Night time River Cruise, Saranac River 6x12

Night time River Cruise, Saranac River 6x12
Night Time River Cruise, Saranac River 6x12View at Strand Center for the Arts Plattsburgh, NY

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Do you have a gardening brain?

Here it is the middle of May and Sunday it snowed on my tulips and daffodils. What does that do to my gardening philosophy? What is the philosophy anyway?

"Gardening brain" - the ability to act on the details that need to be looked after, so the big picture can emerge. 

Planting a seed or a bulb is really an act of faith that is rewarded maybe 9 times out of 10 by a carrot, a great salad, or a daffodil. There are constant tests and chores involved in continuing success in the endeavor of North Country gardening. Through the seasons the tests change; recognizing that violets tend to behave like weeds and want to choke out other perennials; that a batch of day lilies that needed rescuing once has turned virulent and are spreading into other patches of plants that have no manifest destiny in mind; are a couple of tests that come to mind. Being proactively tidy, not OCD tidy, but keeping after the creeping weed that wants to shrink the borders of the vegetable garden and then disposing of weeds far away from the garden - in a compost that reduces the weeds inborn survival instincts - is all part of the gardening brain. Feeding the earth with good compost and supplements needed in North Country earth contributes to thriving veggies and flowers. At the end of the day the relation to the garden is - when the garden is thriving with a minimum of rowdy takeovers, then the rest of life seems to follow in the same pattern.

What does that have to do with work in the studio or plein air work? Opportunity favors the prepared mind. There is a kitschy phrase for this idea that that may be accredited to Picasso. In the studio work surfaces are left clear and ready to work for fresh return the next day. Boards are prepared for travel. Pastels need cleaning and are remade by crushing the little pieces back into dust then mixed with water to form a new stick large enough to use again. New frames need to be ordered and glass too. New pieces are worked up. The critical eye is engaged to step back and ask what does the work need to make it sing? Decisions about when a work is a "weed", taking up time and space where a other piece has better chance in coming to life are made. Not every thing works; not everything is a "master piece". Being prepared does favor good outcomes.

Fortunately it does not snow in the studio at inappropriate times. Once in a while heat takes a holiday but for the most part what is worked on there in the studio is about being prepared to move, to paint, to get out in the field to paint.

So the gardening brain is about a degree of preparedness and maintenance that allows for growth and repose, as it is also in the studio and in the field for plein air.

Artliveslong, D