This is why I am illustrating my Damn Garden Book instead of photographing it:
This (above) is the entrance to the Secret Garden belonging to my neighbor (and most excellent Chilled Wine Cocktail On The Patio Hostess). You have to walk through the wooden doorway to get to this:
Now, if I were a mere photographer I could only give you, the viewer and eventual Dear Reader of the Damn Garden Book, one or the other view of this nifty Secret Garden. GOOD THING I am an illustrator and in possession of an Artistic License. So I can give you both views at once:
I apply masking fluid with a tooth pick:
And I use my second-fattest paint brush to lay in some sunlight:
In this illustration I will be working mostly from the back to the front, laying in background foliage before I hit the foreground:
Working the middle ground now:
Something told me that I could stop here…
…but a pain in the ass little voice urged me to go on, put in some really dark, dark background:
Tree branch-painting time:
Before removal of the masking fluid:
After removal of the masking fluid:
Painting in the blank bits left by the removal of the masking fluid:
(Yeah, the lantern looks wonky. That will be a later fix-up.)
Hmmmm….I think the dark stuff adds punch to this illustration, and the view is definitely more narrative than anything a mere photograph of the garden could relate….but I think that for my next illustration I will see if I can leave it at the point where something tells me that I can stop here (see above).
This (below) is what is at the far end of that little walkway into my neighbor’s Secret Garden:
I’ll be painting this for you next week and, being as I have either already had a shot at painting this or I can time travel, I already know that it does not go well. But try, try again is my motto. Stay tuned.
Speaking of try, try again, do you recall when I painted this Annie E. Casey Seattle Waterfall Garden for you?
I took another look at it and found that it was lacking in narrative. So I futzed around with it and…
…yes, that female figure is a cut-and-paste (literally). To get a model for that figure, I pulled a chair to the bottom of our living room stairs and I asked Top Cat to stand on the fifth stair and take a photo of me. Photos, of course, lie. The figure of me was foreshortened (as photos tend to do) so I had to improvise in getting the legs right even though I know I would cover them up with a cut-and-paste fern frond.
Tricks of the trade.
Thank you to the many Dear Readers who have sent me photos of their Secret Gardens. If this post gives you an idea of how I will be presenting your garden, should I decide to include it in the Damn Garden Book, I hope this encourages more of you to send me your snaps. And even if you can’t get Fluffy or Fido to post in the actual garden, or there’s a particular bit that won’t fit in a frame, feel free to include that too. As you can see, I am not limited by Earthly geography.
In fact, I think photography is the reason so many garden books are so damn boring. You can’t possible get a great garden captured in lousy photos. There’s always something that gets hidden, or overlooked, or cropped, or foreshortened. I’ve seen photos of famous gardens I’ve been to…
… and they never get it right.
Illustrated Garden Book to the rescue.
Feel free to discuss the awesomeness of illustration over photography.
Breaking News: Congratulations Canada! Couldn’t happen to a nicer country: Alice Munro wins the Nobel Prize for Literature! I’ve been meaning to read her short stories and ow, well, I’m just going to HAVE to.
Other hot literary news: William Todd Schultz has a new book about Portland (OREGON) singer/songwriter Elliot Smith called Torment Saint.
If you know about Elliot Smith then I don’t have to tell you that he was the thinking man’s Kurt Cobain (without the skanky wife but with similar tragic end). William Todd Schultz is an acclaimed author of biographies about Diane Arbus and Truman Capote AND we share the same literary agent — the sainted Betsy Lerner — and the same editor at Bloomsbury — the inimitable Kathy Belden. (Yeah, I know, it’s a miracle I’m in that kind of company but the big DoG in the sky looks out for morons.) And if you are in Seattle on October 29, you can see William todd Schultz discuss Elliot Smith at Town Hall with Mark Baumgarten, author of Love Rock Revolution.
I know that some of my Dear Readers are dyed-in-the-wool Seattle hipsters and I KNOW you’ll be there.
See you next Friday. (It is chilly here on the shore of the Long Island Sound. One day it was Summer and the very next day there were Autumn leaves on the ground and wooly sweaters over the shoulders and no Qantas airplanes flying overhead. Bummer.)