Tag Archives: old house

A visit to the garden in late spring

One of my blog readers recently asked to see more of the garden than just my flower paintings.  So I thought I’d take you on a little tour.

The immediate yard around the house is about two acres and it sits in the middle of the whole property.  Much of that is in woods, fields, streams and some fields.  Very private.  Love it.

The Big Chicken standing in a bed of Lilies of the Valley

As visitors drive up the long lane which turns at the end, they’re greeted with my giant chicken.  His head bobs on a spring in the wind. Children and silly grownups like to beat on it with a stick so it sounds like a metal drum.  It stands in a patch of lilies of the valley which acts as a ground cover of sorts.

The main garden, about 40 x 60.

To the left and south of the house is the main garden which is about 40 x 60.  We have this plowed each spring and then I plant it in thirds, rotating crops each year.  Here you can see two crops of sweet corn, many varieties of tomatoes and peppers, some eggplant, squash, beans, herbs, and always always flowers, including a whole row of sunflowers.  I do all the planting and hoeing between plants.  My husband rototills between rows.  However, by late July, most of the garden takes care of itself.

The spring garden. Onions, garlic, pea pods, kale, asparagus patch, with spinach and lettuce bolting in the cold frame.

This is the spring garden which is pretty messy this time of year.  Three kinds of onions, garlic, kale, lettuce and spinach bolting in the cold frame, asparagus, and to the far left two more kinds of squash.

Some patio pots. These are usually in direct sunlight.

I have several flowerbeds and an herb bed, but I found it easier to maintain flowers in pots.  So, there is an eclectic collection of about 40.  Some flowers for sun, some for shade.

More pots, this time with shade plants.

A little pot on my studio porch. Just because I had extra flowers.

At the far east side of the yard is an old perennial bed.  This time of year you can find weigela, yellow garden loosetrife, lilies, lambs ear, coreopsis and much more.  It’s always something. The columbine is past.  Yet to bloom will be yucca, gladiolas, purple cone flower, and I have forgotten what else. And, I love my favorite flying pig garden sculpture made from old farm implements.  It bounces in the wind, too.

East perennial bed with flying pig.

There is always something new to see in the garden.  I tidy it up once or twice a year but am not obsessed with having every weed pulled and tamed.  There are successes and failures.  Some plants readily reseed themselves.  Some even seem to move! The raspberries will be coming soon.  The day lilies are blooming.  It’s just a pleasure to walk around nearly any time of year.

Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine,  food and medicine for the soul.   –  Luther Burbank

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Making do – old stuff

In this day of throwaway and disposables, sometimes I’m reminded of how precious the handmade and recycled objects of our lives can be.  This old house is over 135 years old.  The early homesteaders were very frugal and made the most of what they had.

Old sandstone stoop. See the chisel marks for the stone. The stoop was flipped over when it got worn so the bottom side shows more wear.

Here you can see the sandstone stoop for our back porch.  Although sandstone hardens with exposure to the air, eventually it will wear down.  In this area, worn out sandstone stoops are turned over to extend their lives.

Old sheet repair. Notice how finely this repair is made.

Here is a photo of an old sheet which received some very fine mending.  Would anyone do that today?  I doubt it.

Repaired window with old glazing.

This is a photo of a broken / cracked window.  Instead of having it replaced, a second sheet of glass, probably from another broken pane, was cemented to this one.

Handmade door closure on attic door.

The door to the upstairs attic of my studio has a hand-carved wooden lock and uses some kind of turned wood for a knob.

Sometimes living with the past makes one think more about the things we take for granted in our lives today. Next time you’re thinking of tossing something, give some consideration if it can be reused or recycled.

Jack Frost Visits

Jack Frost on my windowpane in the studio.

After a balmy winter holiday, the temperatures in the Midwest plummeted.  We recorded minus 4 degrees (F) this week.  Needless to say, I’m a wuss and am not spending much time outdoors.  However, even working in my studio has challenges.

As I have mentioned before, my studio is an old summer kitchen about 30 feet from the back door.  It was designed when cooking was done on wood-fired cook stoves (which it actually had when we moved here.)  This was to keep the heat out of the house in the summer.  You’ll find one of these buildings on many old farms in southern Indiana and throughout the Midwest and South.  I am lucky that ours is about 15 x 25’, which is pretty large for a summer kitchen.  In this case, the family and field hands actually ate in the building.  It is a perfect size for a studio.

Unfortunately, the whole purpose of the design was to keep the heat out of the house so they didn’t really care about insulating the building.  Thus, it’s very drafty.  Although I have a gas heater, unless I want to go broke, I keep it turned down.  This week I was wearing a hat, many layers of clothing, two pairs of socks (the cold comes up through the floor), and I was still chilly.

I snapped this photo of the beautiful patterns of the frost on the windowpanes.  It looks like giant feathers.  With all of our insulated windows and super-heated houses, window frost has become more and more uncommon.

The beauty of nature is all around us, even in the most unlikely places.

Since I was confined to studio painting, here are a couple of my recent works.  Plus, I tweaked the still life with red cabbage and artichokes that I posted on here a few weeks ago.  Artists are never quite satisfied with their finished work. Renoir was known to bring his paints to gallery exhibits even after his paintings were hung, just so he could make changes.  I’m not quite that bad but I might fiddle around with a painting which doesn’t quite suit me.

Here’s hoping that the weather is better where you are and that warmer days will be here soon.

Artist Still Life, oil on canvas board, 10 x 10, Kit Miracle

Down by the Creek, oil on canvas, 20 x 16, Kit Miracle

Red Cabbage and Artichoke, 18 x 24, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle. Still Life revised from previous version.

Autumn in the country

Most people think of autumn as the time to slow down, but here in the country, we have work to do before we can take it easy.  We’ve had a couple of hard frosts but the weather has actually been pretty balmy in the 50s and 60s.  This really helps extend the growing season here in southern Indiana.

Fall view in the country, looking down to the creek.

One of my favorite things to do is look for the hardy flowers that are still blooming, even after the frost.  I still have some geraniums, alyssum, Sweet William, and even one tiny confused violet.  There is almost always some flower which manages to make an appearance except in deepest winter.

Hardy flowers that survived a hard frost. Alyssum, geranium, sweet William and a tiny violet.

We also like to plant a fall garden.  As you can see by the photos, the frost killed the weeds but the kale is still happily growing.  The cold frame will protect some more kale and lettuce until probably early December.  We’ve got fall peas growing but ….no blooms.  And probably no pollinators if we did have blooms.  The asparagus and garlic have been put to bed under straw.

Garlic bed under the straw and some happy kale. See how well it survived the frost which killed the weeds.

Fall peas look great but no blooms, and probably no pollinators. Note to self: plant earlier next year.

Cold frame with kale and lettuce. Asparagus bed behind under the straw. We will cover the cold frame as the weather gets colder.

My husband has a deer blind in a small grove of locust trees overlooking the bottom field and creek where we often see deer.  I’m not really worried that he’s going to get a deer as he’s only gotten ONE in thirty years.  But….you never know.  And the toll the deer population takes on cars in this area is steep.  Our family alone has hit seven deer over the years.

Deer blind overlooking the creek and lower field.

Our wood pile is growing. Today the guys dragged several logs out of the woods as it’s easier to cut and split them all in one place, plus they handle the wood less than when they cut and split it in the woods. Thanks also to our son who came home for the weekend to help out.  This is hard work!

Cutting firewood on a Saturday morning in November.

The walnuts have been picked up by the boy scouts who turned them in for money at the mill.  What they missed, the squirrels are tucking away.

Fall at the creek. We have several creeks but pass this one every day as we go over it on the drive.

This giant oak tree has history and is one of my favorite trees on the property. I call it The Sentinel as it “guards” the driveway.

And, it’s just a beautiful time to take a walk and enjoy the season while I can.

I hope you enjoyed your visit to our country place.  Feedback is always welcome.

Studio visit – where the magic happens!

My studio is the old summer kitchen surrounded by herbs, flowers and giant maple trees.

I love to visit the studios of other artists, to nose around and see how they work, what materials they use, how they store materials and artwork.  Sometimes I get great ideas but it’s just wonderful to see what the other artists do.

So I’m inviting you to visit my studio.

Over thirty years ago, my husband and I decided to leave the corporate world and purchased a small farm in Southern Indiana.  This was always a dream of mine so he mostly came along for the ride.  If you are not familiar with this part of the country, it is totally beautiful with woods and fields, gently rolling hills, lakes and streams. And not too many people.  I like to say it’s like New England without the crowds.

We live in a 150 year old farm house with a large garden, a couple of orchards, and plenty of the aforementioned woods and fields and streams.  We raised two sons here and have enjoyed living in a county that doesn’t even have one stoplight…and we’re proud of it.

My studio is the old summer kitchen so my commute is about 30 feet from the back door.  For those of you who are not familiar with this term, summer kitchens were popular in the days of wood-fired stoves to keep the heat out of the house…in the summer!  They are very common on old homesteads in the midwest and south.  And it’s very nice for me to have an area to keep my art separate both physically and mentally from the rest of the house.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  Don’t forget to visit my art website at kgmiracle.com  or my Etsy shop.

My Blue Door Studio,the old summer kitchen is about 30 feet from my back door. The blue is Electric Blue, a lucky southwest color. Hey, why not?

View from the front door through the studio. It is a two-room space.

View from my artist chair to the front door of the studio.

A broader view of the front room of the studio. This used to be the dining room for the field hands during the summer.

It may looks a bit haphazard but I know where everything is…usually.

Broader view from the back room into the front room.

This large pantry in the back room of the studio is where I store many objects for still lifes. The old wood cook stove was back here, too. I can’t imagine how many meals were fixed here, as well as all the canning that was done.

Storage is always a premium for artists. Where does one PUT all this art?

This is where the magic happens. The easel for oil painting. The flat table for watercolor and some drawing. Everything I need within a hand’s reach.

You Can’t Go Home Again…or Can you?

Thomas Wolfe wrote, “You Can’t Go Home Again” but I think you can.  I had the opportunity to visit my hometown, Richmond, Indiana, last weekend on a plein air painting adventure with Indiana Plein Air Painters.  I hadn’t been back for at least 15 years and did not have high expectations due to some economic problems that I’d heard about.  I don’t know about that but the town sure looked pretty to me.

Richmond sits on the Indiana – Ohio border in the eastern center of the state.  It is an old town with lots of Quaker settlement as well as many other religions.  Since the late 1800s, they’ve embraced quite an art scene including one of the few in-school art museums at the local high school. I grew up thinking that everyone passed famous paintings on the way to class.  Little did I know.

Richmond known for it’s beautiful Glen Miller Park and Millionaire’s row, along with some of the most exquisite old houses and varied architectural styles.  I could find many subjects for painting there!

The pond at the beautiful Glen Miller park, adjacent to Millionaires Row

Typical houses in old Richmond, Indiana

The event was only one day so I decided to visit my old alma mater of Earlham College and paint Stout Meeting House.  The weather was perfect with a slight breeze and a very peaceful campus due to summer break.

Plein air painting at Stout Meeting House on the campus of Earlham College

Stout Meeting House, Earlham College, Watercolor/pen and ink, 11×14, Kit Miracle

Later I took some time to visit my great-grandma’s house, one of the oldest log cabins in Wayne County.  I was so pleased to see that it had been lovingly restored and looked better than when my great-grandmother lived there.  No one was home but I promised myself to stop by on my next visit.

Great grandma’s house, Richmond, Indiana

And I had forgotten how many beautiful churches Richmond boasts.  It seems as if there is another church on every corner.

Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Indiana

So, although you can’t go home again, you can visit it.  Your hometown just might surprise you.  I’ll be back soon and longer.

Felling a giant

Memory of a giant

Memory of a giant

Several years ago, I did a painting called “Saturday Morning.”  It basically depicted men working together on, yes, Saturday morning.  This is what people do here in the country.  You cannot do everything yourself so you pitch in and help the neighbor, or he you when you need it.

This morning we had to say goodbye to an old friend.  We have a giant elm which  was here since we bought the place over 25 years ago.  Everyone marveled at its beautiful shape and how it had magically escaped elm disease.  Unfortunately, it began dying last year and we had to take our old friend down today.  It was very close to the house and would have been a real danger during the next big storm.

Taking down the elm which was leaning one way while we wanted to fell it in another was challenging and not without risk.  Fortunately, these two guys have felled many trees but anything can happen.  I documented this not only for my old tree friend but to let you know of some of the dangers.  If you don’t know anything about taking down a tree, hire an expert.

Painting Main Street

Main Street House #1, oil on canvas, 12x16, Kit Miracle

Main Street House #1, oil on canvas, 12×16, Kit Miracle

I went out painting this past Sunday morning in town.  Sundays are usually pretty quiet if you’re painting an urban setting.  There is a row of old houses on Main Street which have been renovated and provide some pretty interesting subject matter.  The first house, with all the gingerbread and roses is almost too saccharine but I thought I’d give it a stab.  I was actually planning to paint it from the other side (south) but since I arrived pretty early, I caught this morning light on the north side. There are some who would like to see every little detail but I believe that you should let the viewer’s eye fill in some of the details.  If I tried to paint a photo-realist painting…what IS the point, eh? …then I think the painting would have lost a lot.

Main Street House #1 en plein air, Kit Miracle

Main Street House #1 en plein air, Kit Miracle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main Street House #2, oil on canvas, 12x16, Kit Miracle

Main Street House #2, oil on canvas, 12×16, Kit Miracle

A friend went with me this morning but she had other obligations and had to leave.  I wasn’t ready to pack up so I turned around and then painted the neighboring house.  I really like the light in both of them.  I could probably find subject matter for several paintings in a few blocks of Main Street, especially if I come back at different times of day.

What does YOUR Main Street look like?

Main Street House #2, en plein air

Main Street House #2, en plein air

A birdseye view

My apologies for not posting much recently. I’ve been traveling for three out of the past four weeks. But…have much material for painting so that is encouraging.

As I was flying home from Austin, TX last weekend, my plane happened to go over my own house! This is the first time that has happened. Living here in rural southern Indiana, it was a real treat to see the area from the air…and humbling. Lake Patoka looks so small…and it’s over 9,000 acres! I’ve circled our farm on here. We all look so small from that altitude. And it makes me think that our petty squabbles are small, too.

View of our farm from the air

View of our farm from the air

Night visitors

Living out in the near wilderness, we are often beset with furry critters set on eating our produce. Our 90 acres is more like a big park than a real farm. We don’t mind sharing but…there’s plenty for the animals to eat without invading the garden and orchards.

Recently we noticed that something was munching on the fallen apples. So we set up the deer cam in the orchard. My goodness, but there is a LOT of activity out there. Plenty of deer, lots of raccoons (and babies), and one slinky coyote. This isn’t counting all the rabbits and squirrels that set off the camera.

And for those of you who think raccoons are cute little masked bandits, think again. They are vicious creatures who just enjoy the pleasure of killing a whole flock of chickens in a single night.

Anyway, we’re really trying to capture a photo of a bobcat or mountain lion rumored to be living in these parts. We’ll move the deer cam into the woods soon and see what we will see.

Day visitors - a whole herd of deer munching on peaches  8:45 a.m.

Day visitors – a whole herd of deer munching on peaches 8:45 a.m.

Big buck 10:15 p.m.

Big buck 10:15 p.m.

Raccoon stealing bait from trap 5:08 a.m.

Raccoon stealing bait from trap 5:08 a.m.

Wylie Coyote 1:43 a.m.

Wylie Coyote 1:43 p.m.

Evening muncher 6:45 p.m.

Evening muncher 6:45 p.m.