Bought the laurels above for almost nothing, played with them for a couple of years, and gave up. It is too hot here for Mountain Laurels, and they all developed holes in their leaves. So not a lot of money was lost.
Neither was it with all these Agave. They all come from one mother, which is in another place on the acreage. These love the sun here. Same pots on the columns; common Prickly Pear is in them now. This pool environment has lots of spiky things, counterintuitively.
The Holly bushes on either side of the entry gate must be about two years old here. A plywood box covers the machinery for the pool.
Above, the hollies make a tunnel over the gate. Brick has been added to the entry, tile to the pool deck and a little silo to cover the pool equipment. Confederate Jasmine almost covers the back fence now. It was completely covered about four years ago, so much so that its density absorbed garden space and we had to start over.
This is Sidney’s Live Oak, planted in 1997, the year he died. Look at the sandy soil. It is only with a system and a well that we can have grass.
Here is the adolescent live oak today. Have more of these, it takes some work to photograph and crop to make a good comparison.
It seems like more than three summers I have been working on the cement surface around the pool. Never full-time; this year sculpture is pulling me hard. And there’s the heat. Much of the time, laying the tile is the only option. Composing is more fun than grouting anyway. It has been so hot these last weeks that grouting is out of the question. One could only treat a small bit since it “cures” so quickly and that is simply inefficient.
Last summer it occurred to me to date areas of the pool with reference to when they were created. I had been doing this for years in the big house.
Not even sure if it was 2012 when started, the numbers started there. Numbers don’t mean much to me anyway, whatever they represent.
In this area, where around a hundred “century plants” live, they are reflected in the tile work.
Not too easy to read, “Here I Sit” is ready for grout when it gets cooler. Obviously, this is where I sit, on the steps.
Lots of real estate has been finished in this area this spring. Curvilinear lines make up most of the figure; various organized squares of tile picked up on the street present a small area of tight pattern to contrast with the otherwise pretty chaotic ground.
Birds and serpents in the background, a yucca is being reflected in the pool surround next to where it is planted in the garden.
The area up to the yucca was done in 2014.
Love leaving messages in my work. Did it all the time in my textiles. I wonder what owners of this place in the future will think of this. After all, what remains of me will be in the gardens. Could be fun!
This is part of a Lee + Glenn that is now partially covered by a bottle brush bush.
Same is true for the master shower. Waiting for a rainy day to finish this grouting on a project that has been at least three years in the making. Might be today.
Glenn has done a lot of work for Brad and Tracy. Actually we both have been involved in their recent home renovation. At a counterpoint in their professions, time and effort outside of that work is finely paired, and their home is a unique expression of their movement in the world. This is the way you are supposed to live. Feather your nest with stuff that helps define you as a person. Act on the stage of that theater; you will feel harmony.
As their boy worked through scouting, they earned “advanced degrees” as well. Their personal universe is built around the natural world, pulling symbolism from old Indian ways, to which of course the Boy Scouts is more than a little indebted. Arrows, spirals, rays of sun play in their personal iconography. The three images above show details of a mosaic “frieze” I did for their sun room utilizing symbols from the Boy Scouts and Indians of the Northwest. The third detail features an abstracted portrait of the family. The mosaic is just under the 10 foot ceiling on three walls, and little china bird collectibles found at the flea market are used in several places (I think there is one in the middle of the triangle of arrows in the third image, and top and center in the first image).
The materials used in the house as you might imagine are floor stone, lots of it, fine woods, light and dark, both as structure and as object. Look at nature and wonder how we think we can improve upon it! Maybe we can simply organize these wonderful raw materials to do specific jobs. Glenn has fabricated a limb with branches to help deter rainwater from puddling in the wrong place.
This steel limb has maple leaves that can be twisted to usher the rainwater into a better spot.
Above is another steel sculpture Glenn did for Brad and Tracy’s home. It is a life sized fox and bird, with the fox heated to a reddish color and the bird towards blue.
Recently they acquired a huge ancient pot. More than a thousand years old, they needed a display device to secure it in a home environment. Tracy bought a deer skin to use for cushioning material. The structure incorporates symbols of the sun and arrows used by Indians. The arrows will contain the pot.
Arrows keep the pot from moving sideways, and embrace its middle. The triangular base lends stability.
The hide covers parts of the armature that nobody wanted to see in addition to its cushioning of the pot.
All these natural materials present a lovely almost monochrome composition which contains amazing textural variety. They are happy, Glenn is happy. But know what? I am not going anywhere near that pot!
Mistakes were made. By me. Planting two little red bud seedlings together stupidly thinking they would merge into one made our biggest red bud vulnerable in the last ice storm. And we lost it. It was in an area of the acreage that I had not paid enough attention to, so it is way past time a little creativity is applied.
And as I look at the space, all next summer is defined for me. Hate that.
The universe contributed to the project by leading me to Lowe’s and eight red barberry bushes, a little less than dormant, ready to burst, for one buck each. First thought about starting a garden area for my daughter who has horses; with the stickers on the barberry bushes I was pretty sure they wouldn’t eat them.
But evidently the bushes can create some kind of environment for mold or something that is not good for horses, so why invite trouble? I took them myself and started the “garden” repair (this area never has been a garden, just three trees spanning the back of the pool). Above, you can barely see the little bushes within the straw looking centipede grass which most of us use around here. It crawls along sand “real nice”.
We have both red and white barberry here, and the deer leave it alone. It is all stickers during the winter.
That is a huge consideration. The deer take over at night. Barberry shapes itself nicely and puts out a branch where the natural “sphere” it is making needs one. The new growth is a ruddy pink as you can see on the tag. It will work well with the trees. There will be a lot of pink in the spring as the red buds offer a pink flower.
Look at this grotesque wall! It simply must have tile and my whole summer was played out for inside the wall on the deck. Momentum is happening there after two years of work. And look at the amount of sod that has to be dug out.
The picture above was taken from the point where a new Nellie Stephens holly will be planted to mirror the one at the end of the wall. Can only find one currently, in a 50 gallon bucket and costing 250 dollars. Although these will be uneven for some years, it will have to be. We have nine of these giants around the place in all different stages of life.
The past few years, I have started laying tile on the wall outside perpendicular to this one. All different shades of white with white grout. Only work here at the end of the day when some thin set is left. Same for white grout. The finished work is slowly growing and no time to speak of has been spent. My brilliant friend Judy says the wall looks like dividing continents. She is right, always right.
The nandina above is a volunteer. We have them a couple of other places, and they propagate and move easily. A whole line of them against a white tiled wall would be nice. And we have the same thing going on elsewhere, which is a good thing for a composition.
These palmettos are along the bottom face of the front porch. Busy summer.
So many people lately have been using the nandina pictures from this blog. Hooray! So as opposed to posting more simple pictures of the nandina in my gardens, here is how I think about the bushes in composition.
“Four Seasons” is the name of a work of art the late artist Marc Chagall gave to the citizens of Chicago in 1970. It is permanently installed in the Art Institute of Chicago. For fans of pattern, it is a masterwork. Also for fans of Mr. Chagall.
Pattern sets up expectations in a work of art. We see an organization of spots, for example, in one area of a painting. When used in another area, the viewer says, “Yeah, I get it. This is part of the same visual world, where the pattern is part of the language.” The two spotted areas work together, or are unified.
Identifying the pattern on the side of this three dimensional work is easy. The yellow areas of tile organizes the work. The yellow is repeated all over this side of the mosaic. The repeat of the yellow is part of the fantastic world that Chagall presents. Within this patterned structure, he can include all sorts of figures, and the strong yellow pattern will hold them all in place, no matter how different they are. And above, the blue shapes of the figures are very different in size and strength.
Pattern serves this purpose in an area as big as the one above, but also in the details.
The association of light blue areas next to figures suggest shadows, and serve to make the figures more dominant. And also creates a subtle blue sub-pattern.
This is where the nandina comes in. Having many gardens here, I use the repeat pattern of dwarf nandina to create a unity in the gardens, being careful not to push it too far. Overuse would create a boring composition. Nandina comes in regular size too, taller, and the use of the big ones can repeat the color and texture but not the size. A mis-matched repeat. All the better.
This tall variety of nandina within our walled pool area always retains more leaves in the winter. Have no idea why. It gets brilliant red and is topped off with even brighter red berries.
Visually, it carries on a conversation with the reddest part of my tile composition, which is about 12 feet from the bushes.
Some of the plants at the pool are physically documented in the tile, not simply their colors.
The same nandina as within the pool area is missing more leaves in another area of the acreage, looking more like a Dr. Seuss creation than anything else in winter.
The dwarf nandina below is in the same garden with the tall.
To keep the dwarf nandina in little mounds, you have to move out the new sprouts. Then make more pattern in different places in the yard.
The tiny red leaves above are new plants. Use them to create more red pattern in other gardens, repeating a theme. On the other side of the house, a new garden was planted next to the bedroom that was added on.
The dwarf nandina has not gotten very red at all this fall, nor has the taller nandina bush to the right. This place is protected on two sides. In the tree-pee to the left is a pyracantha, which gets red berries in the winter. This one is very young, and has not yet.
Deer eat this. It will probably always have some sort of barrier around it. Along the back of this garden is cotoneaster. It has been there maybe 18 months.
Tannic acid. What makes the slow moving Edisto river waters murky/black and a symbol of equally slow southern living is also making the deck around my pool a mess. Above, the area under the blue line undulating like the Edisto behaves in the low country of South Carolina, was grouted only two days ago. Above the line to the left, today. Today, that grout is clean. Wait until tomorrow.
To be sure, my aesthetic is shabby. I do not expect perfection. Our house is a 1940’s farm house, mostly tongue and groove, and many planes meet other planes in a happy approximate way. It is filled with stuff from that decade and the next; my pocketbook can only afford these precious items that have a “history”—a history of being well used! We all have our bumps and bruises.
But I will tell you what. We have had a summer to remember down here. Today is the first day we have had zero chance of rain since the middle of the spring. Might have been the beginning of spring. My head is swimming.
Don’t even know how to describe how wet this spring/summer has been. Wilting, humid, dirty-feeling, wet-feeling, doing things outside in the rain because it just will not stop, crinkly body parts, fungus, mold, unrelenting, opposing optimism, ponds in places they do not belong, mosquitoes where they were not before, wet paper, wet bedclothes, wet wet wet.
I poured bleach on this black mold already where the bricks offset the old entrance to the studio. Dangerous stuff. You can see how it is still an issue. And then there is mildew.
I have heard about mildew in old television commercials. Saw it years ago on old cheap shower curtains. It was the old experience of mildew that made me decades ago declare that a shower curtain would never darken my door again, and ten years ago realize that showers did not need coverings anyway. Of any kind.
But I never saw mildew as a kind of indoor snow before. Inexperienced, this is what we did. Happily living here without air conditioning in the big house for many years now., we invested in a whole house attic fan. And Glenn had some kind of a system added with our recent construction to pull hot air out of our steep attic. Both things helped, kind of.
Man did that fan pull the cool air out of the woods and into the house! It was wonderful! And this has not been a hot summer for us, just wet. We would watch the indoor/outdoor thermometer and when temps equalized in the morning, we shut the house up and turned on the dehumidifier. It worked! Everything was tolerable until I found the white snow. First on a fine old hand made table with a marquetry top, which had some varnish problems anyway. Guess I kind of generalized the two problems together. Head in sand.
But then I saw snow on the side of the dresser, and looking closer, everywhere. Battle stations! And the end of a certain way of life. My weakness makes me sick. Do you know what pushed me over to the other side? Ringworm. I got a fungus this wet, wet summer on my ankle.
Good bye to this part of green living.
The other side of the pool deck has no damage from oak trees plus water. Around it are hollies, papyrus, acuba plants. Watch, next year we will be complaining about something else.
About the same in terms of work. But different in terms of impact.
This piece was done in the late nineties, and it relates to my cancer years in that decade. All of these figures are me, and they are adorned with surgical scars, of which I have many. Much of the work from this time was an effort to discuss the problem, and jettison it from my reality. Not healthy to hide it.
The picture plane is about eight inches by ten inches. The figures are made by satin stitch mostly, on a fabric plane pieced together by machine. Most of the fabric has pattern on it so two systems of pattern must work together, that constructed by me with the fabrics, and the pattern of the symbols stitched onto the fabrics.
I cannot paint. It is too direct. My shapes have to be put together in bits. Like in single stitches in the above case. They cast a slight shadow, rise subtly above the fabric picture plane. This phenomenon enriches the color and shapes.
On the pool deck, shapes are made also of bits, and color moves along by darkening or lightening the bits (pieces of tile), or doing the same with grout. Or both. The language is always concerned with pattern, and along with the interlocking pattern of the tile, there is layered upon a secondary pattern of, in this case, square brown shapes which are actual tile to be used for a pool, or open curves made of glass.
As with the embroideries, I like to build in as much detail as possible without breaking up the composition and making it unreadable. Above, within a big neutral shape, it lightens and darkens, contains screen printed tile of beige and white, creating a busier area, and white rectangles here and there and in a line add interest.
Terra cotta grout has been used in the area of the shadows of the pots. This picture was taken when the actual shadows and constructed shadows met.
I like for grids, or a kind of “organization” to coalesce in places among all the frenzy.
Another area of organization among chaos.
This darker shape has a pattern of bigger lighter square tiles, and dark orange actual pool tile appearing in organized squares. The grout in this area will slowly darken. White can kill color.
Or having to live by weather.com. We have had weeks of rain. Some days, blasts came around about every ninety minutes. People were getting downright cranky. We were tired of feeling limp. Moist.
We were lucky on the fourth of July. We were #79 in the Peach Festival parade in Gilbert, SC.
There was a slight sprinkle just as we pulled into line, and then nothing for about six hours. Best day we had had in about two weeks and as it turned out, for days later as well. The farmer on my running route cannot get all his crops in. I asked him if he had ever had this trouble before, and he said about twenty years ago they did. Pretty unusual weather.
Work at the pool had been suspended. Makes no sense to lay tile, or grout already laid tile, if rain is going to blast in and wash the work away, or worse, wash the thin set or grout into the pool itself. The rains have been accompanied by big winds. This has not been a fun summer weather pattern!
Great waves of tile are now pushing towards one another, and being unified by grout. Finally, bare sharp edges are being hidden from feet. Now that the weather is better, the pool is becoming a safer place. Thank you, Ra.
I am excited about the crawling white line within the screen printed tile which circles at a distance the terra cotta rug. Wish that I had more of it, but, as almost always, the tile is a remnant given to me at the end of some other project.
Work from this morning; done well before the predicted “isolated” thunderstorm.
Two big storm systems are marching towards each other today. Light rushes against dark, and will create a vibrant implied line, much like the circular lines made of “jewels” in the foreground.
The shadows seem to be working fairly realistically on the cement deck. There was not much sun yesterday when this picture was taken. To the left of the pots it seems like there was.
This picture was taken from the steps down into the pool. Of course, this work is awaiting grout. If you look to the very left of the picture, you can see the real shadows the pots are casting at this time of day. The constructed shadows record the late afternoon.
The second cluster of pots to the left of the steps is gaining its shadow work. It connects to a pool rug created and grouted last summer. This tile is screen printed, light beige and white.
The second cluster of pots and their shadows connect at the lower right of the image above.
It occurred to me that the “big picture” in this work was not coming across. Spending too much time on details, the long view was not recorded. My bad. There is a cluster of cement pots, some pairs, some not, on either side of the steps that lead down into the pool. The biggest ones have yucca in them. There are also azaleas and rosemary.
Looking at this picture, it is amazing how ugly the bare cement is around the pool.
In the background of this picture is my studio, although most of my work is being done in the barn now. We do clean work: mat cutting, framing, etc in this building. From the pool, you step into a little wooden greenhouse, and then into the studio.
The yuccas cast the most interesting shadows. Some planters contain annuals so they are empty for some months of the year. In the image above, you can see cracking taking place in the area where the pots stand. As I work, repairs are being done, and tile laid over. In last year’s work, the repairs have held. We are not going to move the biggest pot. Tile will be laid around it.
Also in the picture above you can see the problem that I have set up for myself. There is already a tile rug (terra cotta and whitish) laid under a square table which is at the very top of this picture. The area where I am working that is getting browner is going to have to lighten up to connect with the whitish border around the terra cotta rug. Will be fun to figure out!
So why am I writing instead of laying tile? Raining outside!