For the past nine years a group of 16 artists from the southeast has been invited to paint in the gardens of Epcot during the “Art in the Garden” weekend of the International Flower and Garden Festival. I feel privileged to be part of this event and look forward to it each year. As was so beautifully explained to us by the Vice President of Disney, Disney is founded on art. It is about imagination. Giving the public and especially children the opportunity to see paintings created first hand and to ask questions and be inspired is the purpose behind this particular weekend of the event. I never cease to be amazed by the number of children who stop to watch us paint and ask questions. I’ve been keeping a little record of the types of questions they ask. Number one on my list has been “what do you do when you make a mistake?”. I have found that when they ask this question, the parents lean in very closely to hear my answer. I always tell the children that I don’t think there is a “mistake” in painting. Each one of us has our own style, whether we paint realistically or in the abstract, but as artists we are always experimenting and trying new things. If we don’t like something about what we are looking at to paint, or what we are painting, we change it, move it or remove it. Sometimes I may tell them to watch as I change my decision. I’ll take something I’ve painted on the canvas in front of me and pick up a brush and paint right over it, removing it from my painting. It’s fun to see their jaws drop! “You mean it’s ok to do that?” They seem to get so excited and I hope it gives them permission to enjoy the process of feeling free to create in whatever way their imagination talks to them! I also note the relief and the happiness of the parents. Many will come back later to ask us questions about encouraging their children. Some families return each year when they know we are coming for the festival. To accompany the event, Epcot has even set up a children’s area where they can try their hand at creating art! Thank you, Disney and Epcot, for providing such a unique opportunity to keep alive and regenerate that creative spirit in the community.
Speaking of inspiration, each year we go to the International Flower and Garden Festival to paint I am excited to see what the horticultural experts of Epcot have planted. There is something new and different each year. The exquisite attention to detail is mind boggling. We arrive in the early hours to get set up to paint and all day long one sees how any withered plant is quickly replaced so beauty is maintained at all times. I also note how any scrap of rubbish is immediately picked up ~ by anyone on staff. What an example!
I leave for Epcot tomorrow. If you can make it for the festival, you will be delighted. Bring the kids and prepare yourself to be inspired!