Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Feeling the muse

There's something about old things that intrigues me. It's a dangerous obsession because there's a heck of a lot of used stuff out there. Vintage, collectible or junk is in the eye of the beholder. I, for one, have a lot of rusted, dented and torn crap treasures waiting to be painted. My interest is in the telltale signs of wear and tear that indicate a well-used, or well-loved existence.

Thankfully, artist George Laurence Nelson felt the same way when he rescued the abandoned property that became his home and studio. Recently I've had the privilege of painting there. Nelson was an American painter in the early 1900s who restored Seven Hearths, a pre-Revolutionary era building in Kent, CT. Apparently Nelson was committed to authenticity and while updating his home kept some of the oldest details, preserving it's personality. In fact he "wrote the book" about Seven Hearths. Its called New Life for Old Timber and describes his restoration and love of the house and grounds. There is electricity and plumbing but not much more in the way of modern conveniences.

From heavy plank doors and multiple hearths to the crooked stairway leading to Nelson's Gallery, this house has character imbued with artistic spirit... not to mention artwork. Many of Nelson's paintings are displayed throughout the house and, as a painter, it feels like a call to action!

Seven Hearths Gallery
The Gallery room - which was previously a ballroom - is where many of Nelson's paintings are displayed. The hearth in the corner (see below) is the focus of my first painting there. It's coming along but not quite ready to share. Stay tuned!

On the right is a work-in-progress painting of the upstairs bedroom, which is set up as it might have looked during Seven Hearths time as tenant lodging. The light coming through old rippled glass windows is just amazing.

A visit to Seven Hearths is a joy for anyone who appreciates old architecture, antiques and art. The Kent Historical Society folks graciously provide thorough background and answer questions about it's storied history. It's clearly a home that has been put to good use over the centuries. Well-used and well-loved. In the end, isn't that what we want out of life?

It's been an absolute joy to paint in this artist's sanctuary

Thanks for joining me on my art journey!

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