Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas in the Park

A free concert in Winter Park's Central Park was the perfect way to get in the Christmas spirit. It was a very cold night for Orlando. I arrived maybe half an hour early and already the great lawn was packed with families who had come out with picnic baskets, blankets, wine and even fine china and candles for the occasion. I felt a bit unprepared with just a sketchbook, pen and some watercolors. After I set up my stool on the sidelines, Ken Sperduso walked up and said hello. Ken was a former Disney colleague and a wonderful painter. I hadn't seen Ken in ages, it was a pleasant surprise. His whole family was camped out not far behind me. Ken said he recognized me from behind because of the sketchbook in my lap.

Large shadow box containers were arranged on stage and around the lawn, housing original Tiffany stained glass windows which were created for a church in NYC in the early 1900's. At the start of the concert they all were illuminated from behind. The instant they blazed brightly, the crowd burst forth with applause. It is rewarding to hear people applaud for visual art. These amazing works had iridescent colors that only Tiffany could perfect in molten glass. This display was made possible thanks to the Morse Museum which houses the world's largest collection of Tiffany's work.

The concert featured the Bach Festival Choir and Brass Ensemble. As I sketched, I pulled my hands up into the sleeves of my sweatshirt to try and keep them warm. Periodically I had to blow into my cupped hands for added warmth. It felt like Christmas time. When I finished the sketch I walked around in the crowd for a while looking for a possible second sketch. I walked under a streetlamp so I could see the colors I had just painted for the first time. Mr. and Mrs. Claus were handing out candy to children. They were dressed in vintage 1900's red wool and white fur outfits. They looked warm as they calmly posed for family photos. I considered a sketch but my fingers were cold, and the jolly couple were constantly on the move. The Park Avenue store windows glowed warm and inviting. With all the families huddling close together for warmth and the angelic voices of the children on stage singing, I started feeling out of place, alone, with only my obsessive compulsion to sketch as company. As I turned away and walked down Park Avenue towards my truck, I pulled the sweatshirt hood up over my head and felt instantly warmer. The children's voices were still harmonizing behind me and I let the warmth spread as I walked briskly back toward home.

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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