The Story Behind the Red Umbrella
I am asked almost every day what inspired me to start creating paintings with red umbrellas. In 2002 I traveled to Italy just to paint and prepare for an exhibit of my Italian works when I returned to the States. One, small painting titled, “Venetian Snow” was almost finished, but as I stood back and reassessed the composition, I realized that while I liked the mood that the greys, browns, and blues created, it needed some additional color. I proceeded to add a figure with an umbrella feeding the seagulls by the Venetian lagoon. Through the umbrella, I could introduce a color; maybe yellow or blue or … and the nomination went to red. Somehow, red just seemed to be the cheer needed in an otherwise leaden color palette.
This painting was just one of an entire exhibit of Italian works which I unveiled later that year. This was also the very first painting to sell out of the entire collection.
The following year, I traveled to France to paint, and decided to take this same figure with the red umbrella and incorporate it into various scenes from Paris. Again, when I exhibited the body of French works later that year, the pieces with the figure holding the red umbrella were the first to sell of the entire French show.
I realized that, while I enjoyed painting this figure into various settings where I had traveled, customers were just as enthusiastic about collecting it. Thus was born the Red Umbrella Collection, which continues to grow each year as I continue to travel.
It has since been to the New England states, Savannah & Charleston, England, Scotland, Switzerland, France, the Greek Isles, back to Italy, and most recently, to Ireland. There I found much artistic inspiration among the green hills and hedgerows, the sweeping coastal vistas, the quaint, thatched-roofed cottages, and the brooding, rugged, and misty interior where I found the occasional clump of Celtic crosses in an ancient graveyard near a church ruin.
But the red umbrella is not just limited to my travels. The collection now includes a variety of recognizable Lancaster PA landmarks. I have also had many privately commissioned orders that included the red umbrella; homes with someone walking by with the red umbrella, people’s pets with the red umbrella, and various portraits with the red umbrella, to name a few.
It is a signature in process that continues to develop as I continue to develop as an artist.