At the Napa Valley Open Studios opening last night, at Mumm Napa's Fine Art Gallery, I discovered that my painting was hung next to that of Earl Thollander (http://www.nvopenstudios.com/artists/68/). His painting, Winter Grapevine, is a wonderful example of his work.
For any who might not know, Earl Thollander was a master of drawing and watercolor. He compiled his drawings and sketches of rural California into wonderful (and very popular) books, long in print, beginning with Back Roads of California, and then Barns of California. His work influenced me and many others, and he was much beloved by those who knew him. Unfortunately, he died in 2001. His family is opening his studio to the public this year - my only regret is that I won't be able to go then. But Open Studios artist and master of pen and ink Nick Cann (www.nickcann.com), Peg Cann, and I will visit after Open Studios is over - something I am very much looking forward to.
I never met Earl Thollander, but I first heard about him from my grandmother. His parents and my grandparents were friends - all Swedes from Cloverdale. After my grandparents moved to Santa Rosa, when Earl would drive his parents down to Santa Rosa, he would bring them over to visit. I always heard about these visits; this was how my grandmother introduced me to his artwork. She and my grandfather gave me an autographed copy of Bug Haiku, which he illustrated. His wonderful, free, expressive use of line enchanted and influenced me. I have always had the utmost respect for his work, and was sorry I never met him.
So to see my painting hanging by his at the opening on Friday touched me more than I can say. I could feel my grandparents looking down at me and smiling....