Mini Residency at Fair Oaks

florida_landscape_art_linda_blondheim_painting_wild Orange_tree

Notes From My Residency Journal

I arrived to overcast skies and chilly air this morning. I was prepared, with a sweater, hoodie, and hat with ear flaps. I wandered around a bit and landed at one of my favorite painting spots, down the alley next to Collins Field. There is a wild orange tree growing there with tasty fruit each year. It is sandwiched between large Live Oaks. I have painted the scene before in larger format and it recently sold, so today I decided to paint it alla prima.

I enjoyed listening to the crows chatter back and forth and the sight of Sand Hill Cranes passing overhead. What a wonderful quiet place to work. It was a treasured time for me. I heard something roaming around in the bushes near me. I wondered if it was a wild hog but out popped my canine friend Shane, who was goofing off trying to scare me. He is so much fun to play with. When he was younger, he used to ride around in the cart with me, but I notice more and more that he feels the need to stay with his Dad most of the time.

I was so happy to see that the citrus trees had survived the cold of a few days ago. The staff worked very hard, long into the night to protect them and we were all so pleased their efforts paid off.

The lunch bell rang and we sat down to a glorious lunch of chicken salad sandwiches, peas and onions, tossed salad, and baked sweet potatoes. I had to have two sweet potatoes, they were so delicious. We turned down the offered ice cream for dessert, being too full. I enjoyed a nice hot cup of coffee instead. I so enjoy lunching with the staff. It is always delicious and there is always interesting conversation. Today they took turns using big words, trying to top each other with their knowledge.  I hadn’t the foggiest idea of their meaning. I was an art major. 😉

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Pond Trees at Fair Oaks

After lunch I headed over to Holy Ground Field to paint the old Live Oak trees at the pond edge. I always enjoy that scene. Just as I was finishing up the misty rain began, so I packed up Leroy and headed for my own studio after another day in Paradise.

My year is already full!

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Canaveral National Seashore
16×20 inches
Oil on canvas
Notes From My Loft Studio

I’m already booked through April with residencies, studio party, and demoing for a Plein Air group. Wow! The calendar fills fast. March will be the hardest. I have the Wekiva Paint Out the first week, followed by a plein air demo at an event, and then a residency in Vero Beach. It is clear to me that this needs to be my last year of the mentorship and even private coaching. The calendar gets more full every year. Something has to go. I find that I don’t miss teaching as I thought I would. I am keen to study myself and the champion tree project is patiently waiting for me to get past some commission and other obligations. 
I have been searching for a master tree painter to study with for online lessons, and I have been disappointed to find that there don’t seem to be any. There are few tree painters period, much less masters of the craft. It seems these days that all landscape interest is in Plein air workshops, tonalism or portraiture, none of which interest me. 
Tomorrow I will be back out on the sidewalk doing my Saturday morning demo. I try to pick subjects that have variety. I will be painting waves this week. I am finding that the demos are enjoyable and entertaining for viewers. 
Sunday is the first mentor group outing for 2014 to Fair Oaks. We will enjoy painting at my favorite place. 

Mid Week at Winter Park Paint Out

Notes From the Pochade Box

Winter Park Paint Out HERE

I’m taking a break for a couple of hours to rest a bit. This paint out has been wonderful so far. I sold a small painting the first day, so at least I can say I sold, even if I don’t sell anymore.

We have had wonderful accommodations at my friend Elisabeth’s house. She has a lake front home. There is a nice screened porch behind the house for lake viewing and she has a lovely deep yard with Cypress and Oak Trees. Beautiful.

Day one I painted at the museum. Day two at beautiful Kraft Azalea Park, today at a lake, and tomorrow I will go back to the museum.

We have been treated very nicely by the museum staff and of course we all love and cherish Hal Stringer our Patron Saint. They provide a continental breakfast each morning. The artist party was catered. Along with that was a boat tour of Winter Park with a professional captain who told us all the great stories about the history of the town. There is a catered dinner tonight at Hal’s place. Saturday night there will be a lavish patron party catered. So it’s good grub!! The museum curator is hanging the show, so it is expertly presented and that is so important for sales. I am expecting there will be a large crowd on Saturday PM and hope for brisk sales. It is a first paint out for this area, so who knows what will happen?

This paint out has been done right!!! They made it an invitational only, with only 25 top level painters invited. This is the way they should all be done. You are seeing an exceptional body of work submitted. No weakness between painters, and yet completely diverse in styles and methods. This is the kind of event I want to be associated with. It has been done with class and style. There has been no favoritism, no special treatment.

Other paint out promoters would do well to pay attention to both the Wekiva and Winter Park events.

Thy are absolutely the best quality and style of all the many I have done. The difference is that all elements, from hanging the work, to the quality of artists is done with style and we are treated with respect and dignity, not abused or humiliated.

Bravo Hal Stringer and the board of directors at this beautiful and elegant museum.

More to come….

The week ahead, on location,workshop prep,Welcome to Moes

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Yesterday I finally got out to paint on location at beautiful Kanapaha Gardens in Gainesville. KG is a botanical garden but it is not typical. It is much less formal than most I have seen. It is very natural. There is a lovely palm arboretum, one of the largest bamboo specimen forests in the world, a lovely water garden and old pathways. Lot of people go there to wander with their dogs and the garden has water dishes for them along the path. There are gazebos and benches. The main entrance goes through a huge lofted building with classic Florida cracker architecture with a modern twist. There is an art gallery and nice little gift shop there. Each spring there is a festival too. I have a membership so I can go anytime I want to paint.

Saturday, I took a trip to the garden center. I wanted to spruce up the plants I keep out on my deck at the studio. As I drove up to the center I saw huge pots of yellow mums. I found 3 cobalt blue ceramic pots. The combination of that rich blue and the brilliant yellow of the mums was incredible. Of course I had to buy them. I also found a lovely Rudbeckia daisy (Black Eyed Susan), and a new rosemary herb. Yesterday, when I got home from painting at the garden, I was inspired. I brought in the daisy and did nine miniature acrylic paintings of the blossoms. Wow I had a wonderful time exploring the world of flowers. I am going to use the mums and daisy for my still life subject next Sunday for the monthly open studio class.

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This is one of the paintings in the rotation. Somehow I am down to only three paintings in the rotation. I am falling behind again on my starts. I’ll have to remedy that this week. I just need more discipline. Too many irons in the fire all the time.

This week I need to get notebooks and materials ready for my workshop at Kanapaha Gardens on Saturday. We will be working on composition I for the day. I also must pick up the studio for my Sunday Open Studio Class. it is going to be a very stimulating weekend with classes back to back.

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” Welcome to Moes” is heard when I walk in the door, called out by the line cooks. What a fun place to go if you are happy in a somewhat boisterous environment. I find it somewhat disconcerting but I guess I am at the stage of life where table service and a calmer mood is more appealing. My kids love Moes for the atmosphere and I love the food. We go there about once a month. It is a build as you go concept. You walk along the line and the cooks ask you questions about what you want on your entrees. At the end, you choose your beverage. It is Mexican food in the fast lane. All of the ingredients are homemade and there is great variety. I like it that I can get pinto beans or black beans and many other choices. The queso sauce is very good, especially if you add hot sauce to it.

I really miss good Tex-Mex cooking. I lived in the Dallas/Ft Worth area for about a year. The food was so good.

Chile Con Queso Dip

1 cup white cheddar, shredded
1 cups Monteray Jack shredded
8 oz Jalapenos, seeded chopped fine,sauteed until tender in EVOO, then drained.
1/2 cup Half and half cream
1/2 cup onion, chopped fine
4 tsp. cumin, ground
1 tsp. salt
(Hot Sauce to taste) Optional

Heat all ingredients over low heat, stirring constantly, until the cheese is melted.

Serve warm with tortilla chips.

Open Studio Class, Mac and Cheese, Muscle Cars

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Oh how I love my monthly Open Studio Class!! I never know who will show up or how many. On the day before, I actually have to clean up and organize the studio, always a good thing. The thing I like most about it is the camaraderie. Artists are loners by nature and now and then it’s good to have some friends and fellow artists around. It is important to share the visions and dreams of other artists, our hopes and anticipation for the masterpiece which is just around the corner.

Here we are:

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I am determined to get out to paint this Friday, without fail. I think I’ll go over to Twin Lakes Fish Camp in Cross Creek or to MKR State Park.

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I’ve always been puzzled by artists who feel it is beneath them to paint with others who might not be as skilled as they are. I love painting with people who are sharing the same struggles that I am. There is a great deal of elitism in the world of art and it is disturbing. We are pitted against each other by promoters and art centers, festivals and so forth. It has become very competitive and now even paint outs are set up to be exclusive and elite. Many of the organizations try to give a feeling of elitism and status by making us vie for signature status and awards. What does all of that mean? Absolutely nothing!! We are simply putting paint on canvas. It shouldn’t take signature status to tell us who can paint and who can’t. Our eyes will tell us. There will always be painters whose work is superior. We shouldn’t have to have exclusivity to make us feel self important. Good work always speaks for itself.

I was thinking the other day about my youth. In my high school years, muscle cars were it!!. I still love them. When I get rich, I’m gong to buy one fully restored. My high school boyfriend had a navy blue Plymouth Road Runner with all the stuff under the hood. What a car! Friday night was date night and he picked me up in the RR. There was always a bottle of whiskey on the front seat because in those days everyone drank. Our parents, grandparents and family friends all drank. It was part of our lives and no one thought anything about it. We would head straight for the drive in restaurant called Jerry’s and that was the date. We spent the evening eating,drinking and socializing with all of our friends, All of the muscle cars cruised through the parking lot and so the noise was deafening. Surprisingly, most of us were not drunk. We could hold our likker. That was my Dad’s best advice to me as a young adolescent. “If you can’t hold your likker, don’t drink”. I always remembered it and to this day I hate to be around a sloppy drunk.

I got through college on a wing and a prayer. I wasn’t very smart so I suffered through math and science classes, barely squeaking by. Money was always a problem. After all, I was in art school. I lived on tuna and mac and cheese sandwiches. There is nothing like a mac and cheese sandwich. No one believes me but it’s true. Here is the recipe:

Prepare one box of Kraft Mac and Cheese. Put it in a bread loaf pan and pack it down good. Refrigerate it overnight.

At lunch time, take it out and slice off a nice thick piece. Take two slices of bread, mustard and mayo, some lettuce and tomato slices and build a sandwich. You can also use pickle slices for extra flavor. Don’t forget the salt and pepper. it is delish!!! Good enough to get me through art school!!!

Painting Starts and Grits

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SOLD

I have been lazy this month, preferring to play with cartoons rather than paint very much. Since my goof off time is almost over, I have started doing some start paintings. I “started” today. I will plan to start at least one or two paintings each day, putting them aside until the next day so that I will have new paintings blocked in and ready to work on every day. This is my preferred method of painting. I rarely paint alla prima anymore, only at paint outs where that technique is necessary. I like to start a painting, take it to the messy stage and then lay it aside and go to another. I sometimes have 5 or 6 paintings going at once, moving through them in stages. I think having a painting started and ready to work on each day really puts me in the mood to work. By keeping them going in different stages, I never get bored with them. I am also able to have good control over contrast and retain clean crisp color with periods of drying time between sessions.

I also like this method for plein air work. I love to do starts on location and then go back for more sessions at another time. For those who don’t know, Alla Prima is painting a painting from start to finish in one session. It can be done out on location or in the studio. Alla prima and plein air are not the same thing though many people are confused into thinking they are. Plein Air means painting “in the air” outside.

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Let’s face it. I Love art no matter how one does it.

Grits!!! (Girls Raised In The South)

I love grits, don’t Y’all?

I have developed a wonderful recipe for grits which I modified from Daddy’s when we were little girls. He used to go into the kitchen at night and make a pot of grits. He would pour them into a bread or loaf pan and put them in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning he would remove the loaf from the pan and slice the grits, putting the slices on a skillet with butter and frying them brown on each side, He wold then put butter and syrup on them for our breakfast. It was delicious. Daddy only knew how to cook two things,corned beef hash and grits. They were both masterful.

Here is my modified recipe which is even yummier.

You start with a basic cheese grits recipe.

Cheese Grits

2 cups milk
2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried onion flakes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 eggs beaten
4 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese or white chedar cheese, shredded

Place the milk, water,eggs, dried onion flakes, and salt into a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once the milk mixture comes to a boil, gradually add the cornmeal while continually stirring. Once all of the cornmeal has been incorporated, decrease the heat to low and cover. Remove lid and stir frequently, every 3 to 4 minutes, to prevent grits from sticking or forming lumps; make sure to get into corners of pot when stirring. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture is creamy.
Remove from the heat, add the pepper and butter, and stir. Once the butter is melted, gradually stir in the cheese a little at a time.

Pour this into loaf pan and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, slice and place grits on a griddle or fry pan with butter. Brown on both sides. You will need to be gentle in turning the grits. When browned, sprinkle the tops with shredded cheese and serve on plates with bacon or sausage and eggs.

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I have also learned how to improve the taste of instant grits. I add black pepper and salt to them and put them in cold water. I microwave them for one minute, stir and add a pat of margarine or butter, back to the micro for another minute, stir good and micro for one more minute. They aren’t bad at all.