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Art From the Garden

by Catherine Castle

I have a few passions in my life, besides the love of my family. They are gardening, writing, and poetry. I am a poet at heart, and have often chronicled life’s events, and my gardens, with poems. Recently, I discovered an interesting art form that I can use to combine my passions and my dabbling hobby of art. It’s an art form called Ledger Art. Ledger Art is an adaptation of Plains Indian hide painting that developed as buffalo hides became sparse.

Before the Plains tribes were forced onto reservations they had a tradition of painting their personal stories on buffalo hides, shields, tipis, and clothing. The men usually painted representational pictures of life happenings. The women painted abstract, geometrical designs. After the Indians were forced onto reservations and buffalo hides became scarce Plains artists began painting and drawing on paper, canvas, and muslin. The art is drawn in one-dimensional outlines and filled in with bright colors. As used ledger pages and other written-upon materials were passed to the Indian artists, they began to draw over the written words, not wasting any materials they could use as canvases.

In recent years Ledger Art has had a resurgence. Contemporary ledger artists still draw and paint on antique ledger paper when they can find it, but they have added other sources of paper, including old maps, sheet music, railroad tickets, and other documents as their canvases. Often artists create juxtapositions between the paper’s content and what they have drawn. Many contemporary artists still use the flat, one-dimensional style of drawing. Others have begun to create more three-dimensional art on ledger canvases.

After reading about Ledger Art in one of my native American magazines, I was captivated by the art samples I saw. I have a bit of Indian blood in me, Choctaw, and I’ve decided to pursue Ledger Art with my own twist on it.

Every gardener takes hundreds of pictures of their gardens, and I’m no exception.

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2009 Award-winning Hillside Garden

But integrating those pictures onto poetry that tells the story of my garden is, I believe, unique. So, using my poetry, I’m beginning a series of Ledger Art pieces that incorporate garden poems with my hand drawn works of art featuring my garden flowers. Here’s the first piece, taken from the photo at the beginning of this post. I didn’t use antique ledger paper, like the Native American art form does, but put the art on lined notebook paper, since that’s the kind of paper I use when I compose my poetry.

Purple Flags Ledger Art by Catherine Castle

Purple Flags Ledger Art by Catherine Castle

The irises came from my mother and, like the day lilies I wrote about last season, have been moved from house to house, with specific instructions written in every home sale contract that I will be taking a goodly portion of the flowers with me. Where I go, the flowers go.

I’m looking forward to getting out the colored pencils and markers and creating more garden memories.

About the Author:

CT Bio 8x11TheNunAndTheNarc2_850Catherine Castle writes sweet and inspirational romance and is a multi-award-winning author as well as an award-winning gardener. Her garden captured the 2009 Shaker Farm Garden award for Best Hillside Garden. Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, from Soul Mate Publishing, is an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award. You can buy her book at Amazon.