Before starting a new project I have always tried to get all the ducks-in-a-row. Forget that! The house is a mess, ceramic studio cluttered with assorted projects, paperwork to do. At this moment, hour, day, year, and in this decade of my life, writing is the required action. It is time to share my experiences and legacy as a maker-creator. And the rest? It will have to fall-into-place? Or not! But at least I am writing. ‘Now’ is the only time to start.
I started on computers back in the DOS years, researched the web on dial-up, hoarded and sorted information for almost three decades, does that count? Or perhaps the assortment of half-started notebooks in my study inspired by Julia Cameron’s book The Artist Way. I have a study? That’s it!
I am both the left and right brain creative. I am analyst of process an alchemist pulling from four decades of experience. I am a creative traveler (gypsy), a daughter, friend, wife, mother, grandmother, sixties-chick and crone. These are my wisdom years? I’m trying anyway.
How about that I know how to start a creative project, get through it and finish it? And understand the hick-ups in-between. I have acquired tips, tricks and how-tos. Tried numerous materials and techniques.
What have I done? See the list below… yes all of that, and raised a family, and have a day-job managing the marketing and book-keeping for our family’s boat manufacturing business. It can be done. But, it wasn’t pretty a times. And while I have been recognized for exceptional work at regional competitions, I admit I have skirted mastery for a new process.
The goal for the Creative Gypsy Blog is to offer a mentor’s voice and a resource for starting a creative project or a hang-out for giggles with a creative friend. I am deep into muddy waters of clay. Ceramics is and will be the culmination of this life’s creative adventures.
I need a ‘Leaf Mulcher.’ [Click]. What? I have very few vices.
Fall leaves are gifts for the flower beds. I started making little piles around the yard. Seems strange to say that on five acres of mostly trees, I wouldn’t have enough. But you need a level surface to rake and gather them. It was a good thing I had only a few beds to cover.
Still, I didn’t have enough leaves or the work involved in gathering them wasn’t fruitful enough. I had a bright idea to collect ‘Bracken Ferns,’ to supplement the alder leaves. I know what your thinking the spores on the leaves might be a weed issue? But on close examination there were none. I confirmed it with an assortment of Google searches. And at this time of the year, even the greenest plants had none!
The ferns grow from rhizomes so as long as I avoided roots all was good. And the best part was the plants were all at waist height so stripping the branches was quick and easy. No racking or bending-over repeatedly.
I had to get my hubby to make me an aluminum frame to hold the mulcher over the garbage-can with wheels, and it worked like a charm. At any age, it’s best to work smarter, not harder. If you get one of these mulchers be sure to wear a mask. The dust is problematic. Gloves and safety goggles too. Safety First.
The sunny day made it wonderful to be outside. But the wind at times made me feel as if old-man-winter was trying to boss me around. After a dozen wheelbarrow loads (about 2 hours) I had mulched enough for the two 8’x10’ raised beds. As the garden plot expands I will definitely be looking fondly at my neighbor’s curb-side leaf-filled bags.
I was delighted to learn that Dahlia seeds are truly magical. Imagine every seed is a completely new flower profile. A flower that has never existed before! It’s not to say every Dahlia seed will promise the most exotic of blooms. But to find a new earthling, well that is very exciting to me.
You probably know that apple seeds also have the potential for endless alternatives. But apple growers want to insure the familiar taste and quality of the apples they grow so that is why apples are always grown from grafts.
The same is true of Dahlia tubers and cuttings, they are clones of the original mother plant.
In the not too distant future we are moving east. To a small French speaking, seaside village in New Brunswick.
Bouctouche is where our 2nd son has nested. Contrasted by our first son now living in Cairns, Australia. You might say our future retirement lifestyle holds many winter travel plans.
Waiting for a sign”
The summer dreams will be to cultivate a field of flowers. To start a hobby-sized, cut-flower farm. My desire is to teach my grand-children about flower gardening, sell bouquets on the road-side stand at the end of my driveway and offer locally grown bouquets of flowers at the Saturday Markets. What better way is it to share a love of flowers and get to know a new community?
The potential hobby flower farm includes a lovely plot of land with a view of the valley and estuary. The challenges, learning French and moving to a Zone 5. But I suspect the body will enjoy the shorter growing season. And the French will keep the mind engaged.
It might seem strange to be thinking of working on a small flower farm in your retirement years. I am a little sore and tired at the end of a gardening day. But I do love to be outdoors. And I much rather pull-weeds and push a wheelbarrow, than sit in a gym lifting weight. The best part is that we can never have too many 💐flowers! I know these things because a 🐝 Bee told me.
Yes, it’s pretty sweet here. Zone 6. There is a lot that we can grow. I had many dreams for these 5 acres. I once attempted to start a herb farm. I ordered hundreds of lavender plants and herbs. I thought I would make teas. I had no clue.
I still find the resilient plants tucked away and hiding. The devious ones still haunt me. Between the deer, evasive plants I had introduced (morning glory hell), and too many responsibilities at the time, including my husband’s business and two small boys, I was overwhelmed and Althea’s Riches only lasted a year.
But, gardening is like giving birth. From year to year, we forget the challenges enough to try again. This year, the past garden calamities, were distant memories. 2020 COVID isolation had me out in April pulling weeds. Embracing the time in the garden as if my very soul depended on it.
In small increments, I began to uncover the long-abandoned 32ft x 32ft fenced plot. The right tools, time, and an exceptionally warm two weeks made the focus easy. At the end of the day, I was ready for a shower and bed and the sleep was deep and rich with dreams. Fresh air does a body good. And digging in the dirt the best meditation for the mind, especially in troubled times.
It was a good summer. The garden grew lush, the flowers beautiful, and with the exception of ‘daily slug races,’ and morning glory vines, it was a gratifying experience.
Who knew that small scale Flower Farming was a thing? That Florists are designing floral jewelry with fresh flowers? That you can get a subscription for weekly flower bouquets, or that there are ‘cut-your-own farms’? Over the last 10-15 years, the industry has grown around locally sourced, organically (defined as chemical-free – they can’t call them organic) grown flowers. The Slow Flower Movement is here to stay.
And don’t get me started on the flower varieties that have emerged! Or I just never noticed before? There are tulips that look like peony? Yes, I have planted a trench full. And yes, trench planting is a thing.
My first trench planting of tulips.
My Flower Book Collection has grown to 7 (listed below) in the last few months. I have ordered seed catalogs again and am anxiously waiting for the January start of the 2021 Floret Workshop.
Lots of work, and still learning.
I have no idea where this road takes me, but I know I will have plenty of vases full of elegantly arranged flowers to photograph, paint, and design into gifts that flower gardeners will love.
My Flower Gardening Book List:
Here are the books that will take me through this winter. You will find them perfect accompanied by a cup of tea or coffee on a Sunday morning.
A Year in Flowers & Cut Flower Garden – Floret Farm’s – by Erin Benzakein with Julie Chai
also waiting for Floret’s, Discovering Dahlia, book is coming in March 2021
On Flowers – by Amy Merrick (read it cover to cover!)
Cultivated – The Elements of Floral Style – by Christin Geall
The Flower Workshop – by Ariella Chezar with Julia Michaels
The Art of Wearable Flowers – by Susan McLeary
Cool Flowers – by Lisa Mason Ziegler (going to need this one on the east coast)
My husband and I were on our usual weekend photo-shoot. On this particular summer’s day at the Filberg Lodge gardens, I remember becoming enchanted with their cut-flower garden and uttering for all to hear, “I want a cut-flower garden!” I have witnesses.
At home, I looked at my old garden and wondered if it could ever have such splendor. All I could see was the futile effort of the past. But that day, the seed of desire was planted.
Small steps. One raised bed at a time. That’s how my first cut-flower garden started.
This summer provided a weekly collection of fragrant visual treats. Garden Bouquets for the kitchen table, to photograph, to paint, and to inspire my designs. Flowers have always been a component of inspiration in my paintings, printmaking, and digital artwork.
In gardening flowers, I’ve learned many things. Take small steps. There are garden creatures that will challenge you and charm you. Queen Ann’s Lace makes an exquisite accent in a bouquet. Weeds are really wildflowers and they are free!
Flowers have been a part of our lives for thousands of years. They offer a component of beauty that links our memories throughout time. Every time I experienced the scent of ‘Lily of the Valley,’ I am transported to my childhood and memories of my mother.
Here is my list:
The first floral scent I remember? Lily of the Valley
I discovered a violet along a path in Italy when I was six. I never imaged a beautiful flower could be found on a roadside.
The first flower I grew was for a school science project. I remember guarding a red Zinnia in a Styrofoam cup all the way home and later planting it in the garden at home.
I discovered a violet along a path in Italy when I was six. I never imagined a beautiful flower could be found on a roadside.
I entered my first photography contest with a photo of a wildflower, and I won the teen category.
My favorite artist in art school, Georgia O’Keefe, her point of view was a catalyst to look more closely at the world.
My mother and aunt were notorious flower cutting thieves, even transporting them across international borders! I have a rose bush that was started from a cutting that was acquired outside my father’s Italian country home.
I took a flower design night school class before my wedding so I could prepare all the bouquets myself. And so that time was on my side, I made them from silk flowers over a few months.
My first long-distance school field-trip was to Butchart Gardens when I was eight years old, definitely felt like a walk-in paradise.
The go-to motif of my 70’s jeans were always flowers!
I learned the names of local wildflowers from the book “Heaven from God’s Garden.” Officially where my fascination with the flower began.
I love flowers! According to Michael Pollen’s book Botany of Desire, they may have seduced me to fulfill their will? The plot thickens, on realizing they have instructed us on how to send coded messages from the beginning of time.
Floriography (Language of flowers) a style of cryptologic communications through the selection of flowers.
In the Victorian era, outward expressions of affection were non-existent. But admirers and their suitors could communicate their feelings in covert ways. Coded messages in the form of “talking bouquets” known as Tussie-Mussies and Nose-Gays, were worn or carried as a fashion accessory. How the adornment was placed also signaled significance. If in the cleavage, friendship, but over the heart, a declaration of love.
The first floral dictionaries were published in the early in the 1800’s and “The Language of Flowers,” 1884, is still in reprint today. Long lists of flowers and their associated meaning fill the pages. But not all dictionaries of the era agreed on the same meaning, so it was important that the suitor, and the focus of their attention, carried the same publication, or the result might bring a slap in the face, instead of a warm embrace.
From the Bible to the present day, the symbolic meaning of flowers has been an interwoven second layer in literature and in art. Modern-day artists also utilized the language of flowers, artist Lynn Whitney used Floriography to communicate a message in her 2018 stunning visual creation titled, “Not Seeing is a Flower,” that lines the windows at the San Diego International Airport
You will never really know where the road leads. Just begin somewhere!
Art Makes the World a Better Place.
A creative life for some, is a clear and direct track. My journey has been a labyrinth. A collection of trails that have often converged in unexpected ways, and an array of shiny new paths that came to a full stop.
I have been described as a fearless-creative. I dive-in to artistic processes with total abandon, fully engaged and ready to explore and experiment. That’s the ‘how,’ and my only ‘why,’ is that “art makes the world a better place,” certainly for the creator and I hope for the art receiver as well.
Time Heals all Wounds
Late 2015, I found myself in creative crisis. The thoughts that were running through my head, “It has all has been done before. There is nothing I can do to add value to the world.” These words have crossed the minds of many artists, and usually when they are confronted by the proverbial fork on the road. My catalyst was mother’s sudden and all-consuming illness. After her passing I was drained and empty of any desires. It took over 18-month before I could even hold a thought of making art again.
One Door Closes Another Door Opens
It was the birth of my first grandchild in 2019 that presented a fresh new focus. Carrying only my iPad and Apple Pencil, I set off by plane to meet him. He was and is, the most enchanting being of awesomeness. On that first meeting I imagined telling him stories through art. Messages that I would leave behind for him to discover through his life. While he napped I started following Skillshare courses and learned Procreate and eventually made him a special version of the poster called, “Life’s a Safari”. That spark, took me unexpectedly and passionately down the new road of digital-painting and a whole new creative adventure evolved into the art you find on www.lorettabusch.com
It may appear from time to time that our lives are only grains of sand tossed by endless waves. But the connections we make in birth, life and death can continue to guide us. Life will tumble us around, until it stops. During those difficult moments I say, “what is it that you want from me?” and then I surrender and listen for that curious voice and a new unexpected perspective. I have learned that there is a purpose around every corner.
When life knocks you down – just start somewhere.
Step 1 – Become a shadow-artist, that’s what Julia Cameron author of The Artist’s Way, would call it. Let YouTube art videos become an obsession. I went from BBC Art History documentaries, to watching Floral Bowley’s expressive, spontaneous process of painting. Watch them enough and curiosity will eventually draw you in.
Step 2 – Push and pull some paint around. The act of painting is seductive and non-objective abstraction offers freedom, while colour is the drug. The poet Lisa Robertson wrote: “Colour, like a hormone, acts across, embarrasses, seduces. It stimulates the juicy interval in which emotion and sentiment twist.”
Kandinsky found music to be his muse, it guided his process and directed the line, form and entangled emotions of colour. The intangible expressions became canvas portals into new realities. For Kandinsky art was an “alternative pathway to a spiritual reality.” He was a follower of Theosophy, (an intriguing story for another blog post, all about how mysticism influenced Abstract Art, a topic never acknowledged when I was in art school.)
Step 3 – Open the mind. The Post War abstractionists were the art rebels of the time embracing the interconnectedness of art, culture and science. They played with color, space, atmosphere, movement, and emotion. They collaged commentaries on culture, explored the essence of composition, and dissected the science of visual perception. They engaged us to see and question even the simplest expressions of line and shape, and the physicality of drips of paint. All mark-making had purpose and a science that added to evolution of thought and art.
Step 4 – Explore the intangible. Study shape and form for it develops the eye and hand. But let things evolve, change, don’t define or constrict. Eric R. Kandel in ‘Reductionism in Art and Brain Science, says we are forced to use our brain in new ways when we look at abstraction.
Explore & Grow
An artist’s growth comes from processing the skills of art making while reflecting on life. It doesn’t matter the subject they choose; portraits, landscapes, still-life, political commentary. The techniques whether abstraction, expressionism, illustrative, representational, or collage, all are flavours of the artist’s message. I define, the an artist’s motivation as either introverted communicator reflecting on beauty, joy, love and/or an extroverted making a commentary on culture/society/politics. The style is artist’s unique ways of seeing. The mastery comes with time and maturity. Start Somewhere.
Follow these links & detours to build a better understanding the Abstract & Abstraction in Art
Clarify the terms Abstract vs Abstraction
Originally the terms had different intent, but today the meanings are blurred.
Cubism is subjective, abstract, it has some kind of person, place or thing, but the artist chooses to express the subject in a new altered way, and different viewpoints. The most familiar cubist was Picasso.
Abstraction is non-objective, intangible expression, emotional, atmospheric, meditative like the drip paintings of Jackson Pollack.
Art History Documentaries
Favourite!Rules of Abstraction (6) part series Matthew Collings
Graeme Stevenson (Colour in Your Life) he tours around and visits artists studios