Functional Art

I am the last person to suggest that art should exist for anything but art. My garden being less about art than food, however, features vegetables and fruits almost exclusively. Almost.

Marigolds are one of the few exceptions, tucked in between the tomatoes to keep the bugs at bay. They are all about enjoying art of the  functional kind.  And just for the heck of art, too.

How Does Your Garden Grow

Baby Cukes

The first spiky baby cukes appeared today. The cherry tomato plant next to it is sporting a few green ornaments.

I once had the boys convinced that cherry tomatoes and sugar peas were so sweet because they were candy. I admit it, it was fun of watching them fight over vegetables.

The only problem is I think they still believe it, and there’s only one cherry tomato plant this year.

Fathers and Sons

The Big Guy and Thing1 have been working to replace the radiator in Thing1’s Volvo wagon, a car that’s seen more winters than he has, gifted to him by my parents when they bought a new one two years ago.

The Big Guy went to a car show with a friend earlier in the day.  Interested more in exotic cars, our boys Stayed home while I worked. I’m working Sunday, Fathers Day, so the holiday atmosphere is a bit muted.

We’re closing out the afternoon as the Big Guy and Thing1 closed out the repair job. Thing one was so engrossed in the project he forgot to try to dodge the camera.

It’s a quiet, gorgeous afternoon, but it’s not the shared love of cars and fixing things that makes the afternoon glow. It’s watching them bond and the Big Guy’s pride as he remembers he had a big hand in raising the capable, affable mechanic next to him.

I can’t help feel like that’s the most best way to honor a relationship between father and son.

Zoom Out

Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man,Undeterred

For most of the almost 6 years that I’ve been writing this blog, almost every single post has been accompanied by an illustration. started to change about a week ago when my stack of unillustrated but otherwise just finished posts started getting that musty, too-long-in-the-drawer smell.

I don’t have anything against photography. I actually shot weddings and portraits for almost 5 years when Thing1 was little. Thing2 came on the scene, and suddenly I needed both my hands to focus on him, on a new work-at-Home-mom role, on everything except focusing lenses and clicking a shutter. 

I traded a DSLR for a point-and-shoot, and then the point-and-shoot for whatever camera happened to me on my cell phone, operating on the theory that the best camera for Snapchat‘s of the kids was the one I kept with me all the time. 

I thought art was secondary.

I still scribbled my notebooks. When we took the kids to the art museum, I sketched my sketchbook pretending I might one day a great artist. It wasn’t until I started my blog as part of writing class, that I began drawing again in earnest.

The funny thing was that the drawing was not about art – or so I thought. It was something to add to the writing on the blog. It was stock illustration I didn’t have to buy and images I didn’t have to wait until the kids were occupied during daylight hours to make. 

It was utilitarian. And then it became something more, it reminded me it had always been something more. The drawing took on a life of its own, enabling but also becoming an integral part of the blog.

I will never stop drawing again.

Just as drawing became a tool to enable the blog, however, an old creative outlet, photography – altered and not, is starting to re-emerge as a facilitator. I doubt I will purchase another expensive DSLR, but I have reclaimed a mirrorless camera I traded to the Big Guy before our trip to Iceland. 

Right now the photography is a tool. It helps writing progress without letting the creative and meditative but time-consuming task of illustrating slow it down. It helps make sure nothing gets in the way of responding to inspiration.

I’ve been at this a few years now. In that time I’ve learned that the art is never secondary; only the tools are, and allowing yourself to zoom out, to pick up a new one, can become a source of inspiration all on its own.

Take Me to Church

During our first years in Vermont, my garden was my church. In both of our homes, I spent the winter months planning the aisles and the rows; I spent the summer on my knees planting and weeding, harvesting and cooking.

Then life sped up. A fractured foot benched me for a year. Between two Little Leaguers, family travel, work and time creativity that was deemed even more sacred than the weeding, I became a non-gardening gardener.

I’ve never been big on flower beds. They’re pretty, and I like other people’s beds, but when it’s at home, it’s a lot of weeding and nothing to eat. Our border is the forest – we pick a line in the lawn, mow up to it and let mother nature pick out the flowers or the weeds.

A few weeks ago we added on a deck. It’s pretty basic – a step, no railings. I’ve tried dancing on it, generating a warning from Thing2 that people (via Google earth) could see me, so I know it’s a good deck. The main purpose was to replace the weed patch we used to call our patio so that the house looked less like the set of the Addams Family when we celebrated Thing1’s graduation.

But it’s had an unexpected effect.

Five minutes after the deck was finished, I started filling my mismatched collection of planters with green. Still a vegetable-tatiana, the planters now nurture tomatoes, cucumbers and salad greens. We may not get much actual food from our mini kitchen garden, but the cucumber tendrils wrapping around a trellis and the tiny ruffled row of lettuce is making a growing sculpture gallery. Thing1 helps himself to a few leaves of lettuce for his sandwiches each day, but for me, the garden is a feast for the soul. 

For this lapsed worshipper, it is a rebirth.