Gordon Skagit Farms 2018

It doesn’t really feel like fall until I made my annual trip to Gordon Skagit Farms to see all the pumpkins, gourds, and Eddie Gordon’s newest crop of paintings.

Inspired by the pumpkin harvest at Gordon Skagit Farms

To Burn Until You Fall

Painted leaves

“Hurry up, fall is always saying.  Time is growing short.  We don’t have forever.  Except I don’t believe that.  We have whatever we decide to have.  Weeks spent with children pass like hours.  Months spent writing a book seem like a weekend.  Hours wondering what to do next seem like eons.  Minutes waiting for someone are a well-known eternity.  The main thing is to keep moving.  Keep the pace that children keep.  They rise from sleep and move into a day like sunlight.  They burn until they fall.”
— Ellen Gilchrist, Falling through Space,” from Aging: An Apprenticeship, ed. Nan Narboe

Watercolor painting of fallen oak leaves
Another watercolor painting of fallen oak leaves
Fall leaves

Day trip to the “Everett Everglades”

View across Snohomish River from Langus Riverfront Park

When my friend Bonnie invited me to an outing in the “Everett Everglades,” I happily accepted.  I had never heard of this place, but Everett is just 30 miles north of Seattle, and I am always open to exploring new (to me) destinations.  The “Everett Everglades” is what the locals call Langus Riverfront Park.  It’s a lovely natural area along the Snohomish River, with a paved trail, benches, picnic tables, a shelter and bathrooms. Bonnie and I intended to paint, but we ended up chatting and catching up on our summer news instead.  That’s what happens when it’s been too long between visits!

I did make one painting from one of my photos when I got home later that afternoon.  A fine ending to a fun day.

My watercolor painting of the Everett Everglades


Slideshow of My “Local Wonders” Art Exhibit

Some of my art on display at the Elisabeth C. Miller Library, Seattle
Exhibit on view through June 29th

A few months ago when I announced my “Local Wonders” art exhibit, I promised readers that I would provide a slideshow of my work for those who live too far away to visit.  You can see the slideshow at this link.

If you have time to visit, my art will remain on view at the Elisabeth C Miller Library at the Center for Urban Horticulture in Seattle during the library’s regular open hours.


My Art Exhibit Is Up for the Month of June

Watercolor paintings by Rosemary Washington on display this month at the Miller Library in Seattle

My friend Carol and I spent the morning setting up an exhibit of a selection of my watercolor paintings and ink drawings at the Elisabeth C. Miller Library in Seattle.  The show, which runs through June during the library’s normal business hours, features about 70 framed plant and animal portraits.  Called “Local Wonders,” the exhibit is a colorful celebration of the natural world in and around Seattle.

I invite all of you to stop by and see my show.  It was gratifying to look through my archives and select my favorite works to share with you.  There will be an artist reception on Thursday evening, June 7th, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.  I hope to see many of you there.

Art works will be on sale (all sales by cash or check) and I will be donating a portion of the proceeds to the UW Miller Library Fund.  Buyers can pick up their art after the exhibit ends on June 29th.

Painting Irises with a Flat Brush

Irises in Kitty’s garden

Every year I look forward to iris season in the Skagit Valley and schedule a very special day to paint the irises in my friend Kitty’s gardens on Samish Island.  This year when Kitty announced the early blooms were ready, my schedule was too harried and I had to postpone my visit to late May.  I worried I would miss this season’s spectacle.  I don’t think I’ve ever gone up there this late in the iris season, but it turned out that good things happen to those who wait.  Kitty’s irises were absolutely stunning — bountiful and colorful and glorious.

Scenes from Kitty’s garden

I took way too many photos again this year.  The many varieties of iris flaunt their frills and flounces and colors like so many ladies at a fancy ball.  Each individual flower or small grouping called out to be photographed.  I obliged.  I knew I would have quite a big editing and uploading job when I returned home!  But it was worth it.

Just look at those black velvet petals (upper right).

I struggled a bit to find a new perspective, a new point of view, amidst all this clamor.  At one point I lay on the ground looking up — a worm’s eye view — to see the flowers against the blue sky.

Looking up.

This year I was also pleased to play and experiment with painting irises using a flat brush.  I tried to apply some of the practices I started at Tom Hoffmann’s Palouse watercolor workshop — moving toward more abstract shapes.   Here are the results:

The large iris is called the Star Ship Enterprise.


Landscape Painting in the Palouse

The Palouse is characterized by rolling hills like these.

How fortunate to have had the opportunity to take a watercolor workshop from Tom Hoffmann, a local Seattle artist and teacher.  I love his paintings — click on this link to see some images of his work.  One can learn so much simply from observing a master at work.  During his demos, Tom shared his thinking processes as he approached the blank page.  It is a revelation to begin to see like an artist; Tom was thinking about values (lights and darks), wetness, the softness or hardness of edges, color, and composition (major shapes and balance).  He tried to articulate what was the important thing about what he was preparing to paint.  Why was he drawn to paint this particular scene?

The process of painting landscapes was a joy and a challenge and an endless source of creative frustration (not quite right; how can I fix this mess . . .).  I felt that I have overcome my stumbling block to painting landscapes and using larger pieces of paper (even 8″ x 10″ is larger than I normally work).  The wide, flat brushes that Tom favors are a key to his kind of painting.  I could grow to love those brushes!

We painted for about 6 hours each day at sites around the small town of Dayton, Washington.  Here are a few of my paintings from the workshop:

Tulip Time 2018: Day Trip to the Skagit Valley

Considering that people from around the world spend money to fly to the Netherlands to see the tulips in bloom, we who live in Seattle are beyond fortunate to have our own tulip fields an hour’s drive north.  I do so enjoy playing tourist in my own local area.  And I’m happy to report another glorious day taking in the wonders of the Skagit Valley in Spring.

For me, it is well worth getting up very early so that I am in the Skagit Valley for sunrise.  The first light and low-lying fog give an ethereal feel to these first minutes of the day.

Arriving at the Skagit Valley as the day dawns

Other photographers had the same game plan to be in the fields at sunrise.
Sunrise in the tulip field
Fog makes a floating world

Too soon the day brightened and the fog burned off.  Now the tulip fields were ribbons of bright color in the landscape.

My watercolor sketches cannot do justice to this natural beauty.



A Display about Letter Writing at the Greenwood Branch Library

Here is the latest display I created for the Greenwood Public Library:

It celebrates the art of the hand-written letter.  The display features books, of course, but also 10 Mail Art Tips from the Postman’s Knock blog.

Inside the library is a cart full of books of letters and correspondence ready to be checked out.  Even though few of us write letters anymore, I still enjoy reading compilations of other people’s letters.