on everywhere. I have lots of colorful photos to share after a walk during peak coloration of our fall leaves Saturday afternoon. 
Sunday afternoon, I attended a talk by Lee Newman an artist who's prints I admire very much. I was so happy he brought all his tools to 'show and tell' us about his process of making prints. I asked a lot of questions and learned about a few things I hadn't known. Today I got to work on my own new tree print right after my morning ritual of journal writing and a small sketch in my pocket book. During the talk Lee Newman gave us permission to mess with the marks on the etching plates and keep exploring the marks effect until I am delighted by something in the print. Great advice from a master printer which I have heard before but this time with examples of how I might proceed.  I think I feel emboldened but hope I can pull something new out of my etchings.
some of our colorful flowers in the studio 
Cor shows off his new Frederick print in Rotterdam.
 Monday morning, I received a picture portrait showing one of my new prints, "Kindly Light Lily" that I sent to my artist buddy Cor Windhouwer in Rotterdam. We write emails and make art together through the Internet since about 2001. 

The Urban Sketchers DC group is now up and waiting on us to post some drawing articles. I am wondering where to start my sketch posts. But in the mean time I wanted to share some of these great autumn colors before it all gets so stale that I have to move on to pumpkin pie and stuffed turkeys. I hope your weekend was full of new discoveries and good autumn fun.

willow oak's golden leaves in the afternoon sun

ginko are just beginning to go golden

golden maple across the street from red oak leaves 

this maple tree's leaves look like a red lollipops 

 Japanese Maple, so red it looked like candy

orange to yellow cherry leaves 

orange maple leaves one of my favorite colors of leaves

 sycamore is beautiful against the blue sky

Brookland elementary school oak currently my favorite local tree 

Virginia creeper vine turns red slowly in the shade

red oak & wood thrush state tree and bird of Washington, DC