Sargrasso Sea, Wave Portrait No. 145

pastel painting of a wave of grass

Sargrasso Sea, Wave Portrait No. 145, 5×7″ pastel painting on gessoed mat board by Marie Marfia

The first two houses Steve and I ever owned both had postage stamp-sized yards. That was fine with me because of the two us, I had the lower GLT (grass length tolerance) level and neither of them took more than a half hour to mow.

The lawn we have now could comfortably hold six or eight of our old lawns. Steve wanted a big ol’ yard when we moved here and, while I agreed that it’d be nice to have room for the kids to play, I made it clear that I wasn’t going to responsible for mowing it. So Steve bought a riding lawn mower, because, hey, that’s what you do when you have a big yard. Our son Nick liked mowing with the rider. I still remember seeing him racing around the yard in third gear, his hair streaming out behind him and a big grin on his face. He looked like a crazy person out there.

The kids are all gone now, so it’s just me and Steve and we still have this huge yard. Usually, Steve is pretty good about keeping it trimmed, but he’s gone until next week and it was starting to look pretty shaggy out there. I decided I’d mow it myself because 1. I am still plagued by a low GLT level, and 2. how hard could it be? I’d start early in the day before it got hot, and have it licked by 10am.

I used the push mower to do all the perimeter work and around all the trees and shrubs. That took about 45 minutes. I had already sweat through my clothes, but I drank a glass of ice water and went to get the riding mower fired up. Unfortunately, it had a flat tire and when I went to inflate it, the valve was buried under the rim somewhere. No problem, I thought. I’ll keep using the push mower. It won’t take that much longer to do. I walk every day. I’ve got this.

An hour later, with the ambient temperature at 90, I was having serious doubts about my ability to keep putting one foot in front of the other, much less push a mower at the same time. My legs felt like 40 lb. bags of cement. My hands were bruised from gripping the mower handle. I thought, I’ll stop when I finish this half of the yard. Three circuits later and I thought, I’ll stop when I run out of gas. Another circuit and I thought, I’m going to die if I don’t stop now. There’s a nice unmowed patch in the middle of the south side of the yard now. I’m thinking about calling it a wildflower garden and just letting it grow.

Here’s a progression of today’s painting:

I started with a gessoed piece of mat board, then blocked in with “dirt” colors, and rubbed the pastel in with pipe insulation. Then I came over the top with greens and blues, using direction strokes to mimic the way the grass grows in my huge lawn. I put a signature on before I was quite done with it, noticing as I took pictures what needed tweaking. Cameras are useful for this. I also included a picture of the pastel colors I used.

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7 thoughts on “Sargrasso Sea, Wave Portrait No. 145

  1. beverlydyer

    I love to mow. I find it meditative, but our yard is not that big. I takes me about an hour +/- depending on how hot it is and how many times I have to stop for water. I like your progression demo. How are you doing this? I’d like to do some more techy stuff on the Art Prescription. People like seeing the artist’s process. Cheers, Bev

    Reply
  2. eteal

    I love your green ocean, and i love our green sea and our dog dolphins as they porpoise their way to the studio! i’m all for mowing paths to shady spots til fall!

    Reply
  3. ridicuryder

    Marie,

    I mowed a few acres of lawn with a push mower every week through my summers as a kid. The middle section (lowest) never really dried out and somewhere in our second or third summer of living there I stopped mowing it. A really lovely wild grass with cat tails water feature grew out and it stayed for years after we moved away. Now there’s a parking lot and a restaurant there.

    Definately plant some flowers and round off the square corners before the grass gets really high.

    RR

    Reply

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