Ahem… as part of my disclosure and honesty of writing, I will pull a George Washington-type confession in what exactly is the history of this painting (I did not cut down a cherry tree, as George confessed to his father). So here’s the truth: the time was 1982, I was just getting into the juried art scene, and many show entry rules were not well defined. I found a beautiful picture of a water lily in a magazine, and I loved it. I decided to make a painting from it, using a new, experimental approach. I had a long history with the theater beginning with my mother. She was great at production, direction, script writing, and make-up. I grew up the stage kid, running around backstage, in and out of everyone’s room. The world was my oyster. I was particularly interested in the make-up part of the theater. Mom could make anyone look like someone else. Most particularly, that little red dot placed on the inside of each eye was used to enhance the eye and keep them from looking cross-eyed. I later went into theater production choosing make up as my specialty.
Hmmmm, red lining. With this theory, I decided to line the outside of the petals and pads with red. As I applied the red lining I saw that, indeed, this made the whole painting appear seductive and mysteriously eye-attractive. By connecting two separate ideas, I had discovered an award winning technique. Using the new technique with high color would eventually set my art apart from everyone else’s. Learning to blend complementary colors in the high dynamic range without dulling them was a challenge. I did a lot of experimental painting on scratch paper to achieve my desired effect, but it worked! I applied Kosher salt to the loose painting on the lily pads to achieve a ‘watery effect’.
Evening Water Tulip was finished in early 1982, when I was teaching watercolor classes at the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Building in downtown Phoenix. I had joined the Arizona Watercolor Association, but was not yet a juried member. As a non-juried member, I was still eligible to enter work into the “Seventh Annual Exhibition of the Western Federation of Watercolor Societies” being held at the Pueblo Grande Museum, Phoenix, Arizona. I entered my new painting Evening Water Tulip and not only was the painting accepted into the exhibition, it garnered an Honorable Mention!
When I walked into the exhibition room to view the paintings, I was swamped with well-wishers! My little painting was the first sale of the show! This was almost an impossible feat, because it was placed at knee height right at the doorway inside the room! I would have missed it, but not the woman who bought it. Lucille Blessing Earle had purchased my painting. I found out that she was an avid art patron, and her husband was the retired director of The Desert Botanical Garden. She wrote me a letter of invitation to meet her and her ‘perfect acre’. What ensued were many unforgettable years of friendship for me and my family with both Lucille and Bert Earle.
After Lucille passed, Evening Water Tulip was returned to my hands. I will be eternally grateful for the Earle’s and our loving relationship linked by this special painting. Evening Water Tulip, Transparent Watercolor, “The Seventh Annual Exhibition of the Western Federation of Watercolor Societies,” Pueblo Grande Museum, March 7-28, 1982, Honorable Mention, Purchased by Lucille Blessing Earle for $125.00 minus a 20% commission, 13.796″h by 9.829″w.