|Cocoon Plant & Roses 7x13 Watercolor|
This is an older painting, based on the usual line up of flowers and bud vases and cacti that lined the window of my kitchen in the house where we raised our kids. We're three years into a different home - one without the white tiles and the west-facing windows. I miss the flood of sunlight, but i'm enjoying other elements about this current nest. I still think I'd like to paint this one larger, and I have the sketches and reference photos to do it, so I pulled this out to ponder what I'd do differently. At the time, I was focused on the light passing through the green vase onto the tiles. The arrangement reminded me of a dance hall scene; the cactus fixed like a soldier in uniform with a day pass, and the roses twirling and flirting like a blushing debutant. With that in mind, if I *do* paint it larger, I'll come up with a more fitting title. What do you think? Larger? And what title if I do that?
Whenever I did however sell a picture, I always felt rather like a criminal. I must have cheated, for if they had seen that picture as I did with all its faults continually staring at me, they certainly would not have bought it. I, however, tried to sell them, but with little success. I was sending black and white drawings every month or so to New York publishers. As fast as they would be returned with thanks by one, I sent them off to another. Very few stayed, but I remember the first one that did - and the check for forty dollars that came with the letter of acceptance made me wonder how they could pay such high prices. Then soon afterwards I sold A Lion at Home, from an exhibit at the Academy of Design, for eighty dollars. I began to look up, and I commenced the most ambitious canvas, of "Androcles" and I spent all of my money on models, and learned some things of my failures.
I have had brilliant ideas in my life. One of them was to unite business with art. The thing to do was to have an occupation that would furnish a small income - a business that would not take all my time. So it was - I established a very modest photograph gallery at Atlanta, Geogia. The calculation that I should have some time was well made. The calculation that I should take some photos was a mistake. I had so much more leisure time than I had calculated upon, and this so distressed me that I could not work. So it turned out that I did nothing. I could neither make it go, nor dare let it go - because with "blood & tears" I got enough out of it to pay my board each week. It was at this most distressing period that it was my good fortune to meet Bishop & Mrs. J.C. Hartzell, and for the next few years, they became my patron saints.
The gallery was sold. I was back to life. What had perhaps helped to make the situation more tantalizing was the fact that a picture of mine had been sold in Philadelphia, at an auction sale, for two hundred and fifty dollars; true, I had received but fifteen, the incident had given me hope, and me more than ever dissatisfied with the four five dollars a week I was making in that miserable gallery.
The World's Work; The Story of an Artist's Life ~ Walter Hines Page (1909), transcribing letters from the artist Henry Ossawa Tanner