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

World Class in the Making

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It’s my belief that God gives us all gifts, special abilities that we have the privilege of developing to help us serve Him and humanity. ~ Ben Carson

unlocking the heart of an artist“Wow!” Claire  is one skilled young lady,” I thought as I sat in a pew with my husband at the United Methodist Church, http://bit.ly/1kd4g61 on Thursday evening, listening to the second senior recital of the week. She revealed her vocal talent with her ability to sing a huge range of compositions from Mozart’s De Holle Rahe to How Great Thou Art to more contemporary songs, such as Let it Go from Disney’s 2014 animated film Frozen.

But that was not all. This young lady did not hold back. Claire has much more under her belt of musical accomplishments. She demonstrated her ability to play two different types of  flutes, the piano and her latest interest – jazz on the saxophone. Through the song Whirlwinds Dancing, she exhibited what a Native American Indian taught her – how to play the Native American cedar flute.

One of Claire’s many teachers has been with her since she began playing the penny whistle at five years of age. As her teacher Mary Beth Norris said last evening “it has been a pleasure to work with Claire. She is like a sponge and to have watched her grow into a beautiful young lady with outstanding musical talent has been so special.” Claire’s  other music educators Christel Houston, Derek Hurshman, Hannah Bowers and James Knapp had to have felt the same kind of pride for their contributions to the talent they nurtured.

It is a beautiful thing to see a student who understood at a young age what she was gifted with and has had all the resources she needed to develop her special musical endowments. Claire will go on to study music at the college level.

Another delightful evening in the community of  Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Where athletes and artists work hard to become world-class.

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

 

 

 

Art Depicts Culture

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“Enjoyment is an incredible energizer to the human spirit.” ~ John C Maxwell

While I walked the streets of historic Park City I took in many art galleries and retail establishments filled with chic clothing, jewelry and handbags embellished with lots of bling. But what really struck me was the contrast when I walked into the Thomas Kearns McCarthey Gallery. It featured paintings of Russian Impressionism. The artists of this period celebrate in their paintings “the common people, depicting their lives, hopes and dreams and emotions in an intimate manner.”

Most of the pieces in this premier gallery of Russian Art, the  Thomas K McCarthey Gallery, are from the 1930’s to the 1980s. The pieces are carefully selected for their depiction of the human spirit while laboring at their trade. To read more about the McCarthey Gallery, please visit this link.www.mccartheygallery.net.

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The town of Park City is rich with mining history. But the attention to the arts and the stunning natural beauty of the area is what will draw me back, yet again. Hopefully, soon!

See you tomorrow – brave hearts and dragons will be discussed on All Things Fulfilling.Sue’s memoir

 

Special Interest Bookstore

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Heroes take journeys, confront dragons, and discover the treasure of their true selves.” ~ Carol Lynn Pearson

The expanding heart1Some places you just have to return to. The Expanding Heart, a bookstore in historic downtown Park City, Utah is one of those kinds of places. I encountered this gem of a gift shop and bookstore on my visit to Park City two years ago and have never forgotten it.

It’s evident from what’s inside the store that great thought is put into their offerings. Those taking journeys into their hearts seeking self-realization can learn more about life’s natural energy forces through this bookstore’s publications and gift items. The focus of the store is all things that help fulfill one’s spiritual growth, emotional awareness and rejuvenation of the spirit. The sychronicity of the themes of the inventory is what makes browsing the store so interesting.

I came across a book that I couldn’t pass up because books in this genre are not a dime a dozen. At first glance I thought it was an unexpected find. But as I pondered the publication further, it indeed belonged among the other publications. It is all about self-expression and learning about oneself through art.

What was it you might ask? An historical art fiction book called With Violets: A Novel of the Dawn of Impressionism by Elizabeth Robards. It takes place in Paris in the 1860s when art had reached a new dawn, and creatives were freely exploring new styles of painting. Based on artist Edouard Manet and his relationship with one of his models, she comes to terms with the fact that she does not want to follow what Society expects for her but rather she will create her own future. I can’t wait to dig into it.

I enjoyed my second visit to The Expanding Heart and Svetlana, the store attendant, could not have been more enjoyable to talk with. Park City was a welcome get-away after having just completed a memoir. Sue’s memoir Come back on Monday I will let you in on a few of my favorite art galleries I visited in historic Park City, Utah.

downtown park city

Historic Main Street, Park City, Utah

Fool Notions and Fun

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Anywhere is paradise; it’s up to you. ~Author Unknown

Can you hear me clapping? It’s Friday and I am happy! I came along for the ride with my husband to one of my favorite places to visit in the West – Park City, Utah. He’s here for some ski business meetings. It gives me a chance to explore and have a much needed change of scenery for a few days away from Steamboat Springs. This is another beautiful mountain resort town where Olympians reign supreme.

On Wednesday, I scoped out the area to see what I missed my first visit here two years ago. I visited Redstone – an up-and-coming upscale shopping area just down the road from the ski jumps in Olympic Park.

All things fulfilling is what I found at Paisley Pomegranate. http://paisleypomegranate.com.  The store was filled to the brim with whimsy, fun, creativity, art and design in this gift shop that has been voted #1 People’s Choice. It’s the kind of retail fantasy land I like to browse so I can think about fool notions and nothing at all, all at once. Pure escapism at it’s best. Here are some photos:

Paisley Pomegranite 1

Paisley Pomegranite #5

Paisley Pomegranite 2

Paisley Pomegranite 3

Next week I’ll post more of what I’ve mined from this training ground for Olympians and the home of the Sundance Film Festival. During the film festival the town is chock-a-block full of celebrity gatherings and independent filmmakers. They arrive on the scene to showcase their art and put their hopes in dreams of going home with an award-winning film destined for cinemas across the country.

It’s a gorgeous spring day here day here in Park City, Utah. The trees are just beginning to leaf out and turn green. There’s still white-capped peaks on the upper elevations of the Wasatch Mountains. Happy Friday, everyone! Do return to All Things Fulfilling on Monday.Sue’s memoir