Wednesday, August 3, 2011

August Abundance & Spiraling Inward

Decaying leaf forms fell at my feet the last few days. I took a few to the table to 
look at while I ate, needing to spend more time with them. Lace-like and delicate, 
they became veils for me to look through. The camera didn't always know what to 
do with them - sometimes focusing on what was behind. It took just the right angle 
for the camera to find enough form to photograph. 

There is abundance in the August garden, and I find myself feeling grateful to all
the plants and flowers that thrive here. Its not so easy, what I ask of them. Some
would prefer the prairies of the mid-west, others the wet banks of a river, still 
others want the sandy soil of the mediterranean. I know just what spots will give 
the most sun, six inches to the left or right and there might be a few more hours 
of shade than a plant wants. Most of them, save a special few, would be ever so 
grateful for a few more hours of sunshine. This time of year, I envy gardens with 
tall sunflowers, Russian sage, overflowing vegetables, and a sense of order, but 
these are not the gifts of gardening in the forest.  

After eight years of growing things here, I understand how far I can push things, 
and surrender to the truth that some plants I love just won't be happy in my garden. 
So I've begun to dig up some dear plants that have tried hard, but haven't adjusted
too well. I know this will ultimately gift the garden with better health and spots to 
try new things, and friends will get very enthusiastic plants for their sunnier plots. 

Finding a balance between the cultivated plants and the native or invasive 
species takes some experience. I once let bracken ferns take over a whole area 
thinking they would be "holding the space" until I could plant it, only to learn 
that once they are in, they do NOT intend to leave. The ferns and coltsfoot 
below are a little better at sharing space, and I love the combination of foliage, 
but I will forever be digging blackberry out of this bed...

I'm always amazed when the teasel blooms, it teases (ha!) for a few days with a 
slight tint of violet, and then bursts into a soft furriness that completely contradicts 
the incredible sharpness of the rest of the plant. 

Nothing whispers summer to me like the scent of purple petunias. Sitting by the
window in the evenings, they intoxicate me with their fragrance. No other color 
seems to smell quite the same to me. 

Flowers teach me more than I can possibly express. 
Here, a lesson in radials and points. 

 Here, points, radials and fast form. 

The perennial sunflowers have a wild center
when fully in bloom,
(do click to see details) 

and the brown eyed susans really know their 

Yesterday, I did a little drawing in a new sketchbook. It is not at ALL the right paper 
for my spirals, becoming almost translucent with the slightest bit of water. Sometimes 
its good to try out new surfaces, to see what's possible, but after a few tries, I let it 
go.. sometimes its just wrong. Though I like some of the effects, I ripped the paper 
with the nib pen most of the time. I need paper that can take a beating. 

The paper in this sketchbook is MUCH better. Its an old book from graduate school 
that I never finished and is now filling up with words and spirals. Hope to find one of these again... the paper is just right for what I am exploring with spirals at present. 

This spiral -drawn a few weeks ago -definitely moves me inward... 
Here is what is written at the bottom of the page. 

My mother visited last weekend, and while out on an adventure to the Berkshires
she gifted me with this necklace. It is a Sun Cross with a spirit animal on the bottom. Though I never draw faces on my spirals, to me, they are alive, so wearing this is like wearing the essence of my work. 

I've been musing about how place influences me and my work. The spirals are very
related to forms in the forest and flowers in the garden. This place asks me to be slow 
and to look and listen carefully - to lean in. Much of my life was spent living by the 
ocean, where movement and expansiveness dominated. There, my work had much 
more to do with rhythm, horizons and atmosphere. Shape, form and color, in my 
early work was much sharper. Searching around in my studio, I discovered work 
that I had done while living in Greece. It was good to look back at work from that 
time, to see where I have come from. If you missed the post about that, you can 
read it here

"Sea & Sky", watercolor

"Taverna", ink drawing

 "Mountain Road", watercolor

"Kalivi", ink drawing

"Dog", ink drawing

"Kalami", watercolor

I wonder if you can see seeds of my current work 
in these? 

Leaving you with pics of us... 
me and Pasha cat, 
staying cool under the oaks and hemlocks, 
and dreaming of the sea sometimes.
Well, at least I am. 


Anonymous said...


illustration poetry said...

hello goodmorning!
i used to picked up purple petunias when i was little.

okay byebye

A mermaid in the attic said...

Beautiful, Valerianna. Your garden is lovely, but the spirit with which you garden is lovelier, allowing the plants to choose, to be themselves. And good to see you!

ramona said...

Such a nice post Valerianna, I think that you are doing right by your garden.
A garden needs to be understood and appreciated for its unique attributes. Thank you for reminding me to do this:) The necklace is beautiful! I love it.
Decaying leaf forms, teasel,..I love it! Hello Beautiful Pasha.

Nancy said...

I am touched by your knowledge and thoughtfulness as you garden and create such interesting art. Thanks for sharing.

Penny Berens said...

You know your garden well. And your mother knows her daughter well... A perfect gift for you!
BTW I knew you of all people would appreciate the Blake quote!

Charlotte said...

Beautiful posting, I love the maths of spirals. The fractals, spirals and patterns of nature are incredible. I always think they are a reminder to us to aspire to creativity and not assume we are better than the natural world, if that makes sense!

yew tree nights said...

Such gorgeous leaf skeletons! They are such a treasure to find... such a wonderful fragility. I feel like I've just spent part of an evening in your back garden. Thank you for all the musings in the flowers and stories of other adventures!

elizabeth said...

Reading this post in the early AM while waiting for the tea to brew felt like a gentle entry to the day. The spirals and your descriptions seemed so laid back and mellow....A soft, friendly "good morning".

I sometimes look back over my journals and feel the same way as you do looking back at your work- "Hhhmmm....I was really onto something here!" : )

trish said...

Love sacred geometry. Isn't it amazing!
Your artwork is so thoughtful and natural and gentle. I love it. I am inspired to get out my sketchbook today. Thank you.
I love the leaf skeletons, they are beautiful.
What a beautiful pendant from your mother. Very special.
Happy days to you.

Tammie Lee said...

I love this photo of you, what a cutie! That necklace is perfect for you and perfectly wonderful. Thank you for sharing the treasures from your garden.

Velma Bolyard said...

just checked in to find out what you're up to...all is well here? seems so.

Medieval Muse said...

Your garden is exquisite - I'm very fond of "could be weeds" type plants like thistle and Queen Anne's Lace. Fantastic watercolor talents!!!

And last but not least, a little belly scratch for Pasha-kitty.

Valerianna said...

Andressa- thanks!

indira lakshmita - they are really something, aren't they?

mermaid - thanks... its not as easy as clearing out everything and not letting anything come back ever. I like to see what pops up in case something magical comes along, but then I risk letting something in that won't leave!

Ramona - I think people are like that, too, don't you? And I haven't worn any other necklace since my mum bought me this one.... though I do take it off while sleeping, it can be rather pointy in very sensitive places!

Nancy - thank you.

Penny - goodness, I';ve got to go back and look at that quote again, I've already forgotten it!

Charlotte - interesting, yes, nature - really looking at it - inspires humility in me for sure.

jodi - It'd be nice to have you visit me in the garden! Maybe if you travel back to Canada sometime, you'll find your way over for tea. Though, its not quite that close, I know!

elizabeth - yes, it was nice to visit with this older work. I so seldom draw or paint like that anymore!

Trish - I love that my Mum bought the pendant for me - to her its probably something kinda weird, but she saw how much I loved it so
wanted to gift me!

Tammie - thanks... I love being called a "cutie"... its been a while!

Velma - yup. And today I spent most of the day sitting with trees, singing to the forest and dreaming. Really, such amazing quiet.

Medieval Muse - I have one thistle popping up in my bed of vinca... I know I should probably pull it, but it looks so gorgeous in its purple top!

Kimberly Wachtel said...

Sweet picture of you, my friend, with pig tails and are beautiful. Off to Budapest tomorrow! My heart strings will need to stretch now that I've fallen in love with this place, Krakow...Poland. Thinking of you often.

Aeria said...

I loved wandering here again. There is something so magical, so precise and natural in the perfection of flowers. Loved the spirals, the watercolors and drawings and my favorite- your gorgeous cat!!

Beautiful all of it :)

Tammy said...

Thank you for stopping over to my blog!! I had to come over here to see what your up too.!!! We seem to have some common interests. And I paint a lot of trees too!!! I love living in the woods.. I find that the creatures around here come to me .. for some reason. All sizes and kinds but especially turtles and snails .. and the newt .. no i havent seen him again .. it was a rare thing for me to see .. I've lived here 8 years and never seen one. Anyway I loved your link about the newts and I wanted to say; you have some beautiful paintings .. and will look over your blog more soon!! Thanks again!!

bb said...

hello Valerianna, all the old work you show here is fresh and feels to me like making moves towards a center, it really does :-) sometimes I work on saunders waterford paper where the ink or watercolor sinks deeply into the paper - maybe it can be good for the spirals? Thanks for all the beauty again, great beautiful picture of you !!

Valerianna said...

Kim- ooo... off to Hungary - have a wonderful time rooting around!

Aeria - thanks... and Pasha appreciates the attention - or I for him - as he is quite oblivious to all his admirers, except the ones who visit here.

Tammy - yes... definitely some common interests. I enjoyed looking around in your world.

Stille Linde - Thanks, Barbara - I like this older work, too. Nice to find this book. And about paper, I have plenty for spirals of the lose sheet kind, but I'm looking for a good book/journal because I like to write about process and doodle spirals in there, too. So I do have some I've used before that work, I'll have to track those down. Thanks for the suggestion of paper, I'll give that a try, too.

Sophie Munns said...

What a wondrous collection Valeriiana... and the land...the water in the next post caught my eye as well..
Much to celebrate!
thanks also for your generous offer of a great idea!

Valerianna said...

Sophie- you are quite welcome... and thanks for the feedback!

Unknown said...

Hello, V - I finally had the time to spend reading your post in quiet of this beautiful late-summer evening. I feel as though I can almost hear your voice. Fascinating to think of you living near the sea once. Nice photos of you and P. xxoo, sus

judy martin said...

What a post! Full of so many things of beauty and interest.
Your spiral drawings are beautiful, and seeing your garden abundance and listening to your inner voice so educational and spiritual.

Acornmoon said...

I love that line drawing of the dog!

Teasels are monumental, too huge for my garden but I can see that you have so much space, what a luxury.

Ruthie Redden said...

Lovely to "see" you x I adore your garden & could wander for hours. I see you have been doing the same as me, finding incredible sculptural leaves, nature never ceases to amaze me. Yout suncross necklace was just made for you, perfect x

layers said...

You have so many images here I don't know where to begin.. I have also been finding leaves that are mostly decayed so that I can see the delicate veins.. and I have been trying to take pictures of them too.. and all the images of the flowers around you.. August abundance for sure.. and the influence on your work is wonderful.

Lynn said...

Beautiful post, Valerianna! Like Donna above, I don't know where to I won't. Just - all of it so beautiful and gave me a little lift that I really needed just now.

Valerianna said...

Susan - Yup, MUCH of my life was by the sea. I wish it still were, and that this forest were next to it!

Judy - thanks!

acornmoon - Yeah, that dog drawing from so long ago - I was practiced then at capturing form and gesture with one simple line. I'd have to practice a LOT again to draw that way! Don't practice the same kind of drawing skills with the spirals and bleeding paintings.

ruthie - I have a collection now of speckled, decaying leaves and small, smooth stones on my table. I love sitting and really looking at them.

layres - I just came in from surveying the garden, it seems its at a moment on transition where some things are succumbing to some disease and others are starting to flourish. I was sad at the state of it today! Maybe you'll show us your photos of the decaying leaves in one of your upcoming posts?

Lynn - oh, glad I could provide a little lift!!!!

Reading Tea Leaves said...

I'm learning to find a balance with cultivated and wildflowers in my garden this year. I'm definitely less tidy and have let things just be - but with a watchful eye on anything that looks to be taking over.

Your forest garden looks wonderful Valeriana! Love the pendant and your spirals and water colours, particularly the taverna, of which I am off to read your post of your time in Greece - happy memories for me of summers spent 'island hopping'!


Donna Iona Drozda said...

How grand it is to come back to visit you in August amidst the bounty of your view.

The neck piece gifted by your mother is perfect...your spirals, all so alive and yes don't we love sacred geometry and the mystical in all its forms.

You and Pasha are looking radiant, each in your own wonderful way.

rivergardenstudio said...

What a wondrous post Valerianna. I love the whole thing, your garden, your words and art works, (old and new) your beautiful pendent, and then you and your cat. Thanks for inspiring me this sunshiny morning, wishing you a beautiful walk in the forest today. roxanne

Barry said...

VA- the decaying leaves - such beautiful imagery - once in full bloom - turning golden - reduced to skeletal form - a metaphor for human life? Good to see you and the cat looking well. B