Missed Opportunities – Niagara-on-the- lake No. 5

At times past I’ve sought to find a way to portray a thought, an abstract concept visually. These days painting landscapes, I go out and take photos, go through the photos and pick what I want to paint, and when finished will reflect on what I’ve learned, or the impressions I had as I painted.

Casual observers and art critics alike can theorize what an artist was thinking, or the meaning behind a painting. I have no problem with others finding their own emotional connection with a piece. I do try and take the time to think about and share what my pieces mean to me. Whether it was the experience that came when taking photos of the place or something I learned as or after painting it. My blog is sharing my art and the stories behind them.

Several months ago a photo of Shaw Cafe showed up on a friend’s Facebook feed. It was beyond gorgeous. I was so excited as I knew our trip to visit family would allow me to take a short trip over to Niagara-on-the-Lake and see it for myself. I looked forward to it for months. I wished we had been able to spend more time there, we had a few hours to walk around and take photos, before returning to our families home. I took several photos around this cafe. Flowers line the outside seating area, hang from the second level, from nearby lampposts and line the other side of the sidewalk. Variety, color, and of course as a bonus there are the umbrellas!

As I look at the painting a phrase, a verse from the Bible comes to my mind; “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Psalms 34:8

While walking one might glimpse into a window and see yummy pastries in their case. They could stop and press their face to the window, breath in deep. They can even take a step into the store, yet their experience is limited. They haven’t tasted. It remains an intellectual knowing rather than a full experiential knowledge. So close, yet they miss out. (Now at times we wish to avoid experiential knowledge, and would gladly settle for reading about it second hand.) Because of time constraints, I feel like that day in Niagara-on-the-Lake, I saw much, yet missed really experiencing, tasting. You can see the beauty of Shaw Cafe painting, but it’s from a distance. You’re not sitting in the cafe surrounded by the beauty, enjoying a meal and the company you are with. After finishing I thought, it’s beautiful, but it doesn’t capture the feeling of being surrounded or immersed in that time and place.

I can be too busy, too distracted to be fully present in a moment of time. I don’t think I’m alone. In this age, it’s easier to scroll through my Facebook or Instagram feed getting a tiny glimpse of a friend’s day instead of making a phone call or sitting down to talk. We can be so intent on capturing those perfect images for our feed that we miss just being in the moment.

I think too often I settle in my life with God of knowing things about him, without tasting, sitting down and really soaking in His goodness. Read a few verses, send a quick prayer, move onto the next thing on my list. Yet really I don’t want to be an observer, I want to be a participant! To sit, to abide and to taste.

What do you think? Where do you need to slow down?

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The Ponce-St. Augustine

24×48

Acrylic on canvas

wIMG_9146

Driving around where I live you see a lot of new construction. Suburbs expanding, cranes working on new buildings and highways. History predating the 50s seems hard to find. It’s newer, bigger, better. I’m thankful to live in a place that’s growing and thriving. However, I also find it interesting to explore places and buildings that have stood the test of time.

St. Augustine is a few hours away and as the oldest, European continually occupied city in North America offers some history. The Castillo de San Marcos fort is a national monument that peacefully changed hands several times over hundreds of years. Over a hundred years ago, Henry Flagler co-founder of Standard Oil company (with John D. Rockefeller) hoped to transform historic St. Augustine into a winter getaway for wealthy northerners. He was interested in the poured concrete construction method used by Franklin Smith for his Moorish style home Villa Zorayda. Flagler’s The Ponce de Leon Hotel was completed In 1888 in the Spanish Renaissance style. After decades of use and glamour, The hotel referred to as The Ponce, was closed in the 60s and became part of Flagler College.

Looking around I felt a bit like we were at Hogwarts from Harry Potter. Love the arched porticos, and the tall towers, the courtyard with the frog fountain. There are plenty of architectural details to add interest and charm. It fits in the surroundings as the nearby Lightner museum and Casa Monica resort were built in similar style around the same time. These buildings stand out. They have stories to tell. They have a beauty that’s been preserved and restored for new generations to enjoy. Next time we visit I hope to take a tour and be able to further explore these places.

Umbrellas along Bloom Street

Celebration 5

Acrylic on Canvas

24×30

Eating outside, a picnic, around a campfire, at an outdoor cafe. For some reason getting out of the kitchen, or the dining room holds a special appeal. Maybe it’s the novelty, the change from the everyday. Perhaps it’s feeling the breeze blowing, sun on your face. Or the ability to people watch. Maybe it’s engaging more of the senses while enjoying the taste of the food before you.

One thing Celebration has is a number of outdoor seating options. Restaurants, benches along the water, even some rocking chairs at the edge of the lake. This scene is outside the Avocado Mexican Grill restaurant, along Bloom Street. I love the brightness of the umbrellas and the shadows from the tables. I arrived later in the morning, workers were getting ready for the lunch crowd that would arrive.