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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

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? 


  1. Well done, Helen, it's delightful that there is so much evident appreciation for your work, and respect for the values that make you sell original paintings only. I'm sure the three of you will produce magnificent images for these commissions - what a pleasure to be able to work in such a striking size.

  2. Hello Mise

    You are so kind. Large works are very exciting and can be a challenge. There is always excitement, nervousness and intensity when travelling to the vista and then the view and the joy of painting outdoors takes over. The joy and state of mind when in the zone of painting is heavenly.
    Yes Mise the canvases resemble large doors!
    Helen xx

  3. Hello Helen!
    Thank you for visiting my blog some weeks ago, sorry for not getting back to you immediately, but I'm just back from a very long break.
    Hope you're well and have a good week!
    Michela x

  4. Dear Helen,

    Congratulations on your commissions! It must be good to know your work is appreciated so much.

    We don't really celebrate Thanksgiving in Holland, but I can see the beauty of it. I wish you and your family a happy time!

    Lieve groet, Madelief x

  5. We will be spending it with my parents. I love being with my mom and dad. Really looking forward to it.

    Have a beautiful week, Helen. (And I quite like that bad-hair day pic.)

  6. Absolutely beautiful paintings Helen, I do agree that original paintings are a worthwhile investment. Congratulations on the commissions. Have a wonderful thanksgiving.
    Jo xx

  7. Congratulations on your commissions Helen..
    How wonderful. and exciting.
    Your work, and the art of the "plein aire cottage artists", They are so vibrant and colourful,pride of place on any wall .. you capture the little cottages so well on canvas.
    Nothing more striking than an original painting, hanging on the wall.
    Wishing you happy painting days, and look forward to seeing the finished "tryptech"

    best wishes Helen.. as always a lovely blog

  8. My heartiest congratulations!!!! Well done! Cathy

  9. Helen,

    I personally feel lucky, too, to have met people like you, through my blog. I was happy plodding along by myself, but all the lovely comments have added "soul" to my blog. Just a few words make you feel that there is someone out there with a voice, a soul and a heart. And yours is a sensitive one...
    I like your work. The joy you feel when painting is tangible, believe me. Can we see more?

    Thank you...



  10. Congratulations to you and your fellow artists! I must agree with the designer that you are working with: original works of art really are investments that pay back dividends of enjoyment not only for the owner but for generations to come. Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving.
    All the best,

  11. How kind you are! And Congratulations to you all! I so enjoyed looking at your fantastic paitings. They are really beautiful and are rich in colors and full of positive enegry that gives delight to us. Your triptych reminds me of our traditional folding screens. The folding screens are sometimes created by more than one artist.

  12. What fantastic news. I too work well as part of a team with inspiration flowing from one to the other. There are also 3 of us. Mere flower designers not artists but yet together we're better.

    xo jane

  13. That sounds fantastic, I love the photos--even the one with the not-so-bad hair day. It's fabulous. Congratulations on such an undertaking.

  14. I love the pictures of you painting and the tryptich! Also, so much money raised! So very glad :) I love the scale of your work, am hoping to create and sell big original paintings too very sooN. I do hope you have a wonderful thanksgiving. We don't celebrate it here in Australia...it does look like a lot of fun though!

  15. These paintings are pretty spectacular, Helen! Congrats on the commissions :)
    (and I agree with Suze-I the bad hair day pic) :)

  16. Hi Helen! What a wonderful story! You all must be very proud! Like always I love the colors of your paintings. Unfortunately we do not celebrate here but of course know that you celebrate it in the US. Have a happy time then! Christa

  17. Dear Helen
    Many congratulations to you all!
    It is wonderful that you have such a close friendship with your fellow artists. And I feel this shows in the beautiful artwork that you all produce.
    You always look so elegant Helen, I see no bad hair day in the picture.. more a romantic windswept look :)
    I hope you have a very enjoyable Thanksgiving.
    Hugs, Abby xx

  18. How wonderful - it is enthralling to read about the artistic, collaborative, process, and to see your photos too.

    My father will be celebrating Thanksgiving in Scotland, invited by the American husband of his church's probationary minister! However, here in France we will just be thinking of you all in the States - it's an ordinary working day for us.

    Thanks so much for your comment. The two trees which are now planted have already transformed the garden.

  19. A Garden Just Outside Venice, Hello Michaela

    Welcome back. Hope you had a pleasant break. Thanks for stopping by and for your good wishes
    Helen xx

  20. Hello Madelief

    It is wonderful to work on a commission. Working on a triptych also makes one reach a little higher and do better to be of the calibre of my art partners. I am truly fortunate to be painting with two of the best painters in the USA.

    Yes, of course, Thanksgiving is an American celebration and is special as there is no gift giving,
    Helen xx

  21. Suze - Hello and thank for your kind comments.

    I am delighted to hear you will celebrate with your mother and father. Such a joy.

    Thank you for your kindness and comments
    Helen xx

  22. Hello Hesta Nesta

    Thank you for your validation on my art work. I bought my first original oil painting when I was in my 20's. I used visit the gallery every week and pay down $100. each time. I still love the painting today. There is an energy in original art which just does not happen with a print.
    Hope you have a great week
    Helen xxx

  23. Stunning paintings! And I love that you only do originals xo

  24. Hello Helen, thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. Your tryptich painting looks wonderful. Wishing you a happy thanksgiving on Thursday:)

  25. Hello Helen,

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    This is a beautiful group of paintings. So welcoming and warm. And colorful. Very different from the grey skies we are experiencing which make everything a shade of grey.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you. As a Canadian, I celebrated in October, but it's always appropriate to be thankful!

  26. Dear Helen, what an amazing concept. You enhance each other, benefit from each other and do so much to bring art out into the open (air)...
    It's a wonderful commission and I can't wait to see what it's going to look like!

    We will celebrate Thanksgiving, small this year, my daughter has surgery tomorrow, but with a grateful heart!

    Happy Thanksgiving!
    xoxo Victoria

  27. Helen, these triptychs are just stunning!
    So beautifully done!

  28. These are beautiful! Have a lovely day, Kellie xx

  29. Helen,

    How exciting to paint a large triptych for the lobby of a building. You'll gain lots of admirers for sure. The greatest gift we can give is sharing our talents with others in a special way that sparks emotion.

    Happy Thanksgiving!


  30. Dear Helen, I love the idea of a triptych by three different painters and look forward to your post when you describe how you achieved auch a beautifully cohesive whole, how lovely it looks! Happy Thanksgiving. Jane x

  31. Val's alentejo blog

    Hello Valerie

    Thank you Val for your kind comments and support. Original art, fresh flowers, books and oriental rugs I find are welcoming items in a home.
    There is an energy as you well know. I love your art work Val. Keep painting.

    My best
    Helen xx

  32. GrandMa K

    Hello Cathy

    Your visit is much appreciated and your kind words of encouragement give me energy to continue painting
    My best

  33. Hello Anna

    You said it so beautifully, it was so unexpected to meet such wonderful friends in the blogsphere. The kindness, support and friendship is heartwarming.

    Thank you for your support of my artwork. Your words are special to me
    May your weekend be joyful
    Helen xx

  34. Hello Louise @ Cosmetic Bee

    Thank you Louise for your good wishes for Thanksgiving.

    We have similar opinions on original art. I started collecting art about 30 yrs ago. I remember buying my first painting, in installments, $100. a week. I treasure that painting and have looked at it each day since. All of my collection I have purchased directly from the artist or through a gallery where the artist was present.
    Have a delightful weekend
    Helen xx

  35. Hello Sapphire
    Thank you for your good wishes to us.It pleases us greatly that you judge our work as fantastic. I do feel privilaged to be painting with two of America's best artists. Yes there is an energy in original art, perhaps the artists DNA is contributing. How interesting that the folding screens are completed by different artists. I shall be paying close attention when I next view a collection of Japanese folding screens.

    Wishing you a great weekend
    Helen xx

  36. flwjane

    Thank you for stopping by.

    How interesting that you work with 2 florists. I feel florists are definitely artists and your knowledge of artistic arrangements is superb. Colour, value, design all come into play. There is definitely an energy and joyfullness when three work together in harmony.
    Helen xx

  37. Julie Fedderson

    Thank you Julie. We are thrilled to have this project,which we shall enjoy immensely.
    Thank you for looking at the images. It was such a windy day and my hair was acting like a sail.
    Wishing you a weekend of happiness.
    Helen xx

  38. Rabbit Town Animator
    Thank you for your comment on our pictures and paintings. It really felt good to be part of this fundraising and for such a worthy cause. Good luck with your art work and I shall look forward to seeing your new pieces.
    Thanksgiving was delightful today.
    Just home and feeling happy.

  39. Elizabeth Rose Stanton

    Thank you Elizabeth Rose for your kindness and support. We are looking forward to creating this triptych. It is so exciting to start a new canvas.

    Wishing you a weekend full of fun
    Helen xx

  40. Emilie's Daughter
    Hello Christa

    Thank you for supporting our art and so pleased you like our style and colours.

    It is a big thrill for us to create this custom piece - I can't wait to start it.

    Have a lovely weekend
    Helen xx

  41. My Spotty Pony

    Dear Abby

    You always say the kindest words.
    Thank you sincerely.

    I have been painting with Mary Rose and Violetta for just over ten years and we have a very special friendship.
    We jokingly call ourselves the IRA -because of our birthplaces, Ireland, Russia and America. When challenged we tell them that our weapon of choice is the paintbrush.
    Our slogan/motto is "tell me you want prayer, but only bring me the good news". We refuse to discuss negativity when painting and all our conversation is of a joyful nature. On my drive to meet Mary Rose and Violetta I make a list of my good news and there is always good news, good recipes, books,music, movies funny stories and so on.
    Violetta's father an artist too says: "the artist dips her brush in the paint, passes it through her mind, through her heart and on to the canvas". The heart must be full of light.

    Have a lovely weekend Abby

    Helen xx

  42. Floss

    Hello Floss

    Glad to hear your trees are blooming and providing joy.

    Thank you for your kind words of support for our painting. We are thrilled with this project.

    We had a delightful Thanksgiving Day with delicious food, good company and sat in a tree house and observed deer feeding.

    Wishing you a delightful weekend
    Helen xx

  43. Lisaroyhandbags

    Hello Lisa

    Thank you for stopping by and offering your support

    We feel each painting deserves to be independent and that it be unique just like all the wonderful people of the world.


  44. Rosie

    Thank you for your kindess and so happy you like our triptych

    Thanksgiving was one of the best ever. Such wonderful food and the company and friends were in top form
    Helen x

  45. Delightful, Helen! An art collaboration sounds creative and fun. When much of artists' work is accomplished alone, the companionship and energy of working with others would be a nice change. Your work is beautiful and the hair is just fine - hah!


  46. Darling Helen,

    Thank you for coming by to visit. That quote by Robert Kennedy should be plastered all over the WORLD!!!!! Oh if only times were a bit simpler and kinder...but we can make that happen on personal level. I have my sweet calender here,ready to ring in the new year soon..happy days my dear! Anita

  47. What a wonderful commission Helen, I love triptych's.

  48. I am very excited for all of you Helen, you live in such an inspiring location and your paintings are beautiful. A live well lived, I would say. :) As to your hair, I think it looks lovely...a wonderful shot.

    Best wishes Helen and many thanks for your comment today...

    Jeanne xx

  49. We had a quiet day at home but it was nice! I'm so happy that you are creating art that is so meaningful! You are so talented and I'm glad you share your adventures with all of us! ♥

  50. Genie - Paris and Beyond

    It is indeed wonderful to work together and like you said Genie, the energy and sheer joy from being together we feel adds to the project. We also have such fun,
    We are getting together this week to paint and then celebrate Violetta's birthday with lunch.
    Have a wonderful week.
    Helen xx

  51. Dearest Anita

    It is always joyful to read your energetic posts and comments. Your posts are always so uplifting and yes as you say Anita, we can make life kinder on a personal level.
    I am so happy you won our calendar and to hear you will find it useful.
    To the greatest week ever, dear Anita

  52. Lindy Lou Mac in Italy

    Thank you for visiting. There is something very special about a triptych and the combination of threes is always pleasing
    Helen xx

  53. Jeanne @ Collage of Life

    Dear Jeanne

    Thank you for sharing in our joy. Yes Indian Rocks Beach is beautiful (I wish your posting was here and we could get to know you)
    I am also so fortunate to be painting with two of the best painters in the USA - I sometimes pinch myself in their midst.

    Wishing you a week of wonders

    Helen x

  54. Lavender Dreamer

    Happy to hear you had a good Thanksgiving.

    Your support of our art means very much to me and your comments are always delightful.

    May your week be filled with blessings