Summer Portfolio

September was the driest month ever on record in Kentucky. (see at note on this topic at the end…)  Now I am grateful to have this Summer Portfolio of memories, reminders of earth’s delicate beauty and grandeur after a year of rain. It makes me ponder the concept of balance. I have faith in its universality.

The larkspurs were thick in the beds, showing up all over from early spring till the Solstice. When we were first living here my get rich quick scheme was to sell seeds. That’s a long story. For many years the petals have been a favorite to collage because they dry so well, and stay tinged as violet.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Sunwise Larkspur", gouache, 2019

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Sunwise Larkspur”, gouache, 2019

This garden year was tagged “the year of the volunteer” because what was growing was self seeded from last year. We were too busy with building the studio annex to do much gardening. The Queen of the year was the zinnias. There have never been so many, it captivated my interest, and also that of hundreds of butterflies.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Zinnia Petals", gouache, 2019

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Zinnia Petals”, gouache, 2019

We didn’t realize Rose of Sharon was such an important flower for hummingbirds. They were another creature coming in abundance, gathering around our bushes, and nesting in the nearby viburnum bush. Now with the drought, Greg must feed them every day.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Rose of Sharon", gouache, 2019

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Rose of Sharon”, gouache, 2019

Since the tree associated with the Solstice in the Irish calendar is Oak, I painted one of our oak tree’s leaves, and pressed a small one to celebrate the day.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Solstice Oak", gouache, 2019

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Solstice Oak”, gouache, 2019

Jumping ahead in the calendar, each year around Labor Day we get our order of organic peaches from Colorado. You may not have heard that they surpass Georgia’s, in my opinion. For about a month we daily choose the ripest to eat or dry for the holidays. A little secret; my nickname is Peaches, since 5th grade.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Equinox Peach", gouache, 2019

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Equinox Peach”, gouache, 2019

A few years ago my daughter sent me a card that always makes me happy, with these paintings by J. Jurcak of hummingbirds and lilies. I rearranged the design and used the lovely images for inspiration. We had too many hummingbirds to count.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Busy Hummingbirds", gouache, 2019

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Busy Hummingbirds”, gouache, 2019

It was another weird year for tomatoes here on the farm. We just didn’t have too many. Later we guessed that the deer probably ate them all because there was so little moisture around. Ironically tomatoes were off my diet. I didn’t think it was possible to go through a summer without our staple main course of tomato salad and crostini, or even one BLT. I did manage to can a few succulent Black Crems.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Lughnasa, First Harvest", gouache, 2019

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Lughnasa, First Harvest”, gouache, 2019

Sadly, the fig trees did not produce much fruit, much to my younger Corgi’s dismay. He harvests the low branch ones, fattening up each summer.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Fig Leaf", gouache, 2019

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Fig Leaf”, gouache, 2019

But the Morning Glories were thick and cool with shade.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Hearts, Stars, Pentagons", gouache, 2019

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Hearts, Stars, Pentagons”, gouache, 2019

The little Indigo Buntings love to sleep on the driveway. Greg has to drive slowly in the mornings.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Indigo Buntings", gouache, 2019

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Indigo Buntings”, gouache, 2019

I wrote about this infinity symbol in the Mid-summer Studio Update.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Infinity", gouache, 2019

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Infinity”, gouache, 2019

And another Solstice gift was seeing the red headed woodpecker.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Solstice Woodpecker", gouache, 2019

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Solstice Woodpecker”, gouache, 2019

One of the many varieties of butterflies was this swallowtail. Luckily there were many Monarchs as well.

© Kathleen O'Brien, "Sunwise Swallowtail", gouache, 2019

© Kathleen O’Brien, “Sunwise Swallowtail”, gouache, 2019

Note: A big focus this summer for the studio annex was preparing the ground for and incorporating the cistern. Once all the pipes were connected from the gutters we were ready for rain to fill it. Ironically, the year we built this house was a drought almost as bad, and we had to fill our cistern from tanks.

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