Recycling plastic

© Media General. “In the Garden” by Mary Garner-Mitchell. Acrylic air brush, watercolor, pencil on paper. Editorial illustration for gardening article.

I was searching for just the right quote to fill the void in my “recycled” watering can illustration, when I came across the 18th-century lines above. While they speak to everything I feel in my bones about two of my passions (art and gardening), one word gave me great pause:   Plastic?  Plastic spade? What, a Colonial Walmart selling crappy tools?

Indeed, I have a love/hate relationship with plastic in general. Mostly hate. I curse its existence every time I go to open any overly-protected-over-packaged-off-the-shelf product, or realize our plastic recycling bins are (once again) overflowing.  I know it’s never going away, literally — as a noun that is.

Which brings me around to my love/hate relationship with words. I often I find the English language just plain stupefying and as I stumbled today, I wonder how anyone learns it completely.  Of course, I am fully aware Mr. Mason’s now antique description is just one example of how our pliable vocabulary bends and stretches over the centuries. But his use of “plastic” made me realize how far down the definition chain this otherwise perfectly placed adjective has fallen. In the context of this quote, it is at the very bottom!

plastic  adj. — being able to create, especially within an art form; having the power to give form or formal expression: (the plastic imagination of great poets and composers.)

“Write” on! How can I hate such a great word? Plastic: reclaimed, reused, recycled!

“Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week.” – Joseph Addison

© Mary Garner-Mitchell. “Objets de Barn Art” found mostly on site at Stagfield, c. 1781, Ashland, Virginia.

Relatively speaking, I suppose.

While Friday’s storms had us somewhat consumed with cleanup (we were luckier than many), a pool and a shared bottle of Prosecco underscored a couple of delightful days that I want etched my memory as they otherwise held so few demands, despite downed limbs and buckets of sweat.  Late yesterday afternoon, my friend Nancy Hugo windowsillarranging.blogspot.com/  invited us for a swim and happy Happy Hour that was the exclamation point ending to a weekend punctuated by what to me is “Summertime” – golf,  gardening, grilled suppers, oppressive heat, wind-whipping thunderstorms, good friends,  a good book, a good nap – and with Nancy and John, always good conversation. Which brings me to our discussion of “brown” and an ongoing thread that has  woven itself through my ponderings these last few days, weeks, perhaps most of my collecting life!

According to Nancy’s sources (her children and their peers), the generation just starting housekeeping eschews brown furniture – meaning the pieces handed down through at least the last three or more generations. They don’t want it and the antique and consignment shops are testament to this sad trend. It’s a real shame, for just as our parents and many in my demographic of Boomers are downsizing, this glut of apparently unappreciated, quality “brown furniture” has depressed prices to alarming levels. I have a house full of it!  I’ve noticed even the preponderance of Pottery Barn is moving over for Mod, and while I appreciate aspects of most styles and love a mix, it pains me to see what I fear might be a lack of regard for the real patina of rich walnuts, mahogany, heart pine — in other words, BROWN!

Which brings me in a round-about way to why I like rust.

How ironic that marketing guru, Seth Godin, in his blogpost today http://sethgodin.typepad.com/ notes “Shine is fresh and new and it sparkles. Shiny catches the eye and it appeals to the neophiliac, to the person in search of polish. Patina, on the other hand, can only be earned. Patina communicates trust (because the untrusted don’t last long enough to earn a patina) … “
I believe such is true of lots of things, not only in business and brands but furniture, too. Wrinkles come to mind as well! (sigh…)

So, ANYWAY, today’s photo  seems an appropriate way to illustrate my musings above and my love affair with all things old, rusty, worn, well-used, and well, brown!  “Objets”  I believe worthy of exhibit if only as “barn art” discovered  in the dirt here at Stagfield.  Why? Because they earned it.

Luring the Big Ones

© Mary Garner-Mitchell
Detail of cover illustration for University of Richmond alumni magazine.
Digital air brush in Photoshop

An assignment to illustrate the cover story for the University of Richmond alumni magazine allowed me to test my digital airbrush skills. The story heralded the school’s recruiting effort to “lure” star talent. Of course I was required include representation of the school’s campus, which thankfully, is indeed lakeside.  Worried that the design would be determined “by committee” I was pleasantly surprised when the first sketch was accepted ­— hook, line and sinker!

Cheating?

I have a question to pose to fellow bloggers. Are you using your own imagery and photos for which you have obtained permission — or for which you have purchased rights — for illustrating your posts?

© Media General Inc./Mary Garner-Mitchell. Acrylic airbrush, Prisma colored pencils on paper

Quite a few of the interior design blogs in particular have me scratching my head in wonder today. What I’m seeing appears as though some bloggers are downloading photos from other sites or scanning images from shelter magazines, seldom with attribution accompanying the photo or within their post. While Facebook, Pinterest and the like have fostered chronic misuse of imagery, music and prose under the guise of “sharing,” this is truly nothing short of stealing. I’m an illustrator and married to a professional photographer, and neither of us would be exactly thrilled to see our images posted out of context from their original source, and without permission or some mutually agreed upon form of compensation. Coming from a former career in publication design, I understand “fair use.” But imagery that carries the blogger’s story line — for instance a collection of great ideas for a child’s room — is not fair use. What it is at best is cheating, as the unattributable images infer that the blogger is the author of the image and/or its content. This sort of blatant rip off of another’s creative’s work not only puts your blog in a bad light, it is an invitation to a lawsuit, particularly if you are soliciting and/or accepting advertising on your blog. Legitimate publications know better. Bloggers should, too.  And for goodness sake, when you have used another publication’s photo or some creative’s imagery, ask permission, pay if required, and by all means credit the source.

The courts haven’t caught up with online content relative to fair use and copyright (yet), but for those who want to do right by others, here is a simple primer on the unwritten rules of blogging see http://weblogs.about.com/od/bloggingethics/tp/Top3BloggingRules.htm

Faking it

There’s an aspect to blogging that has me struggling today. Unlike journaling, the onus on the blogger is to write and post something entertaining for her followers, and not some narcissistic ramble — to be honest, humble and most of all offer up each post with a genuine sense of sharing. The secret to this medium, I believe, is finding the balance between expression and entertainment. My strength is certainly more weighted toward visuals,  so perhaps I need to focus on images and not fret so much with words.  Arguably, “A picture is worth a thousand” of them anyway,  so today’s post offers this “creature” from my 3-D (as in sculpture, not digital) archives. In time, I promise to supply more recent works, but as this blog is also another portfolio option, please indulge me as I upload the “business side” of my work from the past several years. I promise to mix it up over the course of the next few weeks with “current events!”

© Mary Garner-Mitchell

Applying a tan out of a bottle, while safer than sunbathing, is sorta like renting a Porsche for a few days, or borrowing a friend’s jewelry to go to a swank party. You eventually have to return to your old “pasty” self! To quote Kirk Cobain, “The worst crime is faking it.” Well, maybe the exception is tanning, but for most everything else, so true! © Mary Garner-Mitchell

” … a few of my favorite things “

Getting my hands dirty and making “things” …. namely growing flowers and creating dimensional art. The “brass butterfly,” photographed by John Hood, and styled by yours truly was created from embossing metal, Sculpey and wire. The fuzz on the body of the butterfly is shavings from a black pipe cleaner. A trip to the Flower Market in Richmond and “Voila!” — the visual for an antihystimine advertisement was born!

© Mary Garner-Mitchell / Photo by Jonathan Hood

“… In Hanover, it’s an art.”

Hanover County, Virginia is famous for its tomatoes. This year, if the weather keeps up, we’re expecting a bumper crop. The anticipation of these beauties coming in is almost more than I can bear at times, especially when my vines are just up and coming. Some hot days and warm nights will bring them along soon enough though. Then bring on the mayonnaise, bread and lettuce! (Bacon is optional … actually so is the mayo, lettuce and bread.)

“Botanically, it’s a berry. In Hanover, it’s an art.”