Monday, March 28

Oh She Grows: Sunbathing

What a beautiful weekend it was yesterday! Nothing like the spring showers that we are getting today. After I got home yesterday from my road trip up to see my parents on the family farm, I brought all my little seed babies outside for a couple hours in the sunshine - it was so beautiful, and there was just the slightest breeze, I couldn't resist letting them bask in all of that.

They are all still coming along well. Despite trying to protect them from the cat, Oreo has managed to nibble on some sweet peas - and although I am super excited for them, they are just flowers and can be replanted. This week, I have to go through and thin everything, replant some that just didn't come up, or just are not looking very viable and healthy right now. Besides this weekend, it hasn't been sunny very much lately, so some of the seedlings look a little 'leggy', but I'm sure they're thicken up as the season progresses.

We are about 6 weeks away from the last frost date, and all the snow is gone - hooray! I went out to check my garden boxes. The soil in them is thawed, but still cold and quite wet. I may get my peas in mid-April again! :)

I will need to repot my tomatoes into bigger homes in about 1-2 weeks. I'll be able to start a lot more plants then as well, which is exciting!

Friday, March 25

Floral Work in Progress Part 2.

I've been working on my floral painting a bit here and there, but it's been developing well. I had some issues building up one of the flowers, and ended up just completely redoing it - and I'm very happy with it! I'm glad that I've been actively making time to paint - it feels nice getting into it all again. I didn't realize before how much planning a wedding last year took away from my creative time!

You can see from the above picture that I have lots and lots of layers of paint, and I have even done a bit of sgraffito (scratching into the paint). Here are the remaining progress images, with where the painting stands (still not done), at the end:

Finishing up the base layers in the background really brought it together - gave the whole arrangement shape. I love how I was able to utilize the initial background layer so much with some negative space painting. Still lots of work to do on it...but it's really starting to come together now.

You can see the beginning of this painting, here.

Monday, March 21

Little Seed Babies

My little seed babies are starting to all make their appearances! First planted were the peppers, and they have mostly all came up, and are working on their second set of leaves. I have been keeping them well out of the cats reach.

There is only one bare cell in the whole tray from no seed germinating, so that's not bad. I'm happy I put lots of seeds in the cells with the Hot Yellow Peppers - only about two came up of each of those, even though I put 4-5 seeds in all of them. Most of the peppers otherwise had 100% germination, and shortly I'm going to have to choose who gets to stay, and who gets chopped.

Most of my tomatoes are up as well. I'm going to have to go through and thin them out too. They are a little more 'stringy' this year, but I'm not too worried. When I got to re-pot them after getting their first true set of leaves, I'll just pot them deeper and then problem solved! I also had brussel sprouts in this tray, but they are having trouble germinating...I may have to replant those seeds.

I have little baby lavender seedlings :) After placing them in the fridge for four weeks (stratification), I took them out and they sprouted almost right away :)  cannot wait to place these little guys outside...I just have to take really good care of them for another month and some - let them get strong, and let the cold go away.

On the topic of flowers, I started a whole tray this year :) The flowers did wonders last year for the bees, but a lot of them never sprouted - or got eaten when they were young and tender, so I figured I would help out and give them a really good head start indoors. My marigolds that I started inside last year were so much healthier than the marigolds I purchased - so that was a sign that this was the way to go. I bought this 'hex tray' which was a little deeper for the root systems, and I planted a bunch of different seeds: sweet peas, marigolds, cosmos, bachelor buttons, Mexican sunflowers and more. I cannot wait! A lot of these are flowers for cutting - and the more you cut, the more they blossom - so I'm hoping to get a bouquet each week, and still have plenty for the bees and butterflies :)

You can read more about what flowers attract bees and butterflies, and feed them, on this brochure provided by Flowers Canada.

I do have some concern that some the flowers might have been started a little too early, since they are possible to "direct sow". Some flowers packets said direct sow only - so I've waited to put those guys right into the soil (poppies). But I have tons of seeds left over, so this can be considered an experiment. I've learnt a lot the past two years with gardening experiments - I did some things that people told me 'wouldn't work at all', and well....they worked - wonderfully worked! There were some failures as well...but I like to focus on the "wins" hehe. :)

Some more plants that need to be started this week or next: kale, broccoli and brussel sprouts (an earlier variety). I may start a butternut squash plant indoors as well, since it requires such a long growing season. It's one of the "freebie" seed packages I acquired, and just want to try it to see. 

I'm about at the 7-8 week mark until the last frost. All the snow is gone from the ground, so I'm hoping for an earlier spring - I can get peas, spinach and some other cold-tolerant plants in the ground once it warms up a little more, and the soil dries out a little bit. I will hold off until the last frost date until I plant out my more tender plants.

Saturday, March 19

Little Princess Watercolour Tree

"Little Princess" - Watercolour painting, detail.

A lot of my friends have been having, or shortly expecting, babies. It's hard not to feel all the maternal vibes that are radiating from everything. This cute little princess tree, complete with pink bunting and a crowned birdy came to mind.

"Little Princess" - Watercolour Painting

Thursday, March 17

The Hum of Bees

"The Hum of Bees" - Original Watercolor painting
Spring is here now - I feel is safe to say. I've been feeling spring fever for some time now, luckily all my little seedlings are keeping me satisfied for now. In about another month or so, I will be able to be out in the gardens planting some frost hardy goods.

"The Hum of Bees" - detail, watercolour

This year, I have really focused on keeping the bees happy. The bees have been in my mind all winter - and when I stumbled across this quote from Elizabeth Lawrence, I knew that I had to paint it out.  I've never painted a laurel before like this - so it was a tiny bit of a learning curve. There was one point where I thought it was not ever going to look alright and almost gave up on it. But, then I added a few more layers, and some details and it all worked out.

Now, I'm am going to get some beautiful flowers a head start in some seed trays for warmer weather and all those bees that I am hoping to help out...

This painting is available, here.

Tuesday, March 15

Floral Work In Progress

I started a new, very large painting this weekend - this painting is 2'x3'. It's so much fun working on a large scale - but also very intimidating. I've never really painted florals like this, but I've been feeling more drawn to flowers lately.

It started off with a roughly painted background, and then I loosely drew my composition with some pastel - it will wash off easily when I'm done, or mix with the paint and disappear.

And then I started colour blocking with bold, short marks to start defining some areas.  How you see it at the top is where it stands right now. Still lots to do, lots of experimenting and lots of mess making on this canvas.

I must say, after working on the large commission that I did for the hospital, I am really enjoying working large scale. It definitely take a different mind set - that all the little details are no longer "little", and you can achieve fine details with more ease.

Monday, March 14

New Business Cards!

I'm super excited to share my new business cards! I haven't had business cards in a long while, but I have some opportunities coming up this year where they would be super helpful to hand out - and they showcase my new name since getting married on New Years :)

I splurged a little and got them printed on some beautifully thick, matte cardstock - they are just so perfect!

Saturday, March 12

Online Shop Update!
"Dancing Queen" - Art Print
I just wanted to share a little update in the online shop, Jellybeans. Over the winter some original paintings have sold, and I am now able to offer them as art prints! :) I always print on beautiful, museum grade paper, giving it the perfect giclee quality all art deserves - also meaning that wonderful quality will last the owners of these art prints year and year.
"Such Great Heights" - Art Print
"Shine Through" - Art Print

Thursday, March 3

Inside the Sketchbook: Travels Documented

I made an effort this time on our trip to Mexico to bring along my sketchbook. This was the first time not traveling in a large group of friends, and I knew there would be times that it would quiet right down and I'd be so happy that I brought it along.

I didn't sketch as much as I thought I would, but I still went through a couple pages. We ended up making friends with a few couples while there, and spent many hours hanging out and lounging around with them. I was very, very happy I brought it along though. I found that when there was an infinite amount of time available in a day for sketching, it went a long more slowly, and was just so relaxing and enjoyable.

Some of the completed pages took the entire day: between chatting, playing cards, enjoying the pool, going to eat, soaking in the sun and so on.  All the pages were inspired by things I saw around me. I must say, I was pretty content sketching away here and there that entire week :)

Tuesday, March 1

DIY: Metal Plant Markers

Today I'm sharing with you an easy DIY for all your little seedlings. This DIY was originally shared over at Sweet Domesticity (go check out her amazing blog!). I had been experimenting every year with plant markers, and this year I am trying her methods with the metal. I do mine a little different than her, so I thought I would share with all of my lovelies on here :)

These markers are made with Aluminum tape - found at any hardware store. Please do take a peak around your garage / basement hubby informed me after I purchased some that we had some lying around from the previous owner.

I first start by cutting off a strip. The length is about "two-markers" long - so take how much you want one marker to me, and then double it.

Next I found it lengthwise onto itself two times, so that that I have two creases, and three sections. Do this before you take the backing off, as it is quite sticky and your folding will not be as nice. After I have creased my fold lines, I remove the backing.

 I carefully fold it onto itself two times, so that I'm left with a long, skinny piece of the Aluminum. Make sure it is stuck well together, and all the air bubbles are out and it is nice and smooth.

I then cut the piece in half, on an angle. Cutting on an angle ensures that I will have a 'pointy-end' to stick into the soil.

Because I start my seedlings off in such small containers (and then pot-up the strongest), I want my markers a little smaller yet. I cut each strip lengthwise to give me two markers. If you wanted, you could keep the markers thick.

Then you use a ball point pen to write on them and it 'engraves' the writing into the marker - no need to worry about sharpie ink fading (my issue last year, resulting in many plants of unknown variety).

It takes a little time to get a flow going, but you know these markers will not fade. You can even reuse them for the following year if you are planting the same items. Or, you can recycle the aluminum.

Poor Chewie was quite bored when I was doing this... heheh.