The Inspiration Behind My Coastal Collection

Every January I plan my collections for the year but this one did not make the list mainly because it wasn’t even a contender.  I didn’t plan on it; it just sort of happened. I try and keep some canvases prepped with my chaotic underlayers on them so they are ready to go when inspiration strikes.  I was in my studio towards the end of a painting session but I still had some paint left on my palette and saw the small, prepped canvas next to me.  I began painting an oyster shell. I have no idea why because shells and beach themes have not been my usual subject matter but it sort of came to me. Perhaps it’s because I am so looking forward to a week-long beach trip I have planned at the end of the month. Anyway, it turned out so cute that I started painting more of them and just like that a summer collection emerged.

People are always discussing art and trying to find the deeper meaning behind it. I find it funny when folks analyze my abstracts searching for hidden shapes and images, trying their best to “understand it.”  They can’t just let it be; they have to somehow make sense of it. Sometimes art is just what it is- something pretty or interesting to look at. It doesn’t have to have this huge deep meaning. I paint a lot of cows and people always ask “why cows?” and I think “why NOT cows?” I have no connection with them I just think they are interesting to paint.

This was going to be one of those collections. They were just cute little paintings that will brighten your day when you see them. And that was enough, after all spreading joy is my primary mission behind creating art so that box was checked. But as I began to paint more and more I started to feel connected to them. I started to realize, as funny as this sounds, oysters are actually in my blood. I was raised on them. My father LOVED oysters, and all things related to the sea really. I’ve never known anyone who loved to be on the water more than he did. The colors of this collection remind me of summer and take me back to some of the best days in my life- spending summers at the beach in Eastern NC with my family. Those really were the days. I had no care in the world and never checked my watch or my phone. The coast of NC is truly a magical place- that laid back attitude and slow approach to life is as sweet as breathing in the fresh salt air. The only outfit I need is a bathing suit and shorts and I am eternally barefoot.

I was with my dad at a doctor’s appointment once after he had an allergic reaction and the doctor asked him if he had ever eaten any oysters in his life. My dad's response was, “Sir I’ve eaten enough oysters in my lifetime to fill up this whole hospital” 😊 My brother has seen him dig up a shell at the beach, use his pocket knife to open it and eat it right there. Every time I see an oyster I feel connected to him and my mother. Each oyster roast feels like a tradition from my roots.

Thanks so much for all of your support and for following along with me on this little art journey of mine.

All my love,

JP

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