Art · Flowers · Garden · Mixed-media · Nature

Our Spring Garden

Here, in Napier, the gardens are blooming with spring loveliness. We have had an interesting medley of weather these past few weeks, with frosts, rain, thunder, lightning, and hail storms, as well as some glorious sunshine and gentle spring breezes.

Our flower garden is a profusion of colour with poppies and anemones making a welcome return.

The old-fashioned Sweet William in the planter box outside the studio has the most divine scent.

Forget-me-nots have self-seeded everywhere.

The osteospermums or African daisies flower for much of the year and do well beneath the trees.

Our veggie garden is providing us with plenty of greens (spinach, chard, and kale), carrots, spring onions, broccoli and lettuce.

 

Seeds have been growing in the greenhouse, and potatoes, carrots, and pumpkins have gone into the ground. It will be another two or three weeks before danger of frosts has passed and we can plant tomatoes and other tender seedlings. We have planted a berry patch this year with raspberries, boysenberries, and strawberries. I’m not too sure whether it will get enough sun down the side fence beside the citrus trees, but am looking forward to seeing what it produces.

Calendulas self-seed throughout the veggie garden. I dry the flowers and use them to make a herbal-infused oil for use in calendula lotion. I use the lotion recipe in Jan Berry’s book 101 Easy Homemade Products for your Skin, Health & Home. It makes a lovely creamy lotion. I only make a small amount at a time as I don’t put preservative in it.

I love to press flowers from the garden to use in my art, and there are plenty to pick at this time of the year. This little mixed-media painting was created using watercolour paints, washi tape, stitching, and pressed flowers.

Little House on the Hill
Art · Mixed-media · Nature

Dragonflies and Butterflies

This small mixed-media canvas was made with beads, ribbons, papers, fibres, pressed flowers, fabric, and teabag papers for the dragonfly’s wings. Although dragonflies aren’t around until summer, I wanted to make something light and cheerful as spring arrives in our little corner of the world.

We’ve had a lot of rain this past week, which the trees and the plants are loving, as we’ve had a fairly dry winter. Trees are in blossom, buds are forming, and signs of new spring growth are all around. We’ve even spotted a few monarch butterflies making an early appearance this year.

I hope you’re having a good spring or autumn wherever you are in the world!

Art · Art journal · Mixed-media · Nature

Tui

One of our most beloved native birds, here in New Zealand, is the tui. A medium-sized bird, a little larger than a blackbird, the tui has an interesting and varied repertoire of sounds, which include melodious ringing notes interspersed with coughs and grunts. They can also mimic the sounds of other birds. Tui live in native forests and rural areas, but can also be found in suburban parks and gardens that have flowering and fruiting trees. They are honeyeaters and love feeding from the nectar of flowering gums, kowhai, pohutukawa, flax and fuchsia.

When we go for walks, we often hear the whoosh of their wingbeats as they fly between trees. They are easy to spot with their white throat tufts and the iridescent blue and green sheen of their feathers in the sunlight.

Below are a few pictures that my husband has taken on our walks. They really show the beauty of these birds. The bottom two photos are of a tui that was feeding on nectar from the flowers of a kowhai tree, which I used as inspiration for my art journal page.

Art journal · Mixed-media · Nature

Autumn Journal Page

As we near the end of autumn, I thought I would make a page in my art journal celebrating the season using pressed leaves from our garden and from my parents’ garden. There are so many pretty colours from the different trees, creepers and shrubs.

For the background I used some of the free artist papers from Somerset Studio magazine. I glued on the leaves, then applied a coat of mod podge to the top of the leaves to seal and protect them as they are very brittle once dried. The photos are from recent walks, and I added an autumn poem that I wrote several years ago.

Floating, falling, drifting, swirling,
downward, sideways, high and low.
Spirited, lively, playful, carefree,
crisp and breezy, to and fro.
Amber, auburn, chestnut, copper,
old gold, russet, nut brown, mocha.
A colourful carpet of leaves everywhere;
farewell summer,
autumn is here!

We were surprised, on a recent walk, to see a mother duck with ten little ducklings swimming down the stream. It is the wrong time of year for ducks to be breeding and we can only assume it is a result of a very mild autumn, and hope that they all survived.

Flowers · Garden · Mixed-media · Nature

Beautiful Bees

In celebration of Earth Day I’d like to shine a light on the tiny creatures that are so vital to our very existence – wild bees, honeybees, and bumblebees. Sadly, worldwide bee populations are in decline, which is why we need to protect them and encourage them into our gardens. We can make our gardens bee friendly by planting flowers with open petals, planting colourful flowers with lots of blues and purples and yellows, providing a source of water so the bees don’t get dehydrated, planting native plants, and creating nesting habitats for them.

A few of the plants that bees love include alyssum, daisies, asters, bergamot bee balm, lavender, rosemary, cosmos, echinacea, borage, anise hyssop, and salvia.

These are a few of the beautiful bees and bumblebees that have visited our garden over the summer.

I painted this canvas of a furry bumblebee for my dear friend, Erica, who has just retired and is looking forward to having more time to spend with nature in her lovely garden.

Happy Earth Day!

Art · Floriography · Flowers · Mixed-media · Nature · Uncategorized

More Floriography

Here are a few more pages from my floriography book.

I found this little forget-me-not poem in one of the old books of poetry I picked up for a dollar from the school book fair, and thought it was perfect for adding to my page with forget-me-nots from my garden.

This is a page that I did in my art journal a while ago.

I have collected a few books over the years on ‘The Language of Flowers’ and find it interesting that most of the flower meanings have remained consistent over time, their interpretations drawn from myth and history. However, there are a few that differ from book to book. It would be interesting to get hold of an original one from the Victorian era to compare with the modern books.

I love that Olive Dunn, in her book ‘Delights of Floral Language,’ has started her own floral language list with no sinister meanings, as she found some of the meanings repellent in the old books.

I believe that flowers speak to us with their colour, beauty, uniqueness, and their life force, touching each of us in different ways. I think that all flowers are beautiful, but I know that, for me, certain flowers evoke a particular emotion or bring to mind certain words. I am drawn to them by their colour, associations, or folklore, and the joy that they add to my life. I’m sure that if each of us were to compile our own personal ‘language of flowers’ list, they might make for some interesting reading and comparisons!

 

 

Art · Art journal · Mixed-media

The Skylark and the Rainbow

I recently signed up for the online mixed-media workshop 21 Secrets: The Great Outdoors, one of the many fabulous workshops run by Dirty Footprints Studio. It is a self-paced course that you can dip into whenever you have some free time in which eleven artists, each with with their own unique style, demonstrate fun projects. I am enjoying spending time with each of the artists, learning new techniques and gaining inspiration, and all centred around my favourite subject of nature.

One of my favourite workshops so far has been Laly Mille’s art journaling lesson The Poetic Botanist. A couple of weeks ago I went to the annual book sale at one of our local high schools and picked up some old, falling apart poetry books for a dollar each. The pages were perfect to use on my journal layout. Slipped inside one of the books was an old sheet of notepaper with a wonderful image of a rose, the exact sort of image I had been looking for to use as the focal image on my page.

My journal page was created with collaged book pages and sheet music, image transfers from old botanical books, paint, ink, washi tape, and a pressed rose from my mother’s garden.

I picked out random words from the collaged book pages, as well as some from my box of words, and wrote a little story that I journaled around the layout. Some of it is partially hidden, so I have typed it out below.

The Skylark and the Rainbow

Once upon a time a free-spirited skylark saw a rainbow in the sky and, forgetting the lessons of nature, he believed he could reach it.

Singing away, he felt the summer breeze on his wings as happiness carried him on his journey.

The higher he flew, the more distant the rainbow grew until it faded away into the parting clouds, replaced by rays of golden sunshine.

When the rainbow was gone, the skylark returned home, not feeling sadness at his failure to reach it, but instead remembering the little moments of joy that had filled his heart and soul as he made the journey towards the colourful ribbon in the sky.

Have a happy day on your journey towards your rainbow!