Monday, February 8, 2010

Haunted at Spanish Point

oil study
Zorn palette
6" x 4"
      After a morning plein air painting with my friends Marjorie and Eileen, we took a lunch break on the White Cottage's porch.  A woman strolled by wearing a vintage 1900's long dress and large hat.  I grabbed my camera and chased her down the path.
      "Hello," she said, turning to shake my hand.  "I'm Mrs. Palmer."  She agreed to let me take a few photos while she posed looking out at sparkling Little Sarasota Bay.  Her purple dress was set off by red flowers and the dappled shade of palm trees.  I felt like I had met the ghost of Mrs. Potter Palmer.
      At home, after downloading the photos to my computer, I knew I wanted to paint her.  Meanwhile, I was researching the Zorn palette for a workshop I'm teaching next month.  This limited palette of only vermilion, yellow ochre, Ivory black and white was used by Anders Zorn, a Swedish artist.  And then, like a voice from the past... Mrs. Potter Palmer appeared again.  Zorn had painted her in 1893.
      A little research and I learned that Mrs. Potter Palmer (Bertha Mathilde Honore Palmer) was born 1870 in Louisville, Kentucky, lived in Chicago, and had inherited an estimated 4.5 million from her father in 1943.  She purchased almost a quarter of what is now Sarasota County in 1910 and died eight years later.  In 1980, her heirs donated the 30 acre parcel of Spanish Point to the Gulf Coast Heritage Foundation.
      This painting is my first study of Mrs. Potter Palmer painted with the Zorn palette... exactly one hundred years after she purchased Spanish Point.

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