Sunday, September 30, 2012

Little St. Simons Island in the fall

Little St. Simons Island is one of my favorite islands to visit.  This year we visited the island in fall.  It was still hot in the middle of the day, but morning and early evening were quite nice.  Painting in the early morning and evening was also when the light was best.  We stayed in one of the modern houses which have a beautiful view of the marsh.  So I could sketch while I drank my morning coffee.  Perfect!

To some people the marsh is just a bunch of grass and water that often smells.  But Georgia's salt marsh is really an amazing place.   It is also always changing, with the tide, seasons and years.  As old channels become clogged with mud and spartina and new channels form.  The new green spartina of the spring fade to yellow in the fall.  The early morning sunlight shines on it and the spartina turns to gold.  Earning the name "the golden isles".

The blue of the sky is echoed by the blues of the rivers and creeks, along with reflections of the greens and yellows of the spartina and the red of the mud banks at low tide.  The marshes protect the land from tidal surges, are a nursery for shrimp and crabs, and a home for many animals.  This quite ever present expanse is an unseen web of life.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

State Botanical Garden of Georgia, building

The Conservatory building can be seen from the International gardenHerb and Heritage gardens.  I find bits and pieces of the building in several of my sketches.  I like the way the building reflects the environment around it, as well as the contrast the hard scape against the organic shapes of the garden that the man made structures in provide. 
This sketch was done from the other side of the arch in the photo, looking across the lawn the large glass building reflects the blues of the sky and greens of the forest trees that surround the lawn.  It was one of the many days where fleets of clouds filled the sky, passing over head on their journey from the mountains to the sea.  
This is another view of the small pavilion in the photo above.  This sketch was done from the lawn sitting on a bench in the International garden facing the  Conservatory building.  There are benches all around the gardens which are great places to sit and sketch.  This was on a bright sunny day where there were sharp contrasts between areas where the sun lit the plants and the shadows under the tress.

Looking back toward the International garden from the Heritage garden pavilion.  I sheltered in the pavilion during a light morning rain.  The benches provided an inviting place to sit and work.  A corner of the Conservatory is just visible in the upper right of the sketch. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

State Botanical Garden of Georgia, herb garden

The Herb and Heritage gardens are laid out in formal patterns with brick edged bed.  Fences and brick walls add a solid background for the garden plants.  While arched trellises stand as gateways between garden areas.  The garden plants contained here are not as formal.  Vegetable vines climb up and over trellises and herbs insist on spilling out of their beds onto the walks.    

I can usually find flowers to sketch in these gardens.  Though I have to watch the bees that love these flowers too.  These cheerful Black-eyed Susans, Rudbeckia hirta, were in a transitional bed along the path between the International garden and the Herb garden.  In spring the same flower bed was filled with bright red poppies.  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

State Botanical Garden of Georgia, new flower garden

A new garden space was carved out of the woods between the Heritage garden and the Day Chapel.  The Flower Garden walk winds down terraces with beds of colorful Annuals and Perennials.   From the top level you can only see some of the flower beds.  Others can only be enjoyed by walking down to them.  

Terrace walls wrap the formal iris garden like a terra-cotta bowl, sheltering and hiding the garden from view.  The gardens path invites you to wander among the irises.  I used a wax crayon to preserve the white of the paper for the white irises in front of the urn.  

All the irises in the garden have wonderful color and form, but my favorite is the Louisiana Iris.  I love the soft lavender that shades to pink, and the contrasting light yellow center. 

The path finally ends at a shelter sitting on the edge of the surrounding forest.  From the shelter you can look back up the terraces to the Heritage garden, or out into the green and brown woods.

Both of these sketches were done plein air, while standing, balancing my Koi Pocket Field Sketch Box and Strathmore 5" x 8" 140 lb watercolor journal.  I'm not sure I could do this trick with larger paper.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

State Botanical Garden of Georgia

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia has grown over the years, and now contains several distinct gardens.  Early mornings are a great time to wander and sketch without many interruptions.

A trail leads from the lower parking lot across a bridge to the International garden.  In spring and summer colorful flowers fill the flower boxes on the sides of the bridge.  This garden highlights the plants discovered by the famous explorers John and William Bartram and Ernest Wilson.  There are numerous flowering trees and bushes along the path, and trails that wander into the woods where shade loving plants reside.  

Other trails head toward the sunny lawn where the small creek wanders.  The creek is a popular spot for families to interact with nature.  We spent several hot summer nights sitting on a blanket enjoying a Sunflower outdoor music concert on the lawn.