Hidden Courtyard

18×24 inches, acrylic on canvas

This is the third in my Winter Park series. It reminds me of hiding and being found or seen.

As a child, one of my favorite books was “the secret garden.” I loved the idea of an enclosed garden, hidden away, known only to a few. Children love exploring and making forts. Couch cushions and sheets are transformed to castles, dirt, and rocks arranged in the wood to make a custom hideaway. I was no exception, stuffing our backyard tree house with blankets and treasures, playing monopoly with my neighbor in our fort. Feeling secure, protected from the world.

There are a few courtyards along Park Ave in Winter Park that remind me of childhood. I love this one with the fountains and the black wrought-iron tables with their red umbrellas. A blue door in the corner and bright citron green ones welcoming one to a tucked away store. There are spots that everyone knows about, and others discovered by only a few who will wander off the beaten path.

As I think about hidden places, safety, protection a passage from the book of Psalms comes to mind;

“Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute— you’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.” Psalm 139:7-12 MSG

In a secret courtyard, in my room, as I walk through life, there is one who knows me who is with me, who is good.

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Hope Renewed

18×24 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

This was the first painting I choose to complete in a series inspired by Winter Park, Florida. The location is 430 W New England Ave in Winter Park.

I experienced a strong sense of hope and gratefulness as I walked along a street I hadn’t been on before.

I’ll admit sometimes life feels overwhelming and relentless. Difficulties seem to mount up instead of receding. Patterns emerge that cause a troubled heart, that this must just be as good as it gets. Learn to live with sadness and disappointment. We wait for change to happen and start to wonder if it got lost and isn’t coming after all.

I’ve been feeling a bit stir crazy. My list of places I’d love to visit grows, and yet I wonder realistically if most will get checked off. Don’t get me wrong, I like the familiar and going new places can be a source of anxiety presenting new challenges. Yet they hold potential. Potential to find a new store or restaurant or park that you’ll love. Potential for beautiful places to take your breath away. After living in Orlando for almost 20 years it can feel like all the places have been discovered. (And I long for something new to discover.)

So today my family kindly went with me so I could take some photos in Winter Park. I’d been a few times in the past few weeks and it was always overcast, and I love painting shadows. Today was sunny. It made so much difference in familiar scenes. And I found a few new ones. Another hidden courtyard off Park Ave with umbrellas and a fountain. And a street I’d never been down with trees and outdoor seating, bougainvillea, and dappled lighting. I felt my heart lifting. Like God was whispering in my ear, no matter how set things seem, I have more in store. There is a reason to hope.

Courtyard with Koi Pond

36×36

Acrylic on canvas

This is my second painting of the courtyard for the Lightner Museum, formerly the Hotel Alcazar. A covered arched walkway surrounds the courtyard with small shops, offices and the museum off the courtyard. The building is four stories high of poured concrete that was mixed with shells found locally. Palm trees reach toward the sun and a koi pond with a bridge sits in the middle of the space.

The surroundings feel peaceful and protected. A bit a sanctuary in the middle of town.

When I think of refuge I think of a place like this, secure, high walls of protection with beauty inside. We all seek refuge, in our job, finances, family, our faith. What does refuge/security look like for you?

Courtyard of Hotel Alcazar

wIMG_9143

24×30
Acrylic on canvas

As a child, I loved the book “the secret garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I loved the idea of a hidden away garden, a secret place full of life. Ask any parent and they will confirm children love making secret hideouts and can happily spend a day making a fort from cushions and sheets. Something in us longs for private sanctuary.

My family took a short trip to St. Augustine, Florida. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, it is the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement within the borders of the continental United States. It was fun to explore the narrow streets, take in the fort and other historic buildings. While searching for a bathroom we discovered Hotel Alcazar. It was built over a hundred years ago, and it now contains various shops and a museum, and an inner courtyard. Surrounded by an arched portico, the courtyard has palm trees, and other plants as well as a coy pond with a bridge. It’s own secret garden. A little place of peace and beauty to rest.