Saturday, March 27, 2010

Savoring--Signs of Spring

Today, we are thinking spring and enjoying our exuberant azaleas. After a harsher winter than normal for so many regions of the U.S., I imagine many of you are enjoying any indicator you see of a new season. For our friends in the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, you may be seeking spring's new life as well. Since I have some readers in the Southern Hemisphere, my thoughts also fly down to you and wonder what your week of March into April will bring.
Although we live in coastal North Florida and enjoy extended moderate to warm weather, we had an unusually cold winter, too. However, I wouldn't want to live somewhere with little or no seasonal change at all. One of my reasons for declaring to a hot weather loving husband that this is about as far south as I want to go is my enjoyment of changing seasons. Thankfully, we have four distinct seasons here in Jacksonville, Florida, and I love the unique beauty of each.
Question of the day: What's popping outside your windows?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Learning--North Florida Beach Painting, Final Version

Here is a better photo of the 16" X 12" dune and beach scene from a reference photo taken on a calm day at Jacksonville Beach in coastal North Florida. A few posts ago, I described the painting process and the revisions in this piece from a combination of my own ideas and the expert advice I received from my mentor Linda Blondheim's e-critique service. An added hint of low waves breaking just over the sight line of the dip in the dunes is one small change not in this photo. Since I forgot to take another picture before I added the final coat of satin finish medium to the painting, I am posting this photo. It is much more difficult to get an accurate photo after the medium is on, given slight reflective areas under any normal lighting conditions. Dune Shadows is now signed, sealed and ready for sale.
I loved getting your comments on the previous post. My favorite comments reflected a preference for a previous version with more of an opening in the dune grasses. Even though that is a gentle criticism of the final version, I didn't mind at all. The fact that some of you were disappointed that there was no longer an obvious way down to the beach struck me as a very positive reflection on the painting. What I hear in those comments is that viewers are actually putting themselves "into the picture", and I am delighted by that. Besides, no one is supposed to cross over the dunes as they are protected, both for the sake of the natural vegetation and critters living there and to help prevent erosion (not that a mental crossing when viewing a painting hurts anything).
I have a nice set of photos of a wooden walkway nearby, one of many crossings up and down the miles of gorgeous beach on our city's off-shore island. When I figure out what angle I'd like and how best to compose the scene, I'll start on a painting just for all y'all who want to run into a painting and onto that beach. Thank you for giving me the idea for a new work.
Question of the day: Isn't feedback wonderful? I love hearing reactions to my work, even thoughtful negative ones (in moderation :>) as I continue my lifelong learning journey.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Exciting Opportunity--New Venue for Painting Sales

This 22" X 28" acrylic painting on gallery wrap canvas, called Textures by the Creek is now for sale in a lovely, classy shop called Trends Home Decor. I am thrilled with this new opportunity and will show more pieces there in the near future.
Through a happy serendipity, just at the time that I had been investigating possible outlets for my work, we attended an art reception at Trends. Our friends, a florist and a musician, were participating in the event--the florist having opened a satellite location in one portion of the shop. When we walked in, William, the florist, introduced me to the owner as a painter. She immediately asked if I "already had someone representing" me. I was momentarily stunned because that sounded like a question for a bigger name artist than me. However, I tried to act cool and said, "Not at the moment."
Well, no need to make this a long involved story--I browsed the shop that day with a careful eye to the art pieces, home accessories, and furniture sold there, the presentation, the clientele, and other factors that mattered if I worked with the shop. It seemed that my work would fit well there, being compatible, yet not exactly like, other pieces, and being in a similar price range. The atmosphere is classy, yet relaxed and welcoming. The owner, Lori Taylor, is a savvy retailer, but also a personable, caring colleague to the consignors whose works make up part of her inventory. She is a fine artist herself, with some lovely, interesting mixed media pieces displayed in her shop.
When I made an appointment to show her some of my work, she was very enthusiastic about working together. Her terms are simple and fair. So instead of taking a complex contract home to study and think about as I had planned, I decided on the spot to leave the largest piece for her usual 90 days. The only reason I don't have more pieces there yet is that I need to decide how to price them in order to make a satisfactory amount after her commission without ending up with too high a price--a new and interesting marketing puzzle for me to solve. I am very excited about this new venture and hope that if you live near Jacksonville, FL or visit here sometime, you will stop in at Trends Home Decor. 3919 Hendricks Avenue.
Question of the day: Isn't it interesting that sometimes we have to struggle and sweat to advance toward our goals, and then, once in a while, a sudden serendipity opens a new door?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Growing--Creative Green Living

You may be wondering what these two photos have in common. They illustrate, on a small scale, an important feature of a green creative everyday life: the trio of Repair, Recycle, and Reuse. Your favorite applications of this principle will probably be different from ours, but each of us helps preserve the earth as well as our family budget when we follow this path.
When one of our favorite blankets got too worn on the top edge and was shedding little fuzz balls, I decided to find some blanket binding and repair it. For the price of a modest sewing store notion and a little time at the sewing machine, we have a newly usable blanket. One of my mantras, going back to our early married student days, is that things cost either money or time (or sometimes some of each). When time is in short supply, it may not be feasible or wise to spend it mending old blankets. When there is more time (and you're cheap!), a repair may be worthwhile.
The other photo shows our humble compost bin. Since we eat large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables and since Mark loves gardening, we decided to start keeping compost. That very week, Mark saw this bin out at the curb for trash on his exercise walk--a small serendipity for a happy scavenger. Although it had no top, we gave it a try--Mark fearing that animals would get into it and make a mess. Well, no mess after a couple years of use, so it will do. We are lazy composters, not bothering to turn the compost or making much of a project of it. We simply collect scraps in a plastic container with a tight lid, kept under the kitchen sink. When it's full, we dump the contents in our bin, cover it with "brown" material (mostly dried leaves from a pile we keep next to the bin), and pour one watering can full of water over the top. Whenever Mark needs to feed plants or enrich soil, he opens a door at the bottom of the bin and scoops out amazingly rich organic material. Except for eggshells, we don't put any animal related material in the compost, but we do include used tea bags and filters full of used coffee grounds. Our trees and plants flourish on their gourmet feast!
Question of the day: How does your family follow the Repair, Reuse, and Recycle principle?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Growing--Painting Done to Study Tree Structure

Although I don't have much time to post tonight, it has been too long since my last post and tomorrow looks even busier than today. So, I'll show you a study of a slash pine, done in acrylics on an 8" X 10" canvas board without my usual longer description of the painting process. This is nearing completion and is on a stand on my dresser so that I can look at it in varied light conditions over the next few days. It may get some revision in the foliage, but it may be that the wisest thing to do is to declare it completed before I overwork it.
This twisted slash pine, a very common sight in North Florida, stands like a sentinel in our neighborhood. It has been instructive to work on the trunk and limbs as they appear in strong sunlight late in the afternoon. I hope you enjoy seeing this little study.
Question of the day: Where does the time go?