Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summer is Upon Us

And yes, I have a plan. During the summer months, I try to do more plein air sketching and painting. I try to sharpen my drawing skills, and sometimes I make plans to illustrate a book. Two summer’s ago, I wrote and illustrated “Inez Ibis Flies Again, the Story of a Courageous Ibis Who Never Gave Up.” I published it independently through Blurb, and also created an e-book through Smashwords, but it hasn’t taken off as I’d hoped.

Unfortunately, thoughts of summer make me feel lazy. I remember as a kid spending hours making hollyhock dolls. My friend and I chose the most perfect flowers we could find. Turned upside down they looked like a dancer’s skirt.

The small green stub that secured the petals became a head. Sometimes we’d cap a petal on top securing it with a toothpick. Another toothpick became the arms sticking out just below the head. We made several, and played for hours with our dancing, twirling, array of dolls.

Hollyhocks also make wonderful honey bee traps. My friends and I would wait for a bee “heavy with nectar and slow to fly” and trap him within his pollen den.

We could feel the angry vibrations of his wings against our fingertips. Once we had dropped our flowered trap into a glass jar and popped on the lid, we felt brave and ready to try again. When we grew tired of this game, we opened the jar and watched the bees fly to freedom. Children can spend hours doing this, unless, of course, they’re allergic to bee venom.

People seldom grow Hollyhocks anymore. They’re considered “old fashioned.” I tried it a few summers back in memoriam. It was a disaster. Hollyhocks are disease and insect prone, and somehow the memory of their beauty was flawed by the vermin crawling on them. They are still lovely at a distance.

Tomorrow I’ll be working on my “Sand Crane Dreams” painting and hope to share the completed painting in a few days.