Life…

Yep, Life Happens… Yea, a lot has happened since my last post… Way back in October 2019, Ken flunked a stress test for his heart, then “flunked” a heart catheterization… they got in and found too many blockages, so he ended up having quadruple bypass surgery. A few weeks after his surgery, we both started Physical Therapy, cardiac rehab for him, and frozen shoulder treatment for me. It is amazing what Physical Therapists can do. My shoulder was back to moving again in 5 weeks!

Andrus Gardens, Walnut Garden, Thalia Daffodil and blue Brunnera flowers.
Daffodil Thalia with Sanguinaria and Brunnera in Walnut Garden 5-3-20

By the start of 2020, we both were back to almost normal, then we all know how the year went with Covid, and more… We went to Florida for our oldest grandson’s wedding, the same weekend that everything started shutting down, in mid March. The Wedding was beautiful, outdoors with the view of the ocean. A wonderful time with family all together, just as large gatherings were to be no longer allowed. Our planned visits with friends on the way home were changed, and by the time we got back to PA, all rest areas were closed and indoor eating at restaurants was no longer an option… the beginning of TP shortages and everything else. The Flower Tent season was cancelled, due to it not being considered “essential”. Businesses were allowed to start opening just two days before Mother’s Day… too late for the Tent to start up.

Andrus Gardens new garden area.
The area of the new Shade Garden after junk cleared out, before brush cleared.

With the Tent not open, there was time (for the first time in many, many years) for our home gardens to start being taken care of in May instead of July. We stimulated the local economy by purchasing trees and berry bushes from our “Tent competition”. The produce market, greenhouse and nursery sells produce and more in addition to plants, so they were able to be open with restrictions. I really enjoyed spring… digging, weeding, planting and mulching as much as my body would let me (which was made a bit more difficult after having my pain meds, that have worked well for years, taken away… ). Many visits to new doctors, resulted in visits to other garden centers and greenhouses. The best way to deal with Dr frustrations is to wander through displays of plants and flowers… purchasing a few new plants each time. Also, I ended up with another NEW GARDEN, too!

A very messy area that had been driving me crazy, got cleaned up, cleared out, and finally in Fall… planted… for the most part… New gardens always take years to develop their personalities… this one is along the woods, and will be mostly shade plants. I also was able to purchase some new Daffodil and other Spring flowering bulbs, in addition to digging and dividing gobs of huge neglected clumps of Daffodils that have been in the gardens for many, many years. With the new 150 Daffodil bulbs, I probably planted a total of 500+ Daffodils. Many of the clumps I dug resulted in 20-30 bulbs each. Fall planting is always a challenge, in that you have to imagine what you are planting will look like in the future, the result is not seen for months. I also was able to go into winter with the least number of perennials still in pots. I ended up planting right up till mid December, just before a record 3 feet of snow.

Sue Andrus Watercolor Setup under tent in back yard, Andrus Gardens
Painting setup under tent in back yard.

During 2020, I also kept up a bit with my pattern designing. I got some “real” watercolor paints, took some more classes on Skillshare, learning various watercolor techniques. That resulted in more designs uploaded to my Spoonflower and other online shops. One painting of the Plumbago flowers, that bloomed by the front door in planters, became one of my favorite designs since beginning pattern design. All in all, 2020 was an interesting year, but it did have several blessings thrown in. I look forward to seeing my gardens start blooming a few months from now.

AndrusGardens Watercolor Plumbago Flowers Collection on Spoonflower, Sue Andrus
Watercolor Plumbago Flowers Collection at Spoonflower

I began 2021 participating in a sketchbook challenge, doing at least something in my sketchbook, or on other paper, every day. I did miss one day, but caught up. Most days, I have ended up just using my watercolor paints, making leaves, flower petals, and flowers randomly on the pages. I have found that scanning in my pages, “cutting out” the individual images and combining them in Photoshop to make my designs, has been the best way for me to work for now. It is so interesting to see the steps I’ve gone through to get from beginning sketches to finished design.

Sue Andrus, AndrusGardens sketchbook images and cut out images ready for designing.
Random Watercolor Flowers in Sketchbook, left and “cut out”, right
Sue Andrus, AndrusGardens sketches and progress with Watercolor Damask in Blue and Green final design.
Original sketches, watercolor painting, images in process, and final design.

I have no idea what this new year will bring, but I’m going to try to keep back with the blog. No guarantees… I’ve felt like I have been restarting things over and over the past number of years… Here goes again….


Designing a Calendar

This week brought another first… I designed my first Calendar Tea Towel! I’ve seen them many times, but never thought I’d design one of my own… until another Spoonflower Challenge. This week, Voting is just beginning for the Spoonflower Tea Towel Calendar Challenge. The photo below shows what I ended up with. Calendar 2020 Blue Crocus Pink and Pale.

Blue Crocus Pink and Pale tea towel calendar designed by Sue Andrus
Click Here for Tea Towel Calendar Challenge Voting

This was a very time consuming project. Spoonflower provided templates for the size needed and a calendar with the months and days. The calendar template was in a simple font that just didn’t feel right for my style, so I used it as a guide for the correct layout of the days of each month . I started by typing the text in a new layer over the template in my favorite font. I soon found that when I typed all the numbers in a row as one block of text, I couldn’t get spacing right. I then put each number on a separate layer so I could use the align and distribute tasks to help in getting rows straight and numbers spaced evenly. Many hours of typing, copying, pasting and rearranging later, I had the base calendar done (If an eagle eye found the poor spacing in a month above, it was fixed for the final file). Then I needed to figure out what to do next. I had an idea in my head of doing a wreath of flowers around the calendar, so I started looking through flower photos and sketches.

Flower sketches by Sue Andrus
Random Colored Flower Sketches
Ginkgo leaf sketches by Sue Andrus
Ginkgo Leaf Sketches

I started with the Ginkgo leaf sketches. I pulled the individual leaves out of the image and softened them and changed color a bit. I pulled the blue flowers from the group of flower sketches. I think the blue flowers were meant to be Snow Glories that bloom with abandon outside our front door, but when I started working with them, they reminded me of a photo of Blue Crocus I was lusting after in a bulb catalog a while back. After “cutting” the flowers and leaves out of the image, I cleaned them up and softened them a bit. Once I had my leaves and flowers out of their original images and saved in separate files, I pulled them into the tea towel template and began arranging.

Pale Pink Ginkgo Sunprint Allover

Since I like the color pink, I decided to work with one of my sunprints of Ginkgo leaves for the backgrounds. The image I began with is the Light Pink Ginkgo Allover, which is available now printed on fabrics and more at Spoonflower. I played with the color and ended up with the very pale pink in the other photo above for the main outer area of the towel. I used a deeper shade and softened the sunprints for behind the calendar in the center. Now that the calendar is done, I need to see what I can come up with for yardage, since this design only really works printed as a fat quarter.

Random groups of flowers and Ginkgo leaves

The above photo shows some random groups of flowers and leaves in the process of being arranged to become designs for yardage or wallpaper, and more. We’ll see where it goes from here. I’m not sure I’ll have an entry for next weeks challenge since the theme involves hand lettering… not something I have worked with.

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New Designs!

Well, Flower Tent Season put a stop to the blogging, and a summer crash kept me out of things for longer than I would have liked. It seems impossible that the first day of Fall will be here in a few days… I feel like I lost my whole Spring and Summer… I usually get to gardens before the Tent Season kicks into gear, but this year, the weather didn’t cooperate.

South View Through Front Door Garden Sept 2019

Rain, rain and more rain made gardening, even while the Tent was open, nearly impossible. I have a love, hate relationship with Flower Tent Season. I love being around all the flowers that we sell, and helping customers choose their goodies to brighten their yards, but it also takes me away from my own gardens and often results in bad flares. Most years, I have had enough time off from the Tent to get some work done at home while the Tent is up, but things were different this year with very few days off, and a body that wasn’t cooperating. By the time the end of June came, when we close up shop for the year, I crashed with major Lyme and other flares… No Fun… Only my Front Door Garden got the attention it needed (and that was well after the quack grass was hiding the perennials trying to bloom). The photo above, shows one view of that garden, showing the huge Dahlias beginning to bloom with a Hibiscus tree and the Hydrangea tree. I barely even looked at my laptop , much less open up Photoshop to do any design work.

Zinnia Flowers
Zinnia Zahara Raspberry Ripple
Echinaceas and Hydrangeas

The gardens did produce some beautiful flowers that I could get photos of, and cut for bouquets. The body is beginning to behave a bit better, and I’ve been able to get back to designing. I even purchased a yard of one of my designs printed onto a knit fabric from Spoonflower, did some sewing and made a top. Now I can wear my art!

Proof Yard with Pollinators and April Showers designs and More

The Spoonflower Design Challenges have been a great help to motivate me and give me some deadlines to work towards. The above photo shows the results of doing the Pollinators and April Showers Challenges that were done just before Tent Season started. The blocks with the Echinacea flowers and butterflies resulted from the Pollinators Challenge. The version entered is in the upper left area, in white on the blue green sunprint texture that I showed in a previous post here on the blog. I also played with different colors of the sunprint texture, with white or black over the colors. It’s fun to see how some designs look on various backgrounds. The three blocks in the upper right resulted from the April Showers Challenge. I used an image of one of my salt painted fabrics, that always remind me of rainy days, for the background and added Mini Roses and Dwarf Iris flowers with raindrops on them. As always, there are some oddball blocks in my proof yards when I need to re-proof something I had to change colors on. The colors printed out too bright and harsh for my taste on the flower bouquet panels, so there is a chunk of the Roses and one of the Peony.

Soft Blues Collection at Spoonflower

I seem to be on a blue kick as far as the color I have been working with a lot lately… Very soothing… I guess I must need that… I still need to proof a bunch of the Soft Blues Collection, above. The bottom right White Spotted Sable Moth was another challenge entry, for the Moths Challenge. The photo below was where I took one of the White Sable Moths from. After the deadline for the challenge entry, I played with some different ideas, and ended with the version in the upper left corner that I like better…

White Spotted Sable Moth on Deutsia

I never know when something I have found in the gardens and photographed will end up being perfect for designing with. I really like the form of the Deutsia flowers, so they may end up in something in the future.

Winter Wonderland Designs on Blanket and Pillows

The most recent challenge is Winter Flora. My first thought was to use the Blueberry Viburnum berries that are brightening the garden now and hold into winter. I had planned to do some sketches of Poinsettia flowers, but changed my mind. I Love Hellebore flowers, and got some good shots of my favorite variety, Peppermint, while we were at the Philly Flower Show this past spring. After playing with the images, I ended up with Hellebores and Blue Viburnum Berries on Frost, which is on the mock-up of the blanket above. A photo of frost crystals on one of the bird feeders was manipulated and used as the background. I have been playing with color variations, changing from the natural gray-blue color of the berries to shades of mulberry, and playing with different background colors. What I have come up with so far are on the pillows. I am trying to do a better job of coming up with doing coordinates for my main designs. So far I have just done the simple frost background, and made some smaller berry bunches to repeat for another. The black background in the right pillow came about totally by accident.The frost crystals were on a black bird feeder, so I just worked with the black and white to make the repeatable design, then manipulated colors. I hid the frost layer I was using, and kind of liked the result with the black. Pretty fun to be working with layers in Photoshop, and come up with a combo just from randomly hiding or showing things differently.

Peppermint Pink Hellebore flowers and Blueberry Viburnum berries on light blue frost fabric design by Sue Andrus, AndrusGardens
Click here to vote for this design in the Spoonflower Challenge through 9-24-19

This week’s challenge voting is open through Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. There are over 700 entries! If you would like to vote for my design (or anyone else’s) click the caption under the above photo.
Hopefully, I will be back to regular blogging again…. Have I said that before???

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