This week’s fantastical cover comes to us from Jane Hartley, who is represented by William Ris Gallery in Jamesport. Here, she discusses “Hotel Heliconia” in-depth — from inspiration and creative process to the story and personality profile of each charming critter within.
Tell us about the inspiration for the “Hotel Heliconia” concept.
The painting and the story (see below) that goes with it were inspired by the time I spent in the Southern Pacific zone of Costa Rica. The colorful, large “bracts” of the heliconia flower house the nectar from the tiny flowers inside, which in turn attracts the creatures. And that’s what sparked my imagination to create the story of the hotel.
How did you decide what creatures to feature in this unique piece?
All of the creatures and the heliconia flower are found throughout Costa Rica, which has an abundance of flora and fauna.
What did the creation process entail — from reference photos to still life composition to painting materials?
The concept for the painting came from my personal reference photos and my imagination. And the creative process was about trying to develop the visual along with the story. The composition focused on placing the creatures where they would best fit in the bracts based on the personalities I created for them.
How do your inspirations and/or creative process change as the weather gets warmer?
I can’t say that the weather really affects the process, and inspirations can come from anywhere or anything I’ve seen or heard.
What is one artistic hope or goal you have for this summer or this year?
That I always continue to find the time to paint.
Do you have any new works on view at William Ris Gallery or any upcoming exhibitions you’ll be featured in?
At the moment, there are no upcoming exhibitions, but I did have a piece in the recent Hearts & Souls exhibit to benefit Ukraine at William Ris Gallery. Also the gallery carries an inventory of my available work, as well as images of my latest new work.
Tell us the full story that accompanies “Hotel Heliconia.”
I hope you have a chance to read it, because it gives the creatures personalities. It’s a good example of where artwork can transport us.
“Hotel Heliconia” (30” x 24” oil/linen) is an exotic, small boutique hotel in southern Costa Rica named after the showy flower that grows there. It attracts an eclectic clientele drawn to its incredible beauty and peacefulness. It’s all about location, location, location.
Let me introduce you to some of the staff and regulars who return yearly:
Sam (bottom right) the yellow-eyed tree frog is the doorman. He’s ex-military and serves as a bodyguard should the need arise. He’s always checking out who comes and goes and knows what’s going on. Clients can rely on Sam to ensure their privacy and safety.
Charlene (bottom left) the colorful golden-tailed sapphire hummingbird was voted the Heliconia’s most favorite cocktail waitress. Cute, bubbly and a bit sassy, she makes everyone in the lobby right at home. Though petite, her colorful outfit makes her easy to find. Rumor has it that Charlene and Sam may be an item.
Mr. O (lower-middle left) the olive-backed sunbird is the Heliconia’s capable manager. Proper, discreet and efficient, he’s been running the place smoothly and seeing that the “regulars“ are well looked after. He’s the reason the Heliconia earns 5-star ratings every year.
Carlos (lower-middle right) the honeycreeper tanager is an award-winning movie producer from Central America. He’s flamboyant, a ladies’ man, loves to be the center of attention, but has a heart of gold. It’s hard to ignore Carlos as he is often seen sporting his flashy blue-green plumage and black mask.
Morty (upper-middle right) the copper-throated sunbird is a politician. He’s known for his fiery rhetoric and never met a camera he didn’t like. He stays at the Heliconia needing to escape the pressures of the media and D.C. He has a tendency to rile the other guests, so Sam keeps a close eye on him.
Nick (flying) the snowy-bellied hummingbird is a world-renowned photojournalist. He travels all over to photograph the most beautiful and interesting sights this planet has to offer. But Nick always flies back to Hotel Heliconia to enjoy his favorite place and recharge his batteries before his next adventure.
Quentin (upper-middle left) the red-eyed tree frog is a lawyer who represents several high-profile clients in the entertainment and financial worlds. He’s basically a nocturnal sort, resting during the day. New clients have been startled by his brilliant red eyes popping open if they accidentally interrupt his napping.
Lucia (top right) the silver-throated tanager is a retired opera singer. In her heyday, she was the “toast“ of opera houses on three continents. On occasion, you will find her warbling in the bar entertaining the customers.
Marcella (top left) the blue morpho butterfly owns the penthouse at Heliconia. Back in the day, she was one of the high society ladies who “lunched” when “lunching” was a verb. Impossibly glamorous, hugely entertaining, elegant and admired for her generosity she is referred to as the dowager philanthropist, spending her time flitting from one project to the next.