This was the most unusual project since I painted the Alaska Easter Egg one year for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, during the Reagan administration. But it was an honor for Missy and me to produce the official Denali National Park ornament for the 2007 White House Christmas tree.
Paul Anderson, the Denali Park Superintendent, told me back in August that First Lady Laura Bush had decided to make "America's National Parks" the theme of this year's White House tree, and he asked if I would paint the ornament for Denali Park. I was, of course, delighted at the opportunity to be able to do anything for the Park, and accepted enthusiastically. But when I began the task, I had a terrible time. I kept trying to turn it into a painting, not make a decoration. After coming home to find me more and more frustrated every day for a week, as I painted new images on and wiped them off, Missy took pity on me and agreed to help. She is an extraordinary designer, craftswoman, and decorative painter, and with her efforts, the 6" diameter ball became an accurate rendering of the profile of Denali and the surrounding peaks, with a dramatic night sky and the aurora blazing in curtains of light above it, all the way around.
Missy beaded not only the mountains, but the auroral curtains, staying up late into the night each night for a week, gluing on row after row of tiny seed beads. We took the best photos we could, but they don't do it justice. Like the other couple of hundred ornaments on the 18' tall tree, each celebrating a different national park, monument, or preserve, it is a beauty and a delight. We are both pleased and proud to have been able to do this for Denali National Park and Preserve. And I'm grateful to have a partner whose skills, energy, and good will can save me when I overconfidently agree to do things that I don't have the particular talents for at all.
In other December news, my 2006 painting Snow at Christmas was featured in, and on the cover of the announcement for, a group show of gallery artists at a Montreal gallery that has been representing my work since this past spring.
Collins, Lefebvre, Stoneberger is an outstanding contemporary art gallery in that city, specializing in fine art of the Americas. I have spent a considerable amount of time traveling, adventuring, and painting in Canada, from the Yukon Territory to Algonquin Park in Ontario, James Bay and Hudson Bay in Quebec, to the Madeleine Islands in the Gulf of St. Laurence, and it is a great pleasure to be represented by such a fine gallery in that country.
To see my work at Collins, Lefebvre, Stoneberger, and some of the other terrific work they show, check out their website at http://www.collinslefebvrestoneberger.com/.
The ornament for the White House and the show in Montreal are the highlights for my work this month. I have a new painting nearly done that I hope to have completed and up on the site soon, but right now Missy and I are enjoying the delights of having a house full of immediate and extended family for Christmas. It was -45ºF the day before they began arriving, on the shortest day of the year, but it has happily been milder, even occasionally above 0ºF ever since, and we're gaining light every day now. On the comeback trail!
Happy Holidays to you all.