A decade later, Bonnie Mason finally got around to painting that cottage. Turns out, it was worth the wait.
Mason's oil painting, "Hydrangea Cottage," won the Best in Show prize at the Society of Bluffton Artist's annual Judged Show. The painting, along with dozens of others, will be on display through Jan. 6 at the gallery in Old Town Bluffton.
Mason, a Spring Island resident, describes how "Hydrangea Cottage" evolved from an old photo into an award-winning painting.
Question. How did this painting come about?
Answer. When we moved to Spring Island more than 12 years ago, one of the things I loved about it the most was the arts program. I started taking classes there and then ventured out into the greater arts community. (Local artist) Lynda Potter used to run workshops and she'd take us along the May River. We stumbled upon these cottages and this property that the people let us on. I have no idea where it is; I was so new to the area at the time. I'm a photographer and started taking photos. Then I set it aside. After all these years, I told myself that I needed to go back and paint from some of my photo references.
Q. How long have you been painting?
A. About 15 years. My husband and I used to move a lot. I thought it was a great way to keep a skill up and take it with me wherever we moved. I actually picked it up at the (Academy of Art) in Chicago.
Q. How do you use photography in your painting process?
A. In the back of my mind, I'm thinking if I can capture it in a photo that's half the job right there. But I don't just copy it straight from a photo, however. I have to experience it in person. Something has to draw me to a subject. It's a process. Everything has to be right with the light and all the other elements. There's this field on Spring Island. Day after day I'd keep going back until the light and setting were just right.
Q. Were you surprised when you won Best of Show?
A. I was stunned. I was on the SoBA board for four years. I just really like what the organization does. I really like their children's (art) and scholarship program.
For me, one of the reasons I paint is to donate my time. We do similar programs here in Spring Island. I'll put those paintings up to raise money. It's not just painting but a way to volunteer, as well.