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!



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.


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:

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.



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.



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.