Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Window Garden

I love my window garden.  It's in my corner. My little creative corner where I sit and read or paint or stitch.  The light is beautiful here, rain or shine, and the plants love it.  They're so cheerful and so pretty in their variety of textures and colors.  I like looking at them close up like this.  You can really see the subtle shades of pinks and blues and grays and greens.  For me, wherever there are plants, there is a sense of calm and quiet.
I transferred the design from my sketchbook onto a bit of cloth and added a few stitches.  It's tiny - only about 4 in. square, and I'm thinking of making myself a fabric coaster with it.  I can also see it on a throw pillow or the cover of a nature journal.  Lots of ideas fluttering about.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Springing Forward

Aaaaah, Spring! The feeling of awakening is palpable here.  Every day it's a little bit greener.  There are more creatures about - the front yard is filled with fat robins fishing for worms every morning and there is a great fat-bottomed bumblebee regularly visiting my potted pansies on the back porch.  I've even seen a few butterflies fluttering around!  and I've been doodling in my sketchbook a little here and there. still intimidated by the vast ocean of things I don't know. still standing at the edge just getting my feet wet. wanting to jump in.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Life is Beautiful

Hello! How have you been? It's been a very busy year here in the Wonderland Woods - too much to share in one post! So just a few highlights - a little sketching, a little stitching, LOTS of gardening!

From my sketchbook.  Inspired by my garden last summer that was full of sunflowers and butterflies.

I made another little picture from this design created about a year or so ago for my beekeeping friend.  This one is a bit smaller, only 6 X 6".  Petite.  Now listed in my Etsy shop.

I hate lugging around a heavy purse at craft fairs and flea markets, so I designed this little pouch necklace to carry the essentials - a spare key to the car, a little cash, or a credit card.  Also now listed in my Etsy shop.

And my latest passion - kokedama.  I've been watching past episodes of Gardener's World on YouTube (we don't get it here in the States!!) and saw a segment on how to create these little Japanese style moss gardens.  I've made 6 so far!! This is a little pine tree that I pulled up from alongside the driveway after a deep soaking rain one morning.  The photo really doesn't do it justice.

A small portion of an army of little seedlings growing in a variety of recycled containers. Just waiting to go out into the great wide world.  We can't eat yogurt fast enough to supply the demand for containers!

Spring is just around the corner, and our little cottage is bursting with seedlings - under the table, on top of the table, on every windowsill.  I haven't said a word, but I'm hoping my husband decides that I might really need a greenhouse one of these days.  He's pretty good at taking a hint, so we'll see!!!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Small Things

So many good things really do come in small packages, don't they?  I tore a 9 x 12 sheet of watercolor paper into 4 and am working small.  It's great fun, and feels much more relaxed.  It doesn't feel like such a great loss if only 1/4 of a sheet of expensive paper is wasted. If it turns out nicely, great! if not, no big whoop. The rooster sketch was inspired by a much beloved kitchen towel that is getting old and faded from use.  I  made this sketch to try to preserve some of the images before they become unrecognizable, and I like it so much, I'm now thinking of doing a larger version to hang in my kitchen.

I've included here a photo of the area that I am turning into a butterfly garden.  It's a little clearing down by the creek situated at the point where two streams converge.  I first envisioned a wild area just for wildflowers, but order and design seem to be creeping in.  Maybe you can see from the photo that I have broken ground for a roughly teardrop shaped bed.  What was supposed to be a bed of randomly scattered annual wildflowers is slowly becoming a perennial border.  Already I have put in some irises, oregano, verbena, ox-eye daisies, peonies, and will soon be putting in those calla lilies from the photo above.   The small tree in the center of the photo has a bed of ferns and hostas and daffodils at its base and a viburnum ('spring bouquet') is just to the right of it.  Going on around the corner to the right and out of view in the photo there are native hydrangeas and a bed of foxgloves that I started from seed last September.  Where will I put the wildflowers?  Maybe I can squeeze them in amongst the perennials!!

A new page in my nature journal is devoted to the lovely and diminutive partridge berry.  For years I thought this tiny evergreen creeper was called 'ground holly' because of its dark green, glossy evergreen leaves and bright red berries.  I still think that's a better name for it.  After a bit of research, I discovered that it's actually sold by growers as a terrarium plant, and I can see that it would be perfectly suited for that. It grows in shade along the creek banks here, and you have to look for the bright red berries to find it.  It forms a nice mat in areas that are swept clean of leaves and debris by the flood waters that frequently overrun the banks.  So, now I'm thinking of maybe making a little terrarium for the dining room table. Another small project to consider.

Small projects. small treasures. they all add up to a great happiness and contentment that doesn't seem very small at all. :)))


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Practice Makes Progress....hopefully

Still practicing....some failures, some successes.  The last photo of the dragonfly was made by my 13-year-old son as a visual aid for his research paper, and was his first serious drawing.  He's a natural!

I attempted the deceptively simple subject of the tightly closed hydrangea bud thinking that it would be an easy subject to sketch.  I was wrong.  This is my 4th? 5th? attempt, and I'm still not happy, but have decided to let it go and move on.  That is when I sketched, very quickly, the cocoon we found on a walk and brought home.  I needed to take my mind off of that hydrangea bud, so I just kind of haphazardly started sketching it.  It took just a few minutes and I was done and happy with it.  I find this rather mystifying.  The cattails were drawn with a combination of colored pencil and watercolor pencils. The watercolor pencils work much better in this particular journal which is only 90 lb paper and buckles and warps terribly with even a small amount of water.

This is what I do in the evenings now.  Sit by the fire with the cat and Pandora radio and sketch.  Sometimes I don't feel that I am really learning anything from all my mistakes.  But, I know that if I just keep practicing, it will come.....eventually.  I am inspired by the great Winston Churchill who said,  "Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential."

How do we make progress? by putting one foot in front of the other, over and over and over again until we get there.  Yes.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Nature Journal Page #3 - The Bird Grasshopper

watercolor sketch, Starr White, January 2016.

Schistocerca Americana, the American bird grasshopper.  It's official.  I am in love with bugs.  Me of all people.  It all started in the autumn of 2014 when we began learning about insects in our homeschool science course.  I thought it would be fun to capture a few specimens to study up close and personal rather than just in a textbook, and it has turned into something of an obsession.

Schistocerca Americana captured December 2015, central Alabama

I captured this beautiful specimen one soggy, wet December morning when I went out to cut evergreen branches for the house.  Enchanted by its lovely rosewood color, I decided it might be a fun subject to sketch.  Imagine my delight when I discovered those fantastic leopard spot wings!! I had absolutely no idea that a grasshopper could turn out to be such a beautiful, graceful creature. More evidence that supports the old adage - never judge a book by its cover. Like birds and fish, insects are amazing in their stunning variety - sizes, shapes, patterns, colors; and it is a lot of fun to try to capture all those wonderful details.

I just keep thinking about the hidden beauty of this amazing creature. Because I'm me and I think about things like this.  This great lumbering insect that most people would hardly notice, and if they did, they would probably think it was a bit on the ugly side.  And then it opens up those fantastic wings and wow.  It is magically transformed into a perfectly proportioned, graceful beauty with delicate, intricately patterned gossamer wings.  There's a life lesson in there, friends.  Look for the hidden beauty around you each and every day, and you are sure to be blessed in unexpected ways.