Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Color of the Week: Gone

This eighty year old oak has been the view from my front porch for quite some time. It has lost some limbs and has needed trimming as have others. It has been home to squirrels and many kinds of birds, including a couple of woodpeckers and an owl or two. Most of the trees in the neighborhoods were planted after the 1916 Fire destroyed all the homes and trees in about 40 blocks. Now they are falling, or dropping limbs, or just threatening and someone has decided to do something.

Yesterday, I heard trucks and noises and discovered this scene: At 7:24am.

Soon after, I returned to the porch for this view: At 9:08.

As I left my house to take a short cruise on the Savannah River, I stopped for this shot: At 10:01.

When I returned, this is what I found: At 1:07

Except for the large trunk which I assume will be removed later this week, (and which by the way shows no rot) the tree, along with almost fifty others, is gone.

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


The Westobou Festival has taken the town. For ten days, it is impossible to see and do everything from art openings to choral and organ concerts to theater and film to lectures and readings. On Friday night, our choices were jazz, a silent movie or Christine Kane's Concert. I had blogged about Christine. Her concert was in the neighborhood, so it was an easy decision for older daughter and me.

Dusk was fading into night as we walked the block or so to the recently restored historic building. We followed others into the building and looked for seats. We were delighted to be sitting with our old friend Don Rhodes and we chatted about how we knew about Christine and her music. We had not seen her in concert, but Susan and I had found her creativity and motivational blog and then her music. Don had searched for links to the music to get information for his weekly newspaper column.

With Christine Kane, there is no band and no backup, there is just Chris, her voice, her guitar and her words breathed into the space of the music. She sings about unspoken truths which everyone knows is truth -- strong women and Southern nights, perfect vehicles for coming and for leaving, Jazz musicians and falling in love with the wind . . . . From the seat next to me, I heard murmurs of excitement and genuine appreciation and I knew that Don Rhodes -- whose column is the longest running Country Music column in the US, by the way -- had fallen in love with this music during an afternoon of youTube viewing.

We listened to Chris but also to Don as he anticipated phrases, marveled at the guitar playing and the range and texture of her voice. Over almost forty years of writing his Ramblin' Rhodes column, he has interviewed, met or written about everyone who is anybody and some who aren't. That he still had the ability to be enthusiastic about a new voice, made this more than just a Friday concert for us.

For me, the experience was like one in my early years of painting. I happened to be at the right place for spending some time with long-time American Watercolor Society President Mario Cooper. As the two of us wandered through a gallery of faculty paintings, he critiqued them for me pointing out design flaws and successes, suggesting good things to mimic in texture and color, and generally showing this new painter how to look at art. It was an opportunity to discover a whole new way of seeing.

Now, thanks to our friend, Don Rhodes, I have a new way of listening.

Don's column about Christine Kane
Christine Kane's Website

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

She's Still a Hometown Girl

We waited.

In a partially renovated building, we waited.

On a hot Sunday afternoon where there was no air conditioning, we waited.

A group of older women, sitting in a row of chairs against a wall, fanned with their programs and waited.

The news media wondered if they would meet their deadlines, but they waited.

The punch bowls dribbled with rivulets of sweat and the desserts and the birthday cake got soft, but we waited.

And then she came: the star who had come home to accept keys to a building for "her" school and on her birthday.

After the speeches and introductions, she hugged the donor of the building as he choked up, remembering when he had seen her first -- on German television, a celebrity from his hometown!

And she sang. Clearly and joyously with no accompaniment -- "Bless This House, oh, Lord, we pray. Make it safe by night and day" -- her voice gave blessing to this place, the people who had come and to their hopes for the school which bears her name. She waved the keys high and thanked Peter Knox IV for the building and, as the cake was cut, seemed uncomfortable that everyone got to sing except herself! Then she greeted her old high school classmates in the row of chairs, hugged old friends, met some new ones and patted her makeup with a bright blue napkin for a quick TV interview.

The new building still needs some downstairs air conditioning, but upstairs is bright and cool with real dance studios and well-lit art spaces and practice rooms. It's just across the street from the church which has housed the school from the beginning and I think it is ready for its own space. I served two years on the Advisory Council and saw the kinds of things which can be done with an intense after-school program for teenagers through the Jessye Norman School of the Arts.

And, in the end, we didn't care that we had waited in the heat and humidity, wondering how quickly we could get away, because Jessye Norman is a Star.

And she's still a hometown girl.

In the photos:
Peter Knox IV & Jessye Norman
Jessye Norman and my daughter, Susan

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lessons from Lucy: What's Your Shoestring?

This week, like most of my weeks, has been full of the kind of amazing adventures which only belong to little girls. For them, everything has the potential to be something else!

Lucy had read the shoe book and threaded the holes with the purple string until it became a dull game. So, she just pulled it out and began to experiment. Within just minutes, she had folded it in half, tucked the ends over her ears and pulled it over to "listen" to my chest. She had stretched it out and "measured" me. She had tucked it under her chin and "played" a violin. She had threaded through it her belt loops like a sash . . . . She thought up more things than I can remember. Imagination at work!

Later, after attending an afternoon concert of baroque music at the Morris Museum of Art, older daughter and I passed by an exhibit of photographs of local things. She said, "Mom, he takes pictures like you do. These just remind me of your photographs." I could see her point. I was complimented by her comment and agreed that they did "feel" the same and some were the same views! I was just a little intimidated to realize that these simple, yet powerful, photos were taken by Robert Rauschenberg! Oh, my!

Lucy is not limited by what a purple shoestring is supposed to be. Neither was Rauschenberg. He took ordinary, uninspiring bits of daily life and let his imagination go. This week, the Morris will reinstall his work "August Allegory (Anagrams)" and I will go for the unveiling and look more carefully at the piece to spot the influence from those photographs of familiar things. I will look at how he used his "purple shoestring!"

And when my work is ordinary and boring and uninspiring, I will look at whether I saw some new possibilities in a sketch or photo, played with paint and texture, used the idea as a starting point or whether I only used the shoestring as a shoestring. I will try to be inspired by Lucy and Robert.

Good question. I just need good answers to "What's your shoestring?"

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Painted Feathers

Soon after I wrote yesterday's post, I misplaced it. Then, several things happened: I bought two books and I found my notes.

In his Twice Weekly Letter to Artists on August 13, 2008, Robert Genn wrote about his friendship with the bird artist, James Fenwick Lansdowne. Feeling a little "flighty" after sharing my morning with the birds, I was curious about a man who painted them all his life and who was Robert's life-long friend. I followed a link to Fen's book and ordered it from a used book store. Then while I was checking sources for the book, I remembered a bird book I had seen in the Morse Museum in Orlando. There had simply been no more room for goodies in my luggage, so I looked for it as well. Yes, there is was, a small book with SOUNDS! I ordered it from Amazon and have loved being able to hear the calls which match my backyard birds. Who knew such a thing was possible?

For me, Lansdowne's book had been a bargain. The book is filled with excellent paintings and text for more than 150 birds, but the thrill for me is that each one has a second plate with Lansdowne's preliminary sketches. It is two books in one -- a 10 pound jewel; certainly not just a handy-dandy field guide. So, when the large box came from The Book Man, I was sure there must be a mistake. Then, peeking from under the edge of the address label, I saw my name written on the box in pencil. No mistake! It was packed just for me! It felt like a present.

My thanks to Robert for sharing his friend with me and for leading me to two additions to my library which add to my knowledge, understanding and appreciation of Painted Feathers.

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Monday, September 08, 2008

Is There a Better Way to Start?

I see that this blog has had no new entries since June.

It has been a lovely summer and there are certainly things I will want to remember through this blog. So even though, it may not be the way to do it, I'll do what I usually do and pre-date a few things as I find the photos, notes and words. It is probably not proper blog etiquette. Oh, well.

But I don't want to forget Lucy and her painted hubcaps, cousin Sheryl and her big towel, another trip to Orlando by Greyhound bus, the experimenting which I did with Linda and Martha, Lucy as Cinderella and Belle with her dolls . . . Yes, there were days . . .

I think I'll just start here for now.

The day began quietly out in the country, the rumble of the distant Interstate traffic mimicking the ebb and flow of surf. The birds had not begun their cheerful/grumpy/joyful calling and the sun was not up. I lay in the old bed, only partly awake. As morning's first light pushed up from behind the trees, the sounds began with the thump of a squirrel landing from a tall pine onto the tin roof. It was followed by another and their little feet scratched their path across the peak. Suddenly, there was a harsh scream and some commotion as the birds called out "danger! danger!" and I knew that the big hawk was also awake . . . and catching breakfast.

The morning breeze flitted through the open window, giving no hint that today would be very hot and I prepared to watch the sun come up. As the rays touched the leaves with long ribbons of light, first one and then another, I sat on the porch listening to the morning conversations of the birds.

And then, from inside, I heard the quiet babbling of baby songs as Lucy and Belle began to wake.

Is there a better way to start?

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Monday, June 16, 2008

Art&Sun Days - A Serendipitous Day - Part II

Part I of A Serendipitous Day is here.
Continuing our adventures with Dorothy, the Chronicler and the Bronzeman

Rock On, Norman!

When you grow up with Saturday Evening Post covers peering out of magazine racks, sliding across coffee tables and slipping from your sleeping grandfather's lap, it is difficult to imagine that they would be important enough for an art museum exhibit. Oh, I know all about how folks have decided that the illustrations created for these covers is now considered to be "Art with a capital A." I know how the painter is considered to be the Chronicler of American life -- the way we all wished it were and the way it often was. And I know that my friend, Starkey, respected both the work and the man.

But when it came to taking time to actually go to see an exhibit of Norman Rockwell's work, I wondered if it would be 'worth my time.' Linda and Karen seemed to feel the same way. We circled the parking lot, looking at the buildings of the wonderful complex where the Orlando Museum of Art is located.

Suddenly, Linda pulled into a parking place and we raced for the entrance in hopes of getting in before closing. Amazing how the decision fueled our desire! We paid our money and entered the galleries. We noticed a few other paintings and spotted some work we wish we had done. Then we saw the Rockwells. There were 41 originals just hanging there for an almost nose-to-glass look. There were 373 pristine framed covers. Technique, design, inspiration in an amazing legacy of painted stories; it was all there.

Oh my, I think my life flashed before my eyes. I think it did for others as well. I watched as a man with a familiar profile leaned in to get a better look. I pulled out my iPhone and captured an image or two -- mostly of the other people who seemed mesmerized by the art. (Linda and Karen told me the sign said, "No photos." I put the phone away.)

But what I think I saw and felt was just the same as years ago when I had a chance to see a Post cover peering out of a magazine rack or sliding across the coffee table or slipping from my grandfather's lap -- maybe hope, trust, faith.

Hope you are listening, Norman. Your Chronicles of our lives still rock!

The Bronzeman

We ended our day of serendipity with another unplanned stop. It was after hours but there was a caterer's truck . . . just unloading. . . . We knew we were on the grounds of a sculpture garden, but nothing about the sculptor. . . . Maybe we could slip in for a few minutes.

The late afternoon sun bounced off the bronze of a large nude figure and we began to wander in that direction. We suddenly realized that we were being followed and thought perhaps we would be asked to leave.

On the contrary, we were greeted by the horticulturist for the gardens who shared anecdotes and information about a place he obviously loves. We were properly impressed by the delicate figure called "Unfettered" which he explained depicted a woman reaching for her destiny and freedom from ignorance and superstition.

There on the shores of Lake Osceola, the breezes seemed to guide us along the paths and past the sculptures of Albin Polasek. The spirituality of his figures is strengthened by his ability and by his Czechoslovakian heritage, but it is in his "Man Carving His Own Destiny" that his spirit soars.

We almost missed it. We were blinded by the nude Bronzeman.

Serendipity. Indeed

Art & Sun Days
BushStrokes (c) AAB

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Color of the Week: Candlelight

We celebrated all week by the candlelight of Belle's First Birthday (along with an evening by candlelight when the power was out after a major thunder storm.)

Belle didn't really understand about blowing out the candles so wasted no time waiting for the cake to be cut before carefully tasting the frosting. She has become a delightful toddler exploring everything in my not-so-child proof house. She and sister Lucy will continue to live in our house for a few more months. What a gift for me!


JUNE 11, 20007 What a year it has been since I stood at my daughter's head and waited for the delivery of this little dynamo.

JULY 07 "Can you believe this was my mamma's dress?"

AUGUST 07 "This is my favorite dress."

SEPTEMBER 07 "My favorite things: swinging with a dolly and a snack. Well, the snack is gone, but. . ."

OCTOBER 07 "Come on down. The floor is great."
NOVEMBER 07 "I just LOVE shiny things!"

DECEMBER 07 "I think he's hiding something over there."

JANUARY 08 "Are you driving or am I?"

FEBRUARY 08 "Where did those things come from?"
MARCH 08 "This is a VERY good book."
APRIL 08 "They said this would make me get a tooth!"

MAY 08 "Lucy, where do you think this firetruck is going?"

JUNE 08 "Just give me a balloon and every day's a party!"

"I can't wait until my next birthday. Now that I have a tooth and can walk, just watch me grow."
BushStrokes (c) AAB

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Flag Day 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Art&Sun Days -- A Serendipitous Day - Part I

Serendipity: When you unexpectedly discover something wonderful when on the way toward something else.

On Tuesday morning, Linda and I prepared to make the airport run for Karen's flight. The traffic was light and, as we drove through the area where we would eat that night at their favorite Greek Restaurant, Linda casually remarked that she had been told of a great little shop nearby, but had not located. There was the sign and there was a SALE going on with racks of goodies on the sidewalk. Serendipity!

We checked the time - enough! - and parked the car. It's amazing how much can be accomplished in such a few minutes. We filled several bags. I wonder what would happen if we acted that quickly in the studio. Could we fill several canvases with such delightful textures, sparkling colors and cool designs? Interesting thought. . . .

We hurried to the airport where Karen waited -- who would think her plane would be EARLY!?! That afternoon, we were able to find Karen's old house, make three unplanned stops where we discovered Dorothy, the Chronicler and the Bronze Man, and get to the restaurant where the waiter -- not-so-politely -- said, "No! you don't want the soup!" He finally seemed pleased with our selections and so were we. It was the proverbial perfect ending to a Serendipitous Day.

Keep Dancing, Dorothy

The sun was a white hot glare on the street when we parked at the Maitland Center for the Arts. We weren't sure we wanted to brave the heat for what seemed a boring little tour of Old Florida. We gently refused entry to the current exhibition, choosing instead to wander the grounds in hopes of uncovering the mystique of Maitland and the old artist colony. (Would the spirit still be there?)

Each of us paused just inside the compound as we passed through the opening in the white block wall with its cement carvings. The sun was captured by the trees, moss and foliage and, in the dappled shade, seemed only like the crisp white edging of a summer dress. Each of us was taken with the notion that here, in any one of these funny little white stucco houses, we could happily spend time and create marvelous things beyond anything we now dreamed.

We wondered if artists still come to this place (they do.) We began to move through the gardens -- together, yet separately -- peering in windows, checking the foliage, wondering about this place, and yes, catching a whiff of cigar smoke -- a sure sign to some that the creator of this fantasy is still here. We did not know the story of the old Research Studio, but we felt the vision of its creator Jules André Smith (1889-1959) through his carvings, his architecture and his courtyards. (Should we have known? Should we have planned more? Would it be better if we had come with preconceived notions? I hope not.)

And then we saw Dorothy's brightly painted pieces of metal shifting with the touch of the breeze. Her swirls of color shimmered in the shade, hung dizzily from tall trees, winked through the landscape, and floated in the koi pond. Dorothy Gillespie (b. 1920 - ) would be speaking about her installation at the Maitland later in the week. We did not plan to attend.

For us, finding the energy of Dorothy dancing with the spirit of André in these intimate gardens was, unexpectedly, enough.

Indeed, it was a serendipitous day!

Art&Sun Days
BushStrokes (c) AAB

Monday, May 26, 2008

Art&Sun Days: In Unexpected Anticipation

Just as the sun peeped through the red gate near the Koi pond, I unpacked and prepared for a relaxing day of getting settled and talking art. As most institutions of beauty -- museums, gardens and hair salons -- are traditionally closed for rest and repair on Monday, we had put nothing on our schedule. Suddenly, Linda discovered that the Leu Gardens were not only open, but FREE until noon! We hurried!

We could not have found a better way to begin a week of Florida foliage, patterns and traditions. We strolled the paths of the Gardens with little comment; we both understood the artist's way of sight seeing. We noticed water patterns on nasturtiums, the velvet colors of hundreds of roses, filtered light on sculptures, and nature's positioning of reds against greens. In the quiet, we found a sense of place which I would continue to find throughout our week.

Linda and I had toured together before and had learned to be comfortable with each other. Way back in New York City for the Gates of Central Park, the two of us had taken a late night walk through the gently waving orange banners. Patches of snow glowed in the sparkling light and the banners whispered just to us. We were as exhilarated by the experiences and ideas which were humming in our heads as we were by the cold. We ended that final night at the top of Rockefeller Center overlooking that spectacular city knowing that our views of ourselves as artists had been changed.

Faced with a new adventure on this warm morning in Central Florida, our artist spirits reunited in unexpected anticipation.

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Photo of the Week: Welcome Home, Daddy!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Art&Sun Days: Disney World Is Not Needed

When the invitation to visit Central Florida came from my friend, Linda. I jokingly announced, "I'm going to Disney World!" as if I'd won some major event which could only be topped by such a prize.

For several reasons, neither Linda or I have painted for a while and this seemed to be the boost we needed. We talked of spending days in the studio exploring different kinds of watercolor paper, trying new painting techniques and visiting a gallery or two. A quiet week -- yeah, right!

As we shared our plans with the Internet friends* who had traveled together to see The Gates in Central Park and the galleries in Atlanta, the ideas began to fly and the week became a real art adventure.

*NOTE: In this photo, Karen, Kaye, Linda, Annette with the original banners from "Gates" weeks. (Flat Stanley's story about our NYC adventure here) Various members of this artists' email list have now met face-to-face in Arizona, Atlanta, California, Chicago, France, Kentucky, Miami, Santa Fe, Texas . . . .

I arrived early on Monday and immediately felt at home with Linda and Doug, their pets, paintings and photographs.
Karen flew from Alabama on Tuesday to join us for the week and we spent the afternoon at the Orlando Museum and the Maitland Art Center (Karen's blog -- mostly in May.)
Kaye drove over from Jacksonville for the Appleton Museum in Ocala and The Harn in Gainesville on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Martha planned a full day of galleries, museums and the Columbia Restaurant in St. Petersburg, Tampa and Ybor City. (Links for Martha's day on her blog .)
Doug showed us around his favorite old-hometown spots in New Smyrna Beach, a bit of Daytona and the Saturday market in Sanford where the streets were paved with "Augusta" bricks -- a reminder of my hometown.
And I haven't even mentioned the food!

I have come home from this walk on the beach. It will take me a while to absorb the conversations and the images of Central Florida. I will write about some of the special things, but I have learned that whenever artists are together creative juices bubble, eyes are opened to new possibilities, opinions change and ideas flow -- an indescribable Magic happens.

A sprinkling of beach sand is nice.
Disney World is not needed.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Ready To Turn Back - PART II

I stayed in that spirit of the walk-on-the-beach as I drove home from Hilton Head Island. I passed through a month of balmy spring days in the way that is usually reserved for hot summer ones.

I sat in the rockers on the front porch and ate ice cream with the little ones.
I shopped with my daughters and then with my mother -- a few things called my name.
We caught up on news of cousins at family dinners.
We stopped by to visit the Chickfila Cow and the peach colored fountains at the Tour de Georgia festivities.
We welcomed home Lucy and Belle's daddy from Afghanistan.
It was easy to just celebrate the days.

And then I packed my bags again and I found myself with friends once more overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, my feet sprinkled with the magic of beach sand.

I began to think of making notes about these Art&Sun Days for posts to BushStrokes, selecting images from the camera and the iPhone, maybe putting a little paint on the brush.

Finally, I knew I was ready to turn back.

BushStrokes (c) AAB

Ready To Turn Back - PART I

So. I went for a walk on the beach and it seems that I almost forgot to return.

As last year, the days with Frankie and Charlotte were filled with fun and conversation. We sat in the rockers under the Hilton Head lighthouse; we shopped for things we didn't need, but which, as Frankie says, "called our names;" we lunched on shrimp and oysters and she-crab soup; we napped in the heat of the day as all good beach girls do; and we caught up on the news since last year. We just celebrated the days together.

Actually, no one said, "Annette, it doesn't go all the way around. It's not a walk around the lake! It's the Atlantic Ocean! You have to turn back to get home!"

I just wasn't ready to turn back.

BushStrokes (c) AAB