Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

©St. Hilaire Nelson 2010
Boxer in progress on portable easel in the vacation house living room

This week I am at the beach in North Carolina, the Outer Banks, with the extended Nelson family. There are 14 of us (8 adults, 6 children) and this is our 11th year coming to Buck Island to rent a big house on the beach. In the last few years I have made a point of taking art with me to work on here.

Creating art on vacation is one of my favorite things to do. I get up early in the morning and come up to my portable stick easel on the top floor of the house. From here I can see the ocean, it's peaceful and beautiful and very inspiring. Usually when I am up painting, most of the other Nelson family is asleep, at least for a little while.

My travel supplies for the beach are much like my travel supplies for the Dance Competition weekends with one exception, here I do not have to work on my lap! I can spread out and work on larger pieces. I can actually stand at the easel, like I am accustomed to at home. Similarly to dressing room projects, I do work out of gallon zip lock bags filled with hand painted paper divided by color, and I do bring my wood panels already under-painted.

This week I actually FORGOT my #8 filbert! I was in a state of panic when I unpacked my supplies to find all but the brush! Thank Goodness art runs in the blood of the Nelson family. My Mother-in-Law had a brush for me to borrow, she said she travels with them "just in case."

Do you have artists in your family? Do you think that artistic ability is hereditary? Both my husband and his mother are excellent artists. My parents were not artists, but I have an uncle who was very artistic in college. I have some of John's student work pottery in my studio.

Take the poll to the left of the Boxer art to give your opinion about Nature vs. Nurture.


  1. I had to answer yes and no on your poll. My maternal grandmother would draw with a piece of charcoal from the fireplace on any paper at hand but without encouragement from her husband she'd crumble her drawing and toss it into the fireplace. Nothing remains except for my desire to make art. Mother was an excellent craftsman but didn't do fine art and never drew. However she remembered her mother's efforts and encouraged me by ensuring I had what art education was available in our small town. I wanted to learn and took hundreds of hours of classes and workshops to improve what talent was inborn. Both nature and nurture.
    I love it that you are prolific on vacation and are encouraged by those around you. Good dog!... the painting, that is.
    Funny, as I'm writing this your comment on my blog post came through. Like minds!

  2. Wow. Good Dog is HUGE. I did not realize you did paper paintings this large, Elizabeth! I have kept to about 11 x 14 or smaller as I learn about the process. The work involved and the amount of painted paper involved in Good Dog is pretty intimidating.

    I voted the way...I think ANYONE can learn to be an artist. But I do think having art around makes you more confident in your ability. My father was an architect and he loved creating. My mother was a violinist and pianist so creative in another way. My sister took after her, I took after dad.

  3. I think that many of us have artist among our families ...though they may not hold a paint brush. My mother is an artist, but her brothers are brick masons creating 3-D beauty. I give her lots of love and credit for pushing me forward openly and on my web site. There are a few words there for you too!
    I love how you encourage us all on this blog to just keep working at it.

  4. I love this boxer - love all boxers but this one is just almost saying "Woof" to me in a happy greeting, that stub tail wagging like crazy. I'm glad you could borrow a brush and didn't have to do all this with your fingers!! I have an aunt who was visually artistic but a grandmother who wrote short stories and poetry and two uncles who wrote songs.

  5. Wow! Glad I found your blog, thanks to the ArtBiz newsletter. I love collage and feel inspired to try something with this much detail. I lOVE your work!

    Nina in San Diego

  6. I just discovered your blog and your amazing artwork via Jo Reimer's blog. I loved watching the video and congratulations on your exhibit!! I have to tell you that my favorite is this boxer image as it reminds me of my bulldog Beula Belle (thus the comment on this post). I look forward to seeing more of your beautiful work...and maybe a bulldog sometime!!

  7. Wow! so many nice comments. Thanks Nina for finding me via Alyson Stanfield, she is amazing! and Babs, thanks for jumping over from Jo Reimer, she is one of my favorite people. I hope you will stay a while and explore!

  8. Hi Elizabeth,
    I love your dog painting!!!
    My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blogs about Buck Island to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you!


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