Some of you know that I was on a field trip to Mason county this past weekend for my first attempt at plein air painting; painting outdoors in natural lighting. I've been resisting it for a long time (do I really need to torture myself with wind, insects and Texas heat?) but I've heard so many artists talk about how wonderful it is that I felt I had to at least give it a try. Turns out ... I was right to be reluctant. Outdoor painting for me on Saturday was pretty much a disaster. The sky was so cloudy and overcast there wasn't much light, which means the rock outcropping that I'd chosen to paint was pretty much all the same values; no highlights, few shadows. I've painted from photos that were more interesting. And then the winds started and got progressively stronger until they blew my panel right out of the easel. I caught it but my thumb wiped out much of a tree that was the only feature in the painting that had gone well. So that's why there's no example of a plein air work to show you today.
If I ever decide to try it again, it'll be from my patio, in the shade, and where I can plug in a fan if it gets too hot, (there are limits to what this artist is willing to endure for his craft) and I'll paint the waterfalls that feed into my koi pond. Enough said about that.
What I really want to tell you about is what a gem the town of Mason Texas is, and the gem that I found there. No, I'm not talking about topaz, the state gem of Texas which (in Texas) can only be found in Mason County. I want to tell you about the friendly, small town atmosphere, and from what I'd heard that day, I got a sense that along with its rich history, the community leaders were working together and working hard to promote Mason as a "go to destination". But the gem that I found particularly brilliant was The Seaquist Home. A tour guide took us many places of historical interest in and around Mason and stopping at this home we were told it was put on the Texas Historical registry in 1974. But what really caught my interest was learning that this grand old home was on the market. My mind gradually started turning to flights of fancy about starting an Artist's Academy there. This is a three story home with the third floor being a 30 x 60 foot ballroom. What a great classroom that could make! And there are plenty of teaching artists within easy driving distance that I believe could be attracted to such an art mecca. Depending on who you talk to and what you read, there are anywhere from 17 to 22 rooms in this place. Not that we'd want to provide B&B facilities for student artists because there are plenty of B&B's within a short walk and many more within a few minutes drive.
I was told that it needs some renovations inside but I've read in my internet research that some were probably started a few years ago but discontinued. Also heard the last person to live there had about 70 cats before the SPCA hauled them off. Couldn't get a look inside because of the No Trespassing signs but on the outside she sure looks sound and grand. And what a great gathering place this could become for artists!
Oh well. That's why this post is called a pipe dream. Who has that kind of money? I sure don't. But it's been fun dreaming about it.
If you're interested in reading more about this grand old lady, click here, here or here.
(Google map coordinates: 30.751444,-99.231648 )