Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Inspiration at Florida's Forgotten Coast

Sailing Vessel at Day's End, 12x16, Oil. 
 As I arrived at Florida's Forgotten Coast Paint-Out, this beauty-of-a-boat and her reflections greeted me warmly and I knew I would return the next evening to paint her. 
 My painting site was across from our group's base-camp. I was asked to participate in a pilot program for a Plein Air Academy. The course will focus on career development, the mentor/leader was Don Demers a popular marine painter. After three days of painting, it was fun to sit and watch him paint a boat.

 There was lots of independent painting time. In fact the sailboat painting that I am featuring was my third painting of the day. My mid-day painting was in the shade across the street from the lighthouse where soon painters gathered for refreshments and camaraderie. The event hosts public meet-and-greets for the artists. I thought I spied an artist working at his easel up in the top of the lighthouse, so I was interested to see the displayed work from this painting session. Yes, he had captured the view from the top.
 I enjoyed my stay at the Bryant House Bed and Breakfast in Appilachicola. Bridgette was so kind to pack food for me when our early schedule kept me from a relaxed breakfast. I love my porch time in Summer. So peaceful there!  The perfect place to gather your thoughts and do your homework: we were to write down our thoughts on which way we want to go as artists, so we could plot our course.

 After cleaning my brushes one afternoon, I wandered down to explore the old cemetery. At first, it was the visual appeal that drew me in, the great variety of stone crosses, ornate monuments and simple gravestones.

 So many short stories were revealed as I read the inscriptions. How can you sum up a life's existence in so few words? 

A little sprout decorates the heartbreaking memorial which courageously states, "Our Baby DIED Feb. 18, 1895. Aged 14 days. The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away." Among the shipwreck victims and soldiers who had to face Gettysburg, was someone who will simply be remembered as a friend, with this quote: "Parted friends again may meet, From the toils of nature free, Crowned with mercy, O how sweet, Will eternal friendship be." Another carved stone says: "A Life so Well Spent on this Earth cannot Fail to Reap a Bountiful Harvest in the One to Come."

Somewhere between the graveyard, private soul searching, and the time spent painting and with other artists - I had gained a renewed appreciation for life. Like I'd been to a revival. Our Art Spirit needs the motivation of friends from time to time.


Mary said...

Oh Jill, it has been such fun to browse your blog and to see your wonderful plein air paintings; I'm glad I found it (via a search for images of Mimosa trees in Florida). Thank you!

I recently took my first plein air painting workshop (two days with Mary Jane Volkmann and Kathleen Wobie team-teaching in McIntosh, FL). We enjoyed a rare Florida long view from a rare hill overlooking Paynes Prairie and Orange Lake near Gainesville. WOW!, what a sissy painter I have been in my studio with no ants biting my feet, no bees walking on my slimy, sweaty neck, no wind blowing my painting off the easel, etc.! You know the drill very well, I'm sure and can tell stories of other hazards and difficulties as well as joys. I learned a great deal and will try more plein air studies, but studio painting is best for my style and will remain my mainstay.

Jill Berry said...

Thanks so much Mary for leaving your kind and insightful comment. It is good to know readers are enjoying these blog posts that have accumulated over the years. And you are a Floridian!! If the "Florida's Finest en Plein Air" show travels near you, try to check it out. It is currently in Appilachicola.
Painting takes precedence over telling the stories these days but I still like to share the highlights of my journey. Years later it is fun for me also to have this Journal of memories and meanderings.
Interesting too - how you found my blog. There is a mimosa in full bloom across the street from me just begging to be painted. Painting outside does take effort but it's so worth it.
Happy Painting, wherever the wind takes you...