Friday, May 22, 2015

In The Garden: Create a Marian Garden

   It's May and the world is in bloom! I love this time of year. May is also 'the month of Mary" to many, and so it only seems fitting that it is the perfect time to start a Marian Garden.
   What is a Marian Garden, you ask? Well-- it can be whatever you'd like it to be. It can be a place to beautify your surroundings, a corner for meditation or prayer, a project and conversation starter for your kids, or all of the above.

   Although I've had this terra cotta Mary for a few years now (I got it at an estate sale, its chipped and pieces are broken off of it, but I love it!) but this is the first time I made an intentional "Marian Garden" corner in my herb bed. She stands watch in a corner that I've planted with Rosemary and Marigolds, among other things (basil! lots of basil! Surely the Blessed Virgin can appreciate my love of pesto and bruschetta!) 
  The basics of creating your own Marian Garden are pretty simple. You can feature a statue of Mary and/or plant a gathering of flowers whose traditional names have some sort of Biblical or Marian reference. get it ;) 
   When I started researching plants to use in Marian Gardens, I found that I already had many plants with an old name that was a Biblical reference. Even my herbs nearby have sweet old names--- Basil is "Holy Communion Plant" and the Thyme at Mary's feet is "The Virgin's Humility."
   Instantly this little corner of my herb garden takes on a deeper and more lovely meaning--- and I love knowing these old flower names. I can just imagine them in an old English cottage garden-- many of these names go back as far as medieval times-- and some of them even reference the time of year the plant grows or blooms-- think Candlemas Bells, Michaelmas Daisy, and All Saints Flower.
   It's been such fun to intentionally create this little garden, and also learn about these old fashioned flower names, which are often so lovely, sweet and evocative. 

Some other flowers that you might consider planting in your Marian Garden include:

Garden Flowers

Amaryllis: Beautiful Lady/St. Joseph's Lily

Aster: Michaelmas Daisy

Baby's Breath: Lady's Veil

Begonia: Heart of Jesus/Heart of Mary

Black Eyed Susan: Golden Jerusalem

Bleeding Heart: Mary's Heart

Calla Lily: St. Joseph's Staff

Carnation: Mary's Love of God

Chrysanthemum (mum): All Saint's Flower

Clematis: Virgin's Bower

Cosmos: St. Michael's Flower

Daffodil: Mary's Star

Easter Lily

Fern: Lady's Hair

Forget-Me-Not: Mary's Eyes

Ground Ivy: Madonna's Herb

Holly (English Holly): Burning Bush

Hollyhock: St. Joseph's Staff

Hydrangea: Ave Maria

Larkspur: Mary's Tears

Lavender: Flight into Egypt

Marigold: Mary's Gold

Morning Glory: Our Lady's Mantle

Pansy: Trinity flower, Our Lady's Delight

Periwinkle: Virgin Flower

Peony: Pentecost Rose

Poinsettia: Nativity Flower

Rose: Mary
         White: Mary's Purity
           Red: Mary's Sorrow and the Blood of Christ. Also martyrdom.
           Gold: Mary's Glory
           Red and White: Visitation

Rose of Sharon

Scabiosa: Mary's Pincushion

Snapdragon: Infant Jesus' Shoes

Snowdrops: Candlemas Bells

Sweet Pea: Our Lady's Flower, Mary's Foot

Tulip: Mary's Prayer

Violet: Our Lady's Modesty

Water Lily: Lady-of-the-lake

Wisteria: Virgin's Bower

Zennia: The Virgin, Little Mary, Church Flower

Parsley: Our Lady's Little Vine

Sage: Mary's Shawl

Rosemary: Mary's Nosegay

Thyme: The Virgin's Humility

Chives: Our Lady's Garleek

Dill: Devil-Away

Sweet Bay: St. Brigid's Flower

Basil: Holy Communion Plant

Marjoram: Mary's Bedstraw

Spearmint: Mary's Mint

Chicory: Heavenly Way

Catnip: Mary's Nettle

St. John's Wort

Dandelion: Mary's Bitter Sorrow

Penny Royal: Lady's Flavoring

     I hope this list gives you a good idea of flowers you can use for your Marian Garden, or show you the lovely cottage garden meaning of flowers you might already have! How wonderful to walk through your garden--- or look at a bouquet or little arranged pot of flowers and find a deeper meaning in it.

   Wishing you a lovely month of May!~

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tasha Tuesday: Blossom Season

 I don't know about you, but I am so glad to see the world greening up and blooming. I can't help but think of artist and avid gardener Tasha Tudor when I'm getting inspired to plant or when I see my flowers waking up and budding out.
   This is the time of year that was meant to be painted. It's delicate but sumptuous. It's bright but not overwhelming. It's a time packed full of new beginnings--- from wedding season to new babies appearing in the fields around us. Spring is a good time to start hatching new plans.

   You know, of course, that I am very fond of plan-hatching! Ha!

  And I can't help but be inspired to paint flowers as the flowers burst open around me. Some of my spring favorites are roses, hydrangea, foxglove, blue salvia and honestly--- any bright and bloomy thing. I just can't resist it. I think Tasha Tudor would have agreed!

What are some of your favorite spring blooming flowers? Are there any that just speak to you--- any that you remember fondly from a granny's garden, or a plant that tells you that nice weather is coming by its appearance?

   I think New England is in its early blooming season, but it seems to be green from what I've seen from my instagram and blogging friends! I am so happy for you, because I know its been a long cold winter! And I'm happy that in a little over a month, I'll be there to enjoy the beauty of that place too!~

   Aside from flowers, do you have any go-to books that you love to read or reread during the spring? I always think of The Secret Garden when I think of spring. It also seems like a good time to watch Larkrise to Candleford (but when is it ever NOT a good time to watch it? lol!)

   Anyhow...thank you for coming by today! Hope you're having a beautiful and blossom-filled spring! I'm so glad you stopped by!~

Monday, May 18, 2015

New Original Painting: Garden Madonna

   Last week I finished a large painting that I am very proud of! This piece is called "Garden Madonna" and was created on 16x20" canvas. This is the largest painting I've done that wasn't a commission in a good long while. Like....years! It was good to work in a larger scale, so that I could get more details packed in--- from a city in the distance to tiny bees and butterflies flittering around flowers.
  The concept of this painting was to paint The Madonna and Child (but a walking, small kid 'child!') in a sunny, flowery setting. Spring and all these blossoms had me inspired to paint flowers and blue skies!
  I decided to paint them in a beautiful cottage garden, rich in nearly wild flowers and fruit trees; an oasis in the desert. An enclosed special place enclosed from the more arid world around them.
  In the background you can see a little town nestled in the rocky hills--- a landscape inspired by Israel, tall cedars standing guard just outside the garden walls.
  There are trees espaliered against the garden wall--- a growing concept that has always fascinated me--- training fruit trees to grow against a wall to make for easier harvesting. The two trees shown are a pear tree and an apple tree; the pear tree is a symbol of Mary, of fruitfulness. the apple tree is a symbol of Eve and the Garden of Eden. In Mary's basket, nestled in with the greens she has picked, are both an apple and a pear.
   The flowers around them are Hollyhocks, zenias and lavender. Which, of course, aren't plants just growing on the roadside in Israel, but humor my artist license ;) Of course I love when people make their own interpretations of my paintings. I think its so fun to hear what others find of meaning in things I've created. There have been moments in making things for people where I have included elements that have had deep meaning for people and I didnt even realize it. It's times like that when I really feel like what I've made has been inspired by more than just my mere imagination.
  I'd love to hear what you see in this painting. And I hope you like it!
I am happy and grateful to report that the original of this painting has already sold. But I will have prints made up very soon!
Have a great week--

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Excavating the Studio

   Oooooh, it's been busy around here! We will have lived here for 2 years this month, but lately we've been uncovering bits and pieces we didn't even know we had!
   Renovations began with the garage door--- which broke this winter, when all our vehicles were in it during a snowstorm (of course!) In order to properly fit a modern garage door to the opening, a new frame had to be installed, and my husband Will did an awesome job getting that framing painted a nice crisp white. Oh, but that was just the beginning of his DIYing!
   Poor man has heard "Let's rip that up/off/redo that!" many times over the past few weeks! Outside we had an old piece of wood covering a doorway. From inside the garage I could see that it was blocking an original door, hardware and all. We decided to take a gamble and rip off that board-- and there it was! An old white wood door that is probably original to the structure!

  After cleaning up the outside, we moved inside the apartment space that is the studio for Tasha and myself. There is a front room that we're going to use as a store space. The room had gone from dark slate gray to a super warm tan when my brother lived there, but we wanted it to look even lighter and cleaner. 
  We chose a shade of white called "Linen" and it instantly brightened up the space. From there we turned our attention to the flooring, which was vinyl "wood" slats. We decided to take those up, where we found a tacky layer of tar-like adhesive on big pieces of board. Those boards were nailed down over the original wood floors, which had a paper cover on top of them. 
  You can imagine it was a huge relief to see the real wood floor under all those layers! And the wood we found was an old red painted wood floor. Funnily enough, in the center of the room, the boards arent painted in a big square--- evidently in the 'olden days' people would just paint around the rug!?! The things you learn during renovation!

   That blank square has, of course, led to a bit of an art project in itself....which you can see on instagram! I'm now painting it to look more 'on purpose' and not a flaw. Can't wait to show you when I finish it up!

   Anyhow....that's what I've been up to. A lot going on, and school is about to be out for my daughter and we'll have summer to start. Time sure is flying!
   Hope you're having a good week!
Talk with you soon,

Friday, May 8, 2015

Friends, Flowers, and Cross Pollination

       I can tell from the flashing lightening and rolling thunder tonight that springtime has officially arrived in Oklahoma! All week our evenings have been filled with thunderstorms and turbulent weather, while out days have ranged from meek and dreary to apologetically sunny and dazzling. 
   Our days have been so full lately, busy--- but in the best possible sense. We have been working on art and brainstorming with friends and making plans and trying new things. Is there anything better?

    Our biggest news is that we now have a new room mate in the studio space! And we are so excited! It's like having a mini artist commune in my own back yard--- pretty literally. It is ridiculous how much fun we're having.
   My good friend Tasha-- who is also Robbie's God Mother-- started her own fiberworks business called (adorably!) House Sparrow Fine Nesting. She does beautiful woven wall hangings and macrame plant holders. She is also learning to spin--- which I am so excited to peek over her shoulder and learn--- and together we have been dabbling in natural plant-based dying. We've always had a love for yarn in common, and it's been great watching her pursue this passion.
   It's also been such a refreshing change to have a friend around all day-- we each have our own space and chunks of quiet time but can also hang out, or see what the other is working on or go on little road trips together.
   Yesterday we drove down to a friend's farm and went foraging for plants to dye with. Coreopsis is blooming all over the place, and it's proving to be the super star of our natural dye adventures so far! Those bright orange flowers yield a powerful dye punch! We've simmered yarn on the stove and also just let it sit in a jar in the sun to see how the colors turn out. It's been lots of fun!
   I personally have become interested in Shibori--- which is basically Japanese style tie dye in blue hues. Its traditionally done with indigo, which I'd like to get my hands on very soon. I've just been playing around though with standard fabric dyes and it's been so fun. I do love blue and white!

   It's so nice to have all this creative energy flowing around every day--- and it's a pleasure to get up and get started on the projects that need to be done. I feel so lucky in that regard--- because I know how it is to get up and dread the work for the day. I am so SO blessed in this situation. And I'm about how it's all come together so nicely too. 
   I have a glider and a cot in my painting space so that I can get Robbie down for a nap and then continue my projects. It's really nice to have all my art and creative stuff out of our living space (oh yeah! This table is for eating off of!). It's nice to be able to close the door on it and then go across the yard to our living space, and vice versa. I have a feeling it's going to lead to a lot of great work.
   For Tasha and I, the arrangement seems to really foster a cross-pollination of ideas and inspiration. We create different things, but we have a lot of things in common.
   Next up, we need to name our space and get to work on some cosmetic changes we'd like to do, and plan an open house, perhaps in the fall. I look forward to sharing our adventures with you here, and working on new things!~ that's what has been keeping me so busy lately! And it's all so, so good :)
Have a wonderful weekend and sending you Mother's Day Blessings!~

Monday, May 4, 2015

New Original Painting: Santa Maria

    This past week I've been working on this new painting, and I'm so happy with how it turned out! I'd originally meant it to be a Byzantine style Madonna and Child but somewhere along the line, it took a southwestern turn ;) which is fine with me, I like it!
   A bold and busy border finds its quiet center in the level gaze of the Madonna, and the baby is a little bigger, with a head full of dark curls.
   Perhaps its the warmer temperatures lately, but I've been loving intense red with metallics and turquoise and bold angles.
   This painting is now for sale as an original in my etsy shop and yes, I will have some prints made!~
Hope you're having a great week!~

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Around Here Lately

       Things are good here. So, so good. I feel like things are starting to click in a lot of ways and I'm thankful. Funny, we will have lived here 2 years next month. We STILL have things that are in boxes that were shoved in closets or in the garage that I'm rediscovering (or ruthlessly throwing in the trash.) When we moved in, I was about 6 weeks pregnant and bone tired. I was exhausted (like asleep before sundown!) for most of the pregnancy, and then I had a newborn. Things got done s-l-o-w-l-y.

   But recently we've hit a good groove. Robbie is now getting big enough to play as I work and have a dependable nap schedule. We've also been making some exciting new plans with the art space and good friends, and plan on lots of adventures. Thank you to everyone who has been so kind about my painting and so supportive. It means so much to me!

   On the art table right now I'm working on a little commission and also a new Madonna and Child that has taken on sort of a southwest flavor. I'm liking it! I'll have that to show you very soon!~

  Til then, have a great week!~