Day 4: Mandeville Tree Hugger

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24×24 in, oil on canvas


On a recent trip to Muir Woods in Marin County, California, I stood in awe of the redwood trees, ones I had visited a few times before but which still feel like church every time.

I come from trees. My native Mandeville, Louisiana, is chock-full of them. Beautiful Spanish moss from oaks whose trunks and branches twist and turn in beautiful paths possible only with age (and I like to think wisdom). Our cypress trees, in the right light, can and have left me a little breathless. 

Last night I had the pleasure of painting live at a fundraising gala for the Youth Service Bureau which serves both St. Tammany and Washington parishes and whose mission is “…to provide Advocacy, Counseling, Education and Intervention for at-risk youth and their families, helping them reach their full potential.” This painting was quite different from my other live paintings as I was not painting the event itself  but an image selected by the people attending the event. The YSB chose three photographs by talented New Orleans photographer Julie Clements and asked followers of their Facebook page to vote on which would make the best subject for my live painting. This lakefront tree was the clear winner.

Several months ago I wrote a post called “How to ask Artists for Donations” which went my very small blog’s version of “viral”. Kelly, a board member of YSB, took my post to heart, sat down with me over coffee, and asked how we could make my donation a “win-win”. She then applied every principle I outlined in my post leading up to the event. I’m happy to report I have new, engaged followers (i.e. potential collectors) because of her efforts.

As far as the painting itself, it was, and I don’t mean to sound cliche or trite, a joy. Without the pressure of capturing 100+ guests who keep moving or the fancy architecture of a historic building as is my typical experience at weddings, I got to calmly paint the subject that has so often calmed me. I got to bring some of what is most beautiful about the landscape of our community indoors.

I can’t tell you how many people came up to me and said “I know that tree”. It’s gravity-defying tilt makes it a landmark on Mandeville’s peaceful lakefront.

This one is going home with the person who had the highest bid last night. But, don’t you worry, there will be plenty more tree paintings in my future.

If you’re new to my blog– I’m doing a painting a day every day this month– 31 in 31. If you don’t want to miss a day, please subscribe to this blog. With the exception of today since it has already been sold, every painting this month is 20% off only on the day it’s posted.

You know what would be amazing? If all my Northshore followers joined my efforts last night by making one small donation to this worthy organization. You can donate to YSB here.

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Picture of Denise Hopkins

Denise Hopkins

October 4, 2017

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