How COLD is it on the Long Island Sound?

It’s c-o-l-d.

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. I was being too cool. Long story. But in order to paint it, I have to rely on all kinds of painting tricks.

Cue the masking fluid!

P1130501 2

My most ambitious masking project yet.

P1130503With my night-time sky done, I’m starting on the  greenery (see above, and below):



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.)

Now I’m ready to peel off the masking fluid:




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).

Keep warm, dear readers, wherever you are.


13 Comments, RSS

  1. Parisbreakfast

    I can’t believe the SNOW! I better shake out the old electric blanket when I get back…
    I can’t believe yr cat let you do that scarf thing…
    And I can’t believe how adept you are with the damn masking fluid!
    Love the night sky..
    Love it all

  2. Margaret

    Loving watching you paint as well as seeing the wonders of Long Island – that frozen stream!!
    I would have been very disappointed if that cat had turned out to be one of yours. I do not think that your cats would allow themselves to be DRESSED UP. They have more dignity.

  3. I couldn’t tell the cat wasn’t yours:) I thought wow..what a great act.. just needs leggings and he’s French:)
    My masking fluid doesn’t look like yours..then again neither does my art!
    We have had such a cold spell here also.. to be found..
    Thanks for sharing your work.

  4. jacqui

    my friend Glenda who attended your talk in Seattle reports that she loves finding Le Road Trip in bookstores in Australian towns. Even small towns with one good bookstore!!

    And I love the mill house with sunshine shining on it’s face. I wish we could sit there with a thermos of HOT tea.

  5. its like weather whiplash, you have me pondering dying over a chestnut bud, cold and frigid, air sucking from my lungs to suddenly winging my way to tropical heat and being schooled in the veining of leaves. you write just like a great novel, bouncing us around the world with a host of visual treats. love your tea bag reference, it just shows the patience and talent you have for the minutia. and for finding fabulous guest kitties~

  6. Joan

    I can’t even think when it’s that cold…let alone be out in it. BRRRRR

    I have Edith Holden’s book, poor woman, I had no idea she died in such a horrible way.

    I didn’t think your bad-ass cats would have posed wearing a muffler for you.
    They are too haughty for anything so uncool as that.

    I can’t wait to hear all about the docent next week. I’m sure it’s a doozie!

    Try to stay warm with lots of hot tea, warm blankets, thick socks and central heat. Yikes.

    Don’t miss Quartet…saw it today. Maggie Smith should be deemed one of the Jewels in The Crown of the British Empire…she’s a national treasure. Dustin Hoffman’s first time directing a film. So good.

  7. I love what Jain wrote, “you write just like a great novel, bouncing us around the world with a host of visual treats.” *Thank you* for sharing your work with us and your thinking/inspirations it adds even more depth to an already-wonderful blog. Those stream photos were amazing. (And, yes, no polar bearing for you!) I too await next week’s “The Tale of a Docent.”

  8. janet bellusci

    i just love the photos of the frozen stream. winter can be so brutal but so stunningly beautiful at the same time. the frozen edges look like lace!
    thank you for that beautiful trip to the tropics with your garden painting…such a wild use of masking fluid ~ i’m fascinated by the process.

  9. Cheryl Carr

    Yes, the process of “visual treats”…the perfect title for your watercolor demonstrations. I do have a question. Masking fluid is not cheap. I buy bottles, use them, but before I get even halfway through it, the fluid is no longer fluid, but gummy and unusable. How do you keep yours so “fluid”? I bought a fresh bottle yesterday, so I am hoping you can share your secret. Maybe I just need to paint more..yes, that’s it. Paint more.

  10. Viva Matisse!
    I managed to find you blog via Barbara of Banar Designs –a long time blog chum.

    Your winter scenes reminded me of when we lived in Centerport next to the nature preserve and I spent my whole time tramping round in gum boots in the streams.
    I will put you on my sidebar so I get to see your new posts.
    Buster says HI!

  11. Vivian

    To answer Cheryl’s question, I buy my masking fluid for 40 – 50% off with a Michael’s coupon. Check their website and print out a coupon — they have deals every week.

    Otherwise I find their stores to be useless– but then, I’m not into fake flowers or hyper-scrapbooking.

    But check the bottles before you buy — the last time I bought my Windsor Newton stuff it was gummy as soon as I opened it and I had to return it. The masking fluid should be thin when it’s new, and should stay that way — I use very little of it and a bottle can last me over a year, probably two.

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