Hallowed Halls of Johns Hopkins

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The path of spiritual growth is a path of lifelong learning. ~ M. Scott Peck, author of Gifts of the Journey, In Search of Stones and The Road Less Traveled

Happy Halloween, everyone. On October 3rd, my cousin Meg Heisse and I witnessed a little hocus-pocus when we attended An Evening of Victorian Magic at Evergreen Mansion and Library, which is a Johns Hopkins University Museum. Since my cousin is a member, we attended a pre-performance reception held in the Asian red room among Chinese and Japanese collectibles. The bartenders stirred up Victorian libations and we saw up close magic tricks by David London. Mind reader indeed, out of a 52 card deck, the magician asked me to select one card and show it to others.  No slight of hand involved, through telepathic transmission he correctly identified the card I had picked. But that was just the start of the delightful evening. The magician had many more magic tricks up his sleeve once the show started and he came to the stage.

There was no need to build a stage for the evening because there is already a Victorian era theatre in the Evergreen Museum. And although there were no upper level seats for celestials to sit as in many Victorian theatres, we were told apparitions are in or about the rooms of the mansion. The theatre, painted by Russian Artist Leon Bakst, was used regularly to entertain the three Garrett boys, who at one time lived there.

The Evergreen Museum and Library was built in 1850 and became home to railroad magnate, John Garrett and his family. He was President of Baltimore and Ohio “B & O” Railroad. A little over one hundred years later, in 1952, the Italianate home from the Guilded Era was donated to Johns Hopkins University and it is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Also in the mansion is a 30,000  volume library with much of which is English Renaissance literature. Paintings by Picasso, DegasModigliani and stained glass by Tiffany, a 23 karat gold plated bathroom all are housed in the structure. In the Asian red room I spied several pieces of Chinoiserie furniture and as I snooped around in the museum gift shop at Evergreen, I saw several beautiful publications about stained glass.

Today, my Halloween treat to our readers is a recipe for soul cakes which traditionally was the offering to others on All Hallows Eve. And here are a few pictures of our evening at Evergreen Museum and Library, too. Look carefully you might see things that fool the eye!

Some time soon I do look forward to returning to the historic Evergreen Museum to take the full tour. This wonderful landmark is only one of the institutions of the Sheridan Libraries of Johns Hopkins. Check out the others on their website.

Thank you Meg for inviting me to accompany you for the evening.

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author, Sue Batton Leonard.

 

Observations En Plein Air

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For me, plein air painting is about taking home memories – contemplating the subject with all senses. Smell, touch, temperature, weather – the feeling of warm sun or the start of a rainstorm, for example – and sound. ~ Melissa Jean

On October 6th, despite the calendar indicting fall had arrived, the lingering pleasant temperatures were perfect for a day of painting “en plein air” for artists who had gathered at Liriodendron Mansion.  It was a cloudy day but there was no biting chill in the air. The setting for day one of a week long plein air painting festival sponsored by the Harford Plein Air Painters and Maryland State Arts Council, was a great venue.

The property was purchased in 1890 and the Palladian mansion “Liriodendron” was built as a summer home to Dr. Howard Kelly, his wife and nine children. He was one of the founding fathers of Johns Hopkins Medical College. Artist John Singer Sargent left a legacy painting for the college a long time ago when he painted Dr. Kelly along with the other the founding physicians. For more information on Dr. Kelly and his home, please visit this writing called Perfect Timing.

As I walked the beautiful and expansive grounds of Liriodendron Mansion (originally 196 acres but now about 100 acres) with tall tulip popular trees towering over me, and their pungent, earthy-odored, crunchy dried leaves beneath my feet, I watched artists paint. I became increasingly more excited about new art-related opportunities that will come with a move to Harford County and for a new season of life.

The day reminded me of one the most fabulous plein air painting experiences I have ever had the pleasure to witness on an outstanding ranch just before I moved from Colorado back to my native Maryland, two years ago, after a forty year absence. That day was also cloudy but it was also a joy-filled day. Here is a link to the blog if you are interested in reading about Harvesting Others Joy and seeing some wonderful pictures of the experience and the artists.

Here are a few photos from last week’s plein air festival in Harford County, Maryland. There were some wonderful works in progress. If you have never been to a plein air festival, do so! It is a great way to learn a little something about art and about the creative people behind the art!

Photo above & below: Artist Ray Ewing

(Pictured below: Artist Sandhya Sharma. She is originally from India and I enjoyed talking with her about her

her observations of art opportunities and the art connections she has made in America)

(Below: Artist Pamela Wilde is also a portrait artist. She recently participated in a community portraiture project in nearby Havre de Grace. Click here to read more about it.)

(Above: Artist painting indoors surrounded by archival Johns Hopkins medical ephemera of Dr. Howard Kelly)

Below: A few images on display and for sale from various other venues.

Artists are members of the Harford Plein Air Painters

Liriodendron (aka tulip poplar trees) are not quite yet in their full autumn splendor. But soon….as God intends it.

 

Art Writing Opportunities

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“Art helps us see connection and brings a more coherent meaning to our world.” ~ Ernest Boyer, Founder, Carnegie Foundation

In my previous post about two weeks ago, I wrote about a plein-air painting workshop I attended given by Artists-in-Residence Mike Bare and Joanne Bare at Ladew Topiary Gardens. I’m grateful I have acquired knowledge about painting through past life experiences with several master artists. It has led to opportunities to write about art and the humanities in general, such as all the essays on the website Through the Lens of Her Camera, about photojournalist Cheryl Ito.  Her work is in the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.

Over the past year, I have been engaged in another art related writing project. Soon the manuscript will be going to print. It has been very gratifying and more will come about this later!

Some of what Bare spoke about in the workshop at Ladew Gardens can be applied to writing.  “Art,”  Mike said,  “allows us to understand who we are.”  This is precisely why I find writing so fulfilling. I have learned so much about myself and what I value through my writing.  Authors tend to write about what they know.  You can understand much of what is important to me by reading the 2500 posts (which are indexed by category) on this website, AllThingsFulfilling.com. Four topics – art, gardens, independent publishing, and faith are just some of the subjects I return to time and time again but always with a new perspective.

Painters do the same thing, according to Bare, they tend to return to the same spot time and time again because one makes connection with the scene that way and paints it well. There are often seasonal variables when painting “en plein air” but one finds value in coming back to the same location. Capturing the changes in light or other seasonal/environmental/atmospheric conditions holds both significance and challenge for the artist.

During the workshop at Ladew Topiary Gardens, photos were shown of other artists work. In one image, a cityscape, we saw a part of the composition was intentionally left unfinished. Yet, as the instructor pointed out, we did not notice it until we made a closer inspection of the painting. Why?  “Because our mind makes up what is missing!”  says Bare. True enough, I thought. Readers do the same thing with stories. They read into it what they will by the associations made with the words given on the page. Not every detail in a story is drawn-out. Some readers get irked when they have to draw their own conclusions and others like to be left hanging so they can use their own imaginations and create what happens next.

Thank you to Mike Bare and Joanne Bare for continuing my art education simply by allowing me to be a listening participant in the morning lecture. A writer’s life is wonderfully fulfilling.

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard.

Forever Grateful for Art Education

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“To live a life fulfilled, reflect on the things you have with gratitude.” ~ Jaren Davis

Last weekend I sat in on a plein air painting workshop held at Ladew Topiary Gardens. It is truly an extraordinary,  top-notch venue for artists who enjoy getting out of the studio to paint a garden landscape scene right in front of them in natural light.

Instructors and husband and wife team, Mike Bare and Joanne Bare are completing their one year Artists-in-Residence at Ladew Topiary Gardens. As I listened to the artists talk, I couldn’t help but feel gratitude for a few chapters of my life that I would not have wanted to skip for anything – the opportunity to work at two different art galleries. More recently, Wild Horse Gallery in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and some years ago at West Wind Fine Art, LLC in Manchester, Vermont. That is when I handled the order fulfillment of art books and videos published by representational painter Richard Schmid‘s publishing house, Stove Prairie Press, LLC.  What an opportunity it was to learn so much about painting. My appreciation of art grew exponentially with those life experiences.

So, when artist Mike Bare spoke about differences in painting styles between loose vs. tight , and terminology such as warm vs cool colors, opposites on a color wheel, soft and hard edges, painting shadows (dark) vs light and negative spaces, I understood what he was talking about. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about other technical aspects of painting before the artists went out into the gardens to sketch and practice what their instructor so capably preached.

( Above photo: Mike Bare at Barn Gallery at Ladew Topiary Gardens)

Some of what Bare spoke about can be applied to writing. Do come back to my next post on October 10, 2019. I’ll explain what the artist said that also relates to a fulfilling writers life.

(Above Photo: Mike Bare’s sketchbook and paintings at Ladew Topiary Gardens)

Sundown for Labor Day

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What a glorious summer it has been.  It is the time of the year when I feel as if I have returned to days of my youth. An outpouring of memories come with that.

Over Labor Day weekend and for a few days next week I’d like to encourage our readers to check out some of the posts in the archives. You can look them up by category or scroll through the site. Something will catch your interest. There are over 1700 writings on All Things Fulfilling that have drawn 100,000+ viewers to this website.

Each of the postings is about something that has inspired me as a writer or as a human being to follow my own kind of bliss.

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See you back here a little later in the week. I promise. Refreshed, rejuvenated and with a wealth of ideas that will come together between now and the New Year.

This blog is brought to you by award winning author Sue Batton Leonard. Her books include EVVY award -winner Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.

Developing Talent

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“Artistic talent is a gift from God and whoever discovers it in himself has a certain obligation: to know that he cannot waste this talent, but must develop it.”  ~ Arthur Schoenhauer boy playing pianoSunday was such a joyful day for the family of a ten year old boy from Newport News, Virginia. He’s been visiting his grandparents in Steamboat, and found an opportunity that he didn’t expect when he arrived here – two chances to play the piano in front of an audience of a fully-packed church.

The boy is years beyond his peers in his musical abilities. To say he is “gifted” doesn’t quite cover it. Our first chance as a community to hear this youngster play the piano was Sunday, a week ago. He skillfully played “Let it Go,” from the soundtrack of Disney’s movie “Frozen.” It’s one of my current favorites.

Two days ago he returned to surprise his parents by playing Pachelbel’s – Canon on the pipe organ. While the student has been visiting,  the United Methodist Church in Steamboat has been letting this talented young artist practice on their piano in the sanctuary. His parents were not aware that he also has been allowed to try his hands, for the first time, on a pipe organ.

I got a little teary-eyed as I listened to the boy play the pipe organ so magnificently and skillfully for his young age. I couldn’t  help but think about all the young children who have undiscovered talents or not the right opportunities to develop them. In general, communities of caring people need to do better at helping children nurture their innate abilities. Whether a child’s talents lie in the Arts, Science, Communications or any other field that really holds their passions and interests,  having strong mentors is important.

The most beautiful part of this story – This child already understands the gifts that he has been given and where they have come from. Best to you always, Mason! You really impressed us.

This blog brought to you the author of Gift of a Lifetime:Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, Sue Batton Leonard. Now Available in Audio: Click here for info. and also available in paperback and e-book!

Angelic Antics

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Make yourself familiar with the angels, and behold them frequently in spirit; for without being seen, they are present with you.”    – Francis de Sales

It’s funny, I have never considered myself as a particularly creative person. I didn’t take a lot of  lessons outside of school growing up. Kids of my generation spent more time outside playing in nature rather than being shuffled to all sorts of organized sports and other extra curricular activities.

However, I did take a pastel drawing class at the YMCA one summer with my sister. It is a happy memory that stays steadfast in my mind all these decades later. Although, I didn’t have any innate talent, I found fulfillment in it.

My experience with the clarinet was another story. I’d much rather forget it and so would my parents. Their ears are still damaged from all the squeaks that came out of the instrument when I played it. Their pocketbooks became emptied having to so frequently replace reeds that both my sister and I ruined.

My twin sister and I had a different kind of creativity – we were full of ideas that were not always angelic!  Like how to “get Fanny’s goat” (Fanny is the stellar character in my memoir) and how get her involved in our childhood antics. Her creativity came from how to teach us life lessons that we’d later come to realize was about our silly, double trouble.

Thank heavens for Fanny. She was an angel for putting up with my twin and I and our two brothers. And I am  also grateful for all other angels my life~

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This blog brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

Sue’s memoir