There was a surprising gift under the studio tree this week…

John Seed has included my painting, The Beginner…

in his Huffington Post Blog as one of the top 10 Mememorable Paintings of 2011 . The painting is currently on display in the Small Works Exhibition at Gallery 1261 in Denver, CO.

From the depths of my creative hibernation… I thank you John.

Here’s the extended snippet of the comments I sent to John with my thoughts about the work…

I’ve got this friend Ted who just turned 95 and lives on Martha’s Vineyard.
Ted was a high school art teacher and artist and has spent almost a whole century now inspiring and encouraging artists. I met Ted about 10 years ago and he has been “schooling me” ever since. (I’m working right now on a painting of him in an apple orchard which he posed for last fall.)
We talk often over the phone as he lives alone now but when we are on the Vineyard we spend a lot of time with Ted.
His house is chock-a-block full of antiques and stories to go with each one.
I noticed a tin can in his kitchen one day that had a bunch of those old pencils in it.
Wonderful chunky thick lead Dixon pencils that he used to introduce younger students to drawing.
I got up the nerve on our last visit to ask him if I could have one and he said, “Oh, those old things…here take the lot”.
When I got them home to the Pennsylvania studio and took a closer look I saw that they have the word “Beginners” embossed on them. And, since I’ve recently been hammering home the importance of a strong foundation in drawing skills to a couple of our grandsons who have brought their art questions to my studio… the idea of pencil as prop began to congeal.
The pile of rocks which are from the beach in Chilmark brought it full circle back to Ted and the tiny swiss army knife was one of the few items I brought home from Florida where I had to take my father off of life support earlier this year. That experience and it’s wake have been slowly filtering into my work in some quite unexpected ways. So, while I wasn’t aware of this until I just wrote this out for you, I guess it weaves a thread through three generations… with the iconic pencil as talisman.