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Dear Orchid Collectors: How Orchid Collecting led to painting,

Updated: Feb 28, 2020

When my son was 7 years old he rode along with my sister and I one Saturday morning when we decided to hit up some yard sales. We remarked that after you go to one you get "The Fever." He thought for a second and then added, and when you go to a lot you get the chicken pox! His youthful logic was hilarious - but he had a point!

My son, David Paul, and I began collecting orchids when he was about 7. By the time he was 8 we visited the Orchid Show at Fairchild Botanical Gardens in Miami. He brought his own money and the vendors were so enamored with him they began gifting him orchids. That was over 20 years ago and we are still growing and collecting orchids - So, in essence, you could say we have the Orchid Chicken Pox.

Because of this hobby, (read: "obsession,") I bought a beautiful art print of a white orchid. I stared at this print for months wondering how anyone could paint something so beautiful and life-like that it seemed you could reach out and touch the velvety softness of the petals of that orchid. Then one day, I thought, I am just going to give it a try.

I had inherited a box of paints from my Grandmother. I decided, why not? I am just going to try to paint that orchid until I can "get it right." As I began the painting I realized it seemed somehow familiar to me. I walked to my desk and there I found a box of notecards that I kept for years even though the cards were long since gone. On the cover of the box was a beautiful orchid set in a rainforest - it had to be the same artist. I turned the print over and found that it was. The artist was Martin Johnson Heade.

I rushed to my computer to research him and found to my utter amazement that he was from the New England area but lived out his final days as an Artist in Residence at the Hotel Ponce de Leon in St. Augustine Florida. I sat amazed because the Hotel Ponce de Leon, built in 1888 became Flagler College in the 50's. And I graduated from Flagler in 1984. So Mr. Heade and I had walked the same streets, worked in the same rooms and dined in the same dining room, - just 100 years apart.

Alas, my first "real painting" became a tribute to this artist and our connection.

I finished that one and then copied the yellow orchid painting that I found on the stationary box. And then, I looked at the wall of the guest room where I was painting and thought, "Why not?"

Painting opened up a lot of doors. God used it to change my life, enrich my life and the lives of others and in many ways God used it to save my life. But that is a story for another day.

I could go on and on about how a small decision made a big impact and continues to have ripple effects, but let me say this: Painting was not an end in itself -- it is always about the journey. When I get that in my head and heart I always enjoy my time at the easel exponentially more.

And such is life. Michael Card wrote: "There is a joy in the journey - There's a light we can love on the way: There is a wonder and wildness in life - and freedom for those who obey."

With Love,

P. S. Have you learned to enjoy the journey?

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