Not long after the interview last year, my husband made the decision to retire from the Air Force with twenty-six and one-half years of service. Being the spouse of a service member provides so many blessings, but I am also very excited to establish myself locally for longer than one assignment lasts. Online presence is a great benefit, but I sincerely love making things in the company of other artists and knowing a city’s art community.
Before it was time to pack up and leave Key West, I squeezed a few thousand more underwater photos onto my ancient Macbook and did a little birdwatching, storing up photos for future work. We anticipated moving to a medium-sized to large city and probably not on the coast. I had a huge artwork sale too! I drastically reduced the cost of my paintings and sold more than fifteen originals as well as prints, cards, and jewelry. I also took commissions from seven people which kept me very busy right up until the packers arrived, and truthfully, even through the summer months!
Early in her summer break from college, my daughter and I went on a watercolor workshop in Tuscany through a company called French Escapades. I highly recommend them! Every detail of our day was taken care of and our instructor, Iain Stewart and his wife Noelle, were a huge bonus! We painted every day, sometimes at the vineyard and winery where we were staying, sometimes in surrounding towns, like Certaldo or San Gimignano. Travel workshops are great fun and connections are made around the country and world! Now that I won’t be moving every two years, this will be even more important!
Following his retirement ceremony, we put all of our “big stuff” (and most of my art stuff) in storage; I narrowed the essentials down to one portfolio with random sheets of watercolor paper, my sketch bag, and a box of paint tubes. We moved into a family lake house for the remainder of summer. I did a little sketching and a little painting. Our next-door neighbors at the lake had more than a dozen hummingbird feeders up, so I enjoyed watching and photographing them as well!
After about three months of job-hunting, my husband was offered a job in Pensacola, Florida. Although my daughter was born there, it wasn’t really a city we had considered for retirement. We spent a few days and were shocked to see how much it has grown and changed in the last eighteen years! The arts play a nice role in the community and it has a much larger feel downtown than the population would imply. It just felt right!
We are living a few blocks from Seville Square in a one-hundred-year-old home. I have a little studio building in the backyard! I am working on getting connected through local organizations like the First City Art Center. I have no idea what the coming years and months will bring, but I’m happy and excited! If you come through town, please look me up!