Friday, June 21, 2013

..A Spot of Heaven on Earth

“A work of art is above all an adventure of the mind.” – Eugene Ionesco

Each year Lynn Wallin (my artistic soulmate) and I plan a art painting vacation. Our respective husbands are very supportive of this endeavor as they get to play endless rounds of golf while we pursue our creative passion. This year we decided upon the California Wine Country, with it's countless opportunities for plein air art painting and for golf...everyone wins. Wine country isn't just about is a lifestyle. The picturesque rolling hills planted with vineyards and wineries dot the landscape and provide endless opportunities for creativity.

Day 1 of our adventure began by heading south towards Sonoma. Without the comforts of my studio in Orlando I found myself having to prop my easel on the trunk of the rental car and sitting on the hotel luggage rack. It was a sight to behold, however was quickly forgotten as I lifted my paintbrush and started sketching and filling in the canvas with what was before me. This painting is representative of the Sonoma landscape which is ringed by world class wineries

On the Road To Sonoma
Day 2 of our creative pursuit started with Lynn and I heading out in the early hours to capture the morning light in the valley. After two hours of scouting for a location that had that 'WOW' factor we came upon "Clos Du Val". Clos du Val is a world-class vineyard and has been producing wines for over 40 years. They are best known for their Cabernet Sauvignon. On this particular day we were not blessed with the ideal conditions for plein air art painting. However we were not to be deterred. The wind was blowing so hard Lynn had to tether her easel to the trunk of the tree to keep it from blowing over. I had to sit on the infamous hotel luggage stand and hold on to my paint box.  Despite the conditions this painting is my favorite of the three pieces, so much so that I painted a larger on 16x20.

Clos Du Val
On a matter of interest the roses planted at the end caps of the rows of grape vines serve a specific purpose and are not merely decorative accoutrements. The rose brushes are there to alert the growers when a disease or fungus is on its way to threaten the grape vines.

Day 3 of our adventure and we headed north to Yountville. Napa Valley is not large; it is about 30 miles long and 5 miles wide at its widest point which made traversing the many areas relatively easy. Yountville is the unofficial culinary capital of the Napa Valley and centrally located. The red barn framed by the California eucalyptus trees and the Mayacamus mountains in the background were hard to resist so we set up our makeshift art studio and wallowed away several hours filling in the blank canvas with our paint brushes. 


At day's end Lynn and I setup yet another makeshift studio in the courtyard of our hotel to allow us to continue working on our paintings. Bruce and Ned decided to join us after their hard earned rounds of golf and we all participated in the "fruit of the vine". The image below is included with much humor; men and their toys. In this case, our creative pursuits were trumped by technology. Nonetheless we look forward to our journey together in 2014.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Art as Story Telling

“Story is the vehicle we use to make sense of our lives in a world that often defies logic.” – Jim Trelease

Art is storytelling and the narrative can be presented in many ways. The two paintings, ‘Come Sit With Me’ tell the story of my father’s family collection of antique cups. My father, who is 92, remembers his mother serving tea in these cups when she gathered with her group of women friends for tea and friendship.  These delicate and fragile teacups have stood the test of time.  These pieces of porcelain which hold such sentimental value together with the book, "Three Cups of Tea" provided the inspiration for the paintings. The theme of the book and the teacups convey the belief that relationships take time and sharing tea together provides the chance to deepen those relationships. This premise provided the basis for the title to the paintings.

"Come Sit With Me"
"Come Sit With Me II"
The painting, “Amen Corner” is a story in itself. Amen Corner is located at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta Georgia. Augusta National has played host to the annual Masters Tournament since 1934.  This particular painting was actually commissioned by a client whose only stipulation was that the painting be of a widely recognized golf hole. So with that in mind I sought the counsel of a golf aficionado, my husband, who suggested this most photographed hole in golf.  With that “Amen Corner” was created.

"Amen Corner"

In keeping with the theme of art telling a story, “Florida Summer” was visualized and created to convey the mood and feeling of a typical Florida afternoon as the rain clouds begin to form.

"Florida Summer"

“Sarasota 2013” was conceived and created while on a painting excursion in Sarasota with my good friend and painting soulmate, Lynn Wallin. It was a cold March morning, but undeterred we positioned ourselves at the city marina and proceeded to capture on canvas what was before us. Although it was very cold and windy, there were many walking enthusiasts out for their early morning constitutional and they did not hesitate to comment on our efforts. The painting attempts to convey the tranquility of the area.


The last piece that I was able to complete prior to embarking on a short vacation to California was the result of yet another excursion, this time a little closer to home, to the Orlando Wetlands Park.  Orlando Wetlands Park comprises 1,650 acres of hardwood, hammocks, marshes and lakes. My photography friend, Laura Knight and I set off on yet another early cold morning. As we traversed one section of the park this stand of palm trees with their reflections in the water brought a smile to my face and the picture they created reminded me of a water wheel; or a Ferris wheel in the middle of the wetlands.  As that was the story I wanted to tell I set up my easel and proceeded to sketch an outline, which resulted in the creation of this painting.

"Wetlands Water Wheel"

Monday, October 1, 2012

...A Humbling Experience

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me”. Erma Bombeck

I pen this blog with some trepidation, as I never wish to succumb to the sin of pride. Touting one’s artistic achievements does not come naturally to me. However, after much prodding from my husband, I realize that this is a significant event in my development as an artist and is part of this journey of mine that deserves to be recorded.

I recently decided to participate in the “Artist Guild” competition that is held each year in South Carolina. The competition is a Tri State Exhibition representing, South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina. It was the 39th Annual Juried Exhibition with the distinguished and gifted Mana Hewitt as the Juror. Mana is the Director of the McMasters Art Gallery, as well as, Director of Undergraduate Studies at the University of South Carolina.  Prior to joining the University she taught at Columbia College.  Mana’s work has taken many forms over the years including ceramics, painting, and metals. She exhibits widely in the United States and has been included in exhibitions overseas. Recognized with numerous awards, Mana received the South Carolina Arts Commission Artist Fellowship and in 2012 several of her works were selected for inclusion in the100 Southern Artists.

To enter the competition I selected a relatively large piece (it measured 36 x18) that I had recently completed, and titled, “After the Day”. This particular painting was somewhat of a departure for me in terms of style from my normal landscape paintings. The emphasis was shapes, color and contrasts. But I realized that it is important to expand beyond one’s comfort zone….a bit like the turtle, who only makes progress when he sticks his neck out. So like the turtle I stuck my neck out and submitted the painting. The painting placed 3rd in the competition and I say that with all humility. After initial state of disbelief I realized the honor I have been given and am very grateful and thrilled.

'After the Day"

Mana Hewitt made the following statement in describing the artists she chose to recognize, and to be included in this group is humbling indeed.

The artists singled out for special recognition this year demonstrate a dedication to innovation in craft or content.  Their sincere engagement with the world through the works of art is commendable and represents the highest calling of artist to make work that explores the many facets of our shared experience.  The works exhibit an undeniable ambition in their scope and execution.  To me, their merit was immediate and undeniable and I hope my small encouragement will help usher them to attempt even greater works in the future.  In selecting works to be included, I asked myself: Which of these artworks moves me aesthetically, emotionally, or viscerally.”

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Summer Fun

Summer seems to be passing all too quickly but as always the beloved mountains and surrounds of North Carolina continue to provide an abundance of inspiration for my paintings. The following collection draws from our recent summer retreat.

The 'Puncheon Falls' paintings required an expedition to a remote site on private property accompanied as always by my dutiful husband who is forever concerned over my safety. I made three trips to this remote location but was aptly rewarded by each visit.

Perhaps my most favorite in this collection is the painting appropriately titled, 'Our View This Summer' as it depicts the view we were blessed with each morning. The morning sun bathing the mountains and reflected in the clouds never ceases to amaze.  I hope this painting reflects both my respect and appreciation of nature's wonder.

'Our Summer View'

'Puncheon Falls Water Wheel'
'Puncheon Falls'
'Mountain Home'

'After the Day'

'Before the Day'

'Bantam Rooster #1'

'Bantam Rooster #2'

"Bantam Rooster #3"

'Browns Cabin'

'Blue Ridge Parkway Lake'

Saturday, February 11, 2012

...The Joy of Creating Art

Recently, with the blessing of my supportive husband I had the good fortune of being able to focus on nothing but my canvas and brushes and what I could create with them. This excursion took me to Cedar Key with my good friend Laura Knight, (who is equally as passionate about art), where I spent two days doing what I love best…. painting. During our travels around this quiet hamlet we came across several other likeminded artists who have the luxury of living in this secluded environment bounded by endless opportunities in which to practice their craft. In addition to providing us information on artistic locations in the area, one such individual, Russ, a portrait artist, whose studio we visited later that day, provided constructive feedback as I painted. 

We started out surveying the various landscapes around us and settled on an area know as "Back Bayou". The bold repetitious horizontal shapes of water, marsh and sky bathed in the golden afternoon sun immediatley excited me and being so drawn to the wide visa before me I quickly set about to  find the best spot in which to set up my easel and begin to paint. 

Stage one of my process began by blocking in my shapes on a toned canvas; being mindful of movement, lights and darks.

Stage Two gravitated to refining the objects.....

Stage Three saw the application of local color.....


...and finally after reassessing the scene and needing a little more balance added some trees and marsh on the left side of the painting; added clouds to the sky and highlights to the foreground water and marshes to achieve greater dynamic range of light and color. 

Thus was born the final result.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

...A Visit to Historic Mt Dora

Returning to Orlando from the glorious mountains of North Carolina is never an easy transition for me and consequently I did not feel inspired to pick up my brush until I attended a plein air workshop in Mt Dora conducted by the very talented artist Gregg Kreutz. My continued learning never ceases to both surprise me and encourage me. As a result I find myself drifting comfortably and confidentially towards more varied brush strokes and styles.

The images below reflect my ever evolving style and resulted from roaming around the area searching for the right scene, the right angle and most importantly the right light. Plein Air painting is inspiring in and of itself as it requires one to become absorbed in the environment, feeling the wind and seeing the clouds changing the light and of course being cognizant of the ever curious spectators who always seem to wish to comment thus interpreting ones thoughts, focus and concentration.

The following image is somewhat special for me as I passed it every day en-route to the workshop and vowed to myself that I would come back and paint it. A short time later together with my ever supportive husband back to Mt Dora I went and to the little church that I found so enthralling. As luck would have it and God on my side I set up across the street and captured the all so wonderful morning light that bathed the quaint little Baptist Church.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

...From Martha's Vineyard to the Great Smokey Mountains

"I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best". Oscar Wilde.

At Martha's Vineyard the simplicities make up the finest things in life. There are few places on earth like Cape Cod and the islands, each with their own charm and style. The following two paintings attempt to capture the spirit of this magical place but cannot hope to convey the fun and spirit of friendship I shared with my dear friend, Lynn. Plein Air painting has it's own rewards and is especially satisfying when shared with a kindred spirit.

We began the day plein air painting on Cape Cod. The scene below captivated my imagination. The two Adirondack chairs in the marsh facing east caused me to pause and wonder as to the characters that might come and sit there to soak up the Cape Cod sunlight. The unfamiliar sounds of sail boat rigging; the wind gently blowing through the marsh and trees; the distant sound of motor boats and the sound of the tide coming in ever so close to my feet distracted me from my painting...but the sights and sounds were magical and I was not about to miss a moment and all helped me capture the scene before me. Plein air painting is as much about the emotive as the technical....and I long ago realized that you cannot capture what you do not feel or can visualize.

The following day entailed a trip to Martha's Vineyard via bus and ferry and a walk all over Edgerton in order to ascertain the most advantageous location from which to capture it's most famous lighthouse. The afternoon was not without it's adventures from curious beach visitors stopping by to comment on our art work.....flattering if nothing else the laughter generated when a 30 mile hour gust of wind snapped my umbrella in two and turned Lynn's paint box and easel over. A good day was had by all and this image records that special moment in time.

From the coastline to the mountains of Great Smokey Mountains.  This stream is located in Pigeon Forge Forest. The scene was captured at day's end as the late afternoon sun bathes the stream with its' rich golden light. The forest is charged with the colors of Fall and enhanced by the golden afternoon light. I focused on capturing the colors and shapes that would best represent the moment in time.