About Me

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Artists who paints in oil en plein aire. Member of the three member Plein Aire Cottage Artists. Members: Mary Rose Holmes, Violetta Chandler and Helen Tilston

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Party Happened

And they saw a star in the west.  It was the Space Shuttle Endeavour and she boomed through the sky, transporting 124 guests and their significant others and children, plus numerous dogs, cats and at least one horse. The first annual Masked Ball would soon be underway at the beach side home of Helen Tilston Painter, in sunny Florida, USA.

Space Shuttle Endeavour
The manifest listed guests showing a plethora of passports: Australia, Austria, Holland, U.K, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, France, Spain, Portugal, Russia, India, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Hungary, Belgium, Monaco, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Japan, China, Phillipines, Scotland Ireland and the Aran Islands, Wales.  All U.S. States and Hawaii guests were on board a special Boeing 747, as it  piggy backed  the Shuttle  from California.  The weather made for a perfect touch down at the Cape.

Some costumes were shipped in advance from Italy Anna  From PortugalVal

Before dinner it was horseback riding on the beach, with lead pony Spotty
Spotty Pony getting her sea legs
Who are these bloggers on horseback?

We talked, we danced, we dined, we laughed, we hugged and the finest wines were poured.   We discussed the arts.

We watched the sunset.   We heard the cock crow at day break and knew that, shortly, following a breakfast of freshly squeezed Florida orange juice, Fresh Fruit Salad, Cappucinos, French toast and croissants all would amble on board Endeaver and bid fond farewells.  Gift Bags were presented  and  included Florida key lime pie

 Florida oranges, Floria key limes, lemons and tangerines.  The countdown started 5-4-3-2-1  poof

Key Limes

Oranges locally grown in Florida
As Endeavour boomed into space, I could hear all of you singing We'll Meet Again

I said a prayer and  thanked God for meeting each and every one of you.
You have brought me so much joy, wisdom, beauty, laughter and friendship this past year. Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand and may your hearts overflow with goodwill, peace and joy and success beyond your wildest dreams.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I won this gift

Spice Girl safely guarding my gift

My father used fondly say in his Irish accent "Ah sure I would not win an argument not to mind a prize".
Well dear father I won a beautiful giveaway. I will toast the memory of both you and my mother as we dine, in style, this weekend.

Kathysue from Good Life Design offered this generous giveaway and I was the lucky winner.  Today the package arrived in the mail.  The door bell rang and Spice Girl barked. She has agreed to securely guard my gift and know she will be rewarded too.  The gift is the makings of a delicious dinner, one just needs to buy the protein.  I selected Beirut, Lebanon as my choice of dinner. The company Destinationdinners

She will receive her reward on Sunday

Our plan is to have six friends for dinner on Sunday and yes, I will use, my finest silver, Waterford Crystal and Crown Derby Dishes.  Recipes are included in the gift and we are going to serve Kibbeh Bil-saneeeyeh (Baked Spiced Lamb)

Thank you Kathysue from Good Life of Design  and Destination Dinners for this fabulous giveaway.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Come all Ye Faithfull Followers and Readers

Original oil painting by Helen Tilston

Last night I had a dream. In it I was hosting a party for all my followers and readers.  It was so vivid:- images of the invitation, menu, music and guests were all there.  In the interest of preserving the identity, mystery, mystique, charm and carisma of my readers I have decided it shall be a masked ball.

The Master of the Household has received Her Majesty's command to invite
all my faithful followers and readers to a Reception to be given at "Innisfree" my island home on
Original pinting by Mary Rose Holmes
December 18th. 2011.  A special space shuttle will transport you from wherever in the World you are.

Indian Rocks Beach Sunset

 We shall watch the sunset as it kisses the Gulf of Mexico and embraces  the ocean and all who live by her shores and also cast her mantle of protection on the visitors who live here with us this day.
Drinks will be on the porch.  Many of you will know each other as pen friends only, therefore, adequate time shall be left for conversation and the gentle lapping of the ocean and the chords of the harp and angelic voice of our Entertainer.

 The menu will be elaborate with local specialty seafood and locally grown produce and fruit to sustain you as you meet  and become more acquainted with such beloved friends.

 What I shall be wearing:
Masks will be provided.

RSVP (As Entertainment, Orla Fallon has agreed to be here with her harp). Music requests will be accepted.

I know all of you will be in attendance.

What will you be wearing? Can you post a picture of your outfit  on your blog on December 14?

One day later the Space Shuttle will depart from Cape Canaveral and transport you to your homes.

( Photos, not captioned are  Pinterest)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My day was interrupted by an Angel

View from my studio door
 Mantle in  our living room

Christmas is fast approaching and the calendar is filling up with invitations, tree lighting, Christmas parades, celebrations, parties and gift giving. Life has become slightly hectic.  My past two days have been spent, decorating and preparing for **our annual art exhibition** in January.  The house needs some Christmas decorating.
Edge of Mantle   "Castellovicchiomaggio chapel" by Violetta.I was with her when she painted this, in Greve in Chianti, in 2007, following our exhibition at the Biennale in Firenze.
My staircase leading to living room
Then to my studio to work on completing paintings and putting the final touch on some.  My studio is on the ground floor.  I get south facing light and reflections from the canal, which is an extension of the intercoastal waterway which connects to the Gulf of Mexico. The canal is like Venice without the bridges.    My view is breath-taking and I count my blessings to live here.
Painting drying in the Florida sun
My Studio which receives the ultimate light and  dappled light from the canal
Our Lady of the streets, I am working on when interrupted

**Plein Aire Cottage Artists 3 Members/3 Friends:-Violetta Chandler, Mary Rose Holmes and Helen Tilston Annual Art show" **
I am working on a new portrait of "Our Lady of the Streets" I have a new model for "Our Lady" and her mantle is green.   Shhhhhh!  Suddently I hear a sound. Is it of this world?   I drop my paintbrush and rush to the water's edge and there to my surprise is a young manatee.

It is all alone.  Often they swim in pods but this "Little Angel" is going solo.   We looked at each other for a while, we communicated in silence and I bade him "a safe journey and a very blessed Christmas"   I believe he told me he would return again.
I felt very special to have been vistised by such a rare and beautiful visitor.

Manatee sounds

Have you met an manatee?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Gift of Food

My dining room awaits the arrival of friends

If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.  (Mother Teresa)

In late Summer, we were delighted to be informed by the Board at RCS Helps -
the Gift of Food, that we were selected as the artists for their 2011 fundraising
card.  In 2007 we were also the featured artists and over $18,000.00 was raised for
this worthwhile and necessary cause.

Our Lady of the Streets Oil Painting by Helen Tilston
The Gift of Food was started by some young students who observed that gifts are often
given at holiday time between business associates which are often wasted. One example
was food hampers - the student observed the recipient broke through the plastic and extracted
a bottle of wine, bottle of vinegar and discarded the remaining items of food which included,
cheeses, meats, jams, candies and such. This waste of good food bothered her when she knew
there were neighbours who were unemployed and in desperate need of food.  The idea of a
card "the gift of food" was formed.

The Gift of Food is an all volunteer, student-led group that raises funds
to buy food for the Religious Community Services (RCS) Food Bank. The RCS
Food Bank feeds over 5,000 people in our area every month, with the majority
of these being children. Each year, the money raised by The Gift of Food funds
the RCS/Gift of Food Endowment Fund within the Community Foundation of
Tampa Bay, which, once fully funded, will provide money to buy food for the RCS
Food Bank for many years to come.
Each year, we design and sell holiday cards featuring the work of a local artist
for $20 each. When you purchase our cards and give them to friends, relatives,
and business associates, you are giving the Gift of Food, and your donation will
help to feed the hungry in our community.
It's easy to give the Gift of Food. Here's how:

1. You purchase a Gift of Food card, thereby donating a Gift of Food in honor
of your colleague, customer, or friend instead of sending the annual fruit basket,
wine, or gift certificate.

2. Each card is only $20 and is tax deductible. Tax receipts will be sent to you
by the RCS/Gift of Food Endowment Fund within the Community Foundation of
Tampa Bay.

3. For each $20 donation, you will receive a beautiful card (with envelope) that tells
the recipient about the good you and they have done to help feed the hungry of our
Simply click onlink Gift of Food  to donate or purchase cards securely through PayPal. 
You do not need a PayPay account to purchase cards.To purchase cards securely


Our 2011 Gift of Food cards feature a painting by award-winning artists Mary Rose Holmes, Violetta Chandler and Helen Tilston. They have represented the USA at the Florence Biennale, received a State Award from Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, exhibited at Leepa Rattner and Cornell Museums. Their paintings are at Guppy's Restaurant, Villa Gallace, The Wine Cellar.
Contact information:
Tel. 813.294.2272 - E-Mail: tilston188@yahoo.com

The 2011 card features the art of the
Plein Aire Cottage Artists
Our current and past student volunteers include:
Founders Katherine & Margo Sultenfuss, Livi Ayers, Timothy Magidson,
Gregory Abdo, Kelly Coogan, Ellie Thomas,
Allegra Paolillo, Erica Soike, Sarah Wilkerson, Nicole Abdo, Bre Beirl,
Christina Cardy, Maggie Coogan, Erin Showalter, Charles Thomas,
Christina Warner, Amanda Hobson, Megan Murphy, Christine Sinicrope,
Justin Haas

If you have any questions please contact Sherry Sultenfuss, Gift of Food
coordinator (727) 586-6267

The statement of purpose is to feed the hungry in our community
for years to come by contributing to the RCS/Gift of Food Endowment Fund
Within the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. All endowment donations
are earmarked for the purchase of food at the RCS Food Bank. A copy of the
official registration and financial information may by obtained from the Division 
of Consumers Services by calling toll free, within the State of Florida: 
800-435-7352. Registration does not imply endorsement, approval, or 
recommendation by the state. Registration CH1242. 

We realize these are tough economic times for many.  Many international readers have their own charities which they support.  We fully understand.  Your kind thoughts and good wishes and energy for the success of this fund drive are sufficient.   For this we thank you sincerely.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

That Which Makes Life Worthwhile

Gross National Produce measures everything, except that which makes life worthwhile. (Robert Kennedy)

Helen Tilston painting

A triptych and beach entrance at Indian Rocks Beach

It has been a busy and exciting week here.  A luxury condominium has commissioned Mary Rose, Violetta and myself  to paint a large triptych for the lobby of their building. This will be a fairly abstract view of the ocean.   24" x 72" x 3 panels. One panel painted by each artists.    Several smaller paintings are being collected by the Designer to also hang in the lobby.  The desiger we are working with has a wonderful eye for colour and feels art is an investment.  Her projects include original paintings and original works of art. She likened original paintings to fresh flowers versus silk flowers.  She feels designers are moving away from giclees and mass produced prints as an art form. Her view,  the frames are more valuable than the art contained within.
Study for larger painting 

A new homeowner, who has renovated an existing home has commissioned a triptych. The subject is  a group of cottages which were an annual one week rental for their family for more than two score years. Each panel will be 20" x 60". When hung will form one cohesive image measuring 60" x 60".
I have shown this triptych in black and white, it displays the values more clearly

Why a triptych?  It began seven years ago when **RCS (Religious Community Services)** advised us that we were the selected artists for their holiday gift card and fund raising. We felt it was a prestigeus honour but which of us 3 artists would do the honour.  Over dinner, we decided to do a triptych, one panel by each artist which when put together forms a cohesive scene.  Thus began the triptychs and polytychs.
Mary Rose Holmes in front of Plein Aire Cottage Artists Triptych and Lyn Terbrugge  Chief Docent at Leepa Ratter, during the artists exhibition at Leepa Ratter of 8 triptychs.

  Lynn Whitelaw, the Director from Leepa Rattner Museum in Tarpon Spring when asked about the Plein Aire Cottage Artists, in an interview said   "Artists have collaborated int he past but to my knowledge no artists have painted in this manner" .  (In a future post, I will speak of how we begin the process of a triptych)

 **$18,500.00 was raised**

The Plein Aire Cottage Artists paint only originals.  No giclees nor prints are made.  Each painting is an original, painted en plein aire and if necessary, completed in the studio.

Each year, we produce a calendar with images of our paintings. This benefits IRB Historical Museum and Library and is the only reproduction of our work.

Wishing you a Thanksgiving full of bounty for your mind, body and spirit.  I am thankful for the joy and friendship found here with my followers.  You are all very, very special and your writing and comments enhances and enriches each day of my life.

My biggest problem here, I am having a bad hair day.
Are you,  and if so, how are you celebrating Thanksgiving? 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Remembrance Day, Veteran's Day and Heroes

The Victoria Cross


Remembrance Day is a special day for us.  We thank all veterans and service personnel.  We also thank and remember my father-in-law Col. Fred Tilston VC.   The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various
Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories.   The VC was introduced on 29 January 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of valour during the  Crimean War.  Since then, the medal has been awarded approximately 1,356 times. 

Col. F.A. Tilston, VC

 Dad as I called him was one of the most unselfish people I have met.  He was extremely disciplined and maintained a positive attitude. He loved life and loved to laugh. He introduced me to opera.  An avid reader and public speaker. A Pharmacist by profession.  One year to the date from his war injury, he was back walking and at his desk at Sterling Drug. He was fluent in French and attended French classes weekly, on retirement.  At age 80 he returned to high school and took Grade 13 math to simply see if he could keep up with current teachings. He graduated and had tremendous respect for his fellow classmates.  Each year, we spent ten days in Arizona at a working ranch, which essentially was room, board and a horse.  Dad decided to take up horseback riding when he was 75 yrs of age. He rode for many years on a large horse named Dan. (he lost both legs and one eye in 1945) One of his favourite comments was "you walk up here, pointing to his head and when one is fitted with proper fitting prosthesis, there is no reason not to walk and live life to the fullest "  He walked with the aid of a cane, drove right up until the end  and never, ever used handicapped parking.  He abhorred people who wallow in self pity and said to the press one time "when one feels sorry for themselves, take a visit to the Burn Unit of your local hospital. 

Col. Fred Tilston, Helen Tilston and HRH The Queen Mother at St James Palace(my sweater I designed and knitted for occasion)
At the Throne Room, Buckingham Palace, HRH The Queen, Col Fred Tilston, Helen Tilston

Every two years the Victoria Cross Association and the Royal Family invite the VC's to London for one week.   This is a most memorable time with an heavy itinerary which  includes high tea with the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace, St. James Palace and a memorial service at St. Martin in the Fields, complete with choir conducted by Sir Neville Mariner. At the end of the service, the "Last Post" is played by two trumpeters posted to the balcony.    We have accompanied Dad through the years and have beautiful memories of these occasions.

At Buckingham Palace, Mike Tilston, Helen Tilston, Col Fred Tilston and HRH The Queen Mother

Who are your heroes?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ireland: Ballyvolane House and our Visit

I found this angel hidden in the Garden
Leading to walled garden
It is not easy to find Ballyvolane House but the drive is worth it. We were happy to see the gates open and beckoning us.

Ballyvolane House  was originally a classical Georgian home built in 1728 for a once Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, Sir Richard Pyne, and modified 120 years later in Italianate style. Those seeking excellent Irish Country House cuisine, prepared by a master chef, the sporting catch of a Blackwater Salmon, painting and inspecting the garden(us) or simply the warmth of open log fires will just love Ballyvolane.  Everywhere is peaceful and exudes gentleness and tranquility.
There are 6 rooms, all appointed with care and love for their guests. All rooms are bright, with natural light that seeps through the large double sash windows. Magnificent views overlook the formal terraced gardens to the South and to the North, ancient trees, (including a copper beach)  parkland, lakes and the distant rolling hills of the Galtee mountains beckon. A great variety of birds, the occassional red squirrel and plenty of other furred and feathered animal life can all be viewed and admired from the comfort of your room.This was one of the highlights of our visit to Ireland this Autumn.  We felt very welcomed by the owners, Justin & Jenny Green
Ballyvolane House & Blackwater Salmon Fishery,
Castlelyons, Nr Fermoy, Co. Cork, Ireland

This is the Lady's  public Bathroom

One bathroom
A bathroom
My brother Thomas takes a break from reading in the drawing room
I always love browsing through coffee table books
There is a book published about Ballyvolane
My brother Thomas enjoying the walled garden
The walled garden is breath-taking. They grow their own organic vegetables  and flowers.
Just waiting for you to join us in apres dinner drinks
September brings Autumn colours
Sweet Peas
I live here too

I sketched and did some small painting studies while here.  Now to larger canvases.

Have you been to Ballyvolane House?