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


Sunflowers As Angels


Watercolor Painting of Sunflower: “The bright stars of their faces”

Poem: by the Wild-Haired Corn
by Mary Oliver

I don’t know
if the sunflowers
are angels always,
but surely sometimes.

Who, even in heaven,
wouldn’t want to wear,
for awhile,
such a seed-face

and brave spine
a coat of leaves
with so many pockets —
and who wouldn’t want

to stand, for a summer day,
in the hot fields,
in the lonely country
of the wild-haired corn?

This much I know,
When I see the bright
stars of their faces,
when I’m strolling nearby,

I grow soft in my speech,
and soft in my thoughts,
and I remember how everything will be everything else,
by and by.

Another Watercolor Painting of Sunflowers: “Brave spines” and “Seed faces”

The Banana Peel Awaits

“the cosmic banana peel awaits.”  — Anne Lamott, Notes on Hope

“Anything can happen.  The great banana peel of existence is always on the floor somewhere.”  — Robert Fulghum

You cannot predict the future.  Plans go awry.  But the upside is that too much planning might narrow your experiences in life.  It’s good to stay open to opportunities that pop up unexpectedly along the way.

Perhaps the most important thing is resilience — knowing that you will find a way to cope, no matter what banana peels trip you up along the way.



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.


On the Occasion of Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday

Watercolor portrait of Abraham Lincoln

When I was in school, we remembered Lincoln’s birthday on February 12th and celebrated Washington’s birthday as a holiday on February 22nd.  When the government made Mondays the holiday of choice in 1971, we no longer observed the actual birthdays, but instead began to honor all presidents on the Presidents Day holiday, the third Monday in February.

Today’s post goes back to the more traditional celebration of Lincoln’s actual birthday.  Here are some quotes from this great leader:

“As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’  Now we practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’  When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.’  When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”
— letter to Joshua F. Speed, August 22,1855

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country; corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in High Places will follow, and the Money Power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the People, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic destroyed.”
— letter to Col. William F. Elkins, November 21, 1864

“The struggle for today is not altogether for today — it is for a vast future also.”

We are still struggling.  Sometimes progress feels like one step forward and two steps back.