A Strawberry with an Immature Peony Bud threaded through It
This is my model set-up for my latest painting. Long stemmed strawberries come in a tray lined with bubble wrap and are carefully arranged in a single layer, 3 by 4. I guess to pay for that special treatment, they're almost twice as expensive as strawberries picked without stems that are packed one on top of the other.
To save a little bit of money, I studied the long stemmed strawberries at the fancy grocery store. Then I looked around the garden to see what might make the best strawberry stem approximation. This immature peony bud, no larger than a blueberry, with its stem, seemed to fit the bill. After piercing this no-stem strawberry at an angle, I threaded this tiny peony through it.
You can also see the stabilizing thread that goes from the rice paper ball to a heavy rug on the floor. I actually thread a needle with this stabilizing thread and pass it through the rug with plenty of thread to spare so I can pull it tight as time passes. This thread, with a bit of blue masking tape, keeps the strawberry from spinning as I paint.
This is the first time the background has felt so vertical to me. Before, the horizontal feel to the ground along with the severe-vertical-taut thread helped to create balance. The cherry stem's shape is so lovely here - I think it needed a simpler space to balance the sweetness of its curve.
Here is what was on my mind yesterday. It's not finished but the idea is coming along.
The small pieces to the right are from my first blog. The cherry in the teapot created such a wonderful-colored-light within the white-porcelain pot - I couldn't resist trying to capture it. The peonies (to the left, in the distance) are from my garden and were painted 3 years ago. That part of the photo is so dark and it's hard to see, but there's an Arts & Crafts quarter-sawn oak frame on the peonies that is absolutely beautiful - the craftsmanship is amazing. It was made by Timothy Holton. I'll try to get a better photo of it for a future post.
I've got a canvas on the easel and its idea swimming around in my head. At 11am I've vowed to begin it. But in the minutes before, I'll catch another glimpse of the garden where it seems my energy, both physical and otherwise, have concentrated lately.
Last month I carved these steps into the hill in the woods, beside and below the shade garden. I tried to work gently around the trees' roots and planted grass seed afterwards in hopes of it rooting before the rains could wash too much of the loosened dirt down the steep slope. I got lucky - the hard rains came after it sprouted. Eventually this stairway will get used - my plan is to embed stepping stones into the bare spots that I make. Those spots may differ depending on whether I'm going up or going down. I imagine I'll get a juxtaposition of the two patterns.
Last night I helped hang some of the work for this exhibition - including this piece of mine. I'll be back again today to see if a few more small pieces are needed. And then again on Friday night to relax and see some old friends and hopefully meet some new ones. Please stop by and say 'hi' if you're near Saint Paul.