Thursday, 17 May 2012

Painting for pleasure and composting comfrey

Painting for Pleasure.  That's what I term painting a picture on canvas, for no other reason than wanting to.  Not like painting because a room needs an infusion of colour.  That's a different kind of painting.  
I had a little dilemma.  A friend's birthday.  A shopping trip weilded nothing that I quite felt was right.  So spying a painting of a buddha, I had one of those "Aha!" moments.  What about painting a picture for her?  Seemed like a good idea.  But what?  I knew she loved all-things-Indian, so something in that genre.  Then it came to me - I'll paint an Indian elephant.  But I can't draw an elephant just like that!  So I went and googled images of Indian elephants and found 2 that I liked.  One to give me a basic shape and stance, the other to inspire patterns.

No gesso to seal the canvas?  No problem!  My canvas was hastily primed with gibboard sealer, 2 coats and then I began, filled with an air of adventure.  As my elephant shape unfolded, it became a project of discovery.  Throwing caution to the wind, I grabbed the first pot of paint that caught my eye.  Test pots of acrylic paint collected over the years.  A background of orange-red slapped on with gay abandon.

Then came the dangerous part.  Once I had mixed up some grey, I started to really let myself go.  Gold.  I must have a touch of magpie within me.  I just love gold - it conjures up an impression of richness and gaudiness in the same breath.  The OTT factor.  I had to really hold back!  My magestic fella was endowed with golden toenails and head-dress.  Stop now, while you are still ahead, I had to keep on telling myself.  So I packed it in for the night.  

A couple of days later, I trusted myself to finish the painting.  Just as well.  In this time, I managed to establish the fact that my friend's new kitchen colour infusion was orange, not red!  Ooops, can't change the red background at this stage, but I could add some orange to the elephants shawl!  Hooray, a personalised present for a special friend.  A little garish, but then definitely Indian inspired.  No other like it.  It is easy to create special gifts for others with just a little fore thought and planning.  Even if it is just a few days before!  And one doesn't even need to be an artist, just to have a little flair for creating and for having fun!

And on an entirely different note, Compost Tea Making:

Every month I make up a new brew of compost tea, most often, Comfrey tea.  I fill a 10L bucket with sealable lid, with as much comfrey leaves as is possible to fit in (use gloves to avoid the prickles and tear the leaves, packing them in tightly).  Fill the bucket with water and seal.  Leave this to brew over 4-5 weeks and stir.  When you open and stir, the smell hits you in the tummy like a sledgehammer and in no time at all, the flies from a 4km radius screech in to buzz in excitement around the heady brew.  I filter the mix through an old metal sieve to remove all the solid sludge and decant the liquid into a plastic 20L drum (with lid).  Later on, during the Lunar Calendar compost feeding window, I make up a weaker solution of this foul-smelling potassium-rich liquid and feed all my veg beds with a light watering.  Potassium is responsible for flower, seed and fruit production.  Smelly work but beats working with chemical fertilisers.  Several handwashes later, the smell is almost non-existant!

Comfrey leaves steeped in water

I grow comfey under most of my fruit trees - as the leaves die
and decompose, they feed their nutrients back into the soil.
Their long tap roots also mine all the wonderful nutrients from
deep, deep down, not normally accessible to ordinary plant roots.

Old 20L shop containers make great storage
containers for an assortment of liquid feeds.
A plastic tap allows for easy decanting of the
liquid gold.
Ripe olive

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