Art

My husband never fails to point out how much he loves the handful of small stone houses that are scattered hills around where we live. I have to admit, there is something especially charming and loveable about old stone homes….the type that seem like Hagrid might have just moved out of.

small stone house by Michael stephens via www.studiogblog.com

We are not moving…the general tininess would never fit our family and I am sure the floors are painfully cold. But Michael Stephens makes the kind of stone house that carries with them all the charm and romance but none of the practical downsides. And they are perfect for your garden.  Fairies can move in, or perhaps a bird but I think that if you have a stone house loving dad in your life, this is a sweet gift.  small stone house by Michael stephens via www.studiogblog.com

Available through Michael’s Etsy Shop – Stonework by Stephens.

images Stonework by Stephens

porcelain sculpture by Anya Stasenko & Slava Leontyev

porcelain sculpture by Anya Stasenko & Slava Leontyev

As some of my big garden projects work their way towards being done, I am starting to pay closer attention to the accents, accessories and details that I can layer in once big things like patios, pergolas, and new pathways are laid.

porcelain sculpture by Anya Stasenko & Slava Leontyev

I don’t see garden art as much different than inside art.  You can go to a mass market retailer and get a few large scale prints that will serve the purpose.  But for something truly original and uniquely inspiring and joyful, you need original art.  Originality gives you the hand of the artist, something unique and special and I think it is just as worth seeking out as you might seek a special painter for something you would hang on over your sofa.

porcelain sculpture by Anya Stasenko & Slava Leontyev

These beautiful porcelain sculptures are created by Ukranian duo  Anya Stasenko and Slava Leontyev.  As a team they create and paint each one into a beautiful work of art.

porcelain sculpture by Anya Stasenko & Slava Leontyev

I am quite partial to this set of owls.  I can imagine them perched in a real tree looking down  (but not so high that I can see them) over my garden.

porcelain sculpture by Anya Stasenko & Slava Leontyev

You can see more of their work and connect with them on their facebook page.

images from venice clay artisans and AnyaSlava on Facebook found via Delphine.

Please accept my apologies if this might be a bit too much to look at on a monday morning.  The idea of this art is just too cool though. I’ve mentioned a few times that I think that Grafitti is a bit of a trend for gardens – certainly is to the natural backdrop for many urban growers. (This post and this one are about the trend of grafitti).  Artist INSA has taken grafitti to a whole new level.  It is called Gif-itti.
INSA-UNGA-2

Gif-itti involves the artist painting the mural upwards of four different times, photographing it, and creating a .gif with the images — before he leaves the site with a final painting. (see above and the final below).   
INSA-UNGA-low-541x400

This got me in the mood for spring as much as the melting snow.  You may recall that I have been wanting to hire an artist to paint the garden side of my barn (something like this).  Well last night as I was pulling this post together…all this coolness prompted me to also contact an artist who might be able to help me….the ball is officially in motion.  I am so pleased!

INSA grafitti art

This piece (above and below – which covers the entire exterior of XL Recordings) is a collaboration with artist Stanley Donwood called Hollywood Dooom to celebrate the release of a new album for Atoms for Peace.   From INSA:

My challenge was to take two very static items, a beautiful lino-cut and a less beautiful box of a building, and bring them to life. After a week of sweating in the Los Angeles late summer sun re-painting the whole building several times I got there. Animated as a continuous GIF it may only live online but some would argue that is where most now live there lives…

INSA-XL-1-600

INSA-XL-2-600

INSAxWHITEWALLS600

INSA-THEVIC600

You can see more of INSA’s gif work and other pieces on his blog.

images from INSA

Spring inspiration botanical illustration by Hannah McVicar

I have an idea for a new regular feature here on Studio ‘g’ that I would love to know if you like or would participate in.

Above all things I want this site to be as useful and inspirational to you as it is to me.  And I also know that you all come here for a variety of reasons.  Some of you are professionals in this industry and some of you are beginning gardeners and then many others lie somewhere in between. I’m hoping that this will find appeal to all of you.

hannah mcvicar botanical illustrationHannah McVicar’s prints seemed like the perfect accompaniment to what I am proposing.  They are beautiful, inspirational (often featured in the beautiful pages of Gardens Illustrated) they are generally of plants and planting plans.  Hannah is the daughter of widely respected herb garden expert Jekka McVicar.  If you love Hannah’s images as much as I do, you can see many more products with her artwork at her website.

But it is planting plans that I want to get at.  When I was in design school, we had to create planting plans as trainee designers that would perhaps be the basis by which we might build not only our own style, but also the foundations of a working business practice.  These planting plans were tools for us designers to start with when creating something new for a client and were meant to use tried and true varieties as well as stylistically appropriate and unique blends of plants. They were to be something that we might use again and again as a particular set of site conditions presented itself.  I found them tremendously useful and as I ran my own business, I developed (as really any successful designer might do) many more typical ‘Rochelle Greayer style’ planting plans.

These plans are part of a designers signature and they the basis by which we come to know the work of the best designers among us.
hannah mcvicar botanical illustration

So, why not share them….at least just a little? (I’m not proposing giving away services so much as hoping you might want to  share a bit so people know what you do and what makes you special).

As a designer, it is hard to get the word out about your work, it’s quality and what makes you unique and just right for the jobs you want.  And if you are in the market for hiring it can be hard to find that right match designer for your project….and then there are those who want to continually get our own hands dirty and need some plant-spiration (I’m raising my own hand  on this even though I fall into the category of pro).

hannah mcvicar botanical illustration

So here is my thought — if you are a designer and want to share a planting plan here on studio ‘g’ drop me a note.  In exchange for sharing, you will of course have use of this platform (~8000 pageviews per day at the moment) and you can share a small piece of your work (one distinctive planting plan).  We will make sure to mention your website, where you are, and any other projects your might have going on – and you can use the opportunity to showcase your beautiful illustration, your imaginary planting plans (or maybe something from a past project that just plain worked well), and we will all benefit a bit from getting to know you and your inspiration and particular style.

I’ve created a permanent page where we will list these posts and as the participation grows we will try to organize them as sensibly as possible (by region, by type or planting, by designer name, by planting conditions — whatever makes sense).   Everybody wins (designers get exposure, recognition, inbound links and everyone else gets to learn a little something) — right?

I will dig out a few of my own to get us start next week — (I warn you – they are not as pretty as hannah’s work – so don’t go feeling all shy about your work either – we all have our style and it is all interesting) and I hope you will all join in.

In the mean time — let me know what you think of this — useful?  Suggestions for making it better? 

BTW — I have a pinterest board related to all this that you might want to check out — it all about Botanical Illustration — they are things that make me oooohh and ahhhh — I’m hoping that through this regular column I might find some more pinnable images.

images from Hannah McVicar

picketfence-detail
I’m hard to please when it comes to garden art.  Though not an art critic (I wouldn’t even begin to pretend I know enough about art to think I could reasonably critique) – I have strong opinions.

Art should feel imaginative and expressive.  I’m pretty sure it can’t be bought on a website…because to be right, I think it needs to be more personal than achievable through a retail outlet.  To me, the best garden art isn’t trying too hard, it makes me think, and it always surprising enough to make me smile.

picketfence05
Dina Weiss’s city-scape picket fence works perfectly for me….for sentimental reasons, I want one with a Denver skyline (sans mountains — because don’t you think that would teeter off the cheesy end of the art scale?).

I’m curious, what sort of rules do you follow when judging garden art? 

image from dina weiss

saga seeds botanical portrait
I’m all about distraction and happiness today, despite yesterday’s awfulness. It is the holiday season and as much as my heart breaks and tears well up at the thought of those classrooms, my reality is that my two children were not there…they are here, and they are demanding that we finish the annual cookie-baking-palooza. I am so thankful for that.
Lygodium Microphyllum

This morning, I purposely spent a little time on pinterest….(the one social media outlet that didn’t make me cry) and discovered the botanical portraits of what I see when I run.

reindeer selanginella

I love them all, but picked these few to share with you because they started to restore some of the holiday spirit that I have sort of lost.   The top one is called Red M&M (Saga seeds) then just below that is called Twinkle (Lygodium Microphyllum) and just above here is Reindeer (Selanginella Plana).  As you scroll down you will see  Snowy (Syzygium Zeylanicum) and then Sleigh Bells below that.

white berries

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I hope you have a nice weekend.

I can’t help but to to also say, as publicly as I can, here….that I hope that a classroom full of dead kindergartners is the last straw (it is for me)…I am not quite sure yet what to do with all of my emotion and anger, but I want to make sure it is channeled toward rational change….change in how we deal with and help mentally ill people and change in how we regulate gun ownership and change in whatever other ways we need to change to make mass shootings and horrific violence like this happen far less.  I have no idea what that means so am wondering if you have some thoughts?  Where do we go from here?

images from what I see when I run

Today  we have two ‘In the Garden’ guests….I would like to introduce you to Amanita and Dashka (Amanita’s creator).   Amanita it a percocious, plant-obsessed, princess who’s style runs towards the dangerous and dark (and after reading her story – I am sure you and your favorite child will want to meet her). Dashka Slater who is the woman behind the new book Dangerously Ever After (in which Amanita lives).   I’ve never had two guests at the same time…and even more interestingly….I’ve never had a real princess….so I hope you enjoy meeting both Princess Amanita and Dashka and much as I did. – Rochelle

dangerously ever after by dashka slater coverHow would you define your style?

Amanita: Dangerous.
Dashka: Eclectic. By which I mean that I like a lot of things that don’t necessarily match.

Do you have a garden?

Amanita: Not just a garden. The world’s most dangerous garden.
Dashka: If, by garden, you mean a section of land set aside for the cultivation of plants, then yes. If you mean something that’s been weeded in the past three months, then no.

princess amanita in her garden dashka slater

If so what is it like?

Amanita: It’s prickly, stickly, thorny, brambly, stinky, poisonous, and occasionally explosive.

Dashka: Pretty much what Amanita said, minus the explosions.

What would your ‘one day’ garden look like?

Dashka: It would be filled with enchanting little nooks and bowers for writing, and would emphatically not have any wireless reception. A bed would be nice. Writing is very tiring.

(You can see some pictures of Dashka’s ‘someday’ here.)

Amanita: It would have a large bog filled with a variety of carnivorous plants and a few more lethal poisons.

Do you have any favorite or sentimental plants or flowers?

Amanita: One of my sentimental favorites would have to be Amorphophallus titanum. I love it for three reasons.

1) Its bloom is wonderfully tall – about ten feet

2) It smells like rotting meat. A lot of rotting meat.

3) I carried it when I was a flower girl at my cousin’s wedding. She had another bouquet for me but it was boring so I threw it in the compost.

Dashka: I have a small collection of potted succulents that all have interesting histories. One sprouted from a cutting I found lying on the sidewalk while I was taking a walk. Another – an enormous flowering aloe – was left on a street corner with a “Free” sign on its pot. A third was an impulse buy by my late mother-in-law, despite the fact that she lived in Florida and had no way to bring it home from California.

princess amanita's heckleberries dashka slaterWhat is your earliest or favorite gardening related memory?

Amanita: I remember the first word my heckleberries ever said. Unfortunately, it’s one I’m not allowed to repeat.

Dashka: I had a very urban childhood and didn’t really have my first real garden until my mid-twenties when I bought a house in a formerly Italian section of Oakland, California that was blessed with wonderfully fertile soil and a history of backyard gardening. It had fruit trees of every kind, including a 40 foot tall avocado tree that a previous owner had grown from a pit. I grew tomatoes by the bushel there, as well as all manner of other vegetables, and learned how to make jam out of desperation when I found myself buried in peaches and apricots, courtesy of two very productive old trees.

Dashka Slater author

What are three cardinal design rules  that you think apply to outdoor projects?

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