This is what art is about; telling a story and touching our souls. This touching story is shared with permission of Penny Sandahl. Penny and her granddaughter Hannah live in Minnesota and have each been students of mine. I am so proud of Hannah. What a talented, strong, brave, young woman.This email was written by Penny to the Children's Hospital in Minnesota.
"Two months ago in July, my 17 year old granddaughter Hannah, was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm that would require surgery. The doctor also informed her that because of the close proximity to her optic nerve, there was the possibility that she could lose some or even all of her vision. (Not anything an active, busy, teenager wants to hear.)
With surgery looming ahead in a few days, Hannah could not sleep. She got up a 3 a.m. and began painting. A couple of hours later, when her dad got up, Hannah handed him the watercolor painting she had just completed. As he took in the emotion of the painting, tears began streaming down his face. It was the first time Hannah has seen her dad cry. And in that moment, there were no words as the two of them embraced.
Now fast forward to September, and the 1 month anniversary of Hannah's successful brain surgery. She is now on the road to a full recovery with no loss of vision, as she starts her senior year of high school.
I recently showed a friend a copy of that watercolor painting. (See Painting at Left) She, as well as others who have seen the art, are truly moved by the emotions that you see in the painting. So it is with her recommendation, that I am contacting the hospital, to see if the marketing department would have any interest in the painting. If so, Hannah would like to donate a copy to the hospital.
Over the years, we have heard wonderful things about the hospital, but until we were in that environment, we had no idea of what a positive life changing experience the hospital provides.
Words cannot express our gratitude for the exceptional care and treatment Hannah received from the doctors, nurses, support staff, and volunteers at Children's Hospital.
Hannah, as well as our entire family, feels truly blessed. Thank you."
Hannah, I feel blessed to know you!
When we purchased our home in 1984 we were told our house was the original home for the surrounding area/farmland. At the time I thought, well isn't that a nice story but is it true? You need to know that our house sits in the middle of a city block of modest homes. I wondered why our lot would not of been more impressive. Well in October a man came to our house and said that he found these photos in the attic of his grandfather's home. He said they were pictures of his great grandfather's home which was originally located across the street from the historic St. Clare Broiler, .4 miles from our current location. His great grandfather's farm included the athletic field of Macalester Collage, OMG it was true! Over the last 150 years or so there have been changes to our home. The full sized front porch didn't make the move to Saratoga Street but you can see that the right side of the porch was converted into 3 season porch. A friend of ours built the new front porch a couple of years ago. The charm of the original windows were updated with energy efficient windows in the 1950's and most recently in 2000. The wood siding is covered with vinyl but we have maintained the original wooden dental trim at the roof line. I am working on researching the history of our home, including the date our home was built. I know that it was moved to our current location in 1910.
Teaching. This year I had the pleasure of teaching in Naples Florida, Litchfield Minnesota, Portland Oregon, St. Louis Missouri (twice!), Colorado Springs Colorado, Phoenix Arizona, Owattona Minnesota, Columbus Ohio, Waukensha Wisconsin, Virginia Beach Virginia, Marlborough Massachusetts, Hutchinson Minnesota and Oklahoma City Oklahoma. I also had workshops in my home and was introduced to an entire new group of painters who have also recently retired. As a reminder to those of you who do now live in Minnesota, I live near the Minneapolis/St Paul International Airport and the Mall of America. Find a cheap flight and join us for a class. With encouragement from you I can add a second day class with a additional project.
Yep, retiring early from the legal profession was very positive change in my life. I highly recommend retirement to every artist. If you cannot retire, working part time is a real gift to your health and creativity too.
I often say that the best part of teaching is sharing what I love with others and meeting new people. (Due to my poor recall of names, I get to meet people over and over again!) This was certainly true this year. I had the pleasure of teaching all over the country and Italy. It is the excitement of students with their paintings that keeps me going. What a great job. Students are happy to see you and we just share happy and joyful moments together. As politics force us apart, I am focusing on bringing people together with art.
This year I had the pleasure of teaching in Naples Florida, Litchfield Minnesota, Portland Oregon, St. Louis Missouri (twice!), Colorado Springs Colorado, Phoenix Arizona, Owattona Minnesota, Columbus Ohio, Waukensha Wisconsin, Virginia Beach Virginia, Marlborough Massachusetts, Hutchinson Minnesota and Oklahoma City Oklahoma. I also had workshops in my home and was introduced to an entire new group of painters who have also recently retired. As a reminder to those of you who do not live in Minnesota, I live near the Minneapolis/St Paul International Airport and the Mall of America. Find a cheap flight and join us for a class. With encouragement from you I can add a second day class with a additional project.
Estimated late 1800's
The highlight of 2018 has to be our trip to Tuscany, Italy. Fran Mittelstet and I took a group of painters and nonpainters to stay in a restored monastery near Sienna Italy. I will admit that I was somewhat cautious of traveling out of the country, but my hesitation was without cause. It was delightful. It was beautiful. It was relaxing. Everyone was very kind. Most natives spoke English which was good because I spoke no Italian. I even had a bus driver get off his bus and walk me around the corner to point to the correct bus stop for the bus to my destination. Wow. I think it helped that I was on a hill and could point to the famous building I was trying to get to. So, even clueless travelers like me can have a successful and safe trip.
The poppies were blooming as we had hoped. Most of our stay was in the countryside providing us with calm and lots of inspiration for new paintings. We painted at our own pace and started journaling which was a whole new source of inspiration for many of us. I took over 950 pictures on my phone. We visited vineyards, ate gourmet meals and sampled plenty of wine. I did plenty of shopping of fine leather goods. I treated myself to 2 leather coats (I just couldn't decide ) and a pair of boots. Oh, when we were in Florence, our hotel was next to a purse outlet. Yes, a purse/bag outlet. It was meant to be. I did plenty of shopping there, and it was all such a good value. I didn't have limit my choice to just one thing!
We had such a lovely time that we are going back in October 2020. Come and join us. As soon as the details are worked out, we will let you know. Many of our students are coming back with us so you will want to sign up early to reserve your spot.
2018- Life Just Keeps Getting Better!
Yep, retiring early from the legal profession was a very positive change in my life. I am so happy. I highly recommend retirement to every artist. If you cannot retire from your "pay the bills job," working part time is a real gift to your health and creativity.
I often say that the best part of teaching is sharing what I love with others and meeting new people. (Due to my poor recall of names, I get to meet people over and over again!) This was certainly true this year.
I had the pleasure of teaching all over the country and Italy. It is the excitement of students creating their paintings that keeps me going. What a great job I have. Students are happy to see you and we just share happy and joyful moments together. As politics tends to focus on differences and force us apart, I am focusing on bringing people together with art. Only positive thoughts please.
New Creations This year I have added to my selection of watercolor paintings and have created more acrylic pieces. my current process of painting with acrylics is different than the decorative painting method of base coat, shade and highlight, which is how I initially painted. (And by the way, I am an excellent base coater and floater.) My current process is more like creating a colorful under painting with texture and then carving out whimsical shapes with gesso, sloppy outlining and shading with a Stabilo pencil and water soluble crayons. Mostly just having fun and not making it so hard.
As we progress through the year, think what about what you like about your artwork and what you do not like. If it is not fun and enjoyable for you, maybe you should try a different medium. Take a class from an artist whose art you admire. Or just change your attitude, change your life. And of course DO NOT MAKE IT SO HARD!
2017 Was a Great Year for Me!
In November of 2016 I retired from my day job at a law office to be a full time artist and instructor. What an exciting and correct decision it was. I am ever so grateful for my husband's support and his willingness to keep working so that I can have health insurance. I continue to be surprised at how enjoyable and stress free my life is now. I discovered that life is about knowing you have choices (good and bad) and making the right choice for you. I am focusing on being around positive people and circumstances.
in 2017, I traveled to Nashville and painted with the Middle Tennessee Decorative Artists. I also enjoyed teaching at Hoot, World of Color Expo, Art and Soul Retreat Minneapolis and Virginia Beach conventions, and the new convention in Oklahoma City. I was fortunate to teach at Wet Paint, a fabulous art store by my house, I also showed at 3 art shows and sold art! I completed the pattern packets for the Lillian's Cactus, Prickly Cactus, Yellow Bird and a new batik pattern called Whimsical Flowers.
It has been nice to be able to have the time to focus on creating art for the sake of creating without the motivation of how I can teach a project in 4 or 6 hours. I started my first journal and have been using it to create and develop new ideas and documenting my first year of retirement.
Fran Mittelstet and I are bringing a group of students to Sienna Italy in June 2018 to tour and paint with watercolor. This international travel very exciting and we guarantee you will have an enjoyable time. Please join us.
I am also excited to announce that I finally got myself motivated and organized to create an email newsletter to send to my students and friends. If you would like to receive my newsletter, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Brush with History