I had a really bad idea last week.
Thank you, Carol Gillot of Paris Breakfasts for sending this spiffy photo.
As I post this, Top Cat and I are on the road, taking a little 300-mile mosey around the Delaware Bay area on the east cost.
We left the Isle of Long via the Williamsburg Bridge…
…and then we drove down the Garden State Parkway through the Garden State (Surprise! It’s New Jersey!) which is a drive that we love because, for one, the Garden State Parkway…
…is planted with fields of wild cosmos…
…and leads us to Top Cat’s favorite playground…
…Atlantic City. I, too, love AC because I get to say howdy to my favorite feathered friends on the boardwalk:
Other sights from the Delaware Bay:
Our hunt for secret gardens took us to the perfectly preserved Revolutionary village of New Castle, Delaware:
But even on a road trip, I haul my Damn Garden Book-in-progress with me:
The Damn Garden Book got one step closer to publication this past week. I finally got my first three chapters illustrated and written and I submitted it to my agent — I do not “workshop” my writing; I re-re-re-re-rewrite it until I think it’s 99% of exactly what I want (I never get to 100%) and then I show it to my agent. Her feedback was very positive and she thought the book was ready to submit to Bloomsbury as is. So the manuscript is at my editor’s at Bloomsbury now and as soon as she approves the concept, we’ll negotiate a publication date and voila: the Damn Garden Book will be a reality.
One thing my agent observed was how much my painting has become more sophisticated. Well, I said, that’s what happens when you paint every day — you can’t help but get better. For example, here’s a little tiny illustration that appears in my first book, When Wanderers Cease to Roam (Bloomsbury, 2008)…it’s on page 45 for those of you reading along.
I drew this little illustration from reference photographs that I’d taken of my old, pre-marriage-to-Top-Cat kitchen:
I loved my old kitchen. It had a corner, as you can see, that was just right for turning into a shrine to my love of all things Tea. About a year ago I re-did this illustration, expanding it to a full-page illustration. First, I drew it all over again:
And then I painted it from scratch:
I also changed cats — in the first illustration I put my cat Honey on the table — in this new illustration I put Woody Robinson on the table, in his favorite place: with his head under the lampshade.
As I so proudly boasted earlier, when you paint almost every day you can’t help but get better…which brings me to the really bad idea I had. It looks like this:
For a chapter about a rose garden for my Damn Garden Book I got the great idea to paint a dozen rose petals. So I bought a rose bouquet, and I picked off a dozen big petals, and I scattered them on two sheets of watercolor paper. And then I painted them life-sized and exactly as they fell — isn’t that genius? Such authenticity! Such spontaneity! (I had to re-paint the petal down o the bottom there, on the right hand side — that’s a replacement petal taped to the orig. illustration; that “fix” won’t show when it’s scanned for the Damn Garden Book). And then I added text:
Oh, lordy; I think the text here looks awful. AWFUL. And the shape of the text is, in my thrill for painting a perfectly random picture. So I had to make some edits:
I don’t know if you notice, but I had to cut out the petals individually and re-paint their shadows to get them all lit from the same light source.
In the end, I got a much better-looking text lay-out while preserving as much fo the old by-accident composition of rose petals:
But I can not leave you with just these few rose petals. It’s August! My favorite month of the year! So, in honor of August, I’m re-running a favorite post from 2010 that I call: Painting August.
So until next Friday, I hope you’re all enjoying the best month of Summer with road trips real and imagined.
Have a fab weekend.