Hallowe’en Bauble

On this All Hallows’ Eve, I find myself marking it with a new decoration to add to my collection.

 

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Last year I made a number of Christmas baubles in this style, and since I have got some scraps of Hallowe’en themed material I thought I would use some of them to make a Hallowe’en bauble.

 

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Obviously, I don’t have a Hallowe’en tree to hang my bauble on, but there’s always a space for such things and it’s all a bit of fun.  🙂  As you can see, I have used different pieces of fabric for each of the six segments to add variety and colour.

 

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And so I wish you a safe and…

 

HAPPY HALLOWE’EN!

 

Double Stubble

Round bales always bounce light and harbour shadows so brilliantly that I find myself drawn to them time and time again. One of my favourite aspects of this scene on this day was the light stubble and bales contrasted against a brooding sky that was verging on stormy.

Here, I painted two versions, both in watercolour, on the same day. The first painting did not turn out as I had hoped it would because the trees and sky got too vague for my liking.

 

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“Straw Bales On Stubble” (1)  #23

Watercolour painting.

In my second attempt I tried to give the hedges and trees more definition to make them stand out from the sky more and to give an increased feeling of distance between the foreground and the grassy verge immediately in front of the trees.

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“Straw Bales On Stubble” (2)  #24

Watercolour painting.

On reflection, I think I like different aspects about each painting.

Growing Season Cycle Spins to Snooze…For Now

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Swept clean.

 

The time finally came for having to tidy the vast majority of old plants out of my greenhouse. Ever since the first seeds were poked into the flower pots and propagators back in March, that wonderful little glass room became progressively less spacious. By June it was a vision of green, near bursting at the seams. For the several months that followed you couldn’t sidle in there without getting nudged by a leaf or stalk, or even pricked by the stroppier plants. (On one occasion I was even stung! Though by what I never did know for sure.)

 

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Ornamental eggplant and passion flower.

 

Yes, that is the cycle, that is the way of things. Yet as I carried the pots outside to cut the plants out and tip out the compost, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad at the passing of an era. In its own way, the growing seasons are like other milestones in the year – birthdays, Christmas and New Year’s, for example. It’s not unheard of on any one of those occasions to find ourselves looking back at what happened in the year since the last one, or wondering what might happen in life, in the world, before the next one. And so it is with the farming and gardening years, not least when harvest is over – growing up as a farmer’s daughter taught me this.

 

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Salad and carrots to be harvested, and this year’s strawberry plants.

Let us not get too downhearted about all this, though. For what is the end of an era if not an opportunity for a new beginning? Having taken the shading down in the greenhouse and swept the floor, I am ready to clean it and start planting again when the time is right, should I be lucky enough to do so. As with all endings and beginnings, there are usually some common denominators easing us from one to another. In the little glass room, the common denominators would be the new seedlings I planted a few weeks ago (as mentioned in a previous post), a few herbs and this year’s strawberry plants, and some carrots, parsnips and a little left over salad waiting to be harvested. Then there is the ornamental eggplant which is yielding its decorations, and my passion flower winding up to the ceiling, which I’m hoping to have for a while yet. Oh, and then of course there are the pots and troughs outside that still have a few flowers and herbs on flower. Not to mention the new big trough which I have recently filled with compost and crocus bulbs.

 

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Herbs, parsnips and carrots.

 

When you put it like that, though some plants sleep, the growing season is never really over, is it?!  🙂

“Ripening Tomatoes”

Several weeks ago we began to reach the time of year when tomatoes still hang on the plants but are slowed down by the dwindling daylight and the cooling temperatures. We picked some to let them ripen on the kitchen windowsill. In time they did. This pair amused me because one was much further ahead than the other. Nevertheless, they were always changing subtley under our very noses. With watercolours I tried to immortalise these Beefsteak Costoluto Florentino tomatoes!

 

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“Ripening Tomatoes”  #22

Watercolour painting.

Legacy of a Seaside Trip

During a particular trip to the coast many sights caught my eye and imagination. Among them were these: shelves and shelves of sweets in jars inside the quaint, traditional sweet shop, and a couple sitting on a bench staring out to sea. There is a magic about sweet shops that is never found around the confectionary aisles of supermarkets or the racks by the tills in all sorts of other shops. An almost childlike innocence seeps out from between the jars like some kind of ghost of nostalgia, yet it is at the same time joyful.

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“Sweetie Shop Sweetie Jars”  #20

Acrylic painting on a 7″ x 5″ canvas board.

A similar type of poignancy struck me when I looked at the two people on their bench. There was a wistfulness about their companionable gazing out to sea, out to all that can be imagined and cannot be seen. Were they contented or sad? It seems impossible not to wonder what might be going through their minds.

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“Staring Out to Sea”  #21

Acrylic painting on a 7″ x 5″ canvas board.

Autumn Wreath

Longer nights, shorter days, early darkness and the colder claws of the autumn air often get people down as we slide away from summer.  For the most part I don’t tend to mind this time of year because there are things about all the seasons that I like.  Tucking up indoors while the evening closes in strikes me as quite cosy, a signpost, if you will, down the hill to Christmas.  And I just LOVE Christmas!

There is so much to fill the eye about autumn.  We enjoyed the bright yellows and pinks of spring flowers, the lush green of summer foliage, and now we have the golden yellows, burning oranges, rusty reds and bronzing browns of autumn.  Everywhere!  In the leaves that wilt on the trees, flutter down and sweep past on the blustery breeze.  Greens weave in among them in the mottled patterns of bulbous gourds and squashes.  Then there are the orange globe-like pumpkins, beacons in the spooky night times.  The last of the sunflowers, marigolds and sweetcorn sway in the wind.  Let us not forget the festival of sloes, blackberries, hawthorn and rosehip berries, and crab apples, to name a few, clinging onto their branches for dear life.  Horse chestnuts and acorns clonk to the ground.  What a palette!

It is this joyful mix of colour that inspired me when I wanted to create a unique gift recently.  The idea that came to me was that of a crocheted wreath using “autumn” as its theme.  I crocheted two circles with holes in the middle.  The back (not seen) is dark blue, while the front is light blue to represent those gorgeous crisp clear blue skies that set off all the other colours so gorgeously on a chilly October morning.  Then I crocheted a sunflower, an apple, two leaves, an acorn, some sweetcorn, a pumpkin and some berries, and sewed them onto the front ring.  After I’d attached them all, stuffing the apple, acorn and pumpkin to give them a slight three-dimensional look, I joined the two rings in the middle.  While I stitched around the outside of the two rings to join them, I added toy stuffing to make the wreath itself cuddly and sturdier.  It was a lot of fun to make, and I’m glad to say it was well received.

 

 

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Wishing you plenty of gorgeous colours today and every day! 🙂

The Rough and the Smooth

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“The Wool Trug”  #18

Acrylic painting on a 7″ x 5″ canvas board.

Earlier in the year my Mum gave me this lovely trug, thinking it would be just the sort of thing I would like to paint. Mum meant it as a surface for me to paint on, and I’d like to think that in time I will do just that. In the meantime, I have actually painted a picture of the trug. And what else would you put in it but wool?! 😉

After trying to paint the rough texture of the yarn, I turned to the smoothness of shiny beads. Amongst my bits and bobs I found these two bracelets. The morning light cradled them so well that the highlights and shadows it left behind made it seem like there were twice as many bracelets to paint!

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“A Brace of Bracelets”  #19

Acrylic painting on a 7″ x 5″ canvas board.

Forward Planning, Forward Planting

I admit it…I’m addicted to planting!

The thought of waiting until next March until I start to see those ambitious little seedlings poking up through the soil makes me flex my impatience muscle big time!  So what do I do?  Plant some seeds of course!

 

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Mesembryanthem, winter pansies, ‘Miniola Heart Purple’ and Coleus seedlings in early October.

 

This is not really as irrational as it sounds.  Last year I planted my mesembryanthemum seeds in the autumn (thinking they were lavender, since that was what I had ordered!), and they grew slowly and steadily throughout the winter, providing me with a lovely bright spoked display throughout the spring and summer.  Rummaging through my very disorganised seed packet collection, I discovered I still had some mesembryanthemum seeds, so I tipped the lot of them into a seed tray in the hope that the same might happen again next year.

 

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Mesembryanthem seedlings.

Planting them on September 28th, I was surprised to see that by October 3rd the seedlings were coming through like cress.  Only the day before I had still seen little seeds on the surface of the compost.  Evidently, they must have exploded overnight!  By yesterday they had grown some bit more and are currently in danger of crowding each other out.  Of course, less heat and light means their growth speed has slowed down compared to how it would have been earlier in the year, so hopefully there will be time to work out the best way of looking after them in the near future.

 

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Lavender, winter pansy and ‘Miniola Heart Purple’ seedlings in early October.

 

The thought of clearing out most of my plants from my greenhouse, after such a lively spring and summer, made me feel a bit gloomy.  Craving some colour during the autumn and winter months, I decided I would also plant some winter pansy seeds, like last year.  Unlike last autumn, I had the good sense to wrap my seed trays in freezer bags until the seeds had germinated.  Instead of planting some in the autumn and some in the spring, as I did last time, I planted some on September 7th and the rest on September 28th.  So far the resulting seedlings have been more in number, and they have grown into decent small plants.  There are “Pansy -Winter Flowering Mixed” and “Pansy ‘Miniola Heart Purple'” seedlings.

My love affair with lavender also continues.  In one seed tray I planted some new seeds that I recently ordered , and in another I planted some seeds left over from springtime that I had forgotten.  Now I am fortunate enough to have quite a number of seedlings coming up in both seed trays.

Rather than wasting the remainder of my Coleus seeds from two years ago, I planted them, too.  Maybe half a dozen came up, but I think some cheeky chappy nibbled the leaves off one or two of them.  The odd little seedling has poked its head up out of the soil during the last day or two, though, so they are not a lost cause.  The nibbling has inspired me to scatter mint leaves in the seed trays in the hope that they might discourage any slithering predators.

 

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Mesembryanthemum, first group of winter pansy and ‘Miniola Heart Purple’ seedlings, and Coleus seedlings on October 22nd.

Overall, I am surprised by how much many of these seedlings have grown, given that I planted most of them at the end of September.  The harsher end of autumn and winter, I know,  are on the way, so I have no idea what will happen to my tiny new plants.  I have to accept I could yet lose a lot of them, though I hope I won’t.  If most of them survive and I’m searching for places to put them next year, however, I will see that as a very nice problem to have.

 

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Lavender, and second group of winter pansy and ‘Miniola Heart Purple’ seedlings on October 22nd.

In the meantime, I have lots of dirty pots to wash up! 😀

“Escaping Ribbons”

I had hoped to paint more and post more and do (read: catch up on!) a gazillion other things lately, but a grumpy cold slowed me down for well over a week, so these things did not happen. Adding to my already overwhelmed mindset at the time, I suddenly felt even more behind! I’ve come to the conclusion I can’t possibly be that behind all the time. The key work must be MINDSET, and I think I need to change it! Perhaps this painting, called “Escaping Ribbons”, is a metaphor for all these mental lists spilling out of my head! 😀

 

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#17

It seems I have a previously unnoticed fascination with ribbons. Suddenly I find myself twirling them around things and in and out of things just to create different shapes and, more importantly, more surfaces for light to bounce off or hide behind.  I guess the ribbon painting possibilities are infinite!

Acrylic painting on 5″ x 7″ canvas board.

(Painted on 29/09/2015.)