There’s a classic mansion on the corner of Sixth and Monroe here in Paducah that sits in stately splendor. It belonged to an elderly woman whose interests ran to Civil War era gowns and their preservation. She had quite a collection, I understand. Today, the pillared house stands rather silently in expectation since her passing last year. An elaborate garden with flowers, shrubbery, and statues makes up the entire front yard surrounded by a blue wraught iron fence.
The maple and dogwoods inside the yard are in full color right now. I noticed them earlier in the week and was struck by their overhanging color and deep shadow along the south side of the house, creating a canapy of leaves for the sidewalk underneath. I ventured out today to take the picture before the colors fade. Fall resides there at the house while it awaits other occupants.
I tend to look down as I walk through woods or along sidewalks. Not at my feet but at the flowers, leaves that have fallen, and for whatever treasures in the way of bugs or things of interest I might find. Last year while walking to the library I saw the tiniest of acorns scattered at my feet. Neat little caps with miniature buds of acorns. I picked one up and was entranced by their perfection and size, especially since the trees they came from were in the category of mighty oaks. I don’t know the specific species of oak but I kept the souvenir anyway.
Yesterday I made a stroll through Lower Town to get some exercise and see what was about. Two blocks away were brilliant orange berries, part of ornamental bushes at the side of someone’s yard. The perfect Fall color combination of scarlet orange and evergreen for the leaves. I pinched a sprig of leaves and one of berries to bring home for my daily painting. The acorn and its twin cap were still safely stored in my desk drawer from last year. Small things that made my day.
This is my 50th painting since I started the 100 paintings in 100 days series. I’m hoping to have the rest done before Christmas, with a show planned for December in my studio. I think a lot of the next half of the daily paintings will be something taken from what I see around me, like today’s painting.
Temperatures have dropped here in Western Kentucky and the leaves are just beginning to turn. Our sycamore tree out front is turning burnished gold with mottled green and brown rust spots on the leaves. They blow onto our sidewalk and porch, castoffs as big handkerchiefs. I gathered a few yesterday and went in search of something a bit more saturated in color, and found a few crimson leaves in my neighbor’s yard to go with them. No great detail in this, just the colors of fall splashed across the paper with basic shapes.
We’re hoping to get out of town for the day on Sunday on Dave’s day off. Maybe we’ll go get some sawdust pie at the local diner we found in a town to our northwest. Or maybe take a drive to Land Between the Lakes and do a hike before the weather turns too cold for the winter.
We’re coming close to the end of the growing season and our participation with the community supported agriculture we’ve done with the Amish families in Marion, KY. It’s still exciting after more than 20 weeks to see what arrives in our box every Tuesday afternoon. This week there were four large sweet potatoes, a bag of a variety of leaf lettuce, a small bunch of radishes both red and white, a red pepper, an onion, and six rosy turnips. I’m not terribly fond of cooked turnips unless they’re in with other things. Actually I prefer them cut in slices or strips and eaten raw. We used to do that when I was growing up, and I remember them as a special treat that had a tangy sweet bite similar to cabbage.
Since they’ve been sitting on our kitchen counter since yesterday afternoon I’ve had plenty of opportunity to look at them. Their brilliant fuschia is glorious, no matter what you think of their taste. So, in honor of that at least, they became my painting off the day today.
All the signs are here that summer is drawing to a close. The grass still grows but it’s darker. Our sycamore’s leaves are beginning to look brown around the edges, and there are no more fledglings, only gold finches feeding at the dried sunflower seeds in our flower gardens. Monarch butterflies are more frequent, my theory being that they’re heading south to Mexico. But perhaps the biggest sign is that our tomato plants are giving what is surely their final production of fruit. We’re bringing in armfuls daily, so many we can’t keep up. The plants themselves are looking old and beginning to dry out. The basil in front of them is sending out flowers and getting thin. September has turned and so we face the end of summer.
My quick painting today is a glimpse of our garden’s bounty which we’ve enjoyed so much this year. I felt it needed a fitting tribute in honor of what it’s given and so I picked a new tomato to go along with two we’d brought in this weekend, and paired them with a couple pinches of basil. They marry so well in cooking and I think they go as well visually. Just one of the memorable tastes of summer, tomato and basil.
The lady finch was one of my first daily paintings, almost a month ago, Our sunflowers continue to bloom and dry out, attracting the pair of gold finches. What a delight! My kitties, Dove and Chaplin, get excited to see them on the flowers so close to their perch inside the studio window. But the window pane keeps everyone on their best behavior. The finches watch the window while they eat just to ensure those humans and cats stay safely inside.
One of the sunflowers rests right at window’s edge. This week its seeds were at just the right stage and so we’ve been blessed with particularly close views of this spectacular mister. Today’s effort is in honor of his visit and the privilege it’s been to have him share my flower garden.
We’ve had a pair of robins build their nest on our side porch for the past two years. They like the curve in our downspout as it angles down from our roof. It’s a perfect spot since it’s sheltered from the rain, and from our perspective it’s perfect, too, because we can watch the progress of events from Dave’s studio window. Mama doesn’t get disturbed and we get a ring side seat.
The nest has remained in place since Spring until last week when I got busy with porch cleaning, front and back, knocking down the remnants of mud dauber nests, their progeny having made their way out as evidenced by the holes at the ends of the little tubes. I never discourage them from making their nests since I like watching them form perfect cylinders, just like human potters, with mud and a bit of saliva. Well, of course we humans don’t use spit, but you get my idea. So while I was at the process of tidying I decided it was time for the robin’s nest to go, and I pushed it down with the broom handle. To my surprise, it remained wholey intact, a wonder at the birds’ ability to form such a strong temporary shelter made only of mud and grasses and yet successfully helped to rear two baby robins this year. Stuck in neatly among the dried golden grass swirling in the interior was a perfect black and white feather.
For my painting I looked up images of robin’s eggs in nests to get the color and configuration right since my nest was empty, save for the feather. Babies have long ago flown and I see lots of robins everywhere, as we do all summer and especially in Spring when everyone is busy raising their families. That little feather is like a true feather in their cap, the nest, for having done well yet again this year.
Okay, so I promise this is the last Christmas image until next year. I’m painting these because Lower Town is having an artist competition for a promotional image, so I guess mine aren’t secrets anymore.
I’ve had this idea about pinecones in my head for a while and wanted to see what might come of it. It’s not the image that I had in my head, but then few of my paintings ever are. You learn to live with that if you’re to be successful. At least that’s my feeling. I wanted something that showed pinecones in a different way and gave them even more of a Christmasy holiday feel. The colors do that and I like the background wash.
As I said yesterday, I’m already thinking of the December holidays since the artists here in Lower Town are getting geared up for the special events we have planned for the month. In preparation I’m doing some small paintings to maybe be used as cards or something. We’ll see. This is a lot like yesterday’s paintings since they were all done together. See how it compares.
Sometimes it’s just fun to play with paint and salt. There are several little tricks you can use with watercolors and salt is one of them. Like everything else, you don’t want to use it too much because then your paintings begin to look gimmicky. But for things like frost and other things with a sparkly quality, you just can’t get a better effect than to use salt.
But why Christmas at the end of July? It’s already on my mind as Lower Town has started to plan for the December holidays. I got the idea of lights shining through a frosty window pane, and that’s what I’m going for here. I made two others, kind of an assembly line process which you’ll get to see in the coming days. All similarly done — just fast and fun without too much preconceived notion of what the finished product would look like. After several days of tighter compositions, this was a welcome exercise.