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Saturday, August 30, 2008

International Artists and Reconnecting with Old Friends

Charles Reid will be here in Rogers, AR in October! Randy and I 'threw a dart' at an International Artist's Magazine workshop schedule way back in 2005. Sorry, Charles, but we did not know you. We picked you because you were in Italy.

3 weeks of pampering, connecting with Charles and his wonderful wife, Judy...meeting Dibbie (debbie in US speak) from New Zealand, Sylvain (and her spiderman hi-top converse) from Hong Kong, Mary from Canada, Eileen from Chicago, Frank and Jean from Australia. When you are with an international group, and are aware of not being 'princess and the pea' like some workshop attendees, your experience is compounded 10 fold.

From breakfast (everyone stays in the same hotel), to a short bus ride to a plein air location (in Italy on the Amalfi Coast, that was an experience in itself)...putting your 'limited' plein air gear on your shoulder and hiking up a cobblestone switchback one-lane road to a village square where buses are not get a rude awakening about 'plein-air' and 'minimal gear'. Then back to the hotel, a swim in the Mediterranean, critiques with drinks, dinner together, and get up the next morning and do it again. Torture, Not!

We joined Charles and Judy the next year in Salzburg and Prague...and guess what? Dibbie, Mary, Sylvain, Frank, Jean, Charles and Judy were all together again with 4 of Sylvain's good friends from Hong Kong. It is SO cool to get those frequent calls from Hong Kong! International Artists! I'm lucky, to have subscribers to my blog all over the world...

Things just keep getting better and better! Randy and I have been planning this upcoming workshop with Charles Reid here for over 2 years...we had to wait a year to get on his schedule, and it was a year out! The minute it went up on his website in October 2007, it was full by December 2007! We have several artists on a wait list, just waiting for someone to drop out.

BUT, that is not the point of this edition...early in the sign-up for Chuck's workshop, I was doing the predictable spreadsheet on the people chomping at the bit to be first in line. #14 on the list was a hauntingly familiar name...James Buchan. Tulsa, OK.

I knew that name sounded familiar...emailed him and asked if he was the Jim Buchan who married my Big Sister, Karen from my sorority (Alpha Delta Pi) at the UofA in the late 60's. Yeah, you thought I was 30...LOL!

He called the next morning, and WAS! We re-established a 33 or so year old relationship...we had lost touch in 1973 or so...he and Karen are still married, raised 3 children...and he is a watercolor artist. The 4 of us arranged our schedules, they drove over from Tulsa to re-connect. I was as nervous as a skunk-cat on a hot-tin roof! would have rather taken a beating than go through with this...what if we had nothing in common!

However, they called around noon, and were having lunch at an old college hang-out, the 'D-Lux' on Dickson Street...having a burger (thank god not vegetarian) drinking beer and wine (thank double they aren't teetoterlers). Yeah, I spelled that wa-wrong.

When they pulling in the parking lot at Poor Richard's Art (my co-op gallery in Rogers), it was as if 30 years disappeared. We didn't miss a beat on conversation...Randy met us at our house, Jim had all kinds of art books to share, and they brought us two photos of ME as bridesmaid in their WEDDING...with BLEACHED blonde hair...all of 20 years old!

We went to PF Changs for an early AARP dinner...and suddenly they were gone.

But, the connection was forged. Jim and Karen invited us to their golf course home in Tulsa for a 'paint-out' last weekend. Turns out that Jim has painted since he was in high school, and has studied watercolor for over 20 years with a couple of AWS instructors. He has also taken several extended workshops with Nita Engle.

When I was encouraged to take up painting a few years ago, I thought I could 'teach myself' with the help of I had taught myself everything else I had ever done. I went to Hobby Lobby and sat in the floor as I picked out a book on watercolor instruction. I chose Nita Engle's book on 'Watercolor, Paints itself'. Yeah, right. Anything is possible? Gather the finger on the book, one hand on the paper and brush...OK, I quit that...not quite like teaching yourself needlepoint. Fast foward 4 years...Jim planned our 'mini-workshopt' exquisitely around Nita's book. We arrived at their house, he had the paper stretched, and the lesson plan organized...After we did the first stages (yeah, Randy and I are somewhat experienced, thank you Charles)...we had time to go to their club and drive the cart with Karen while Jim did a 9-hole tournament...then dinner out...then this am, we finished the 2nd stages of our paintings.

SO, thank you Charles...thank you International Artist Magazine...doors open with wonderful 'stuff' every life is kinda like a candy box, ya never know what you are going to get...but it is always sweet if your attitude is right!

painting buddies, world-class teachers, college connections (Karen was the house organizer for our sorority and her perk was to assign rooms that changed every 6 weeks or so)...she picked me for a roomie more on than off for 2 years...someone liked me! I am so glad to have that memory back.

Wonder what next week is going to bring? I can't wait...Katy, unbar the door, here I come!

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