prairie gardening and two gallery visits

the weekend before Easter we went to Cambo Gardens’ plant sale. they have an extensive prairie garden so I was hoping for plants they had grown.

this is a photo I took there last September – asters, rudbeckias and various grasses.

they only had this ponytail or mexican feather grass, but I got two big clumps and split them up. also rudbeckia, two asters, and a big chunk of sanguisorba Tanna Burnet – bottlebrush spikes of deep maroon flowers – which in their garden is all self seeded.

we also met this big boy, tidying up the woodland on the drive.

in my garden the perennials I grew from seed last year are looking good. this is like a miniature hollyhock, prairie mallow.

I had a big pot of yellow coneflowers maturing in the drive (no flowers last year) and after a winter in the greenhouse I’ve put them in the new bed. the ones still outside in the other bed, and in planters, are also coming up.

and I have a new lot growing from seed, fingers crossed I get them to the point of planting out, lots of rudbeckias, some echinaceas and cone flowers, and a few asters. I’ve now got “rocks” in B’s drinking water, which I hope will cure the pathetic lawn.

I am looking forward to a great summer and autumn with the older bed this year. now I have to get my head around climbing beans and sunflowers. the chard is still edible, and I have salads growing in the greenhouse. also sweet peas that are too far on for the weather. should not have taken Monty’s instructions on board. a month later would have done.

last week I took the electric car to Edinburgh all by myself, and visited the & gallery to look at Joy Arden and Jai Llewellyn’s paintings.

Llewellyn’s work is very beautiful, cool and controlled.

Arden’s is more exciting, more my kind of thing I suppose. the title of the show, Counterpoint, is very apt.

these apparently spontaneous marks are very seductive

the gallery is very friendly. I hope to keep visiting on a monthly basis. it’s an easy drive from here, in that you can hardly get lost between the Queensferry crossing and Stockbridge where parking is not difficult, and there are nice cafés and bookshops and even a clothes shop to get inspiration from, only five minutes walk from Dundas street where all these galleries are. I also popped into the Scottish Gallery for Helen Glassford’s first solo there, her atmospheric land-sea-skyscapes are heroic and very polished, much to admire.

and then, the first time I’ve been in an art supplies shop for at least two years, just down the road is Greyfriars art shop. I bought a small fat stitched sketchbook for the trip to Assynt (this weekend) and the very fat Sennelier oil stick in the photo above. it’s actually transparent medium, you can use it to blend and generally work into oil stick painting;  you can see how the oil stick and the gallery visit could feed into what happens in my studio ….

which it did

I had this multilayered painting, but I knew it needed more. I worked into it with the oil sticks, and warm white oil paint with a palette knife, redid the lines partly with dark green oilstick and partly with soluble graphite which was surprisingly good amidst the oil paint, and scribbled into it with the medium stick.

very satisfying

the pigment sticks are R&F – they “employ only natural waxes, which allows for a minimum amount of wax. This results in a lipstick-soft consistency and a greater paint film strength” and they smell deliciously of linseed oil. now I am hooked. you can work over the top of acrylic with oils, but not the other way around, and I have been meaning to do this since before I moved in.

so now I am readying more half-finished paintings for this process.

today this one

received a squeegeed coat of acrylic which is most suggestive for the soft stickiness of the pigment sticks and the Sennelier medium bar. the oil/wax keeps its depth and texture, which acrylic just doesn’t do, it’s so sad when you look at it the next day and it’s gone dull and thin.

there’s a lot of text in charcoal on this painting, which I want to hide but at the same time use so it may get scratched back in or altered in other ways.

in my last post there was a painting I was struggling with. here it is, finished.

if there are enough layers with acrylic paint, it does work in the end, but it is nerve-racking getting there. (this is the bottom lefthand corner)

here’s a little one that’s been ongoing for months

I just had to juxtapose it with these horses in Ceres … it’s surprising what colours you can find in the landscape sometimes.

then a trip to the Tatha Gallery, closer to home, in Newport, and handy after a walk at Tentsmuir

they have an exhibition of Paul Furneaux’s Japanese woodcut technique work – some are one-off prints, others are almost sculptural objects.

yet another Scottish artist

he has spent a lot of time in Japan learning this craft

which reminds me of my ceramicist friends who also go back and forth with woodfiring, making and glazing methods adapted from medieval Japanese techniques.

some of these are literally glazed with thick shiny resin, and are very hard to photograph.

but such pleasure to look at.

after the almost deserted beach

which connects with this wonderful poetry by John Glenday, written from across the Firth.

the marram grass is full of these banded snails. some are purple grey tones like this, others are yellow. soon there will be flowers – orchids, wild thyme, centaury, and grass of Parnassus.

but there is evidence that all is not well.

inland, spring proceeds – this morning I could smell that coconut scent from the gorse flowers, and the willow warblers were singing, along with lark, chiffchaff and thrush, and quite a few wrens

the first warmth of April

and Owlet wood full of these three-cornered leeks

with beech tree leaves coming out at last

yesterday at Kemback

Siberian squill pretending to be bluebells. it will be a couple more weeks at least before the bluebells are open here.

wood sorrel

lambs everywhere

and at Fingask the shorthorn heifers curious and dancing

party girls with their solemn old bull. but the new calves will not be outside for a while yet.




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