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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
Amelia Island Artists Workshop (for workshop schedules)

Dr. Seuss...


And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,

stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?

It came without ribbons. It came without tags.

It came without packages, boxes or bags.

And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.

What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store?

What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?


May the true spirit of Christmas be with you this weekend and always!

A very fun job finished, I have been working on another one, it is a surprise and I will post a photo of it after it is gone to be with its new owners.  It is a belated wedding gift for our son over in Missouri and will also be their Christmas present.  It has only been two summers since the wedding.  Like most artists I must set myself "deadlines"; therefore I gave myself "Christmas present mailing time" as the absolute deadline for this one.  It is ready to mail today, although I'm sure they think I have forgotten the promise to do a painting for their wedding.   (Note: it is actually due to arrive today, this story is a few days late due to holiday schedule craziness.)
After the bug infested, crowded evening at the Ritz tree lighting on Thanksgiving Eve, I went back for a better look at Christmas at the Ritz, minus the hordes of people who had shown up for that event.  Very peaceful, it looks today.
Inside the atmosphere is the same, nice and quiet.  A wonderful place to visit even though it was a "business" meeting.  I was treated with the usual Ritz elegance and pampering with offers of drinks, coffee, tea, whatever, apetizers, and then they insisted that my sis and I at least sample some desserts from their luscious dessert tray while we waited on Chef "T" to begin our meeting.  I left feeling very indulged.

Now, a bit for the artists, or the artist in you:
The painting I had started in the last story started taking shape with washy areas becoming more defined.  When I looked at the photos on the computer I began to see that I was putting all dark colors in the corners.  I thought it was beginning to look like a photograph in an old picture album with those little black triangles holding onto it. 
The goal the next day was to soften the corners and make them not so dark.  They top left corner became quite light as I brought the warm orangish yellow over that way.  I didn't like the gray in the middle and brought the pale aqua on over into that area, and lightened up the red in the left corner so that it was not so dark.  More breaking up of shapes and creating sharper edges in what was originally wet colors flowing together.  I didn't want to lose all of that but didn't want it to look like it all happened accidentally either.
I warmed up the purple in the right corner.  Changed and added spots of color all over so that the blue was happening everywhere, the whitish through the center flowed on through the center covering some of the orange which I thought was too much of a good thing.  One thing about the top of this that bothed me, the round brown spot in the top left center.
I played around with it, doing different thing in different places as I thought and felt it needed changing.  Painted over the big brown blob, added some other touches like the white lines in the left corner breaking up that red and pulling the whitish yellow down into it, and finally after a good bit of "picking" at it, making small changes I declared it finished.  I may still find a spot or two of color I want to change but I have signed it.  I have not put the final varnish on it yet.  Sometimes it is better to leave it a few days or weeks, take a fresh look it, and then things will just tell you if they need changing.
This is the night before Chrysalis number 2 was ready to hatch.  You can clearly see the wings of the butterfly inside.
The next morning emergence was only minutes away as I was trying to get ready to go to the gallery but also catch the event.
I didn't quite catch the initial emergence where it looks more like a bug than a butterfly.  I guess it is still an insect but it seems they are more related to fairies rather than bugs they are so beautiful.  She hangs from her Chrysalis casing and begins to pump that big belly full of fluid into those wings.
Minute by minute the wings expand and become longer and fuller.
She is almost there.  I say "she" because I believe that is what we have.  In a female the black lines are much thicker.  In a male they are very thin and the spot on the third line which is slightly thicker is very pronounced on the male.  This is where the male produces his pheromones to attact the female.
I had to leave for work before she would be ready to release but that day Bruce would be able to perform the launch ceremony.
They very easily transfer to your finger and hang on while they are delivered through the doorway and to the real world outside.  This one showed no interest in climbing onto a leaf but when he showed her a flower it was a different story.  Trick is trying to focus a camera and take pictures one handed.  This gal quickly took to the air and flew first to one neighbors yard then back across to the other.  Off to lead her own solitary life, except for mating.  No freezes here yet so lots of flowers from which to sip nectar.
Number 2 was already emerged when I found her a few mornings later.  However she had just reached the filled out part and stilll needed some time for her wings to stablize before releasing and unfortunately we both had jobs to do.  Bruce thought he might could be free from the telephone system he was working on to come back at noon.
When it became apparent that he could not get free I closed the gallery about 1 and ran home to let this gal go.  She only opened her wings when she felt the breeze through the door so I couldn't get a clear photo so that you could see her bright upside.  She opened them once again when I sat her on the flower but still no time to focus during that part of the release.
I  watched for a good while as she explored the flower but she was not yet ready to fly and I had to get back to work.  It has felt like I was working in Santa's workshop with all I had to do.  The painting deadline was fast approaching and the gallery open house for Second Saturday was that evening, along with the Christmas Lighted Parade for the Downtown also on the agenda.  It had been cloudy most of the day.  
Although it was chilly, not cold, the light rain started just as the parade was coming down the street.  The photographs are very fuzzy, as was the evening.  We were all huddled on the porch as the parade participants were bravely marching by with the longest part of the route ahead.  The rain caused all the customers to go scurrying back to their cozy homes after the parade, leaving me having spent an amount on food and wine above our sales.  The chilly rain almost made me feel more in the spirit of Christmas because that is the way weather always seemed to be back in Georgia and Tennessee in Christmases past.
A  very cute, but probably cold, troop of little girls looked very festive in their fur hats and fur edged tutus, if that is what you call those little short skirts dancers wear.
A gal with a very nice voice seranaded us as her float went by.  I love Christmas music.  I attended Church Sunday morning, and was glad that even though our early service is billed the "Contemporary" Service, they still sang the traditional songs we all love at this time of the year.  The ones we can belt out with gusto, singing all the words without looking at them, at least the first and last verses.  Sometimes those in between ones get a bit foggy.
I am always in such awe of Mrs. Bean's dance studio, not just the young girls, but the octogenarian Mrs. Bean who is still running the show there.  She is such an energetic lady that she can out do all of us who are younger.  You will see her at some of the clubs where music is playing always with a broad smile for everyone and she is still smiling and swaying to the beat, cheerfully waving you goodbye when you are dragging out the door to go tuck yourself into bed at home.
All the floats were decorated with lights as they should be since it was dark-thirty.  It was fun as we all aplauded for each of them as they came marching or riding by.  Some were walking handing out candy and other goodies to the people along the parade route. 
One of the dance troup made me think of a Degas painting, as he used to do his beautiful pastel paintings of the dancers wearing these longer ballarina skirts.
"Cats Angels" always has one of the most impressive floats no matter what parade it is.  They do good work, I think, as I reach down often and pet the feral cat which visits all the places of business in our neighborhood.  She has been spayed by this group, as I can tell by the notch clipped in her ear, then returned to her neighborhood, where she is amply fed by all and probably answers to many different names.
My own Church's float, which has loads of children in it, is showing off just one wagon full of them as they are packed in tight with their cute red Santa hats.
Then the crazy wheel-standing antics of the Shriners follow...
...and except for the Christmas parade, the end is always signaled by the Pirates and the Pirate Ship firing their ear spliting cannons.  You just have to be aware that when you hear a loud shout of "Fire in the Hole" you cover your ears because it is going to get LOUD.  Someone recently wrote a letter to the editor of the News Leader stating that they thought we should ban the firing of the cannon.  Well, that's like telling Fernandinans to shut their church doors on Sunday morn.  The cannon is part of our culture, and yes it does terrorize all the babies and dogs in town but they will get used to it, and learn to love it as much as we all do, except maybe the dogs.
Just as collecting beads the Pirates give away is part of the culture.  When you come into the gallery you will find some of my many beads draped over my desk lamp, same as at home where the lampshade by "my" side of the bed is adorned with beads I have collected through the years.  The window treatment in my undersea themed guest bathroom is likewise drapped with the colorful glittery Pirate booty.  Yes, Pirates are here to stay with all their in-character antics, and their big hearts.
But of course the Pirates give up being the finale this time, to the guy in the red suit, Mr. Santa Claus himself.  He had already arrived in Fernandina around Thanksgiving, where he comes each year to vacation a bit, after a year of hard work in his toy shop.  He rests and gets a bit of fishing in before he heads out on his big night.  He will hang around town for a few more days getting his picture taken with children down by the depot.  If you are out and about you can bring the kids or even the dogs for some wish list taking and puppy kisses.  He will still be available for a few more days until he heads back North to get packed up.
Hope that you all have a great week, remember we are all downtown waiting to help you spread some good cheer this Christmas season.
(Please take a moment to consider:
These photo-stories have always been offered completely free, to simply share the wonders of nature. Thousands of hours have been poured into them and it has even become necessary to enlist the services of a paid email service to send out the large numbers who now receive them. So, with the current economic situation if you are able to make a small donation to help ensure the continuation of the stories it would be greatly appreciated.)

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