Monday, August 30, 2010

Birthday at the Beach

I can't think of a better way to spend a birthday - especially when it is mine!  The whole family migrated to our favorite spot in South Carolina this past weekend in honor of the occasion.  When it comes to the beach, however, any old occasion will do - birthdays, anniversaries, National Postage Stamp Day - "gosh, guess we'll have to go to the beach and celebrate..."  We can't help ourselves.  The big fish is in Murrells Inlet, SC on Restaurant Row - home of  SERIOUSLY GOOD SEAFOOD.  The other pic shows a small portion of the boardwalk behind the restaurants that looks out over the inlet toward the ocean.  You might as well stay tuned for more posts from the coast.  There is the matter of beach music and a dance that was born before most of us were, inlets and waterways, live oaks with spanish moss, a shabby little island with a historic district and a ghost who goes door to door warning people of impending hurricanes, the matter of Lowcountry dishes such as shrimp and grits and how to properly cook a hush puppy (which isn't a baby dog, by the way) and much more.  And you wondered why I paint all those palm trees.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Makeover

Meet "The Little Potting Shed that Could".  When we bought our house five years ago, we inherited this little potting shed.  It didn't look like this.  It was hidden behind a tall fence.  The barn doors were trimmed out in ugly brick red.  The two windows you see here didn't exist.  In their place stood two metal "camper trailer windows" which were original to the building.  After my initial "I don't THINK so" reaction to seeing it for the first time, I doubled back with my artist's hat on.  "Hmmm...what if?  What if I send those trailer windows to the dump? (done in two shakes)  What if we replace them with some vintage wooden windows from the salvage yard?  (five bucks apiece) What if we build window boxes and fill them with pink and white impatiens?  (they are SO HAPPY there)  And what if I just move the whole fence forty feet THAT way?"  (well okay hubby moved the fence...)  The two posts with pineapple finials had been gathering dust for a few years, and we painted them white and planted them on either side of the entry.  The end result looks "right nice" as we like to say in these parts.  And we do keep pots in the potting shed - along with an old lawnmower, and seat cushions I haven't used in four years, and an old wheelbarrow, and you get the drift.  But to quote Dolly Parton in Steel Magnolias, "Well I don't know how you're doin' on the inside, honey, but your hair's holdin' up real well".  Here in the South, it's pretty much always about the hair...and the trailer windows.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jingle Bells and Hot Spells

Close your eyes.  Channel your inner "winter evening", hum a few bars of Nat King Cole's "Christmas Song", sip on that imaginary cup of hot wassail, enjoy the crackling fire, finish picking the okra and tomatoes, swat a few gnats...WHAT??  Welcome to the world of art licensing.  Because of advance production schedules for the companies who license my work, the subject matter in my design studio very rarely lines up with the season out my window.  More often than not, I am in the midst of creating new holiday artwork for clients while the air outside hums with the sounds of crickets, tree frogs and night bugs.  But wait - there is more.  This winter, while the snow piles up outside my door, I'll be hard at work on the latest designs for your garden and your summertime table - designs that are slated for the retail shelves for the Summer of 2012!  Crazy as it seems, and as much as I don't want chestnuts roasting on an open fire in August, that is how it works.  All of you kindred-spirit artists out there are feeling my pain, I know.  Such adversity!  Actually - what joy to be blessed with the ability to share my talent, no matter what the season or circumstance.  For the rest of you, next time you buy a Christmas flag that makes your heart sing, or deck the halls with the most adorable ornaments ever made, or sit down to address that box of Christmas cards like the ones recently produced by my friends at CR Gibson, above, be sure to thank the artist to conjured it up in their sun-baked, humidity-dazed, mosquito-bite-crazed brain.  Happy Holidays, y'all, and pass the citronella...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Simple Joys

I can't seem to get away from the concept of simplicity these past few weeks, so here goes another post on the subject.  A couple of months ago we shot this photo on a pure, glorious Saturday morning in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  This, of course, is an Amish farm - one of hundreds just like it that grace this spectacular section of the country.  We try to visit this area at least once a year if not more, and I never come away without having my artistic batteries recharged and my inspiration renewed.  My friend and fellow artist, Teresa Kogut (check out her blog at just returned from her own annual road trip into the heartland.  As artists, we take inspiration from the simple joy of life that these farms and small towns so beautifully portray.  And, an added bonus in Pennsylvania for this Southern girl is the fact that those people up there have the good manners and presence of mind to serve grits for breakfast.

Monday, August 9, 2010

If Clouds Could Sing

...these would be singing the Hallelujah Chorus.  We were enjoying a sweet August afternoon, floating in the pool, when we happened to look up and see this spectacular sight.  The little camera did its best to capture this thing that God made just for us, and just for that brief moment.  A breeze or two later, it was gone.
What a stunning, simple reminder that beauty is anywhere you care to behold it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Survivor

On a recent insanely hot day we were tooling around St. Simons Island, one of Georgia's famous Golden Isles, when we happened upon Hazel's Cafe.  Humbly situated on a street overhung with live oaks, the building is circa 1950's, a survivor of that simple time in our history when a Coke was a dime and Hazel knew everyone who came in the door.  On countless sleepy roads throughout the rural South, across endless lazy summer days spanning decades, the screen doors hummed on these places, the ceiling fans worked overtime to keep the bare plank floors cool, and the Hazels of the world kept us going with something cold to drink and that exquisite home cooking that is known these days in high-end food circles as "fresh, local, farm-to-table fare".  I imagine that would have amused Hazel to no end.  She doubtless knew no other way but to serve only the shrimp that came fresh off the boat that morning and the okra and tomatoes picked from her own garden the evening before.  Though Hazel is long gone, her legacy of honest simplicity lives on in the little building, which has passed from her heirs to a new owner who has vowed to leave it alone and protect it, lest none of us forget how wonderful the basics really can be.

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Amazing Friend

Talent has no boundary, no real definition.  When I think of unlimited talent, I think of my friend, Karen Banker.  She is a very gifted abstract artist, as her image here attests - but she is also an amazing whiz at marketing, public relations, and even blog construction.  Who knew?  In desperation, I turned to her for help in putting all of my puzzle pieces together for this blog, and she had it ready to go in the blink of an eye.  I encourage you all to treat yourselves to a look at her wonderful, rich, colorful and expressive fine art at www.karenbanker.comThanks, Karen.  You're my hero!