Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hal Stringer's artist gathering.

At the last minute I was invited to an artists dinner party being hosted by Hal Stringer in Winter Park. Mary Hill had told me about this event once before but the last time it was held, I was driving down to the Keys. When I entered the first order of business was to walk room to room and look at all the beautiful paintings of Florida landscapes. I bumped into Don Sontag a portrait artist who I first met when I worked at Disney and later at the McARae Studios. There was a self portrait by Don in the living room leaning up against a wall and waiting to be hung. There was a blur of introductions and then I asked if I could dig into the Paella that Phillis Miller had made. I thought I was going to leave within an hour to go sketch another dance rehearsal. I was the first to load up my plate and I went into the living room to eat. I only knew a few people at the gathering and as I ate, I started to feel overwhelmed by the sound of all the different conversations. In a crowd like this I start to hear everything at once with no filter. It gets to the point where I don't even notice if someone is talking right at me. Mary Hill suggested I take a look at the artist studio in the back yard.

When I went back to the studio I fell in love with the space. It was a tiny little outdoor shack with exposed beams and a warm inviting interior. Inside a table had been set up and people were seated having dinner. The studio also had an outdoor patio with comfortable lawn chairs with a perfect view of the bright half moon. I suddenly realized I had to sketch so I ran out to my truck to get my sketchbook and supplies. The people around the table were, Elizabeth and Joe Ferber, Maralyn Masters, Sharon Osterhold and Jazz Morgan. After they finished eating they started to paint their dinner plates. All of these plate paintings were abstract and very colorful. One finished plate painting can be seen on the fireplace mantle in my sketch.

A few people became curious about what I was up to, so I found myself surrounded with people who wanted to see my sketchbook. As usual, my eyes teared up from the strain of sketching, and I struggled to recover. The host joked about how he took the longest time to join Facebook. He said "This gathering is face time, not Facebook." Mary came out with a blanket and sat in the lawn chair next to me. We joked for a while about the notion of making a B grade horror film. It is actually a really fun idea that I am now considering doing some visual development for. I was glad I had decided to stay longer at this artists gathering. I got a good sketch and met some talented and inspiring artists.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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