Sunday, May 30, 2010


newest rose of the garden: "Pat Austin" a shrub rose, orange petals with a yellow reverse
"Pat Austin" mom's newest rose
fire red-orange lily blooms it's first season in ground after a nice show in a pot the last summer or two.
first season in ground pink-white lollipop asian lily blooms
Blue hosta, tall iris foliage and yellow-green shrub have nice color texture variation

I went for a visit this week to Manassas where my mother lives and we spent time doing some of our favorite things. Shopping for garden flowers and linens and eating good food. We bought and planted new flowers on the porch and in the garden. We arrived at the garden store just as they were unloading a fresh batch of plants for the memorial day weekend sale and got first choice of everything. We also enjoyed a visit to the Manassas farmer's market on Thursday and in spite of the high heat, had fun looking and brought home some good stuff. I found a yard of paisley fabric for a dollar at the Hospital's thrift shop then we ate pizza at Tony's and browsed antiques at a new Pink House shop that day. Once we got home and had a short nap the evening we were a little sun struck from going in and out of hot parking lots to cold stores and back to hot car again earlier in the day. We watched news about the American tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico all evening. The oil spill is like a bad dream you want to wake up from and declare a ban on the use of all fossil fuels. Then you realize we could not live the way we do without those dirty easy fossil fuels and wonder when someone is going to show some leadership and guide the nation and the world towards clean energy. Our current leaders are not doing a very good job of changing our dirty oil and coal habits.
It was a nice visit and I am looking forward to a return trip to finish up planting the new rose and some other work that needs to be done in the garden. I am wondering what will be blooming on the next trip.

Monday, May 24, 2010

colors brown blue green

sempervivums mixed with three types of sedum are showing some great colors on the front steps next to the Robins nest...
a clear view of our Orange breasted Robin's 4 blue eggs.
my first shot of the brown (root beer) bearded iris was what I was hoping for but it looks more red than what I wanted to be a dark brown.
closer is always fun to see those velvety textures
my brown iris looks more red in some lighting situations
blue nigella sporting only a single row of petals is an odd hybrid
smooth edged bi-colored hosta next to the golden rippled leave are a nice contrast.
equisetum, daylily and golden hosta leaves mixed

I bought a bag of 5 different colored bearded iris several years ago at a nursery way out in Beltsville, MD. That autum I didn't get them in the ground. They waited until spring or sometime in summer before I put them in the dirt. Iris need two years until the plant is established to flower and in this case I slowed it all down by procrastination the first season. Now I am a little surprised and delighted to have a couple of the flowers showing their true colors. One never knows if they will match the accompanying photos at the store. Today we got a bloom on this brown iris, I was a little surprised how red it looked in the photos. I think I bought a brown, orange, white, purple and red iris on that trip. So far this season we had blooms by a new ruffled bearded white, purple and this today looks like a brown but maybe I am wrong it could be called red. I am kind of lost but red iris was planted in a different location next to the orange if my labels are correct this year they are still not ready to bloom. In time all will be clear.
Robins are running everywhere around our yard this year. The House wren's came and left, not choosing or using our fancy house wren bird house this year so the Robins are taking up the slack.
I counted 7 robins in the back yard yesterday and in the front a new nest is brooding with 4 eggs right next to the front door. I could reach over and help myself they are so close to the steps but I won't because I like watching them nurture the babies. More photos from the garden are on my pages check out the newest here Flickr.comGarden2010
If you look on that flickr page in the upper right hand side there is a tiny movie screen icon labeled slideshow and if you click on that it will begin a slide show on your computer. Enjoy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

sketch crawl DC #27

We began at 11 in the morning at Brookland Metro by 3:30 the group dropped down to 8 but we started with ten artists for the Washington DC team of International sketch crawl #27
Erin, Dan, Christian, Vincent, Douglas, Joel, and Lisa left to right, and me behind the camera makes eight.

sitting in the bright sun wearing a big brimmed hat, I drew my first sketch about noon at the Brookland Fire Engine Co. #17 the young fireman came across Monroe St. to ask what we were doing and we all showed him our sketches. Afterwards we went to lunch... and
Douglas Kingsbury strolls by us in the gardens looking for a spot to do his sketch.
Christian Tribastone the blogger who made the DC group happen drawing at the monastery. Check out his drawings on the link to his blog.
poet Dan Vera adjusting camera for a portrait in the roses.
the view I chose at the Franciscan Monastery to try to sketch which was difficult because there is so much to see and draw and we only had 45 minutes here.
sketch of monastery garden
Howard's Divinity School was the last stop to admire the Art Deco architecture and decorations.

terra cotta tile decorate the divinity school.

last sketch for this crawl.

We had a nice lunch about at the Old San Antonio Grille on 12th St. NE and it was a lot of fun meeting new artists and just being a gang of art makers on the town. I often draw on metro and enjoy working alone but it is always a delight to be in the company of others who sketch. The next sketch crawl is set for July 31st around the world so come join us where ever you are or form a group for your town.
You can also do a search on facebook for local groups.
This was my second sketch crawl with the locals and I am looking forward to July but wondering where we will go during the heat of mid summer DC. Suggestions?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

back to printmaking

the intaglio print studio at Pyramid Atlantic Studios. Press, glass covered tables, vents and various areas for etching and paper preparations... before the class begins.

Professor Muirhead inspects our plates and talks about the next steps we will take in preparing our prints.
1. etching the lines in acid bath.
2. cleaning off the hard ground.
3. preparation to print the newly etched plates, etc.

Professor Muirhead (Jake) observes two plates in the acid bath, says it looks good! There was a lot of excitement in the room, as everyone was waiting for a turn to put the acid on their metal plate and develop their first etchings.

the zinc plate goes into the acid bath after I drew the chair through the "hard ground" a brown blocking agent keeps the acid out except where we want it to bite a line. The feather is used to remove tiny bubbles created while the bite happens allowing fresh acid to bite the zinc. It stayed in for about 12 minutes then comes out to be rinsed in fresh water.

classmates Aimee, Joan , Dan and in the back our intern Micah all working on various stages of inking their etched zinc plates for the press to transfer ink to paper.

the huge intaglio printing press with clean white blankets to pad the plates and wet paper as they travel under the rollers.

we pulled two proof prints each, one brown and one black inked, then hung them up to dry flat with push pins.

here is my captain's chair print, the second proof printed in Jake's specially mixed magic brown ink. We had to leave them behind on the wall this week. Better images will be available soon as I get my print completed.

I studied fine art printmaking for a bachelors degree at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn NY in the 1970's. In addition to drawing, dancing and socializing, my life at Pratt was a wonderful experience when I discovered who I am and explored the world in many ways. As my primary print making professor I had Clare Romano, who is so well versed in printmaking she and her husband John Ross published the book. The Complete Printmaker the best book on printmaking around then and now. I learned intaglio from Romano. Intaglio print are created by numerous ways to bite, scratch and make marks on a metal plate and then apply inks and transfer an image to paper. Materials are simple but not easy to set up and use at home, mostly because of the big ticket item: an intaglio press which cost thousands of dollars and take up a lot of floor space. This meant the all that intaglio learning I did was left behind in the studios at Pratt when I left in 1979. I have done woodcuts and wood engravings which are hand printed they don't require toxic chemicals or big presses. Sadly relief block prints don't offer the same line and tonal qualities an intaglio print does. Since I left Pratt I have spent time drawing, especially the human figure, which is said to be the most challenging subject and the most rewarding for improving drawing skills. I know how to draw most things reasonably well now and that was a problem at Pratt. I learned a lot about color, drawing, printing, and other fine art skills but they all need time to be explored and developed and undergraduate schools are just the beginning.

Now thirty years later I am lucky enough to have access to Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center near by in Silver Spring Md. where studio to make intaglio prints and a press to print them on! I met Jake Muirhead printing one night and asked about printing and the print studio. I wondered if he used all water based inks and how this process has changed since the good old days of the 1970's when we practically bathed in "cleansoline" a mixture of turpentine, kerosene and goodness knows what else and worked in studios with no mechanical vents for the removal of toxic fumes. Black ink under your fingernails and cuticles were signs of a real printmaker we supposed in those days. Jake says intaglio printing has become more cautious but he still likes and uses the oil based inks only they are used much more sparingly. He told me he was planning to offer an intaglio workshop in etching soon at Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center that I would be welcome to join. I delighted in the opportunity and I asked my friend Douglas Kingsbury, who I believe draws like a old master, to join the workshop. Etching is the perfect medium to reproduce fine line drawings in multiples and I have talked with him about etchings often so I am excited to share this learning experience with him. Once we finish we will be printmaking on our own but now we can lease the press and studio space when we want to make prints.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

brookland gardens in May

pink old fashioned roses
meadow view from Franciscan Monastery gardens
formal rose garden at the Franciscan Monastery
white peony on Shepherd St. NE
striped climbing rose at the Monastery
Shepherd St.NE orange bearded iris

This part of the city has so many trees and yards full of flower gardens it is a delight to tour this time of year. We also have a great formal garden up on the hill at the Franciscan Monastery that is always a delight to visit but especially in May when the roses bloom. I took off about 2:30 in the afternoon to go see what I could find to share with you. The wind was howling and blew down a few branches and whipped the flowers around making tight focus difficult but I did my best to document some special moments. All the images are available in the Brookland Gardens 2010 set on my but here are a few that might encourage you to click over and take a closer look.

In addition to photos of Brookland I am looking forward to going out again on Saturday May 15th for the 27th International Sketch Crawl in "Washington, DC" to draw and hang with fellow sketch artists and show them around our neighborhood which has been selected as our focus for the DC group. You can join us, we have a facebook page here.
If you are in other cities around the world, you might find they are also participating in a sketch crawl this weekend you can join. The main forum which requires you to join up to find the artists in your area is here

To close this short video of the wind in the siberian iris.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

early May flowers

three blossoms almost turned the branch over on the new iris
our red rhododendron puts out a big display this year
full blooming clematis in a pot
Siberian iris
the first siberian iris blooms
exotic Dutch clematis in a pot shows the first blossom
triple bi-colored columbines between the bricks are truly volunteers
new annuals, purple heliotrope and orange lantana by the stairs
old fashioned bearded white iris
our newest bearded iris shot open early in the morning,
I was really srupirised it opened two on the first day
but it is twice as much excitement
and then I noticed that the beard is blue
the"mint scented" geranium opened its tiny pink flowers...