Springing

Springtime in Southwest Michigan is an eclectic mix of sunshine then snow, flowers then frost, and temperatures fluxuating by 40 degrees in one day.  As excited as I am to get out into my garden and start the prep of a new growing season, the cold rain and mud are keeping me in the studio.  Just as well probably, as there are several garden shows and spring markets to stock up for and always new projects on my desk to paint.  

The garden show events have become some of my most favorite vendor markets and opened up a whole new world of meeting so many dear sweet people that appreciate beauty and like to grow things with their hands.  I seriously had no idea there were so many Master Gardeners and programs to gain such knowledge or the amount of dedication and work it takes to earn that title!  Although I'm primarily an artist and only a very amateur gardener, without these lovely people growing the things I paint and blowing me away with their knowledge of plants...my work would seem so much more pointless.  So gardeners I salute you!  Please keep doing what you do to make the world a more beautiful place, and I'll keep painting what you grow to capture and preserve them. Then maybe we can keep our flowers around us all through the long, cold winters!

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Thanksgiving

Where do I even start, this is the day to count your blessings and think of all the things I'm thankful for, but I'm so blessed to have them all around me all the time, It's not just for this day. Family, friends, food, health, a comfortable home, running vehicles, getting to do what I love to do for work, I could go on and on. Yet it's so easy to get caught up in the business of life and the cares of the world that we so often forget to see, really see, all the little blessings. I guess that's why I have to do this, the beauty of nature, the details of creation, the colors and textures that fascinate me, they make me stop,...and see.  I hope that my work helps others to see too, and to stop to notice those little blessings.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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Presenting

I've been told somewhere along the way, that if you want to be taken seriously as an artist, your work should be presented in the best possible manner.  I really believe this to be so and try to do my best at that. It's neither cheap nor easy to do a nice job of matting and framing your artwork, but it's a necessary part of the process.  

The standard for most botanical art pieces is single matting with clean white mat board matching the paper used for the illustration that's visible as the white background.  This is what gives botanical art it's clean, traditional style. I know it seems like a lot of white and who knew there were several shades of white watercolor paper (i.e. bright white, natural white, traditional white, etc.) and even more shades of white mat board to match it to!  Then you have the problem of keeping all of that white clean and white while mounting and sealing the frame.  Be prepared to wear smooth clean gloves or be washing your hands constantly and not cut yourself with the hanging wires or glass, yep- I've done that. 

Frames tend to also be simple and classic, though this can depend on the piece and whether it's for a commissioned project, gallery exhibit, or where it might end up.  Some artists tend to frame all of their works the same to keep a uniform style while others like to mix it up a bit for contrast.  I'm one of the latter tribe I guess, even if it isn't the proper approach.  I like simple dark redwood frames for some of my pieces, or rustic white for a more casual vintage look, and sometimes even something with a bit of shiny gilding just makes it more sparkly and fabulous.

I try to do my own framing and matting for my small pieces to save some money where I can, and have a local frame shop tackle the larger works because they have the equipment to do a better job than I do.  If you're the one buying the artwork, please take notice of the framing as well, I hope the entire finished piece speaks to you and is a good fit for your home or space.  I hope that you love the love I put into creating it for you!

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Valuing

I really love ferns, and it's been on my bucket list of specimens to paint for a long time.  I actually finally completed two of them this spring!  Although I think they're so fascinating, getting into painting one really was quite a challenge, seriously SO MUCH GREEN!  I love the design in them, the whole big leaf is really duplicated smaller and smaller on each leaf stem as you look closely.  Then there's the fiddle heads' sweet little curls, oh so intricate, AND SO GREEN!  

Painting it really became a study in value.  This is something I learned about in a pastel class of all places years ago, but when I started to understand values, looking at your subject in grey tones to see light and dark shades, it was like a light bulb moment.  I tell my students to look through a piece of red acetate, or take a photo and convert to black and white to check if you're going dark enough with your colors for contrast.  Once you can see and adjust that, your painting almost paints itself, whether your working with many many colors, or mostly just one.

Galavanting

Well spring has finally nearly arrived, after what has seemed like one of the longest winters ever!  Although we didn't get our normal deep blanketing of fluffy white stuff this year, the long, dark, grey, rainy days have made the sunshine such a wonderful, warm blessing.  The grass is greening, leaves are leafing, and the woods are blooming with beautiful windflowers.  So finally... out of the studio and into the forest for some much needed fresh air and inspiration!