Thursday, January 2, 2014

Water, water, everywhere

Xmas tree seen on the Winter Park Scenic Boat tour.

Here’s how it works: I think up a subject, gather the pictures then write words to go with it.  I had one subject in mind, a recent painting project but when I viewed my images for this post I realized the real subject is water. It should have been obvious to me since I just got back from Florida, a peninsula surrounded by water, and as it happens I spent every day looking  at water (in a lap pool), crossing over water by car, paddling on water in a canoe, standing on water in a yacht, and oh yes, I painted water. The painting is the main reason I brought you here yet the water depicted in it is hardly noticeable -but you can decide that for yourself.

The Winter Park home of Mr. Rogers of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood fame.

So,  picking up where I left off last blog post, yes, I spent the final days of 2013 in Orlando with side trips to Palm Beach and Wekiva, (from the Creek Indian word for "flowing water”).  All of Florida sits on top of water that is often just barely underground and in many cases is at the surface in the form of ponds, lakes, and rivers which are often connected, chained they call it. Getting in and on that water means you’re visiting the real Florida as far as I’m concerned.  On my last full day in Florida I took the Scenic Boat Tour of the Winter Park chain of Lakes, established in 1938.  The boat drivers give a kind of schmaltzy description and there are moments that feel like a Hollywood tour of stars homes, “straight ahead the twenty-two thousand square foot lakefront home of…” but the scenery was so lovely and the weather so beautiful that a little drippy chatter hardly mattered.
Google map view showing the start/end point of our canoe trip (race).
My canoe mate.

Great blue heron as seen from my canoe. Can you find it?

Let’s Active! Even better to be active on the water, we chose canoeing. And with two pairs in two boats it became an impromptu race: out to our furthest point and back to the start. My boat won, btw. Along the way I saw some would be subjects for my painting, water fowl:  the Florida ibis, a great blue heron, a number of vulture, alas no roseate spoonbill which is what I painted. Conveniently I relied on Audubon rather than direct observation for my work.

These are the elements that made up my painting.

“Paint the Roseate Spoonbill but with a twist” –that was my directive for the commission; a painting for Bricktop’s a restaurant in Palm Beach. Optimistically they initially scheduled an opening for Thanksgiving. I easily made that deadline and actually another deadline, a seemingly impossible deadline, to create four more paintings, more about those later.

Here is my (almost) final collage before I started painting.

I added these words which makes almost as much sense as "Let's Active".

The completed painting in my studio.

 Here I thought you might be interested in some behind the scenes of how I often put my projects together so I included the separate disparate elements I collaged to create my final composition. I think this is one of my strangest commissions to date but let’s hope it will keep diners and imbibers entertained and returning to solve the riddle wrapped in an enigma surrounded by a mystery.

My work is hung on the open air porch and this shot is so new the dining tables haven't even arrived.

My little side trip to Palm Beach was partly to view and photograph my work installed at the restaurant which unfortunately was a little behind schedule so my work was not yet up. However, the manager, John Becker, very kindly emailed me a couple of photos today that show my big painting hung. Later I’ll show you the rest of my work there when the restaurant is in full swing. It’s the perfect time open a new bistro and catch the wintering crowd. Balmy South Florida is the place you want to be in the U.S. when it’s winter. Current forecast predict 36 hours of frozen fury for about 100 million Americans.


  1. Hi, Scott — By coincidence, I did a collage based on Audubon’s Roseate Spoonbill this past year, too.

    I like your solution, and it looks as though you had a lot of fun. You were in Florida at a good time. It’s down in the 40-degree range as I write this . . .

  2. Hi Mark!

    Thanks for the link. Had I known about it I would have used it as a reference. The one I used is here:

    Yes, I thought the weather was great though my mother was practically apologizing for it.


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