Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A.E."Bean" Backus Exhibit

As I previously mentioned I have been concentrating on and putting a lot of time into the business of art. My files are cleaned out and on their way to being organized, email addresses are uploaded into my new contact program and my web site is on its way to being fixed...but, it is still not on line. I was merrily humming along when I got whammed!

Our local, and very fine, Appleton Museum of Art is hosting a teriffic exhibit showcasing the art of A.E. "Bean" Backus. He was my friend, teacher and mentor! He is the very reason I paint! And an outstanding collection of his work is coming to my home town!!!!!! WOW!!

I always participate in any event or exhibit that promotes Beans work. In my opinion, he is under appreciated...his art as well as his major contribution to raising the level of respect for Florida artists. He is considered the "Father of Florida Landscape Painting", coming into prominence as a national artist in the late 1960s when his work was hung in President Lyndon B. Johnson's library in Texas and in the Senate offices in Washington, D.C. and was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 1993.

So, I contacted the Appleton Museum and spoke with Dr. John Lofgren, the Director. He is a warm and receptive gentleman filled with enthusiasm. Speaking with him was a breath of fresh air...not at all the stuffy type we offten see in lofty positions.

I am delighted to report that he invited me to speak at the Gala Directors' Circle Reception that will preview the exhibit February 12. I plan to enlighten the folks on The Artist Bean's direct approach to painting from an artists view and to share personal stories of The Humanitarian Bean whos door was always open to everyone.

Then on Saturday, February 21 I will conduct a demonstration at the Appleton on the way Bean went about creating his paintings, from pencil sketch, pallete, brushes to painting. One of the things Bean stressed was that there are no secrets...he generously shared his knowledge. He knew each person brought their own gifts to their painting and that no one ever produced a painting just like their teacher. He was one of those very rare people who was not threatened by anothers success.

So, I have put my business me, aside for now. I am immersed in memories. Reliving those very first days at Bean's studio in Ft. Pierce, just visiting at first and then moving on to painting alongside that kind and gentle man. I have been asked to speak for about 45 minutes to one will be very hard to condense a lifetime into those few minutes. I was with Bean the day he died, June 6, 1990 at the age of 84.....and yes, we were painting that day.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Digital Challenges

As a working professional artist I am very aware of the need to also be a business woman. Alas, how nice it would be to just paint all the time...a lament heard from all artists.

Over the years I have developed a mail list of collectors who have purchased as well as those who have expressed an interest in my work. I have sent post cards via snail mail (US Post Office) with an image of a new painting and information about upcoming shows to these folks at various times of the year. It is wonderful to have someone arrive at a show with my card in their hand, saying how glad they were to receive it.

But, times are changing. I must now add "email/newsletter blasts" to my marketing tasks. So, to this end I signed up for an online service that allows me to send these messages with a click of the mouse.

The send with a click sure does sound easy. It is all the behind the scenes stuff that gets so frustrating for me. Getting through the digital maze, uploading files or in my case typing in hundreds of email addresses, uploading images, figuring out how to use the template, etc. etc.etc.!!! And just when I think I have it all down...everything just disappears. I have spent days on this project. My friend, Sharon Crute, has given me some pointers, but when alone at my computer nothing makes sense.

I perservered and have gotten all my email address loaded into the program. I felt pretty good about finally completing that part of the process. So, next I tried to add the little "subscribe to my newsletter" box to my web site. The directions sound simple enough. Wrong. I have managed to completely destroy my web site. It can no longer be found on the internet. A prompt comes up saying the site is under construction. Actually it is under destruction. Oh well, I guess I will spend at least a day on the telephone with the techies to try to figure this all out.

If anyone would like to subscribe to my news letter just email me ( and put subscribe in the subject line. When I get it all straightened out you will receive notices of upcoming shows and new paintings about once a month. I promise not to share your info with anyone and you can opt out at any time.

In the mean time, I will continue to send out my post least I know how to do that!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hard Freeze

Florida, "land of sunshine", has been having freezing temperatures this week. Three days in a row I got up to find ice on my car and all the fern in my yard has turned black! I know for some of you this isn't such a big deal, but we are used to lows in the 60s NOT we don't have all the cold weather clothes.

The ice was so thick I wrote HI on my windshield!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Original Mini Oil Painting Auction

I have discovered these wonderful little-teeny-tiny mini canvases. This one measures just 4"x2". Not much space to paint an intricate, detailed scene, but certainly room for a Cabbage Palm (also known as a Sabal Palm) or a bird. And yes, these are original oil paintings!
Check back here each Wednesday to see what new image I have been able to squeeze into this small format. If you are intrigued, have no more room to hang large paintings on your walls or just want to join in the fun, email me with your bid ( and put OFFER in the subject line so I know to open it immediately. Bids will be posted throughout the week so you can keep up with the action.
Let's start the bidding at...lets say....25 Cents! And I will throw in sales tax and shipping.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Turtle Soup

While in Ft. Pierce for the show opening at Picture Perfect Gallery I stayed in a condo on North Hutchinson Island owned by a friend. I know, I know, tough work but somebody has to do it!

As I sat on the balcony overlooking the ocean and sipping my coffee one morning I noticed something on the beach I could not identify. So, of course, I had to investigate. As I approached the thing a couple of wildlife officers arrived right behind me. We all were saddened to find a dead sea turtle.

Years ago when I lived in Ft. Pierce my family often walked the beaches late at night to watch the turtles materialize out of the black water, drag themselves up on the beach, dig a huge hole and lay hundreds of eggs. At that time it was legal to be on the beach and watch turtles lay eggs, unescorted by an official. My young sons were always excited about the adventure and as a result, I believe, developed a healthy respect for nature and awe for all living creatures.

There were no visible marks on the turtle to indicate what may have killed it. The wildlife officer said they would perform a necropsy to get more information.

As they drove away I could not help but feel a sense of loss.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Show Opening

Loretta Northrup and Jackie

I have just returned from Ft. Pierce, Florida where I am the featured artist at Picture Perfect Gallery and Frame Shop. The artist's reception was Wednesday evening during the City Art Gallery Walk. We had a wonderful turn out, giving me the opportunity to see long time collectors and friends and even meet a number of new art lovers.

Loretta Northrup, owner of Picture Perfect, had not been in business very long when I began my professional career over 20 years ago. She has represented my work in the Ft. Pierce area ever since and hosts a show for me once a year.

Sarah and Jessica

Sarah, on the left, and Jessica, on the right above, are the great gals that do a lot of the work putting the show on. A big thanks to both of them.

Doris Tillman and Jackie

Doris Tillman, Director of Main Street Fort Pierce, Inc. is also a long time friend. She makes sure all the fun stuff that goes on downtown like the Gallery Walk comes off without a hitch. With all that she is responsible for during these events I was delighted she took time out to drop by the reception.

A grande time was had by all...and we even sold some paintings...always a good thing!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Nature's Wonders

Sandhill Cranes at Paynes Prairie

I am fortunate to live in one of the best parts of the state of Florida. A one hour drive takes me to beaches, natural springs or vast prairies.

This past week I went with two friends, Moe Hahn above at the top and Sharon Crute underneath ...both wonderful equine artists, to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. Sandhill Cranes migrate through this area, but almost 5,000 of them have decided to stay for a while.

A great number of birds can be seen on the La Chua Trail which begins in the park entrance off SE 15 Street in Gainesville. There is an easy 1.5 mile walking trail out to the raised viewing platform (remember it is also 1.5 miles back!) But you don't need to go that far. The day we went most of the birds lined the trail. They kept their distance and continued feeding while throngs of people watched and photographed.

Even though I am a Florida native I have never seen a flock of Sandhills in this great a number. It was thrilling to say the least to see nature in all her glory. The squawking was continuous as the birds called to one another...a sound like no other.

Rangers told us there are a couple of Whooping Cranes in the flock but we did not see them. If you go out watch for alligators. They are not a direct threat, but it never hurts to be cautious with these guys, which were some of the biggest wild gators I have ever seen. We even saw a mom with little babies! Believe it or not, baby gators are cute.

And....Oh I am. All decked out in my safari hat and everything!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

I have begun a list of my goals as promised yesterday. At the top of my list...the number one to get better organized. I am not too bad at this. My main problem is I get toooooo organized, making a file for each and every thing. This leads to overflfowing file drawers. I get so carried away that I often find that I have made several files for the same thing! So, I have started culling, consolidating and throwing away. Yes, I actually have a trash can full of old papers (some dating back to 2001).

Now, don't get alarmed. I am also recycling. All unwrinkled paper printed on one side goes into the scratch paper bin. This is great when I want to print an email to save in my afore mentioned files (oops, here we go again).

Cleaning out the files should take a couple of days. Then I will divide everything into categories and relabel. I feel pounds lighter already!