• Gail Curry

Creating a living painting

adventures with colour in my garden during covid lockdown

What did you do during covid lockdown?

I created over 100 daily paintings and repaired a #garden.

When I moved house in January you really couldn't miss the very neglected patch outside my front door, a rectangle of perhaps 4 yards by 8, brimming with weeds and four very overgrown shrubs.

Fast forward to March and arriving with Spring were a handful of flowerless daffodils, quickly followed by a lone tulip. Shortly after that covid lockdown arrived, so perfect timing to turn this sorry little patch into something altogether more #creative and colourful, for me and the #bees.

The first chapter of planting completed

I was starting my days with a 20 minute painting time each day and began to tackle the unloved patch each day after lunch, weather permitting.

In my excitement I forgot to take a photo of it in it's shabbiest state, but the one shown above shows the weeds removed and the shrubs cut back significantly by approx 80%.

What I noticed as I dug out the weeds was that there were no earthworms, always a sign of very tired, poor soil. So my first online order was 1kg of worms. The soil itself is sandy in structure, so drains quickly. Once I had cleared all of the weeds and I forked in some chicken manure and several bags of soil improver. The way to look at this preparatory work is in a way to compare it to preparing a canvas, which if you want the painting to last, is essential.

The worms arrived quickly and the following day and they were spread about their new home and guarded from the local bird population until they had made their way underground to their new home.

The plug plants I had ordered arrived the following day. I chose plug plants as they are cheap, easy to plant and generally ready to grow strongly. A pinch of bonemeal in each of the holes before the plug helps to establish strong root growth.

More mature plants were ordered from my friends in Blyth at Perennial Favourites and Adam kindly delivered them for me.

It's quite a sunny spot so in the early days while plants were getting established I watered them most evenings, while also keeping watchful eye on an any weeds trying to infiltate my patch.

My living painting is now starting to really come to life, as the different types of plant are growing strongly and flowering. In choosing the plants I considered colour, foliage, shape and texture. They include, Lupin, Veronica, Verbena, Tairella, hardy geranium, alpine geranium, Monarda, Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Sea Holly, Primula, Herbs, Foxgloves, and Japanese Anenomes.

The garden has already inspired it's first painting 'bloom', which will not doubt be followed by others.

Bloom 30cm x 30 cm mixed media on wood panel

The only other addition to the garden is a set of beautifully carved wooden toadstools, (available from Happy Planet) which I will no doubt move around as the plants develop further.

In gardening terms some of the plants are in the wrong place, I don't care. I know this garden won't be at it's best until next year. I will undoubtedly lift and split many of the plants in the autumn and rearrange, although for now I am just am enjoying the variety of colours and contrasts. Something I intend to represent in future paintings.

The garden as of July 30th

The gaps you can see are simply spaces for the plants to grow into and having finished my patch I have now moved onto my neighbours, as she is unable to, although she does offer encouragement from her window.

Whatever happens in my studio, or garden I shall write about it here on my #blog so you can join me on the journey if you wish by subscribing, or following me on social media.

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