Castles, Rainbows, and Art

Evan and I were married almost 13 years ago in a beautiful castle called Balfour on the island of Shapinsay in the Orkneys of Scotland.   On our wedding day, it rained, and we had a rainbow.  On that same day in our hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, there were 2 rainbows. That made 3 rainbows on our wedding day!

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This is something very special to me, because as a child, I was obsessed with rainbows.  I had rainbow stickers, a rainbow magnet for the fridge,  and a wooden toy box with my name on it and a rainbow.  The day I was asked to be a professor full time at my former job, there was a rainbow.  After I left my job, a rainbow. There are too many times to write about that a rainbow has shown up exactly when I needed to see one.  Rainbows have been for me like a kiss or a wink from God that I’m on the right track.

When I started dreaming about studying art in Barcelona, I found a map of Spain in a box of art supplies in my basement.  I took it up to my kitchen, cleared everything off of the fridge and put the map up on the freezer door.  It was pinned to the fridge by 3 magnets: one that said ‘faith’, one that is a guy in a kilt playing the bag pipes, and the last one–you guessed it–was a rainbow magnet.  At the time, I didn’t think too deeply about these 3 magnets.  I just used them to put up the map because I liked them.

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When it came time for us to go to Europe for me to study in Barcelona, we saved quite a bit of money by flying there on a Delta buddy pass.  This meant however, that we had the adventure of flying standby and not knowing whether or not we’d actually get on a plane that day.  We were scheduled to fly into Dublin, but the flight was full and we had to stay a night in Atlanta, Georgia and try again the next day.  Well, Evan didn’t want to have to wait another day in Atlanta to board a plane, so he asked the Delta agent to tell him which flights to Europe had the most open seats.  The flight to Zurich, Switzerland had over 50 seats open, and we figured our chances of getting on that flight were pretty good so we took it.  As we were waiting in line in security, a girl with a violin showed up and starting playing a song–that’s right, you guessed it–it was ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’.  It was another wink from God that we were on the right track.   And indeed, we discovered later that we were.

You can see the video of the violinist here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXyo2GGt8zc&feature=youtu.be

Flying to Switzerland allowed us the opportunity to visit a friend we hadn’t seen in two years, the very talented artist, Patrick Devonas.  It was truly a magical time of reconnecting and he gave me so much valuable wisdom about what I was getting ready to experience learning drawing under an atelier education model.  The things Patrick told me during our time with him helped me time and time again when I was in school for 3 months at Barcelona Academy of Art.

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After school let out, Evan and I had a little over a month before we were scheduled to come back to the States.  We had no idea where we were going to go for a month.  Our flight was scheduled to leave from Dublin, so naturally, we were thinking we’d go to Ireland for a month.  Evan even looked into doing an apprenticeship with a furniture maker in Ireland. And I have a former student in Dublin and other connections that I tried to pursue to find affordable lodging.  Every door we pursued in Ireland seemed to shut.  So we thought, hey, let’s try Scotland. We got onto Airbnb and looked for a flat to rent.  That’s when I found a place that had–yep, you guessed it–rainbows in the profile pictures.  As soon as I saw the rainbows, I knew that was where we needed to go.  The flat was on a little island in the Argyll area of Scotland called Bute.  The first day we arrived in Bute, we saw 8 rainbows!!! And as if 8 rainbows weren’t enough of a confirmation that we went to the right place, in the kitchen of the flat was a dish towel with a bag piper that looked just like the magnet on the map of Spain on the fridge of our house back in Cincinnati!  The map and refrigerator magnets I’d put on the fridge a year ago, were a prophetic picture of our adventure, but we didn’t know it until after it all unfolded.

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A few days after our arrival, Evan stopped by an art gallery there to ask for directions to the local car rental place.  He struck up a conversation with the owners, a husband and wife team, David and Caroline, and the connection was instantaneous.  The next thing we knew, we were invited over for New Year’s Eve, were introduced to their neighbors, who became our friends, and we were being toured around the island by David to take photos of the gorgeous scenery.  The connection with David and Caroline seemed like another one of those God winks.   They were so kind to us, and even invited us to be a part of their stable of artists at their gallery.  So for 3 weeks in Rothesay, Bute, Scotland, Evan and I made 4 collaborative paintings and I made a landscape painting of a beautiful spot on the island called Etterick Bay.  Interestingly, to tie all of this back to where this blog post began with a castle in Scotland, David and Caroline’s gallery was across the street from a castle in Rothesay, Bute Scotland, and the name of the gallery is yep, that’s right, you guessed it: Castle Gallery!  We couldn’t make this stuff up if we tried!

Here’s the first of a series of videos of me explaining my painting process of the landscape I did for Castle Gallery: Landscape Painting Tutorial for The Light of Ettrick Bay

And here are the paintings Evan and I collaborated on that are now for sale at Castle Gallery.  We are very excited about some of our new techniques, including encaustic painting.

 

 

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How we got to Europe!

Hello!  It’s been a while.  Last time we blogged, we were trying to sell our house in a hurry so that I could go to school in Barcelona.  So much has happened since then!  We have been on an interesting adventure to say the least.  It has been nothing short of a series of uncanny miracles, almost too many to write about in one blog.  So I’m going to start where we left off on our blog last summer when we were thinking about selling our house.  This was the start of our adventure: a faith journey of believing our dreams could come true. Last summer, there were so many serendipitous events that surrounded my ‘By Endurance We Conquer‘ exhibit at Bromwell’s.  Between 2014-2016, I made 19 paintings about Sir Ernest Shackleton and his brave crew going to Antarctica on the SS Endurance. I exhibited them at Bromwell’s to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the crew’s rescue.

The exhibition opened in July of 2016, and it was during that time when I felt like God was challenging me to apply to the Barcelona Academy of Art, an atelier offering courses in classical approaches to art.  I didn’t have the money to do this at the time that I applied.  In fact, I barely had enough money to cover our living expenses in Cincinnati.  And I didn’t know how it was going to possible for me to have a house, pay the mortgage, while paying tuition and paying for an apartment in Barcelona.  So it seemed impossible and impractical.  But again, I felt God challenging me to believe that all things are possible with Him!  So I applied.  And I got in!  Over the next several weeks, we were caught up in a whirlwind of activity, packing our house and studio up into boxes.  We still had no idea how we were going to pay for going to Spain, but we took steps of faith.  And just in the nick of time, we sold enough art work to go!

20160829_180320It was like a wink from God that we even received a check in the mail from a client of ours on the very day that Shackleton set out on the SS Yelcho (a boat loaned to him by the Chilean government) to successfully rescue the rest of the Endurance crew who were waiting for him on Elephant island.  The check was postmarked exactly 100 years to the date!  You can see for yourself on the PBS NOVA website how the timeline matches up: August 25th 1916 and August 25th 2016!  I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried!

the-good-news(This is a painting I did in June of 2016 about Shackleton’s rescue of his men on Elephant Island.  The ship he left in on August 25th 1916, the SS Yelcho is in the distance.  He made it to Elephant Island on August 30th.)

Not only did God provide the financial means for me to get to school and get an apartment, He also provided a solution for what to do with our house while we would be away.  And what is funny about that is the fact that it was an answered prayer that I’d actually forgotten about.  Let me explain:

Early in 2016, I was dreaming about spending time in Europe and going to Barcelona Academy, but I didn’t see how it could be possible.  And I didn’t know what would be the wise thing to do with our house.  So I took a day to fast and pray and ask God what to do.  I was willing to lay my dream down if that was what God’s best plan was for me.  So I asked God, ‘should we sell our house or should we rent it?’   The next day, I walked out my front door and I’m not kidding, there was actually a ‘for rent’ sign laying right there on our front sidewalk!  I had no idea where it came from.  I was on my way to the grocery store with Evan, and when we got back home, the sign was gone!  So I said to Evan, ‘hey, I think that was God’s answer to my question!  We are supposed to rent our house!’  At the time, Evan didn’t like the idea of being a landlord, and he preferred to sell it.  So I let it drop and continued to wait to see what might happen.

Fast forward several months later: It’s the end of July and I just found out I was accepted into Barcelona Academy.  It’s exciting news, but we had no money and only six weeks to sell our house.  We met with a real estate agent, who said to us basically, it would be very difficult and next to impossible to pack up our house, get it ready to sell and actually close a sale on it in time for me to get to Spain.  Well, that same night after meeting with the real estate agent, we went over to visit our neighbors and told them about our good news of me going to school and our house dilemma.  And it just so happened that our neighbor’s daughter was wanting to leave Indianapolis and head back to Cincinnati.  Our neighbor encouraged Evan to contact her and see if she’d be interested in renting our house.  When Evan messaged her that night, she happened to be out with a friend talking about how she wanted to move back home.  She responded right away to Evan’s message and said, ‘I’d love to rent your home!’  And on top of that, she even agreed to take care of our cats for us!

(Our black cat, Moshi loves to hang out in the bathroom!)

It all worked out perfectly!  And this was just the beginning of our journey.

Stay tuned for the next blog where we tell you about some of our adventures in Europe!  

Secret Garden Artist’s Retreat is going up for sale

This lovely house built in 1895 has been the beloved home of artists Evan Hildebrandt and Alison Shepard for 11 years.   Shepard and Hildebrandt moved to this home one year after they were married, and have made many improvements on the house over the years, including glass block windows, a large back deck, kitchen flooring, and brand new siding in the summer of 2015.   This is a home filled with great care and love, with good energy baked in for over a decade.  Shepard and Hildebrandt have plans to spend time abroad in Spain to further pursue their art careers, and this beautiful home could be yours!  Before putting it on the market, the couple would like to share images and information about the house as a sneak preview while they are finding a realtor.   For more info, stay tuned to the Artpocket Shepard Hildebrandt Blog and look for this home to be featured on MLS later this summer.   In the meantime, be sure to tell a friend about this lovely home, or feel free to contact Evan and Alison if you have any questions.

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Dining 1  Dining 3

This 3 bedroom home features a large living room, kitchen, and a dining room so big it has also served as a library and office.   There is a spacious deck off of the kitchen and a patio and fire pit with plenty of room for parties and celebrations.

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Here are a few shots of the second floor:

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Shepard, a Sayler Park native, has created beautiful perennial gardens throughout the front, back and side yards, with color that lasts throughout the growing seasons.   Hildebrandt, also an avid gardener has planted fruit-bearing trees including peach, apple, as well as raspberry, blueberry bushes.   The flowers and trees have made this double lot yard a natural sanctuary for birds and butterflies.

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Sayler Park is a great walking community and this home is just one block away from the weekly FARMER’S MARKET that runs May – October.

From the back deck and also the living room window, you can enjoy the view of beautiful sunsets in the western skies.  This home is a wonderful retreat in a quiet, peaceful neighborhood, conveniently located only 15 minutes from downtown Cincinnati.

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The Lotus Installation–Can you take me high enough?!

This was a pretty intense installation for us.  Evan and our client’s father were the brave ones up on the scaffolding.   My role was to hand them the paintings (I only climbed to the first and second tiers) and to take photos.   (You can also see our Monarch painting in the living room in this photo!)

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This may give you an idea of how high up Evan was when he put up the french cleat:

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Whew!  First painting installed!  It took five of us to hoist this baby up in the air!  Our client commented that it seems like you have to work out and bit fit to be an artist–how true!

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A view from the second floor.  It looks beautiful!

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And now for the other side:  A view from the second floor, trying to decide on the spacing between them.

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Up they went-they look so light and airy in the space!

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The drips on the lily pads looked so perfect with the cables on the chandelier and the lights almost seem to mimic the petals of the lotuses!

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What an exciting ride it is to be an artist!  It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.  But it’s incredibly rewarding!

 

Our latest collaboration!

These paintings are inspired by my trip to the Abbey of Gethsemani, a very peaceful and spiritual monastery in New Haven, Kentucky.   The monks there have made a beautiful contemplative nature trail full of hidden treasures.  It was serendipitous that on one of my visits to the abbey, the lotuses in the pond on the nature trail were in bloom.  I snapped some photos and found out when I got back that one of our most supportive clients wanted me and Evan to make some lotus paintings for him and his wife 🙂  This seemed like divine timing!

Gethsemani lotus panorama. right side

It’s interesting to me that the bible mentions the lotus in the book of Job, a story of suffering, loss, and also of renewal and restoration.   I wonder if the monks know that the lotus is able to endure incredibly harsh conditions, even severe drought.  Just when the lotuses in the Jordan seem to be dead because of the water drying out, the rain comes and their enormous rhizomes seem to resurrect and come back to life at the first sign of water.  There’s a wonderful explanation of the Judeo-Christian symbolism of the lotus in this blog.

So Evan and I were commissioned to make 3 paintings that are 8 feet wide each.  The paintings were created specifically for their dining room, which has a cathedral ceiling.  Here’s a sketch I did to prepare for two of the paintings that are a kind of horizontal diptych (you might recognize the lotus above on the right side of the top sketch):

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We also did a collaborative painting to study the kind of techniques we wanted to incorporate for this commission.  (This is a 3 x 4 foot study for the 6 x 8 foot commission.  The study is hanging at Bromwell’s and is available for sale.)  The study was a little too dark for the space and we decided that on the big painting, we would make it brighter.  (Scroll to the bottom of the post for the final 6 x 8 painting!)

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This client has been incredibly gracious to us–they have bought several of Evan’s abstracts and also our collaborative painting of the Life Cycle of a Monarch:

Life Cycle of the Monarch

Here is the final version of each painting!  We are so happy with how they turned out!

The Light of Renewal Spirit Breathe Like the Wind

Lotuses of Gethsemani- Here, Now

 

 

* Gifts for the Holidays *

 

THE GIFT OF INNOVATION

Evan has been busy in the studio making hundreds of painting sketches, exploring new ideas and new directions for his work.  The result has been some beautiful innovations in his larger works, as well as a studio full of small paintings!

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In an effort to clean out the studio for 2016 and make room for more work, he will be selling these small pieces for very affordable prices.  These beautifully unique and one of a kind paintings are perfect gifts for the holiday season!

 

INVEST IN A DREAM

Every work of art you purchase helps us to pursue our dreams, and when you buy our work, you are investing in an object made by two people who are committed to continual improvement and growth.  Because of our commitment to excellence, your investment will continue to appreciate in value as the years go by.

Recently, we made a major investment in our careers by participating in two very prestigious art fairs in San Diego and Miami,  Art Spectrum.   These Spectrum fairs are a great opportunity for us to get our work seen by wider audiences and we are very grateful for the chance to do this through the efforts of the wonderful team of  folks at Art Design Consultants.  You can help us with the costs of these investments by purchasing our work.  Every piece of art you buy helps us to stay creative and keep making work.  We appreciate your support more than you know!

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This brings us to the next exciting topic of news:

The Collaborative Art of Evan and Alison at Art Spectrum Miami!

We are happy to share with all of you that we are showing several pieces at Spectrum Miami this week, December 2-6, including Day Lilly Metamorphosis!
This will be our first time showing our collaborative work outside of Cincinnati and we are excited to see the reaction to our work.

Day Lily Metamorphosis. Shepard Hildebrandt

If you cannot make it to Miami, Evan and I have a brand new show up at Bromwell’s right now with lots of new work. The Holidays are a great time to visit Bromwell’s, so we hope you can make it down to see the show.  We are both very proud of this show and have several collaborative pieces in it.

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We also plan to have lots of smaller, art gift items available at Bromwell’s starting this weekend.  If you are looking for a unique hand made gift item or if you want to start your art collection, these art pieces will be perfect for you!  Stop by Bromwell’s this Saturday to see the show, the beautiful Christmas decor, and for a private tour of our studio!

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NEW WORK AND NEW LOOKS

We have also just completed our newest collaborative website shepbrandt.com and have updated both of our personal websites with a new look and new content!
You can view our personal sites here: http://www.alisonshepardart.com/ and here: http://www.evanhildebrandtart.com/

We are currently accepting commissions for 8 x 10 collaborative paintings of birds that combine abstraction and realism.  If you would like to find out more about these paintings, or would like commission one, email us at shepbrandt@gmail.com

Bird Lover 1    Bird Lover 3

Abstract backgrounds by Evan and birds by Alison