Tuesday, February 21, 2012


It is a leap year, adding one extra day to February. Over the past few weeks James and I have found ourselves visiting greenhouses, flower shops and antique shops. I think that this is a trend we follow this time of year, waiting for gardening season outdoors to begin,while bringing something of that into our home, or at least dreaming about it.

"Gardening gives one back a sense of proportion
about everything - except itself."

May Sarton
Plant Dreaming Deep, 1968

Scale and portion thrown aside here! It would take a home and garden of grand scale to be fitting for this graceful statue of Artemis and the flanking garden urns. How about for a Tuscan villa or in the courtyard of a Roman palazzo.
(Still , the urns might work somewhere in our garden.)

Artemis is known as the goddess of the moon and of the hunt,as well as being the twin sister of Apollo. She is a little too much of a statement for our garden, but the classic waves of her hair and draped sleeves of her garment called for a closer look and demanded a photo.
We all can dream, can't we.

This little figure holding a garland was of a less monumental scale but ever so sweet. We already have a garden figure, the fountain statue that we refer to as 'Squirt'. I think she would be rather jealous if we added this one to our garden.

Out of the garden for moment and into the house and studio........

Each time I come to this shop I am attracted by the arrangement of hotel silver in this cabinet. It is a monochromatic still life with shapes created by spouts, lids and handles. These objects seen individually are one thing, but grouped they mingle becoming an architectural like landscape. I will take my sketchbook in and draw this....soon before they are gone.

Here color is key with the white of the orchid set against the deep green foliage mixed with the orange of the terracotta all highlighted by dramatic light.
There was a time not too long ago when orchids were not on my favorite plant list. But I have grown to like them and now have a few in the sun room. I think my attitude about them changed once I had one rebloom. Success!

.....back to the garden.....

In an antique shop, on a table surrounded by much grander objects was this very clever planting box. At first I thought it to be a small mock up for a full scale garden structure, but it was probably just made for what it is, a trellis like planter. Who knows? I do like this design and can imagine it as an entrance to our planned herb garden .

Indoor gardening.... Just what is called for in late winter, a pleasing arrangement of objects and plants.

Designing our gardens or our interior living spaces we consider many things including proportion, scale, form, color, pattern, perspective.
It is the same in drawing and painting. It is about finding and creating beauty for ourselves and for others to contemplate and perhaps enjoy.

Bowerbird, Depot Square,Peterborough, NH
Bob Withington Antiques, Route 1, York, ME
Coles Nursery, Concord, NH
Jardiniere, Deer Street,Portsmouth NH

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

SNOW MOON .....over New England and Umbria

The February Full Snow Moon is seen here rising over New Castle, New Hampshire. The late afternoon sun lights up the coastline.....the snowless coastline. This winter in New England has been unique for the lack of snow and higher than average temperatures. Normally, at this time of year we are more likely to have at least knee deep snow cover and bitter cold temperatures. Last winter the snow was unyielding. Snow piles so high it was difficult to see over them making getting around by foot or by car impossible at times.
This winter, however, James and I find ourselves taking walks nearly every day.....on our dry dirt road, in the city on pavement or on open seaside paths. Can you believe that we were sitting outside on a bench just yesterday!

February Surprise!
Sotta la Luna

We received an email with photos the other day from Italy. Surprise! February 1st, with the Snow Moon rising, it had snowed in Panicale.
Panicale is the lovely Medieval hill town where we stay on visits to Umbria.
We have seen pictures of snow taken there in the past.
The pictures hang in the local forno ( bakery), and I think there is one at Bar Gallo, also known as Aldo's. The pictures are on view to show Panicale in snow because it is a rare thing. We understand this storm covered with region, both Umbria and Tuscany with about a foot of snow! It even snowed in Rome.

Panicale under snow

The village, which overlooks the Umbrian plane, looks beautiful and magical in the snow.
I cannot help but wonder about the glorious fig and olives trees under this heavy snow. This is a place where Palm trees live and rosemary grows tall into hedges or cascades over walls. So, February's Snow Moon has found Panicale in a unique and rare winter as well. New England for the most part is without snow on the ground and Umbria is blanketed in snow.

The Universal Snowman

Everyone loves a snowman. This photo brought a smile to my face.
The Piazza Umberto Primo is the center of town and hub of activity in Panicale. In the morning there is cappuccino at Aldo's where nicely dressed women pass by heading to the markets to do their daily food shopping. Afternoons, the piazza fills with school children, often with a soccer ball. It is a lively place for a small village with restaurants, shops and cafes. We hear that during wine festival this fountain is filled with wine. James and I have never been in town during wine festival so cannot verify this. But, at Easter there is a festival race, the object is to roll wheels of Pecorino cheese from the top of the town.... down...down to the bottom finish line.

Here, this snowy February morning, the fountain in the middle of the piazza is a gathering place to build a snowman!

Panicale is built in an elliptical design on a hill that is south of Lake Trasimeno. From the piazza all roads lead around through medieval archways and narrow passages, some go up and up to the top of the town where the Bell Tower or Campanile is located. Many of these ancient roads are impossibly narrow and is rather startling to see a car drive through. The bells sound on the hour and again with a different and distinctive and ancient sounding ring at the half. The village of Panicale is beautiful and it's people are delightful.

Back to the snow..... Pictured is one of the gates, Porta Perugino, that passes through the ancient walls of the town where you enter or depart. This car will likely stay put for a while.

An art note.Porto Perugino is named for the artist Pietro Perugino. Perugino, an Umbrian, painted a fresco The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian ( 1505), here in the Church of San Sebastiano.

We will be visiting Panicale again this spring and we will stop in as always to look at the Perugino. By then the poppies, broom and even roses will be in bloom.
Vediamo in primavera!

But for now.....

New Castle, New Hampshire

Here in New Hampshire we took a walk through the charming village of New Castle spending time to draw at the town common. Yesterday, as we walked along Seapoint Beach in Kittery, Maine, we had to remind ourselves that this is February. Our daughter lives the area so we are frequent visitors here. There are times in winter when James and I find that we need to look at the ocean. It is about seeing that horizon line against the blue sky paired with the sea air that renews us.
This winter has not been one of white and gray as most winters are. The sun on our open field is golden and daily walks have reduced our "cabin fever".

The nights have been cold and clear creating a perfect venue for watching the
Snow Moon rise into the February sky.

For another look at the Snow Moon click on: Aponovich 52

Grazie, Katia!
Thanks to Katia Mughetti for use of the photos of Panicale.