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Amelia SanJon Gallery
Amelia Island Artists Workshop
Sandra Baker-Hinton
218A Ash Street., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034  904-491-8040,  904-557-1195 cell

It has been a couple of weeks of workshops on the brain as I work toward getting out promotions for
the various workshops Mikolean and I are having.  Deadlines loom as we work hard to get the word
out so no one who wants to attend is left out.
There is still time to sign up for this April 19th (Monday) Workshop, which is the next one.  There is more
to this job than signing people up and collecting fees we have to make sure like any honored guests, they
and the instructors are well taken care of with housing and other amenities.
May brings the "premier" watercolor portrait painter in the United States to teach on Amelia Island.  Even
if you paint in oils you can learn a lot from this lady.  Rooms for the workshop have to be booked and readied
when the time comes, tarps put down, table covered and arranged, coffee pots, snacks, and tea readied. 
And this time both Mikolean and I (maybe foolishly) decided to be students in addition to what shaped up to be
a small group.  Lana Grow, one of American Watercolor Society's top prize winners with her very abstract paintings
had come to town to teach us to be bold, free, experimental and believe in ourselves and to let go and "just do it". 
She demoed each day showing us many varied techniques, letting a piece grow from being created
with loose free layers of color, as we happily blotted, dripped, and stamped our way into having a
brightly colored paper. Next we were led into the steps toward taming it into a true work of art by
planning what to keep of that first impressionistic piece and what to loose with purposeful design in mind. 
For five days we worked hard and long. gobbling up every bit of information she could throw our way.
It was also a fun and bonding time of artists who both lived near each other and sister artists from other
towns.  Lunch one day at the beach so we could be aware of the sunshine and warmth which has taken
its time finding us.
This painting begins to take on a new look as the areas of bright color are covered with more neutral
colors creating a different composition as well as some quiet areas to calm the wild abandon and
brilliance of its beginning.
Lana was one of those unselfish teachers who freely shares any knowledge and techniques she had
added to her vast storehouse of information.  With a small group such as ours it enabled her to
spoil us all.
Mikolean generously invited us to an evening of wine and hors d'oeuvres at her beautiful home on the
marsh.  With the tide lower than I had seen it I had to have some photos from her dock.  The muck of
the marsh is the richest ecosystem in the world.  Some of the life which calls it home are these
beds of oysters which have tightly closed their valves as they are left high and dry. 
The low sun catches the lacy edges of the shells as this robust bed awaits the incoming tide to once
again loosen those hinges and sift through the food supply.
Things which were once garbage in the water become a host for the shells which cling and grow
on any surface. Barnacles then find a home on the shells of the oysters making it real condo living.
Inside Lana shares a slide show of her own work which she discusses and with which we are
captivated.  It was a hard week and a wonderful respite for me to have to "just do art" for a whole
week, total emersion for a while. 
Leaving the party in time to rest up for another long and final day of class.
The days ahead were fraught with pitfalls that I did not realize at the time.  Easter: I spent a nice day
with my sister and her kids, a rare treat for someone who has lived away from family most of her life.
It was a combination birthday for me and Easter dinner and a day off to rest.  However by nightfall
I was beginning to feel a certain queasiness that except for a reprieve long enough to watch the
Shuttle launch from the beach that morning I spent the rest of my birthday in bed unable to even attend
my own birthday party.  Bummer. 
With the worst past by Wednesday I was able to once again decide I would live for another day and
go to another gathering for some of us involved in the class and a "goodbye party" for both Lana
and also Anne who will soon be returning to Cape Cod until next year.  A walk on the boardwalk at the
condo Anne stays in is always a feast for the eyes.  Looking down the grasses of the marsh are a
jumble of patterns as the old grasses die and the new sprigs are just starting to show themselves.
A spider had woven his art creation between the railings as we walk past.
And the colors from the setting sun wash the wet marsh mud and reflect on the water rivulets it
creates its own art form.
We watch to see the end of the sun suddenly dip out of view and think back on a week well spent,
well except for the stomach bug, no fond memories there.
This brings us up to present as of 4 days ago and beautiful day to be off.  Unfortunately I had hours
of catch up preparing press releases on the workshop business but at least I could take a break and
go outside and enjoy the beautiful sights there.  A hawk softly slid into my trees looking for whatever
dinner he could prey upon.  I make a hawk whistle sound to warn the squirrels to hide.  It seems
they all disappeared.  I loose sight of the hawk very near a large squirrel nest above my head.
Hopefully some mom doesn't come home to find her offspring have been taken.
With the extended winter I was beginning to doubt that my azaleas were even going to bloom.  They
are a month late this year but bloom they have.  More beautiful and full then I can remember.
Am amazing jolt of color splashes onto the scene shouting at the top of its lungs that winter is over.
Our oak leaves fall like snow reminding me that raking must be done quickly before the grass comes
out of dormancy otherwise it will not be done.  Miss Shelly comes over to climb up for a treat of
pecans and peanuts.
Yesterday in this photo it is quite evident that our little girl is nursing some fast growing offspring.
I tried to follow her pathway through the treetops to once again attempt to find her nest and may
have finally found it.  This is not a very large nest but may be the one.  I did not see her enter it
but did see her nearby.  Unfortunately all squirrels look alike and it is difficult to tell which is
which once you loose sight even for a moment.
It is exciting to think that she now has her own family and will not be alone out in wild squirreldom.  The
past few days she has not come to visit.  My belief is that the babies have reached the point which she
did in her development where they are not sleeping as much and are moving about the site.  I remember
teaching her learning finer points of climbing and can't imagine letting go for exploring when you
this high above the ground and in this precarious a position.  I have seen many older squirrels,
including Shelly,
get distracted and miss a step, falling to the ground in the process.  I went to her nest site
and called her down but she was very nervous about having me that close to her babies.