Monday, September 8, 2014

September Garden

With the cooler days we're having now, I was feeling a little sad to see summer on its way out. I really enjoy all the flowering shrubs and perennials that brighten up our yard in the summertime, and I'm just not ready to say goodbye to them yet.

Then I started looking a little closer and realized that even though the masses of daylilies are finished for the year, and the daisies and campanula are drying up and turning brown, there's still plenty going on in my September garden.

9" x 12", ink, watercolor, and gouache in Aquabee Super Deluxe sketchbook. Drawn with Noodler's Creaper Flex Pen and Noodler's Lexington Gray ink. Lettering done with Pitt Artist's Pen, size S.

I planted several packets of zinnia seeds in the the front row of my vegetable garden this spring, as I do every year, and they never fail to provide loads of bright, cheery color, up until the first frost. I like to cut bunches of them to bring inside, arranging them in antique stoneware pitchers and blue Mason jars. I set one on the kitchen window sill, one on the kitchen island, and another on the coffee table in the living room. They make me happy whenever I catch a glimpse of them.


Bluebeard or blue mist shrub is a never-fail fall bloomer. When everything else is waning, it's just hitting its stride. The lavender plants growing above the stone wall by the basement door are all blossoming now, too.

The coneflowers are mostly over, but I found a few fresh flowers on a new variety that I planted in July.


The little flower with the blush pink petals, above, is from the coreopsis shrubs that spill over onto the stone steps leading down to the lower patio by the basement walkout.

The flower clusters on my 'Pee Gee' hydrangeas have turned from warm white to a soft dusty rose color in the past few weeks.


Most of the hosta by the garage finished blooming weeks ago, but one stalwart plant still has its pretty purple flowers.


One packet of sunflower seeds planted in June in my garden has yielded hundreds of sketch-worthy, sunshine-yellow blooms.


Our butterfly bush is true to its name - it's filled with butterflies all day long. The hummingbirds seem to like it, too.


My roses have suffered mightily this year, trying to recover from last winter's harsh weather. They haven't done too well, but I'm hoping next year will be better, and at least there are still a few blossoms to enjoy this fall.


Most of the spirea bushes in our yard put on a beautiful show in early summer and then rest on their laurels the rest of the summer, but one dark magenta variety is blooming nicely right now.


My favorite 'Nikko Blue' hydrangeas also took a hit last winter and didn't give me their usual bounty of blue flowers in early summer. But a few of them finally sent out some buds in August and are blooming now. Better late than never! I'm enjoying every one of them, and they seem all the more precious for their scarcity.


And last but not least, the dependable coreopsis. These cheery little flowers by the stone patio just keep coming and coming throughout the summer and fall.


As I wandered around the yard yesterday with my sketchbook, pen, and three-legged stool, adding one flower after another to this page, I was surprised at how much life there still is in this late summer garden. I just have to look a little harder and take the time to notice it.

Soon these flowers will be gone, replaced by the bright reds, oranges, and golds of fall, but I'm savoring these remnants of summer, and they'll still be blooming in my sketchbook when the winter winds are howling around the house a few short months from now. And looking at this page, I'll remember a warm September evening when I spent some time just enjoying the beauty that's all around me, right here at home.



A little bit about the lettering on this sketch ...


I drew the lettering (inspired by the Antrokas font) by hand with a pencil first, to work out the size and spacing on the page. I then outlined it with a black Pitt pen, size S, and colored in the spaces to make the thick ascenders and descenders. A cool violet-blue watercolor shadow was brushed on, spaced away from the black lettering so the words appear to be suspended above the page.


I toyed with lots of different ideas for borders but thought this swirly one would add a lot of movement to the page while echoing the curving lines of the flowers. I wanted this sketch to be filled to the brim with color and pattern, just like my September garden.


14 comments:

  1. What a beautiful, permanent reminder of the bounty of your September garden, Leslie! Thank you for sharing. I walk about 9 blocks to work each day, and love to stop and drink in the lovely labours of love in my neighbours gardens.... :)

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    1. That sounds like a lovely way to start your day, Lisa.

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  2. Your watercolors always make me happy! Love your style! Thank you for sharing and, oh how I wish I lived near you to be able to take your classes!!! Happy Fall . . .

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    1. I wish you lived closer, too, Fran. I wish I knew more about online classes. That would be a good solution. I need to look into it.

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  3. Another beautiful sketch! I'm glad you post closeups of each section. I love to look at all the detail. I thought I lost all my roses after the harsh winter, but they are slowly coming back. I did lose my lavender though, all 14 of them. I love coreopsis, but mine never do well. They bloom lushly in the spring and early summer and then dry up. Thank you for the watercolor tour through your lovely gardens!

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    1. That's a shame that you lost all those plants, Susan. Several of my lavender plants died off last winter, too, and I had to replant. Now they're doing well.

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  4. So beautiful.... Many thanks for sharing.

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  5. Thank you Leslie, I love your style of painting, and thanks for the tip on the lettering.
    With all those sketch paintings of summer flowers in your journal, summer will be with you all winter to look back on. I always enjoy your posts.

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    1. I really try to appreciate every day during the summer and fall. No matter how much I have to do in a day, I always try to get outside for awhile and reconnect with the real world.

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  6. I am not able to take your classes since I live so far away but I am just mesmerized by your art. It is so colorful and always brings a smile to my face. Thank you for sharing your lovely work with us readers, as well as your tips and suggestions!.

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    1. I appreciate your sweet comments. I see you live in San Mateo, CA - I'll be teaching a two-day workshop in San Clemente, CA, next March. I know it's on the other end of California, but at least it's on the west coast! Think about coming.

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  7. I discovered your website only recently and I just cannot stop delighting in your paintings. They are so vibrant and colourful filled with quaint and interesting details. The summer flowers diary has captured the freshness and bounty of summer flowers. I wish I could take one of your workshops, but I live so far away.

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  8. Thanks for stopping by, Javanthi. Even if you can't take one of my classes in person, keep reading my blog posts. I include lots of hints and tips on painting that you can use in your own work. And if you click on the "Step-by-Step" label in the right column, you'll find tutorials on how I painted a few of my sketches.

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