Hello my friends!
Well, I’ve had some time to settle into my place in Florida, and I’m once again reminded of why I love to come here. Yes, I hate the cold, and any excuse to bail out in the winter would be used, but this is definitely the place I want to be. Although, it isn’t without its issues. I arrived to find a newsletter in our community, discussing the problems we’re having with some of the residents here.
I’m not speaking about my lovely neighbors who also own houses here. Nope! I’m talking about the family that is making a mess of things, particularly on trash days. Apparently all of the new construction in this area has displaced a family. A family of black bears! I always knew that bears lived in this part of the country, I just never anticipated them being members of my home association! Nerves are running a bit high, since someone saw me with my dog, thought she was a bear, and about had a heart attack. (Hey, she is a big dog, and black in color.)
We also are the proud owners of a pesky, and from what I hear, a very cranky bobcat. While the bears won’t seek you out and deliberately give you chase, I guess little “Bobby” will. It’s a good thing I’m in law enforcement, and always carry a canister of pepper spray with me. I learned that lesson when I was charged by a wild boar last year while also walking the dog. Who knew I would need pepper spray here in a retirement community! I always thought Kansas City was a better candidate for that.
If you take a look at my latest book, Draw Animals in Nature, you’ll see why Florida inspires me. That book is one of my personal favorites. Inside those pages, much of the drawings have come from the wildlife I see here. My friendly little armadillo is still hanging around the house, never far from view, poking for grubs. The alligators, which now look wimpy compared to “Bobby” (maybe the two should meet!), lounge quietly in the pond across the street. And the very friendly raccoons will surely be there to greet me when I return to my teaching job at Rookery Bay next week. I’m in the mood to paint!
The birdlife here is a thing to behold: egrets, herons, and pelicans take to the skies. I went outside to have coffee one morning, and there was a flock of ibis casually pecking in my yard. You don’t see that everyday!
Not only that, but the scenery is also magnificent. Just looking at the sky, the differences down here are amazing compared to those at my Midwest home. The clouds seem lower and bigger, and the sunsets are never the same way twice. It’s a new show each evening.
Next week, my first acrylic painting class begins, and I’m sure we’ll be capturing the wonders of seascapes and cloud scenes, courtesy of Florida.
I love how my artwork seems to change with the locations. Just a few weeks ago, I was teaching a painting class where we were creating a snow scene, complete with a smiling snowman. I also taught an evening snow scene, all in shades of blue. I demonstrated how to create the look of falling snow with a toothbrush, splattering the paint by raking your thumb down the bristles. Now, the palette changes to shades of pink to capture the beauty of a sunset over the water. How inspiring.
I love living in two places. Both offer me unique artistic challenges. I live in a constant state of “looking forward to.” I always “look forward to” going back to Kansas, with my full studio of students and the Midwest flowers that I so love to draw. And I always “look forward to” the end of the year, when I can come south and enjoy the totally different lifestyle that I embrace here.
Artists need change. We need new things to look at and variety in our lives. Look at the world with eyes wide open, and see all of the possibilities it provides you for subject matter! It is never ending. Life should be exciting and inspirational! It should always be a case of “looking forward to.”
Lee Hammond has been called the Queen of Drawing. That may not be fair these days, since in addition to providing the best drawing lessons, she has also created fantastic books and videos filled with the same easy to follow acrylic painting techniques, colored pencil techniques and more. Click here to see all of the instructional books and DVDs that Lee Hammond has to offer!