Botanical Themes

At the Huntington Gardens, in an exhibition of wildflower paintings and drawings titled “When They Were Wild: Recapturing California’s Wildflower Heritage,” I saw rooms full of flowers – from fairy orchids to countless depictions of California poppies.

It struck me how many images, both botanical drawings and flower portraits, had flowers painted over background landscapes, or field notes written right on the page, or included accession stamps (because they are from a library’s collection). Those thoughts were in my mind when I got home and received an invitation to participate in “A Drawing Invitational Exhibition Exploring the Botanical Theme of Plant Life.”

And so was my slightly overgrown garden (now in its eighth summer and much in need of attention after so much gardener-away time). In truth there are only stalwarts in my garden, anything delicate has been engulfed, or harassed by slugs or, if outside the fence, devoured by deer. I love the stalwarts – nepeta, lavender, rosemary, a giant sage – so do the bees.

My gardening nowadays is pulling out, weed whacking the grass growing in gravel, and reclaiming edges. The garden is mostly textures of Washington green, all winter boney trees and ferns, the varied leaves of hellebore and pulmonaria, a one or two pleasures at time sort of place, daffodils and tulips in their season, ripe fruit in the autumn. When I belatedly bought some rudbeckia, cosmos, and a new geranium,the clerk at the garden center said: “Ah, color!”

It was a pleasure to think about making drawings, and I carved a stamp to be a border for text, thinking I’d like to make garden notes inside it. I knew that I’d like to draw what survives here – one for the invitational and all to post here for the next few weeks!

garden notes to follow

A Thank You!

To Vicki Lane! I was so delighted to read the post Vicki wrote about “The Year in Flowers” on her blog (! Last winter I sent Vicki a copy of my book, now nearly 20 years past publication, just for fun and in recognition of blog friendship, so I was completely surprised to see photos of it in my daily peruse of Vicki’s blog.

Vicki inspires me by the discipline she shows in making daily posts. Unless teaching a class away from home, she never misses, and I’m always intrigued by her mystery writer life in North Carolina – so very, very far from the Pacific Northwest. I wrote about Vicki’s blog here.

Thank you Vicki – I was touched and appreciative!

The Workroom – Fall 2013 – An Invitation

If you are curious about pursuing a creative project of your own in the company of similarly directed people, please consider joining The Workroom’s fall session. The course starts in a month and will run for six weeks from September 9 to October 18. I’m excited to start thinking about a new group this fall!

Sometimes it’s lonely to do creative work on one’s own – and a collaborator in our particular endeavor isn’t always possible. The Workroom is a little like childhood’s “parallel play,” because each participant brings a project at whatever stage it exists – whether early or needing some infusion of energy to complete – and is supported by the other participants and me.

Colleagues waiting, even if only virtually, for us to show up and do what we set out to do is very inspiring. Last year’s participants often discovered new things by putting a plan into words and beginning on a path toward accomplishing creative work. Being part of a supportive group makes for accountability and provides inspiration and stamina.

This session offers a bonus! Each participant who completes the course will receive one of my foldbooks – this one inspired by lessons from The Workroom!

More details are available in past blog posts (here and here). On my website you will find comments from past participants. I would love to include you! The group is small, so please sign up now if you are ready or let me know if you are thinking about joining us. If I can answer any questions, please email me (

September is a great time for back to class! In the meantime I hope you are having a wonderful summer, full of outdoor time, friends, and family!

Workroom foldbook cover