Notes from the Garden: Happy Hydrangeas

TM9278 Notes from the Garden: Happy Hydrangeas 30 x 40 oil on panel

Distance can be good. I painted Hydrangeas on a sunny morning a few years ago, and for some reason kept it at the studio. I found it again when I was recently reorganizing, and decided it needed more life. The painting was satisfactory but lacked a sense of the life spirit of the hydrangeas – how they felt. Back on the easel. The newer version, retitled Notes from the Garden: Happy Hydrangeas, feels more real somehow. These hydrangeas are really saying Good Morning to me, and evoking my reaction of Good Morning to you too! Details below, along with the earlier version of the painting. Enjoy.

TM9278 Notes from the Garden: Happy Hydrangeas – detail from upper right
TM9278 Notes from the Garden: Happy Hydrangeas – detail from lower center

Technical painting notes: When I decided to rework the painting, I started by rolling and smudging brighter blues in the sky, then rolled semi-transparent grays and green into the flowers to create more interesting surface textures, (and to obliterate my idea of what the hydrangeas looked like). With the new surface, I went back to developing the lights and contrasts in the flower heads, rolling then adding details alternately. With the flowers becoming mor interesting, I acted similarly with the leaves, using small rollers alternating with brush work. I wanted to catch a sense of abandon, the way air circulates through the plant and the plant dances with that breeze.

(first version) TM9278 Hydrangea Morning 30 x 40 oil on panel
(final version) TM9278 Notes from the Garden: Happy Hydrangeas 30 x 40 oil on panel

Midsummer Garden

TM9410 Midsummer Garden 36×60 oil on panel

Midsummer Garden is a homage to the wonderful garden our neighbor, Mrs. Kroll, tended. The garden ran along a massive stone wall that separated the Kroll’s house from their dairy barn. Unlike our flower gardens, which featured marigolds, snapdragons, phlox, zinnias, and cosmos, the Kroll garden was filled with huge, sumptuous (and to me exotic) flowers such as gladioli, massive dahlias, and sunflowers. All the neighborhood kids raided Mrs. Kroll’s compost heap regularly, looking for blossoms fresh enough to bring home to the moms. Mrs. Kroll never interfered with our foraging. I like to think she was smiling from her window. Details below. Enjoy.

TM9410 Midsummer Garden – detail from top with hard-edged blue sky
TM9410 Midsummer Garden – detail from lower right showing use of brush and rollers
TM9410 Midsummer Garden – detail from right of center
TM9410 Midsummer Garden – detail showing use of various roller widths to draw contours and forms

Technical painting notes: I used primarily soft rubber rollers to work up this painting, beginning with a dark layer that blocked in some of the primary shapes. Brushes were used selectively to refine a shape or line. At times, I used the edge of the roller to draw fine contour lines. My goal was to capture the essence of the subject while maintaining the freedom to interweave line and overlapping shapes expressively.

Memere’s Hollyhocks

TM9199 Memere’s Hollyhocks 30×20 oil on panel

I love hollyhocks – they have such a casual stateliness when you see a row of them, and they always remind me of the parade of beauties edging the lawn where my Memere had her wash line. I would collect the seed pods of my favorites and try planting them. We also collected the beetles that adored them. Hollyhocks and blueberries – now that is real summer….Enjoy.