It’s so cold on the Long Island Sound…
…that the low tide froze. Here I am at the William Cullen Bryant Cedarmere estate, which is two miles from my house, tramping around the cliffs trying to get a good reference photo of the Mill House so I can paint it:
This Mill House is situated below the high ground of the estate, perched precariously close to the water’s edge:
(That’s the Mill, behind all that dead spartina grass.) To get this shot (above, the other side of the house where apparently the sky is not so blue) I had to scramble down hill through the woods and hop onto this old dock. I was wearing my beloved but bulky full-length Winter coat and the whole time that I slipped and slid through the bracken I kept thinking that this is how my idol, Edith Holden (author of The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady) died. She drowned in the Thames River, trying to reach a branch of chestnut buds on its bank.
This is the stream that drains from the pond on the Cedarmere high ground into the Long Island Sound I took great care to NOT fall into. Note the beautiful icy edges! Jeeze. What I do for my art.
This Winter I have fallen in love with the William Cullen Bryant Cedarmere estate. You’ve seen my homage to it in Fall
But it is also heart-breakingly beautiful on an icy bitter cold afternoon in Winter:
But enough with the local scene.
As you know, I’ve been painting a tropical garden lately. Well, it’s time to ‘fess up that I’ve been painting that garden from memory — the only remembered garden in the book. It’s a long story, but when I was in Rio de Janeiro in the mid-1990s I did not take a single photo. So, uniquely among the ten gardens that I have chosen for my Damn Garden Book, my Rio de Janeiro garden is the one that exists only in fond recollections of an enchanted time and place. Excuse the twee language: being footloose in the Southern Hemisphere in your thirties with a very debonaire Englishman is an incredibly twee way to experience Rio, in my opinion.
Cue the masking fluid!
My most ambitious masking project yet.
I’m trying something new for the background, something that is almost pure design, not taken from nature:
I’m going to play with some blue-green foliage too:
There is an actual plant that grows in Brazil that has these wonderful stripes on its leaves:
(I’ve never painted this plant before, so I should NOT have begun painting such a prominent leaf, front and center, until I’d gotten the hang of it…which is a tip I hope I remember in the future.)
I want very much to play with this design because I went to Philadelphia last weekend to see the Barnes Foundation and so I’m trying to be Henri Mattise, all modern design and happy pattern:
So this is me, in my Matisse phase:
Now I’m ready to peel off the masking fluid:
Next week I will tell you all why I did not enjoy my trip to the snotty Barnes Foundation (it would have been perfect if there hadn’t been a damn docent involved, and if there hadn’t been so many awful Renoir nudes), and I’ll be taking my spiffy semi-professional watercolor paints and my experience with tropical scenes to Key West (metaphorically Garden Book-speaking). So please tune in next Friday — it could be a catastrophe!
Nothing keeps me warmer on an icy Winter day on the Long Island Sound than painting a tropical garden. Except receiving wonderful little packages in the mail from the lovely readers of this blog, that’s extremely heart-warming. And cats — they keep me warm, too, when they glom onto me while I take my 4 o’clock tea break and watch Judge Judy. Oh, and a shot of cold medicine in the tea cup (yes, we have a cold to go with the cold here on the Long Island Sound).
P.S.: No, that’s not my cat in that photo — I couldn’t get any of my cats to help me out with this blog, are you kidding??? My cats do something USEFUL??? I got that photo from a Japanese blog that I was briefly fascinated with last week, but that Japanese blogger got the picture from Flikr, and that cat looks Scandinavian to me.