Tag Archives: Oregon summer

Tomato Chairs Revisited

sketch of chair with tomatos

"Tomato Chair in August", mixed media by Kerry McFall


Back in May, I planted broccoli and  lettuce in my little raised bed, and carefully positioned tomatoes under my newly-painted pink “tomato chairs“.  Finally, I have been able to harvest half a dozen marble-sized tomatoes from a jungle of long-leggity vines.  Even if I don’t get another single tomato, the burst of warm flavor from those few was worth every moment of weeding and watering and tying twine and  fussing!  In the intervening four months, a fence went up, the pot of basil was cut back several times, an eventually I pulled down all the broccoli and lettuce trees to give the tomatoes a bit more precious sunlight (I say trees because I let them go to seed just out of curiousity, and they were taller than my head when I finally tired of the experiment!)

Now August wanes, and our allotment of a few hot days (99 degrees!) is behind us apparently.  Crickets are beginning to make themselves known (odd that they don’t sing until summer is nearly done here in Oregon…), nights are cooling to 58 the minute the sun sinks, dawn is slower to arrive with each passing morning.  Such a short summer.


August Sunset

sketch of sunflower

"August Sunset", mixed media sketch by Kerry McFall

Once Oregon finally gets up to speed with summer weather, it is so lovely to walk just before sunset.  Even on the hottest evenings, usually the cool breeze drifts over from the coast, and it’s the perfect time to stroll through the neighborhood admiring gardens.  I snapped a quick photo a few days ago of a backlit sunflower, one of the new breeds with rusty orange petals and tiny seeds (which I have tried to grow but the sow bugs defeat me every time).  The Resident Art Critic pointed out, “There’s a petal missing,” – his usual short and to the point critique.  To which I reply – “Duh!  Of course there is.  The flower is just slightly beyond it’s peak, the sun is setting, day is done, summer will be coming to a close before we are ready… it’s a metaphor for another birthday, Sillly!”

Here is the progression from pencil sketch to watercolor washes, with a last minute decision to paint over the smaller blooms and just focus on the big one, followed quickly by the addition of the stripes in the background, which I really like as a technique.  I did a similar background on the dahlia piece last week, sort of looked like wallpaper there.  It’s a nod to my textile background, I suppose, and my love for pattern and texture.  The seeds at the bottom are a way to focus on not just the whole but all its many parts, symbolic of the future being part of the fading bloom, and I think they make a unique but simple border also.