Welcome to December….Potluck month on the Untours Blog! Instead of our normal practice of featuring one particular Untour Destination for the month, during the last month of 2012, we’re going to skip around a bit, hoping to catch a few of the real stars of our Untour community that may have been missed.
Today, we’d like to feature Mary Ann Miller, one of our Untour artists. Many of you are familiar with her work; you’ve seen on the Untours Cafe, and on the cover of our catalog a few years back. Mary Ann has gone with us many times, (Tuscany, Umbria, Greece, Provence, Paris) often traveling with other artists and attending or providing workshops for other painters. She’s headed back to Provence with fellow painters this June.
We must confess that we’re being a bit self-serving in our celebration of Mary Ann’s work. Along with being delightful in and of themselves, the paintings capture the feel of an Untour in a remarkable way — the vacation where you go at your own speed, living in your own ‘home’, carefree, unfettered, unscheduled. Her paintings feel like an Untour, to us.
Equally remarkable is Mary Ann’s expertise at painting ‘en plein air’, as they say in artistic circles. Translation? Outside, right on the spot! Painting a scene right there is harder than it looks. Light shifts, weather changes, innumerous ‘helpful’ passers-by inquire as to how you can be so talented, or did you know you missed a spot!? That’s why Mary Ann’s skill is so valuable. She’s not only a superb painter, she’s equally clever about advising other traveling painters how to equip yourself with just the right amount (and not a bit more) of equipment to happily capture the scene around you in watercolor.
Why not check out Mary Ann’s website, Travels with a Blue Vase? Consider ordering one of her two books (Travels with a Blue Vase and More Travels with a Blue Vase) as a Christmas present for anyone you know who loves traveling. You know– all those people you’ve been urging to “Cut loose and take an Untour, darn it!” One of these books might just be the inspiration that allows them to live their dream. We think that her books, incredibly charming watercolor sketches and brief written memories of each setting, are as close as one can get to bottling the experience of an Untour.
Here’s a page from her sketchbook when she went on a Greek Untour with fellow artists a few years ago:
Here are her memories (in words and pictures) of a memorable night with Christos, our Untours staff person in Greece:
At our charming apartment in Nafplio during a very hot summer, our air conditioner suddenly stopped working. Christos was there immediately to rescue us. While there he told us he worked as a chef at a hotel in a neighboring town and invited us to come. We did and enjoyed a wonderful meal after which Christos even did a special dance for us – dancing within a ring of fire which he eventually put out with his bare feet!