Still Life with Root Vegetables

Those green tinted root vegetables are carrots but they taste a little like what they look like -a variation on a Daikon. I've never had them before and I love them, not as sweet as a regular carrot. The beets were also really good and surprisingly not beet red when cooked - more like a turnip that had been dipped quickly in a red stain. The poatatoes and parsnip are on the menu for tomorrow.

They were all from the same vendor in Union Square - he also had burdock, horseradish, salsify, jerusalem artichokes, all piled up in box trays.

Winter Discolor

There's a moment in the middle of winter when the recession of color, the dry apartment heat and the increasingly colder weather start to make you yearn for some kind of hopeful promise of spring. It was exactly this kind of yearning that found me in the flower district of Manhattan the other day looking for something, anything, to bring home. I was too late, it was an impulse I had after running some errands in midtown and most of the shopfronts on 28th street were shut by the time I got there.

Walking back to 7th Avenue after concluding halfway down the street that the effort was futile, I spied on the other side of the street a large open bag of floral outcasts with a bunch of pussy willow jammed into the top. They were perfectly fine, I rescued them and pressed them close to me in the jammed after work No. 3 train and here they are now, at home - my promise of spring- free of charge.

Gardening Content 2.0

I'm evolving. This here digital plot is taking on some new content life forms which all the cool kids are already well into, rss feeds, yahoo pipes, google reader, delicious and tumblr. After much humming, head scratching and experimentation I've come up with my own recipe for how to incorporate them here and they are all to be found at the top of the left hand side bar listed under ~ Content Garden.

Upgrade number one: a list of links. The picture above is a mashup of two images from a couple of them- one from the Horticultural Society's Library of Botanical ephemera which I became aware of via their excellent blog. It's both a bookmarked reminder for me to make a visit there and also a reflection of the growing availability of this kind of visual information being made more available online- from collections of images uploaded by libraries and special interest groups to just outstanding sets of photos like this one on Flickr. The other image is from an article about Gilles Clement and his ideas about Planetary Gardens- fascinating as is this article about delayed fall colors. Over on Occasional Oasis, I'm doing something similar with tumblr and sharing my finds for interesting nature based, socially conscious ideas and products.

I'm also streaming a feed of links to photos that I find interesting on flickr. There is some great talent on that site that is capturing beautiful images that any gardener would be inspired by. I'm also sort of curating them into mini collections that follow a line of thought- currently the five photos listed are an interesting range of colors that anticipate spring.

And what about a social community you ask? I'm also adding a link to Other Gardeners on the right hand side bar to a new blog listing and community of garden bloggers that this blog is listed on Blotanical and there is more to come on that subject. Meanwhile, enjoy all the new plants.

Day Dream

If you closed your eyes and conjured up an image from last summer of say a stand of Ranunculus on a hot August day, would it be hazy, blurred, dreamy, confused with old photos from an old gardening book or a faded postcard you found in a shoebox of ephemera at the Chelsea Flea Market? Or would it be crystal clear?

Garden Abstract Study #2

I know I declared my intent to start a series of garden inspired abstract paintings back in October of last year and not much has been reported since. The update is, I haven't actually started. But, I have made some progress. Small though it may seem, I have made the all important decision, if only to me, of what the exact shape and size these paintings are going to be. Square and 12 x 12. I always sort of knew that I wanted them to be square but it took a little processing to decide that I want them to be small and about color. A smaller size is actually more suited to the medium (encaustic) as you have more control on a smaller work surface. In the meantime I thought I'd mark time by showing you the second study I made a while ago. Now I have to get over my work hump - busy until mid February and then, well, lets see.

More abstraction over here.

It Lives

My poor Schlumbergera. Desperate to bring a little cheer into the gritty industrial live/work loft in Williamsburg that I moved into six or seven years ago, I brought home a heavily blossomed, Christmas Cactus. I remember thinking how brightly its fuschia pink flowers looked pressesd against the window glass that kept out a few inches of snow piled on the ledge outside. And then I don't remember it blooming again until a couple of years ago in a reshuffle when it got a prime window spot again. It didn't bloom this year I guess because I didn't feed it or nurture it. I must make amends even though I liked it just as much without the flowers. "Look, this is what I'm capable of", it seemed to say, when it bloomed again. I am committing myself to it's better care. You will be repotted dear loyal Schlumbergera and you will not just live but thrive.

Speaking of Williamsburg, I was just there the other day.

Garden Interiors

I've finally got round to practising the incredibly simple and effective idea of snapping a photo of a magazine or book open at a page that I find interesting and want to refer to another time. The high res photo actually allows me to blow up the page and read what it says. I had completely forgotten the name of the owner of the house in the photo on the left but on closer examination- it reveals that it belongs to Clarence Bicknell, vicar archeologist and botanist. The murals in his house-were painted when bad weather put a stop to his outdoor excursions. I really like the actual artwork- simplistic but artful and apparently botanically correct. I love the soothing color palette and the idea of bringing the garden inside.

The photo on the right, also from Interiors magazine is one of the interior of Monet's house in Giverny. I've seen countless photos of the famous garden but I don't recall ever seeing photos of the interior. My eye was drawn to one thing in particular. The framed artwork on the wall is an assortment of Japanese prints- these were very influential on the impressionists and its interesting to see proof that Monet obviously had a close look at them but I'm even more fascinated by this- the choice of color for the matting, and the proportion of the landscape views (on the bottom row).

This seems like a small detail to obsess over, and we're going to veer off on a tangent here, but when I first worked on the design of this blog I agonized about the actual size of the post photos that are now the default size and one thing I kept going back to was the size of Japanese prints. The exact size of the prints were determined by the size of the available paper or its exact torn half. Ultimately my choice was also determined by the confines of the technological construct of my medium, I chose the dimension of a widsecreen video format, I thought it echoed the landscape views of series like Hokusais 24 views. Strange to see that proportion and also that green matting not too dissimilar from this blog's background. And the wall color- that limey yellow, its my link hover color. Spooky.

Three Ideas

There are three ideas in this photo, not taken at my apartment, that I need to work on right away. Its a little humbling to admit to finding inspiration in somebody else's laundry room, but in my defence, an A-list interior decorator was involved in the casual but artful tableux you see above.

Idea #1: Get some bulbs and put them in an interesting pot like the mirrored ceramic ones pictured. I like that the container also echoes the material of a close by object like the stainless steel bread box.

Idea #2: Grow something in water in a glass vase - the roots create an interesting feature as does the addition of a cane for plant to grow up. The casual placement of drawing or art piece behind really adds an interesting visual layer.

Idea #3: Get some moss- it looks great in the potted orchid in the back as well as in the bulb pot.

Its also interesting, if you're interested in feng shui, that there's a nice range of elements featured here- earth/ceramic, metal (both new stainless and old rusted/yellow painted, water, and wood (bamboo canes and old abacus). There's also an interesting pairing of new upward shooting energy with downward rooting energy.

Still Life with Apples and Pears

Eating seasonally is one of the joys of gardening which is of course relative to the extent of your garden or your gardening activities. In winter, for me, while my outdoor gardening activities are on hiatus, eating seasonally means what the local farmers market has to offer. A staple is apples and pears. I both look forward to the season when it begins and when it gets really wintry as it does now and the choice of other vegetables starts to become limited, I actually increase my consumption of them , trying all kinds of ways to use them.

This week my favorite type- Braeburns could not be found so I substituted with Fujis and one I haven't tried before called Newton Pippin. I was pleased to learn that its an heirloom apple originally found in Newton, Long Island. Can't find a connection but it might have some relation to my favorite apple when I lived in England Cox's Pippin.

Another similarity to the Cox's Pippin is the visual- its kind of gnarly, they're all different, uneven sizes, a world apart from a supermarket apple. I love these imperfections and the lack of standardization, it's something I notice in old still life paintings like this one by Cezanne where they are marked, bruised and a variety of sizes. The other fruit are Bartlett pears- I love their color.

Working with Flowers

I'm currently working on designs for Spring and Summer 2009. That's not a typo, 2009 is right, that's how far ahead the textile artists/designers have to work. The market for this season begins in Jan 2008 as in right now- I shouldn't even be blogging this, I should be working. This is when apparel designers go shopping for inspiration and ideas to build their collections. I'm usually more focussed on t shirt graphics but I do some textile designs if I have a strong motivation or am inspired to do this. This is mainly because the the market demand is driven by womenswear and I don't really have a 'pretty' hand. I could direct my attention to the menswear market but the prints they want tend to be less forward and less interesting- so I'm sort of caught between the two. Until there's the right moment when what I like to do coincides with what's in demand.

Remember my post where I mentioned the developing trend for gardens and flowers. Well thats really gathering momentum now. The recent spread in Vogue Italia by Stephen Meisel was really interesting - just a huge clash of flower prints staged like a Klimt painting. So I'm definitely jonesing to do some floral prints. Coincidentally another development has been trending over the last couple of years- the rise of the surf short. The men's market has gradually been taking on this item as a wear everywhere garment- not just the beach. The good news for me is that the print tastes in this sector of the market is pretty forward and it loves tropical flowers.

So I'm working on a few of those. Can't show them here as I sell the proprietary rights of the print along with the actual print. I did however start this artwork pictured above a while back. Its based on a photo I took of the honeysuckle at Mamaroneck and is a test/trial for some artwork that I will be making available through this site in the near future. The color palette and the rustic weave gives you a good idea of what I'm working on.

On Moving

I've been entertaining the idea of moving. Out of the city. I've got to a place where I don't have to go to work in an office, I work exclusively from home. I enjoy the Manhattan hustle and bustle less and less, I don't go clubbing, hate the bars, restaurants are becoming increasingly noisy and I'd rather eat something I made at home anyway. I've changed. New York City is beginning to get on my nerves. I don't want to be an occasional gardener, I want to be a constant one.

On Christmas day up in Mamaroneck I caught sight of these mature plants that had been uprooted from the perimeter of the house thats just about to undergo refurbishment. There they were ready to be heeled in, wrapped, sadly it seemd in burlap, awaiting their purgatorial tenure. It gave me a chill. I've moved a lot already maybe even a little too much, across continents, from one coast to the other from the third world to the old world to the new world. The thought of doing it again is a little scary.

I had also just come from a weekend in Ulster County, one possible area I would move to. When I was in Provincetown, a regular summer dweller bemoaned the fact that all the artsy types had moved out. Where have they gone, I asked. Oh the Hudson Valley he replied. So, I've been sort of looking at listings in the Catskills and the Hudson Valley. Over the weekend the friend I was visiting very kindly drove me all around to look at Athens and Coxsackie and a huge part of me just loved the quietness and the beauty of the place, we joked about the locals who waved to us but I liked that too- believe me I'm up to here already with rude, uncivil, self obsessed New yorkers. A tiny part of me however couldn't help noticing that in the depths of winter, it all kind of looked and felt sort of cold and remote.

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