Its hard to say when winter ends and "Spring" begins in Florida. I kept hearing people tell me that "winter" was over and that the flora and fauna were acting very "Spring-like".
Compared to "ice out" and 10 feet of snow melting in Maine it all seemed pretty subtle to me. The only sure sign that it is spring in Florida is when Spring Training starts and the "snowbirds" begin to go home.
The Spring Shows
This year I did quite a few craft shows in the Sarasota area (Siesta Key, Coquina, and Lido Beach), a few more in the Villages (Sumter and Brownwood), St. Pete Beach and Dunedin. The shows were good and not a single "rainout" in 3 months!
One of my favorite shows turned out to be in Brooksville, Florida. It was a well established fine art & craft show north of Tampa attended mostly by local folk. It had an "old Florida" feel to it. I felt fortunate to be there and to my surprise I won an Honorable Mention Award in the Crafts category. There's something about winning an award for your work that makes the ride home all the more enjoyable.
New Paintings Loon
I wasn't expecting to sell many of my new loon items in the south but it turns out that most of the folks at the craft shows in Florida this time of year are the from the mid-west...states like Minnesota and Michigan where loons are common. Wine and Grapes painting
Most of the items I sell at craft shows use my original watercolor paintings. The trivets, placemats and coasters are all reproductions of my original artwork or photographs on wood. But when I talk to people at shows some are surprised that most of the items actually start with an original painting and they want to know more about how it is done. So here's a brief example of some of the steps I followed in a wine motif painting I did in Florida. (The printing of the final painting on to the wood trivets, etc. is a separate process).
I used a sunny patio to stage a still life using materials I had at hand or could purchase locally..... wine, glasses, a marble table, begonia plant, etc. After I set up a still life to get a better idea of the composition I wanted I worked on the color pallet, using blossoms from the begonia plant and fresh grapes to see their true colors. And I found a big ceramic pot with green mold on it.... just the colors I was looking for. After doing a sketch using photos of the still life I "blocked" off the areas that would be the whitest with art masking fluid. With watercolor painting you can't go back and add white over a darker color. These lighter areas are the last to be worked on with the whitest areas having little or no paint at all.
Here's a few photos of some of the steps in the process:
Exploring the West Coast of Florida
The Pinellas Bike Trail runs from St. Petersburg up to Tarpon Springs on the west coast of Florida and I tried to get out there as much as possible when I was not painting or doing shows. I had some great rides with family and with old and new friends. Exploring the beaches and trails in the Tampa Bay area, kayaking the inland waterways of Homasassa, finding new subjects to paint (like the baby great horned owl at Honeymoon Island) kept me busy and entertained. I also had a chance to get out to LA to see my son, catch a Dodgers game, bike on the beach trail, check out a few art museums and spend a very happy birthday with family and friends. Can't wait to go back!
The trip back to Maine
I packed up the Jeep the last week in April and headed back to Maine but I still had one more show on the way home....The Great American Pie Festival...in Celebration, FL, near Disney World. I was told to expect about 50,000 people coming to taste the biggest selection of pies on the planet! And of course to buy stuff from a few "select vendors" that sell food related items....like PIE TRIVETS! How could you go wrong with those odds? So I printed up a lot of my cherry, pumpkin, apple and lemon tart trivets and set out for Celebration, FL. The weather was great. The people were nice. But in the end I don't think I'll have to print up any more pie trivets for the shows this fall! I've got a few left on hand!
I finally made it back to my cabin and studio in Rangeley during the first week of May. There was still a little snow in the shady spots down by the lake but the tulips were up! I got the garden tilled, the grass mowed and tested out a kayak that I might get. And in a few days I will be headed to Meredith, NH for Memorial Day Weekend. It will be the first show of the summer! Already! Check out the rest of the Shows
coming up this summer.