I’ve probably mentioned to you before that I live in a very old house–it’s more than a 100 years old, the bottom floor constructed entirely of grey banarckly spattered beach stones, the top half, faded grey shingles, a patch near one upstairs window, dark brown and out of place–a remodeling job that happened before our time and still waits for a matching coat of paint. (It’s on “The List,” don’t worry.)
The house used to command 500 acres when it was first built, the property stretching out behind it included dark towers of massive pines and firs and a lake! The view in front, an orchard and a stone staircase to the beach below, the only way to access the house was by water.
Okay, you might shed a tear or two when I tell you that the stone staircase is no longer–smashed to bits and hauled away by the bank during the Great Depression when the house was foreclosed on and some of the property below sold off, reachable only by a new narrow and gravelly accesss road.
Some the old apple trees struggle every year or so to produce and the beach plums still bloom and fruit. The property basically shrank by well, a ton over time with each new family that moved in and adjusted things the way they saw fit. Now it’s just big enough to get a little bit lost in (see my last post about finding the blue clawfoot tub behind an old hedge) and small enough to keep track of the dog when she wanders offwhere.
It’s all tangly and dense and green and wild with little spots here and there that have bowed to my will–a pink birdcage filled with strawberries hangs from an old rescued trellis in the back and the steps that lead up above to the road are lined with gravel from the beach. But I don’t want things too spiffy and manicured and, you know, perfect, because that just isn’t what I adore and value and cherish.
The mystery and the untamed nature of all the brambles and ivy and yes, even the bindy weeds (they bloom white!) and the out of control purple wisteria (for a time it grew up and into the house, so happy to come inside, I think) influences how I paint.
If you see my paintings, what stands out from across a room might just all change when you get up close. A broad band of red and green and pink from far away insists on being bold–take a peek from a few feet away, you’ll discover that a pattern rests softly under the color, maybe a lacey curling vine, a shy bloom, a butterfly, a French phrase, a heart.
It’s like that here in the garden–dark green and dense. But look again. There’s a pink climbing rose wrapping its arms around that one tall tree in the front. And that brown spot where we cut down some brambles this summer–surprise! A perfectly lovely rosy poppy pops up to say hi.
It wasn’t there yesterday when I looked but maybe I just wasn’t seeing its pretty pink petals waving at me when I glanced around the yard from the front porch some distance away.