The Oconee Azalea- Rhododendron flammeum 5x7, watercolor on 300lb coldpress paper

Oconee Azalea… Rhododendron flammeum


Oconee Azalea… Rhododendron flammeum
aka: Flame Azalea

The Oconee Azalea is native to the Piedmont of Georgia and South Carolina, a region between the Appalachian Mountains and the coastal plain. The range of this lovely flower roughly corresponds to the Oconee River’s path as it flows through red clay hills. I grew up in these hills and the Oconee and the power it provided mills and gins is the reason Athens existed before the University of Georgia was founded here in 1785.

The Oconee Azalea- Rhododendron flammeum 5x7, watercolor on 300lb coldpress paper
The Oconee Azalea- Rhododendron flammeum
aka: the flame azalea
5×7, watercolor on 300lb coldpress paper

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WILD BERGAMOT …Monarda fistulosa L. 5x7, watercolor

WILD BERGAMOT …Monarda fistulosa L.


WILD BERGAMOT …Monarda fistulosa L.

There are many names for Wild Bergamot: Oswego Tea and Bee Balm are two of the most common for this lovely flowering herb. that can be found from Canada to Georgia and west to Arizona. It’s been used as a cure for headaches and respiratory distress by Native Americans and the tea is delicious.

WILD BERGAMOT …Monarda fistulosa L. 5x7, watercolor
WILD BERGAMOT …Monarda fistulosa L.
5×7, watercolor

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” 

― Rachel CarsonSilent Spring

Understory Glory crop

Understory Glory


Understory Glory

Went for a walk in the North Georgia Woods and found some oaks, hickories, and even a river birch in the bottoms but the Dogwood is still the glory of the understory this time of year.

Understory Glory Process
Understory Glory Process

I’ve become enamored with starting out on saturated paper to establish shapes and tones (see the process shot right). Some paintings. I continue to work entirely from this start. The process I’m starting to explore now is allowing this first pass at the painting to dry overnight. After the piece dries I begin to refine the image adding more color and sharpening the forms. I like to move between transparent and saturated watercolor. I’ll even add a bit of white gouache (it’s pronounced, gwash) to some of the colors to create some opacity because it helps. Using gouache and watercolor can be problematic but you can achieve wonderful results with a little patience and practice.

Understory Glory 5x7, watercolor on 300lb coldpress paper
Understory Glory
5×7, watercolor on 300lb coldpress paper
Rabbit Tobacco 5x7, watercolor on 300lb coldpress paper

Rabbit Tobacco… Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium


Among the plants growing in the old field behind my home is Rabbit Tobacco. This plant has long been used by the Native Americans and Southern Herbal Doctors as a remedy and treatment for many ailments especially involving the respiratory system. It is also considered good for nervous disorders. You can smoke it for the croup and drink it to quiet the nerves or break up congestion. The tea you make with it takes some getting used to but I can personally attest to the efficacy of this herb.

Rabbit Tobacco 5x7, watercolor on 300lb coldpress paper
Rabbit Tobacco
5×7, watercolor on 300lb coldpress paper

Because watercolor actually moves on the paper, it is the most active of all mediums, almost a performance art.

(Nita Engle)

If you are interested in trying Rabbit Tobacco check out Rabbit Tobacco .com for it wild gathered.

 

Birdsfoot Violet var. alba 5x7, watercolor on 300lb coldpress

BIRDSFOOT VIOLET var. alba


Birdsfoot Violet…Viola pedata var. alba

This tiny blue/white flower growing in my back yard along the fringe is the rarest variety of Birdsfoot Violet and you can see them popping up around my neighborhood in what the unenlightened would consider neglected parts.

Birdsfoot Violet var. alba 5x7, watercolor on 300lb coldpress
Birdsfoot Violet var. alba
5×7, watercolor on 300lb coldpress

The more I read about Charles Burchfield; the more I see of his work; the more I admire it and what he achieved. Burchfield was a superb watercolorist and an artist of his time and place. One thing I especially love is the journal he kept most of his life. It grants us such insight into the mind of the artist.

Charles Burchfield is becoming one of the greatest influences on my own work as I strive to become more and more what I am:  a watercolorist, a Southerner, an artist celebrating his time and place.

“To produce great work an artist must first have a high aim and ideal. Then his difficulties and obstacles will not hinder him ―”
Charles E. Burchfield, January 7, 1931

001 Native Dogwood (Cornus florida) 2014 5x7, watercolor

Progress on the road to something special


I believe it’s time for a progress check!

The only reason to paint is to grow, to make progress and live the journey. Sometimes the easel calls me and I move from one work to the next. This one inspiring and demanding the one to follow; I can not pause and reflect. I believe there is nothing wrong with obsession when it is not quite all consuming and turned to positive pursuits.

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crop Birdsfoot Violet

Birdsfoot Violet…Viola pedata


Birdsfoot Violet…Viola pedata var. bicolor

The Birdsfoot Violet is a tiny plant that brings a lot of beauty to the fringe. Many home owners see this lovely flower only as a weed in their lawn and that is because of it’s unassuming nature and size. Standing 4 to 6 inches with flowers only an 1 and a half inch across it thrives in our shallow acidic soil in the areas you can’t mow. I didn’t have to go very far to find this plant because it is one of the delights in my yard. The spots of color low to the ground are visible from the kitchen window. We have the rarest variety of this violet growing out there the alba or white birdsfoot violet. That will be my next painting.

Birdsfoot Violet 5x7, watercolor on 300lb coldpress paper

 “Reflecting on the impermanence of my art, I envied that of the composers, or writers, whose art never can deteriorate but is always good as long as the human race survives…”

Charles E. Burchfield, Vol. 40, April 7, 1938 

Impermanence is a essential belief in Buddhism. As an artist that works predominately on paper using a water soluble medium permanence could become an issue if you let it.

Mountain Spleenwort (Asplenium montanum) 5x7, watercolor on 300lb cold press paper

Mountain Spleenwort (Asplenium montanum)


Mountain Spleenwort (Asplenium montanum)

The Mountain Spleenwort grows out of rock crevices in the Appalachians. In Georgia in can be found mostly in the extreme northwest corner of the state. In New England the plant is threatened, endanger or even extirpated,

Mountain Spleenwort (Asplenium montanum) 5x7, watercolor on 300lb cold press paper
Mountain Spleenwort (Asplenium montanum)
5×7, watercolor on 300lb cold press paper

I find interesting that when I first began to see myself as an artist many years ago I wanted to offer up the common things in life up close so that others could the beauty in every day. That is what I’m trying to do with my small paintings of our native plants. I had not realized I was returning to what I thought of as my mission long ago. I’m also working in watercolor my first medium and the medium that most intrigues and challenges me.

One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, ‘What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?’

(Rachel Carson)

Maidenhair Spleenwort — Asplenium trichomanes L. 5x7, watercolor on 300lb coldpress

Maidenhair Spleenwort — Asplenium trichomanes L.


Maidenhair Spleenwort — Asplenium trichomanes L.

“But man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself.”

Rachel Carson

This is a delightful member of the fern family that you find nestled in rock crevices from Newfoundland to the piedmont of Georgia. it has red rachis and narrow arching fronds that stay green year round forming mounds that break up rocky places with soft greens. It is a perfect addition to a rock garden.

Maidenhair Spleenwort — Asplenium trichomanes L. 5x7, watercolor on 300lb coldpress
Maidenhair Spleenwort — Asplenium trichomanes L.
5×7, watercolor on 300lb coldpress

I try to construct a picture in which shapes, spaces, colors, form a set of unique relationships, independent of any subject matter. At the same time I try to capture and translate the excitement and emotion aroused in me by the impact with the original idea.

(Milton Avery)

Carolina Mosquito fern ...Azolla caroliniana
5x7, watercolor on 300lb coldpress paper

Carolina Mosquito fern …Azolla caroliniana


Carolina Mosquito fern …Azolla caroliniana

The Carolina Mosquito is a native aquatic fern that is very important to growing rice in the south.

Carolina Mosquito fern ...Azolla caroliniana 5x7, watercolor on 300lb coldpress paper
Carolina Mosquito fern …Azolla caroliniana
5×7, watercolor on 300lb coldpress paper

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Netted Chain Fern...Woodwardia areolata

Netted Chain Ferns…Woodwardia areolata


Netted Chain Ferns…Woodwardia areolata

The Netted Chain Fern is one of my favorite varieties and I love finding it.

When you walk through the red clay hills and hollers of Northeast Georgia it is always a joy to find the moist fertile bottoms carpeted in ferns.

Netted Chain Fern...Woodwardia areolata 5x7, watercolor on 300lb coldpress Arches
Netted Chain Fern…Woodwardia areolata
5×7, watercolor on 300lb coldpress Arches

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EPSON MFP image

Tulip Poplar…Liriodendron tulipifera


Tulip Poplar…Liriodendron tulipifera

The Tulip Poplar is one of the greatest treasures we have in our native forest. Not only does it present us with lovely tulip shaped yellow and orange flower it also adds the most brilliant yellow to our fall landscapes. The Tulip Poplar is the tallest tree in the southern Appalachians. The tallest known tree is in Kentucky and towers over 192 feet. Here’s the kicker the Tulip Poplar is not a poplar at all; it’s a member of the Magnolia family. When you look closely at the flower and the catkins it later forms you can see the family resemblance.

Tulip Poplar…Liriodendron tulipifera 5x7, watercolor
Tulip Poplar…Liriodendron tulipifera
5×7, watercolor

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Living, painting and drawing daily From the Edge of Normaltown

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