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  • Julia Watson

Painting from the Garden



If you've read my posts, you've probably caught on to the fact that I'm an artist. I drew and painted from the time I was a child, but I didn't choose art as my first career. Instead I chose science, another childhood fascination. After working as a research scientist for many years I decided to train as a painter and I've never regretted that decision.


My garden has always been the inspiration for many of my paintings. It’s not usually a planned thing: choosing certain flowers, making an arrangement then painting it. More often, I catch a glimpse of something outside - the light on one flower, the shadow pattern on a plant, the interesting features of the back of a bloom – and I want to paint just that small slice, that little piece of the garden. In this post I’ll share two paintings and tell a bit about the flowers in them


First up is a painting I call “Rivalry.” It shows hollyhock plants growing in my summer garden. I liked the pattern of deep shade and strong light, and I liked the way these two tall spikes seemed to stand tall and proud. This painting is sold, but it remains a favorite of mine.



The hollyhock in this painting is a variety called ‘Mars Magic,’ which I bought as a plant from Annie’s Annuals, but hollyhocks can grow easily from seed. Last year I seeded a variety called ‘Indian Summer’ and they were lovely. They re-seed themselves readily, so I’ll have more next year without doing anything. In fact, what I’ll probably do in the spring is pull out the original plant and let new seedlings come up instead. Hollyhocks don’t have any special requirements, pests or diseases so they’re good for beginning gardeners.


The second painting is called “Toward the Sun” and it features two sunflowers. There are many, many varieties of sunflowers, but this one I bought from Annie's Annuals and it's called Aura Gold. The back sides of sunflowers are interesting and I’ve painted them often. Here I painted both sides of sunflowers from my garden.


You can buy plants, as I did, but sunflowers are very easy to grow from seed. There are two types: branching and non-branching. For Tiny Footprint Flowers, we grow the non-branching type; these give only one main stem and one flower per plant. They can be grown quickly, cut and then replaced for successive rounds of plants to harvest. But for the home garden a branching type is usually better. They can get very large, so check the size descriptions before you plant, and if your space is limited, try a dwarf type like 'Teddy Bear.' It's ultra-cute and children will love it.

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