Sunday, October 30, 2011

New Small Painting of a Tropical Beach--Fantasy Get-away

Our week and weekend have been crazy--in a good way. I don't have much time right now to write a post, but don't see a better time in the next couple of days.
So, here's a quick post to show you a small new piece, painted on 5" x 7" gallery wrapped canvas, where the image wraps around the sides. I gave this tropical scene as a gift to friends for whom it has special meaning. In planning the composition, I used a blend of my imagination and reference photos from a very special vacation to Belize from some years ago and from a beach in the Dominican Republic. When we lived in the Atlanta area, our church sent groups to the DR for a number of years, bringing simple medical services and helping seed some small enterprises in mountain villages. I was fortunate to be able to go on several of those trips. Given the difficult drive down the mountain to the airport on the northern coast, we convinced ourselves that we really needed to go down the day before our morning flight back to the U.S. Thus, the group spent the final afternoon and evening of each trip at a small beach resort--not too hard to take :>).
So this is a departure from my usual focus on painting the beauty right here in coastal North Florida. Hope you enjoy it as a fantasy get-away; I added a hammock just for you.
Question of the day: What would make a perfect dream vacation for you?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Open Studio Reception Coming Soon

I am excited that we are again opening our home (and my little art studio) for a reception in a couple of weeks. Our local daughter-in-law, Ashley, will cater, which will make this event much, much simpler for me than the previous reception two years ago. She makes amazing party food and is a super hostess, too. Again, we are fortunate that our friend, Greg Spiess, a super party pianist, will provide music for the gathering. UPDATE: I have now added an index to all blog posts about planning and holding an art reception. Access it here.

A number of items on my planning list are checked off, leaving a task list that seems manageable. It was a wonderful feeling to put a big batch of postcard invitations in the mail this morning; a few more await completion once I locate addresses.
If you are reading this, you are definitely invited! What a treat it would be if blogging friends from far and near could be magically transported to our home in Jacksonville, Florida to join us. But perhaps some of you are nearby and as yet not personally known to me; if you are interested, come on down!
The postcard invitation, pictured here front and back, really looks great. On the advice of some artist friends, I order business cards, postcards, etc. from Vistaprint online and have been pleased with the results and the reasonable price. I even was able to order a nice tote bag imprinted with the same image, which will be one of the door prizes for the day. Now, to finish the last couple of smaller paintings which will be displayed (and for sale) all around the house.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Our Visit to Georgia and FDR's Warm Springs Home

We have returned from a delightful week with our Georgia son and his wife; they completely spoiled us while we were with them. Although we lived in the Atlanta area for about 9 years before moving to Jacksonville, Florida, visiting their home shows us a completely different side of the city from our old stomping grounds in the northern suburbs. Both areas are beautiful, with hills and gorgeous natural vegetation. But now we have an opportunity to be tourists again, taking drives (while they are at work) to places we have not seen before. Poking around wherever we are (including near home) adds a creative dimension to our lives.
This time, we drove to Warm Springs, GA, and toured the "Little White House", seeing the grounds and home of the modest retreat where Franklin Delano Roosevelt stayed whenever he "took the waters" to soothe the pain of his polio and to increase his mobility. The exhibits, short film, and personal possessions housed in the museum on the property fascinated us both. Seeing the personal side of this great man was more moving than we had expected. The cottage (seen in these photos) is charming and surprising in its simplicity. FDR unexpectedly died in this house; he felt ill while sitting for a portrait (now displayed in its unfinished form in the museum) and doing presidential paperwork. He retired to his bed and died within a few hours from a cerebral hemorrhage.
The historians have made every effort to keep the home and outbuildings unchanged from that day (except for welcome modifications, like air conditioning). The buildings just inside the gate housed Secret Service personnel and the few servants who cared for FDR, his family (when they came), and visiting dignitaries who sometimes stayed in two simple guest rooms in the rustic home. One photo shows a custom built 1940 Willys Roadster equipped with hand controls; a 1938 Ford convertible fitted with the hand controls Roosevelt himself designed is in the museum. He drove both for pleasure and to keep himself in touch with ordinary people, visiting and listening to the stories of both black and white rural Georgians whenever he was in residence. Another photo shows one of four Marine Corps Sentry Posts just off the corners of the cottage.
Here, we were reminded of the formidable challenges FDR faced as president of the United States through the Depression aftermath and World War II. But more striking to us was the vivid depiction of his personal pain and struggles and his daily courage as he continued to work at a punishing pace and to encourage the nation. FDR's nobility of spirit shines clear. We saw his heart for others and his generosity in establishing the nearby Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for disabled children and adults and in his work to remove the stigma and loneliness of polio and other disabling conditions and injuries. Our visit to the Little White House was memorable.
Question of the day: What historic site in the US would you recommend people visit (even those of us who are not history buffs)?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Painting of a Wooded Path

Here is the painting of a wooded path I showed you as a work-in-progress a couple of posts ago. Loosely based on a scene at our nearby Kingsley Plantation (which has appeared in a few previous posts and some other paintings), the piece is nearly finished. I have adjusted the light and shadow patterns on the path and have added some details in the upper right quadrant (the intended focal area). There will be a few more adjustments, but nothing that will be very noticeable in a snapshot. At least, that is my current thinking. Sometimes, I get a new insight after putting a nearly complete piece away for awhile.
However, I am wary of overworking a painting, a real temptation for a detail-oriented perfectionist like me. So, it's smart to stop before I feel that a piece is totally "there" and put it away for a time. I am much more likely to detract from a work by continuing to fiddle with it at this stage than to improve it much.
Given the sort of person I am, painting has been very good for me. Artistic pieces are never "perfect" or "correct" in the same sense that something like an algebra solution is. I am learning to enjoy the process above all and to let go of the need to keep trying to improve a painting that is "almost there". In art, there may be no "there" there--as someone said in another context. Looser work with some imperfection is often fresher, livelier, and easier for viewers to relate to. Stiff, overly fussy detailed work misses the mark in terms of communicating an artistic vision. Nature, after all, achieves its beauty in the variations, asymmetry, and yes, imperfections of living things and natural features of the landscape. So, for a representative landscape painter, letting go of perfectionism is the perfect approach.
Question of the day: What recent project or undertaking has proven to be a helpful corrective to your personal tendencies?