"Have no Expectations" by Annabelle Shaffer, June 17th, 2016

Friday, June 17, 2016


I arrived to Mount Gretna, through tree lit paths and sun soaked farms, to find the people, the place, the community far different than anything I could have imagined. I departed Indiana with the words “have no expectations” ringing in my ears. Now, after a week of living in the South-Western part of Pennsylvania, I have discovered a group of artists with such personalities, and stories, all beaming with light.


Home is indefinable - we float between schools and families, settling into cottages for a short six-weeks of intensive painting, before we once again pack up, and move to the next ‘home'. Wherever we end up, relationships naturally occur, a community built around these unique experiences we all have. Most surprising of all was how quickly these relationships formed, I expected many independent, quiet, motivated individuals, whose concern was not all geared towards new found friendships. In a way this was my mentality as well; and although these qualities can still exist, it does not disregard our need for community. These people, from New York to California, have quickly become a family.


The artists and professors we have been privileged to work with in this first week - Elise Schweitzer, Dorothy Frey, Barbara Grossman, Jay Noble, Al Gury - opened their minds and showed courtesy to eager hands so diligent and hardworking. Townspeople often stop by to engage with the work, as students display the landscape through their own eyes. White-wicker rockers on blue porches become home to like-minded individuals, as conversations lean towards the events unfolding of the day, a meal shared, and admiration for varying artists expressed.


Last summer I would have never thought to find myself here, seeking counsel from Elise Schweitzer and Barbara Grossman, I am learning to take risks, to try and fail and try again, leaving ‘thousands of canvases behind me’ - as Joseph Hawthorn would say. Understanding to build each painting like moss on a rock, a patch of green, and brown, interlocking swatches of color folding into another, building into an image  - these transcending truths of Edwin Dickinson expressed during individual critiques with Elise.


Shifting shadows from nine to one contrast with the never changing truth and goodness of my Heavenly creator, Christ Jesus. Painting becomes such a personal experience, to create the image that stands boldly before me, His glory revealed through every mark made, and color mixed. In this short time remaining, I hope to grow immensely - artistically, academically, and spiritually. After a hard year in the midwest, I want to take the majority of this experience as a way to heal through my paintings, to walk in the freedom of being a daughter of the King, praising and glorifying Him as I learn more about His abounding love.


So through these rolling hills of tree lit paths and sun soaked farms, I’ve been placed in a community - a community that is full and alive and eager to experience the breadth of landscape painting. And it is in this place that I am able to use the gifts that were so generously given to me in order to bring glory to the master author and perfector of my life.

On Sunday we leave for New York City, the MOMA, the MET, these places I’ve yet to see, and oh how giddy I am just knowing I will be standing in the same room as the works of  artists who are purely astonishing.