Thursday, May 7, 2009

Learning and Growing--Landscape Painting

Being Mary from Michigan (and some other 4 season-places since school years), I am thankful that North Florida has discernible seasons and some cool to moderate weather. Once summer heat sets in, however, I dream about either getting away to a cooler place or spending the entire day in the ocean.
Several years ago, I had saved for a summer getaway but found that my husband did not want to take any vacation time. He said, "You go ahead and do something anyway." Cool, but what to do? I began to picture a idealized week on my own in the mountains of North Georgia or southern North Carolina (somewhere I could easily drive in a day) taking a course in something totally new--unlike anything I had done before. Inspired by various painting shows I had seen on Public TV (don't they make it look easy?), I searched for a way to study painting in a mountain setting. To my delight, I found the John C. Campbell Folk School, the exact sort of setting and learning environment I had been dreaming about. Take a look at for their varied course offerings and reasonable accommodations.
As my May 1 post mentions, I had not picked up a paintbrush since elementary school, and back then, the teachers kindly "admired" my art work, patted me on the head, and allowed as how it was a good thing I had other abilities. I approached the painting class at the Folk School as a way to shake up and refresh my sometimes overly logical, mathematical brain and assumed I would make some colorful messes to throw away as I packed for home. With an excellent and encouraging teacher, I was amazed to make paintings I actually liked. And I'm still painting! My generous mentor, remarkable landscape painter Linda Blondheim, is an invaluable resource. I wish she lived closer than the 75 miles from here to her Gainesville, FL studio--even then, there is no way I could have grown in my art as much as I have without her guidance. You will hear more about her along the way, but for now, see her website and follow links to her delightful blogs and other information.
If any of you are interested, I will tell more of the Folk School learning story another time. For now, I thought you might enjoy seeing a painting inspired by photos from the Timucuan Preserve taken on the kayaking outing I described in my last post (May 4). I tried to capture the feeling of super-calm marsh land under the shimmer of heavy clouds, incredibly still air sizzling with the electric undercurrent of an impending storm.  The second image pictures an earlier stage in the painting process as I tested and balanced the values, from lightest to darkest and the in-between values, as an under-painting and guide.
Question of the day: What do you secretly want to try, even though you feel certain you might do it poorly? Why not just do it?


  1. Mary,
    So kind of you to include me in today's post. I love your blog and congratulations on it.

  2. LInda, there is no way I can tell the story of my new joy in painting without including you! Thank you for all your encouragement.