With the nice weather we’ve had for the past few days, I’ve been working in the garden. My hermit diaries really don’t reflect a life much different than ordinary life out here at Wild Ozark, though. The only real difference is the presence of Chloe and my new role as homeschool teacher and constant companion. And less painting, though I wouldn’t say less art.
The garden is a form of art. It is a nature art in the form of landscaping. The small area is my canvas and the plants and rocks are the palette. And I am still gathering pigments and processing paints. Today I have a small collection of reddish rocks from the creek. I’ll be smashing those shortly.
New on my list of things to do is making a series of short videos. They’ll have to be no more than three minutes each, because our internet just can’t upload files much larger than that. I’d like to do some more like the one Chloe and I made for the Women Make Arkansas event that just passed. But I want to have a flow and direction to them, so that all together they make a series. Maybe it takes the viewer from introduction to me through the steps of making to the finished paint, and maybe a finished painting. Or maybe, a Hermit Diaries series that chronicles the flow of typical things I do with my days out here in the middle of nowhere. I’m still thinking about it and not sure yet what I intend to do, honestly.
The spider bite I mentioned in my last post is still healing and almost done now.
Hermit In the Garden
I’ve been spending time in the kitchen garden, and also in the ginseng garden. It’s the time of year to repot all the companions that need dividing. Unless I get an order, I’m leaving the ginseng seedlings in the ground where they’ll be fine until it’s time to move them to a pot. Today I found a long-lost friend. I’m sure it’s not the very same one, but my Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium reptans) washed away in 2015’s gigantic flood. This afternoon, before I got caught in the rain, I saw it out at the Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden.
Now that she can see it is actually becoming a comfortable place to spend time, Chloe is interested in the kitchen garden. When it was just a bunch of weeds and poison ivy, I had a hard time convincing her to come in. Now she is helping to plant and water everything. All of the weed seeds are starting to sprout now, too, so I’m trying to stay vigilant.
I looked at my old garden journal entry from 1997. Apparently rain and weeds were a problem then, too. Except then I lived in south Louisiana, where such things are expected. It seems over the past five years that our climate up here has shifted to be more like there.
In the photo at the top of the page, you can see some of the idea clippings I’d gathered back when I only had dreams to write hermit diaries. That was from before we moved here to the rural Ozarks, a place a person could really conceivably *be* a hermit. I used to have a subscription to a magazine called “Victorian” or something like that. It had the most beautiful photos of rose gardens and I loved them. Then I also used to buy a magazine called “The Kitchen Gardener” and I LOVED that one. For some reason, though, maybe enough other people didn’t love it so much and it went out of print. Now there’s another one similar to it, but the focus is more on kitchen and less on garden. I used to watch Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch on the Garden channel too, and bought the 4-Seasons Gardener book.
I never seemed to have enough time to really devote to the gardening the way I wanted to. And now I do. So I’m reviving some of my lost loves.
In the Creek
I went to the creek the other day to see what kinds of colors might have washed in during the recent rains. This is something I do on a pretty regular basis, but this time I remembered to take a short video clip to show how the red looks so much brighter while they’re under the water. I shared that to my Instagram page, so if you want to scroll back to look for it you can see that there. But I’m making another little video with that clip that will take you all the way from collecting the pigment through making the paint.
Hermit Diaries: Making Paint
I’m saving my ‘Red Creek Kibbles’, the little red rocks I gathered at the creek, so I can make a paint just from those that I collected while at the creek. While I have a budding videographer (“YouTuber” is her word for it), I’ll get her to help me make this video. I’m learning to edit. You can see the results of our first video, if you like. It’s the 3-minute market intro I did for the Women Make Arkansas event that took place the last day of April. I think she did great at the filming, but I sure need a lot of practice being on camera.
Thinking About Art
Well, March and April went by and I haven’t painted anything. I just haven’t felt able to with my routine so thoroughly changed. But now that I don’t need to run the heater anymore, I can put my easel next to my desk and get something started.
Some of my favorite photographers have some nice pictures that I’d like to paint. Daddy has some swamp scenes that have been on my mind, Terry Stanfill has some birds still on my list, and now there’s John Craig, a photographer from Bella Vista. He has a lot of photos I’d like to paint. There are still turkeys and quail I’d like to do from Jami Linder, too.
I just need to pick one and start something. It’ll have to be 20 x 16″ or smaller, so it fits in my office, out of the way. I have some larger paper I wanted to try but I need a board still to mount it on while in progress. First, though, I need to give the house a good cleaning. Because painting is like reading a good book. Once I get started, I don’t want to stop for things like food and housework.
Sorry, not gonna post a video or a pic of the wreck that is our house. Since the weather has been nice, I’ve been outside. Hopefully it’ll rain soon so I can work on the state of things inside. I’ve never been a domestic goddess and keeping things neat and tidy is a real difficult task to me. I don’t know how you neat people do it. I am good at making messes. Not so much at cleaning it all back up.
But I have made a master list of all the household things I want to get done before Mr. Wild Ozark comes home. I want him to at least have a clean, organized, less-cluttered home to come home to. But if those plans fail, unless the weeds get the better of me between now and then, there should at least be a nice garden to be in, haha.
Madison Woods is a self-taught artist who moved to the Ozarks from south Louisiana in 2005. In 2018 she began experimenting with watercolor painting, using her local pigments. She calls them Paleo Paints, and her artwork features exclusively the lightfast pigments foraged from Madison county, Arkansas. Her inspiration is nature – the beauty, and the inherent cycle of life and death, destruction and regeneration.
Her online portfolio is at www.MadisonWoods.art.
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