Details of the Squash Takeover

Mornings on the patio…
Last year, in the borders out here on the patio, I planted a few tomatoes, some peppers, perennials.
This year, not so much, but our new-ish neighbour to the left, after a few tentative tomatoes last year, suddenly decided to go all in.
She has a much larger section of dirt and less patio, so rows were created in the earth, sections for various kinds of tomatoes, beans, herbs, squash, and the tall corn…
For weeks she’s been out there watering her plants every morning, though when you ask her there is a shrug of doubt – she’s an urban girl from Nigeria, she tells me, and her friends back home tease her that she’s come to Canada to become a farmer.
It’s all so new, she says, she herself doesn’t believe the plants will grow.

corn over the fence

June and so far July have been full of long dry sunny days.
Mornings have the rustle of people in pyjamas out watering and tending the flowers, the vegetables – weeks ago the grass dwindled to a shrivelled pale yellow.
But then after so many dry hot days, for a glorious 24 hours it rains…

dark morning after rain

weird blue flower tall

fly and raindrops

And the next day I am out again in the morning sun, and am a bit confused at the huge leaves over on the left.
A massive plant has started growing through the fence from my neighbour’s side…

the squash plant

dragonskin

It has already crowded out the little instalments of parsley and coriander I had growing over in that corner.

parsley gone to seed

parsley and squash flower

She comes around to see it – she can’t believe it!
That her gardening has been so successful the plants are bursting through the fence, seeking out more space to blossom and flourish!

green chaos

curly cues

I lift up a leaf to show her one squash that’s already an astonishing size.
Her eyes widen – the miracle of it!
She tells me I must use not only what is growing on my side, but help myself to her side as well, as she has more vegetables than she knows what to do with. That I must show her how I cook it, as she doesn’t even know anything about this kind of squash.

a squash

tiny squash flower

So, practicing my recipes, this morning for breakfast, I had flor de calabaza with salsa verde… yummmm…

flowers and fence

Weekly Photo Challenge – Details

Looking back

I was in Ottawa visiting friends from back in the day, back in Montreal, and as if out of some random pocket of a time warp, my friend pulled out some tiny forgotten paintings I’d done on tiles – tiny still lives of the charming funky place we lived in together so many years ago…

bowl and hyacinth

And my gosh, it was a revelation to me – most of all, that I had more or less managed with, more or less made my way around oil paints a couple of decades ago.
I’ve been struggling with oil paints the last few months – torn between the more recent experience of a fast drying acrylic paint, the possibility of fast endless layers, and the faint memory of a rich buttery wet wet paint I was able to negotiate to some degree some decades ago…

kitchen telephone

Now, trapped in work deadlines, I am fetishizing the time ahead in the studio…how glorious it is sure to be with this new-found half-remembered confidence…

goose and duck

Happy happy summer all…

Weekly Photo Challenge – Looking Up

The Great Curve

Sometimes the world has a load of questions
Seems like the world knows nothing at all
The world is near but it’s out of reach
Some people touch it…but they can’t hold on.

peony burst

She is moving to describe the world
(Night must fall, darker, darker)
(She has got to move the world, to move the world, to move the world)
She has messages for everyone
(Night must fall, darker, darker)
(She has got to move the world, to move the world, to move the world)
She is moving by remote control
(Night must fall, darker, darker)
(She has got to move the world, to move the world, to move the world)
Hands that move her are invisible
(Night must fall, darker, darker)
(She has got to move the world, to move the world, to move the world)

peony busy abstract exp1

The world has a way of looking at people
Sometimes we feel that the world is wrong
She loves the world, and all the people in it
She shakes ’em up when she start to walk

peony - points and folds exp1

The world moves on a woman’s hips
The world moves and it swivels and bops
The world moves on a woman’s hips
The world moves and it bounces and hops

peony deep dive exp1

Weekly Photo Challenge – Curve

Honesty vs Admiration


The tourists are beginning to return to the city, and if I leave the studio door open to get a bit of a cross breeze with the window, occasionally a lost meandering tourist will make their way to the third floor of the building, and wander into the open door, curious…
There are a total of 5 of us in our large loft room – a fashion designer whose layout tables and sewing machines and bolts of fabric crowd one big corner; a landscape painter with small children who I have yet to cross paths with, but the changing toys suggest she makes appearances at odd hours; a figurative painter who has been in the space for the longest, some 6 years now, and his corner is packed full of the large portraits and expressive experiments of those years; and then Nancy and I in our tiny corner by the door.
It is more of an entranceway than studio, our little corner, but in a city like Toronto, it is what we can manage between the 2 of us, and we love it.
Yesterday I was there with the door open, and given our space, it means I am essentially in the doorway, working away – a point of interest for the 3 tourists who stumbled down the hallway.
They were not especially shy, and after a brief invitation in, went straight into the depths, shrugging by the landscape painter without much notice, and burrowing into the tightly packed corner of the figurative painter. He has some large paintings of famous people out and about – a David Bowie still in progress, Rihanna drying in a corner – and there were ooh’s and aah’s from the 2 ladies in the group.
Turning back, they passed by the bolts of fabric and noticed Nancy’s tiny corner within the corner, a few of her gorgeous pieces up on the wall. The man in their group was especially taken with Nancy’s work and the 3 of them stood there for a while pointing and discussing details.

Beltaine by Nancy Gardiner
Beltaine by Nancy Gardiner

Midsummer by Nancy Gardiner
Midsummer by Nancy Gardiner

Finally they turned towards where I was working away in my section around the door, and after interrogating me on how they might get in touch with the figurative painter, if there was a card or a website, they looked around at my various scattered sketches and experiments, and tried to find something nice to say.
IMG_20160504_195910-01
One of the women focused on the wall of sketches, and said, “well, they are certainly well drawn”, as if relieved she had found some point of concession – she could grant me that at least.
IMG_20160504_195858-01
The horse sketches are on terraskin paper, a treeless stone paper, so I told them about this, and then of course they wanted to touch it, and we focused on surfaces and textures for a while, as I showed them which ones were terraskin, which ones mylar.
The large bat that dominates one wall right now is oil on mylar, and one of the ladies said, “he looks like he… I don’t know, as though he has a purpose of some kind.”
Processed with VSCO with g3 presetMy eyes grew wide, as it occurred to me I HAD painted her with a purpose – she was a dream messenger, one of several bat dreams, and so given the repeated bat imagery, asking for attention, I’d been spending time drawing and painting the dream characters, honouring them, staying with them, listening to them as best I can.
What exactly the bat is about, what she wants to say, I still don’t know…
bat feet
But in there, in the intense focused silence of creating the images, of repeated bat drawings and paintings, I think about the strangeness of them – as if little tiny mice that one day got fed up and said, Dangit! I want to fly!
And did.
And maybe that thought is all she really needs to say…
bat fly down
And so this one comment from a stranger, not filled with flattery at all, but with a kind of faintly uncomfortable, honest relating to the image, totally made my day…

Weekly Photo Challenge – Admiration