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Art in the Garden

Rosemary's Baby?

Dead rosemary bush turned into ART. Photo by Barbara Clare

I spent July 4th week-end completing two Art in the Garden projects. The first, featured left, began with a dead rosemary bush. Alas, I had moved it one too many times.

I love its elegant, bonsai-like structure. When it died, I just couldn't toss it into our brush pile.

Determined to give the rosemary new life, I coated it with silver spray paint. Next I added a bit more dimension with gold accents.

I wedged the rosemary between rocks on a retaining wall that I had built. This placement enabled its beautiful, sinuous roots to be exposed. Voila! Garden Art! The colors - shimmery metallic.

Rosemary root. Photo by Barbara Clare

Art Posts

My next project is what my husband Ray and I call our "Art Posts". I had a rule: for this endeavor: I must use the paint that I already had. No problem, I had many cans of left-over paint.

Here's the story on the posts. When we bought our house, there was a rustic picket fence in the back. It was a fine fence, but its rustic style didn't jibe with the straightforward lines of our midcentury house. Plus, the fence not only broke up the lines of the house, it also broke up the lines of our expansive back area. It had to go.

I sold all of it, except the fence posts, immediately. Thank you, Craig's List! Ray wanted to keep the posts to make ART out of them. So we did.

Eventually, he figured out his vision for the posts. He wanted me to paint them gradations of one color. His inspiration came from the woodblock prints of the Japanese artist Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858). Ray was referencing Hiroshige's series, The 53 Stations of the Tokaido (1832-1833). In many of these landscapes, Hiroshige included an ombre sky. In other words, a saturated line of color at the top of the print would gradually lighten as it moved down the paper.

See below a reproduction of one of the woodblocks in this series. Notice how the band of red-orange at the top of the landscape feathers down and gradually fades away.

Hiroshige woodblock print. Photo by Barbara Clare

The posts in process. Photo by Barbara Clare

Years ago, honoring the Hiroshige technique, I had painted the posts a range of blues, from light to dark. This time, using the left-over paints, I came up with a different color composition.

See my first attempt on the left. I did like the look of the blues on the back three posts. However, the first two posts weren't working for me. Outdoors, the pale periwinkle on the first post read cold and white, and the sage hue on the second post read drab. So I pulled out two more colors: a limey yellow and a lettuce green.

This new color composition has a fresh appeal and awakens the space. Though Ray misses his Hiroshige reference, he likes this composition also. Done!

The posts completed. Photo by Barbara Clare
The ART posts parallel the three oaks to their right. Photo by Barbara Clare
The back three posts. Photo by Barbara Clare

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