Thursday, August 12, 2010

Festiva Maxima
14x16 Oil on Linen

Not far from where I live there is a beautiful historic estate called Hildene. It was built by Lincoln's son, Robert Todd Lincoln, in 1905. Behind the house there is a magnificent garden, known as the Hoyt Formal Garden. Some years ago the Friends of Hildene, who now oversee the estate, decided to have an art competition of paintings inspired by or painted in the garden. The top prize was $1000 and I was invited to be the juror. The resulting paintings were so wonderful they decided to repeat the competition the next year. This time I was able to participate. There are many varieties of peonies in the Hoyt garden, so I decided to paint a still life of peonies inspired by Hildene but from my garden. It was quite elaborate so I called it The Peony Symphony. I was delighted to be awarded First Prize at the opening. The next year I assumed I would not be in the running for a prize and decided to do a smaller piece. This time I worked in the garden painting a few Festiva Maxima blooms directly from the plant. I was alone in the garden with the estate gardener and we chatted cheerfully as we both worked. The painting was fresh and free and lively. I attended the opening to see who would get the top prize this year and was quite surprised to find I had won again. When my name was announced I heard another artist behind me whisper "again" and began to have thoughts of being pummeled by a gang of angry artists in the parking lot.....