Pink birdcages, old blue bathtubs and my upcoming show

I think I’ve made it pretty clear in my last posts how much I love all things vintagey, old, worn, passed down, loved. Things with a history and a story mean so much. Brand new and perfect doesn’t interest me. Faded, dinged up a bit, missing a button or two, I adore it. There’s a mystery there, a romance, a cherished moment hiding, only to be imagined.

That’s probably why I live where I do–an very old, very stubborn beachstone house that’s been home to countless families before us. It’s dark and moody, a Craftsman. I call it stubborn with affection. It hides a lot and doesn’t give up its secrets easily. And why should it? A family comes in, stays awhile, changes and rearranges walls, rooms, fixtures and then moves on one day without looking back.

So it was with utter wonderment, glee, delight and extreme excitement that I recently found something very surprising in the garden, tucked away and hiding behind the very ancient camellia hedge.

First let me say, we’ve been working on the neglected garden for awhile. It’s our own fault. We let things grow and get out of hand. I don’t like a manicured yard and hate beauty bark. The brambles and the ivy somehow found out about this and took full advantage so that one day, recently as we gazing outside, we realized the aforementioned camellia hedge had almost disappeared under a thicket of blackberries, the gnarly old fig tree was slowly vanishing and the two Japanese Maples that flank each side of the house were in danger. We hung our heads in shame. How did this happen? After all, it’s only been 12 years since we lifted a pair of clippers. (Where were they anyway?)

So we called for a bit of emergency help and slowly booted out the weedy offenders and spruced things up a tad. Which is why I was walking behind the camellia hedge. Because now I could, the path was cleared and I could poke around. It was then I noticed a clump or a bump or a mound dark and in the shadows,that just didn’t fit in with all the other green shapes. I saw a glint of blue and a claw and my heart stopped. What better thing to find in your garden than an old and neglected and beautiful blue clawfoot tub turned upside down with its little legs waving around in the air signaling for help?

Of course it will have a brand new life with us, just the way it is. It will be moved into the little garden behind the house that we like to call our “French Potager,” even though we were very unsuccessful growing any of the lettuce and radishes and peppers and carrots that we planted. One bean vine made it. But the garden is starting to look quite pretty with a few blue hydrangeas and ruffly pink petunias. A vintage pink birdcage hangs from a salvalged trellis. And the blue tub will soon join it and will be filed to the brim, not with bubble bath but with pink strawberry plants.

And that is a very roundabout way to let you know that I have a new show of my paintings, opening September 4. They have lots of pink like my birdcage. They have lots of blue like the chipped and lovely old tub. And lots of red and orange and turquoise. And they’re worn and faded, with lots and lots of layers of paint and color over color, giving a nod to the past. I call the collection “The French Wallpaper Series,” 17 paintings in all, inspired by hand-painted, time-worn walls of grand old mansions, done in a Chinoiserie style. There are birds and berries, leaves and vines with a touch of mystery and fantasy, each telling its own story in its own aged and ancient way. I hope you enjoy my work.

A Song of Celebration, acrylic on frescoed canvas, 36 x 48 inches

MUSEO Gallery
Langley, Whidbey Island, Washington
Opening reception: Saturday, September 4, 5-7 p.m.

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