Heirloom tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers from Mike’s garden in South Orange.

Heirloom tomatoes and other veggies

The fragrance of fresh basil and sage, also from his garden, filled my head as I painted these precious veggies. Truly, a Family Treasure to be remembered.

Last night I transplanted thirty-five, eight inch tall, GirasolMammoth Sunflower seedlings.

Sunflower Seedling

Eighteen were planted in the far corner of the yard between the raspberry bed and the Blueberry house.  At daybreak, only eleven remained.  I believe the groundhogs living under the tool shed had a tasty, midnight snack.  It is survival of the fittest in my backyard.

The rest of the seedlings were planted along the fence close to the house amongst the poison ivy vines.  I’m hoping the poison ivy will act as a deterrent.  Once the seedlings are too large to be munched on by small critters, I’ll yank out the poison ivy.

Odd colors for a sunflower seedling?  I decided to use the same color scheme for the seedling as I used for this morning’s Trumpet Parts No. 91.  The color scheme game dictated Analogous with one complement, violet as dominant color.

There were still eleven seedlings thriving between the berries after dinner this evening.

Sketchbook drawing: drawn first with fountain pen and ink followed by watercolor.

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As a child, I loved coloring books.  As an adult, I frowned upon them, feeling that they stunted creativity.  As an older adult, I find myself making my own coloring books.

Peas and Herb Garden in Clay Pots

I find myself staying within the lines ….. how dreadful!  I rationalize my current obsession by saying that the difference between mine and ordinary coloring books is that I draw my own pictures and my lines bleed into the colors.

I also find myself at the coloring table with small children and ordinary coloring books.  I enjoy every minute of it.

Coloring Book Sketch: drawn first with fountain pen followed by watercolor in handmade watercolor paper sketchbook bound in leather.

Staying within the lines

Pea seeds are planted!

Pea Seed Packets

A delightful day of working in the yard, the sun warming both my skin and the soil.  Gardens were raked, dirt dug, step shelves for the kitchen herb garden built, deer fence constructed and peas planted.  What could be better than that for a Sunday afternoon in the middle of March!

I really should give up on using watercolor in my current sketchbook.

Sketchbook drawing: drawn first in pencil, followed by watercolor, followed by carbon pencil.  Based on value studies created as examples for the next variation of The Extended Game – An extension of The Color Scheme Game.

The letter waiting for me at the Boulder post office was to determine whether I would catch a ride back to the East Coast with John Bragg or head to Yosemite with Michael Vergalla.

My brother, Dave (Howard), Tetons, Wyoming Summer of 1977

” Monday, June 20, 1977 after breakfast of pancakes and mud we began our journey.  The three of us, Howard, Nell and I rolled down the hill at about 7:30 AM leaving Mom and Dad and their instamatic cameras smiling and waving.  We’re pretty damn lucky to have folks like Dave and Annette.” (entry in the red sketchbook)

The odometer of the 1964 Dodge Dart read 67955.

The plan was to head across the country,  rock climbing along the way.  We would drive to Seattle to see our sister, Louise, then head to Boulder, Colorado where Howard was to start college in September.  The Dodge Dart would stay in Colorado. I would find a way to get back to the East Coast and set up housekeeping with Jason, a woodsman living in Franconia Notch, New Hampshire.  John Bragg had offered me a ride if his sales trip went as planned.  He was a sales rep for climbing gear and clothing. The letter informed me that his trip back to Boulder had been canceled.  After writing a letter to Jason, I threw my backpack into Michael’s blue van and headed West.  It was August 27, 1977

The Red Sketchbook, Family History beginning in 1977

My recent determination to fill the empty pages of my accumulated sketchbooks has led to another project. Flipping through the pages I realize they illustrate not only my history but my children’s history.  There are stories to be told, the memories triggered by the sketches.  Slowly, as time and energy permits, I will tell those stories.  The stories are for Alexis, Nicole and Mike.  The rest of you are welcome to read along.

Michael Vergalla driving the blue van, heading to California in the summer of 1977

I haven’t figured out how I’m going to do this yet.  If anyone has a good idea, I am open to hearing it.  What I thought I might do is to post something brief that links to a separate page under a new tab “Family History”.  That way, the artists that check in on this blog to see drawings and paintings can still enjoy a few of those without being bogged down with stories that may not be of  interest to them.

On another note:  I brought the plants in today. They thrived on the front porch this summer.  I spent many happy hours on the front porch drawing, painting and watching them thrive outdoors in the north light, protected by the roof from too much rain or sun.  I hope they make it through the winter indoors.

Indoors for the winter

There are three more huge pots of aloe in the bedroom, half a dozen more small plants as well as the nespera are in the Florida room and more oxalis in the bathroom.

Link to Family History Index Page

Less than an hour after this photo was taken the little mushrooms had vanished.

Surprise Guests

The Hens and Chicks that Nicole brought me just prior to my surgery are still living in their little pots on the front porch.  I check on them each morning and I am always pleased that the porch plants are doing so well in this strange summer of intense heat and thunderstorms.  One morning I noticed these delicate little mushrooms growing in the pot.  Fortunately I hobbled back to the studio to get my camera and snap a photo.  Shortly after the photo they evaporated into nothingness.

Front Porch Garden

The Lavendar Survived the Deer

The small circle of plants at the end of my driveway has been thriving for the past three weeks.  I was delighted that the multitude of deer that camp out in our yard didn’t desire the lavendar, the screaming orange flowers (I can’t find the tag or remember the name), or the little purple pansies.  Yesterday I stopped and picked up plant food to give the flowers a real boost.  When I arrived home my mind was occupied with other thoughts and I didn’t glance at the circle garden as I turned into the driveway.

First thing I did , even before changing my shoes. was scoop plant food into the watering can and fill the can with water.  The plants looked odd as I approached.  The lavender caught the setting sun and stood out boldly in comparison to the rest of the garden, no longer more than two inches in height.  Footprints were everywhere.  Not only did the deer devour the screaming orange flowers, they pulled half of them out of the ground.  Both the lavender and the little purple pansies were left untouched.  Maybe they don’t like purple.

Pruned Screaming Orange Flowers

On a positive note ….


During my transplanting frenzy a couple of weeks ago one little corm broke off from the parent plant of the Oxalis Shamrock Plant.  I was nervous about the transplant and about the survival of the original plant outdoors on the front porch.  Each year my mother gave me an Oxalis around St. Patrick’s Day.  I had not been  able to keep one alive until 2003, the last year she gifted me with the annual Oxalis plant.  Fortunately, the 2003 Oxalis still thrives. I planted the little corm in a new pot and hoped it would grow.  Yesterday morning it appeared!

The mother plant is loving the front porch.  Perhaps she enjoys the company of the purple Oxalis from my Mother’s Day excursion with Nicole to Terrain.

Snap Peas, 5" x 8" oil sketch

I’ve come inside to warm up a bit before starting another little painting.  For the middle of April it is surprisingly cold.

For the sake of tradition I planted peas on March 15th.  Soon the little sprouts poked through the dirt only to be devoured by the crows.  Much to my delight I discovered that seven or eight plants had survived and on this cold, overcast day I chose one of them as my subject.

A bit later…….

Joy just sent me a link to a great site where you can design your own fabrics from your images.  The site is spoonflower.com. What fun!  Here is the snap pea painting as a mirror repeat pattern.

Snap Pea oil painting as a mirror repeat pattern