The Artist at Work

The Artist at Work
The Artist at Work

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Instant Gratification at the Biltmore on Saturday

Though the weather has been capricious, extending April showers into May and making short sleeves and sun basking a rare pleasure, Spring is nevertheless here and settling in. Yesterday, Beltane, or May Day, marks the halfway point between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice - the time to plant seedlings, pick wildflowers, and celebrate the earth, good work and all things a little finer than base capitalism.

Since the last blog, we've marked some momentous arrivals that declare the joy of the season: eternal return, birth, turning over a new leaf. The hummingbirds have returned - I've had at least one report of a male ruby-throat at a feeder in South Asheville. And right on cue, nearly always timing their return with the hummers, kindred travelers, Marcus and Anne have returned to these hills and sun-scrubbed meadows from the southern coast. I've also celebrated a rare arrival: my son, Cormac Ulysses, was born in march, right before the Equinox, and yesterday, we spent May Day watching the grackles, cardinals and mockingbirds in our yard court one another.

Though Spring has toyed a bit with our souls and bodies with her fitful chills and rains, we invite you to come celebrate all our new season arrivals this weekend at the Biltmore, and take a little piece (or sip) of spring home with you. Marcus and Anne will be at the winery on the estate from 11:30am-5pm on Saturday, May 4th. Marcus will be signing wine bottles of Biltmore's Spring wine, a lovely rose' of Pino Grigio adorned with Marcus' piece, Biltmore in Bloom. Special edition prints of Biltmore in Bloom, framed and unframed will also be available. You will also be able to get a glimpse of the book, Flight of the Mind, Marcus; 25-year retrospective, which promises to set your spirit soaring above any passing clouds.

If there were such a mythic figure as a May Queen, she would live inside Marcus' Biltmore in Bloom, probably sipping on a bottle of Biltmore Spring wine. So come see if you can find her this Saturday. We would love to see you!

If you can't make it to the Estate Winery, prints are also available at Art Accents in Weaverville. Check out the framing options on Marcus' official site here.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Vision of Spring

Today, the last day of February, winter and spring coexist in chilly bright paradox, with fitful sun, shivering daffodils, a cold north wind, and a soft blue sky sporadically clouded with snow flurries. Winter, which we worried would never come, is holding sway, but not enough to freeze the signs and harbingers of Spring from our yards and hearts.

All winter, Marcus has been conjuring Spring, breathing a blush into the gray days in his work on the Biltmore Estate's spring wine label, Biltmore in Bloom.

Following his lovely and well-loved Christmas wine label, Biltmore Winter, the estate once again selected Marcus to create the art that will adorn their special release 2013 Spring wine, a Rose' of Pinot Grigio.

Marcus' interpretation of spring arriving at the Biltmore Estate is, once again, a fantasy of beauty and majesty. Tulips, of a vibrant pink hue gardeners dream of, dominate the foreground en masse. The delicate flowers are juxtaposed against the background scene of the majestic mansion seemingly hovering in the spring forest, appearing more ethereal than the flowers, a reversal that can only happen in the magic of springtime. Above the entirety, the misty Blue Ridge Mountains and the new spring sky widen the horizon, opening portal of possibility for all who traipse the springtime landscape, searching for such wonder as the painting portrays.

About his work, Marcus writes, The tulips are definitely the stars of the design. I wanted the flowers to be elevated in the landscape, reigning above the house, creating good depth and inviting the eye to journey within the painting towards the magic of the estate, and beyond to the mountains and spring sky. Flower power prevails!

And flower power (and a good glass of wine) is just what the end of February needs! Snowy River Limited is pleased to announce that the prints of Biltmore in Bloom will be available for purchase. If you are local to Western North Carolina, you can find the prints and the book Flight of the Mind at Weaverville's Art Accents frame shop and gallery. A variety of framing options are also available. View these online at Marcus' official site. Online purchase is also available through the website.

Stay tuned for the official press release of Marcus' spring wine label for the Biltmore Estate. In the meantime, check out our February 2012 posts when we were at the height of the Christmas wine label voting contest, and enjoyed the luxury of a leap year.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Readers Respond: Book Reviews Are In!

Flight of the Mind has been launched out into the world.  One of the great beauties in releasing such a work of love is the proof we get that the work has not been launched into an empty, silent void. From all the corners of the state, country and globe where the book has reached receptive eyes and ears, there comes a response! We get word back.

We'd like to take this opportunity to share some of the impressions the book has made on our gracious and wonderful readers. Ever grateful for the eyes and minds of our audience, we celebrate these messages and welcome more!

The day my book arrived, I didn't even change out of my work clothes.  I just got it out of the box, put it on the dining room table & opened It up.  I just kept saying "oh my God!" as I turned the pages & looked at all the beautiful art. What an accomplishment & what encouragement to all of us who have a dream to create something. -- Judy

I can't even express the beauty of this book in words. I am going page by page and enjoying it so so much.  Everything about it is perfection.  I love the weight of paper you used, love the format, and what can I say, the writing is superb. You have put together a masterpiece. . . I want to share it with everyone.  I am so proud of both of you! I could go on and on but I think you get that I love this book so much and will enjoy every page. -- Linda

About the Golden Edition:
I have to tell you, the book is wonderful. Kris and I felt like kids on Christmas morning opening our "Golden" package. The hummingbird prints are beautiful! We watched the DVD twice on Christmas day. And the audio reading of Marcus' story was perfect to listen to in the car as we traveled to see our grandkids. -- Jerry in Midlothian, VA

What others are saying:
Marcus Thomas’s work is imaginative, skillful and true in a hauntingly soulful way. It’s just flat out amazing work and you certainly don’t need to know his story to admire his work. But read this book anyway. You’ll be amazed all over again.        -- Julie Speed, artist in Austin, TX

Marcus’ work is a stunning tribute to the courage and dedication of a true artist – this man not only possesses great skill, but pure natural talent. Linger over each beautiful page. For when you do, Flight of the Mind will refresh and inspire your heart! --Joni Eareckson Tada in California

Consider this your invitation to tell us how the book as reached you. Email us, or submit your thoughts in the comments below. Your dispatches are as lovely as the winged creatures Marcus paints and we will be delighted to receive them!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

For immediate release . . .

We are embarking on a far-reaching promotional push for the book, Flight of the Mind. This includes touring the book at our Spring shows in Florida and getting the good word out across the land. Check out our press release here!

Quadriplegic Artist Releases Astonishing 25-Year Retrospective in Story and Images

Flight of the Mind: A Painter’s Journey Through Paralysis details the true story of Marcus Thomas, an athlete who, upon breaking his neck and suffering paralysis from the shoulders down, went on to become an acclaimed and award winning artist.

At the age of 26, Marcus C. Thomas suffered a skiing accident that broke his neck and left him paralyzed from the shoulders down.  Six months into his rehabilitation, he took up a simple watercolor set and a paintbrush rigged to fit comfortably in his mouth. An activity that started as something to do for fun became his passion. Since the moment he discovered painting, Marcus Thomas has lived the artist’s life, transcending the limitations of his body, pushing beyond physical boundaries, and perfecting difficult techniques to capture profound and subtle images in color and light, from a hummingbird’s wing beat to the ocean’s heartbeat.

The 2012 release of the book, Flight of the Mind: A Painter’s Journey Through Paralysis honors the 25th anniversary of  Marcus’ "rebirth" as an artist. Composed of a biographical narrative of Marcus’ life from childhood to present day and over 200 full-color reproductions of his paintings from the first bird calendars to his current work, the book chronicles Marcus’ remarkable life journey, from recreation major to a chair-bound painter, who soars to new heights through his imagination.

Marcus Thomas’ life and art are a testament to the resilient strength of the human spirit and the spirit of the natural world.  His artwork has won awards and critical acclaim up and down the east coast and beyond, including three-time winner of Best in Show (2D) at the Naples Invitational Art Festival 2011-2013. His paintings have been featured in publications and news outlets in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. After winning the 2012 Christmas wine-label contest at The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, the estate will again feature his work on their special release 2013 Festival of Flowers wine label. The release of Flight of the Mind, his 25-year retrospective, has occasioned heightened world-wide interest in his work.

Flight of the Mind conveys a message for not only fellow artists and lovers of art, but for all who suffer a disability, for all caregivers, and for anyone struggling to make sense of a world that is both heartbreaking and lovely. About the book, contemporary artist Julie Speed writes, It’s just flat out amazing work and you certainly don’t need to know his story to admire his work. But read this book anyway. You’ll be amazed all over again.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Santa's Elves: A gallery

Amanda and Jim in for the long haul
The scene at Marcus and Anne's house was transformed this week as they packed and shipped tons of copies of Flight of the Mind: A Painter's Journey Through Paralysis. Books will be arriving on doorsteps in time for Christmas! Special thanks to the brave and hearty elves that made light work with their many hands. And to the Fed-Ex guy, who deserves much applause!

At Art Accents in Weaverville, Bob and Carla hosted a wonderful meet and greet with Marcus yesterday evening as folks came by to pick up their books in person. Smiles all around! Books are available there if you still need to pick up your order. Or you can purchase a book there as well from now through the holidays. Stay tuned for a gallery of this happy event.

dining room no more

Anne, leader of the pack-ing

Carla at her station
got books

Marcus autographed every book

got boxes

First book ready to ship!

Judy handling orders

note the raven trying to escape the wall of books

Monday, December 17, 2012

Wait No More: The Books Are Here!

We are pleased to announce that at long last, the books have arrived! Flight of the Mind feels as beautiful as it looks. Currently we are packing orders to ship, and those going up and down the east coast are expected to arrive in plenty of time for Christmas. Sit back and have a cocktail, Santa, our elves are cheerful, happy and on the job!

We invite all our local friends and readers to celebrate with us! Tomorrow, Tuesday, December 18th, we will be at Art Accents on Main Street, Weaverville from 4:30-7:00pm. Folks will be picking up their orders. You can also purchase a book at Art Accents beginning tomorrow night through the holidays.

And of course, if Weaverville, NC is too far away for easy travel, we are still taking orders online for all three editions, while supplies last.

If you live nearby or are passing through, come meet the artist and the author tomorrow evening. We'd love to see you and show off our labor of love!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Grace in the Waiting

Marcus and Anne with advance copy of Flight of the Mind.
The promise that "good things come to those who wait," is perhaps as old as Christmas. To a child awaiting the arrival of a parade or party, the reassurance often rings like a hollow admonishment to be patient and quell her rising excitement. For those of us hurtling head-long towards the end of the year, the promise, though cliche, can serve as a reminder of how harmful it can be to rush only to arrive at the inevitable unprepared, with spent souls.

In the Christian calendar we are currently in the midst of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Our culture doesn't give Advent much shrift, but it serves as an observance of a necessary waiting period, time to prepare for the gift of the incarnation, getting ready for the possibility of God becoming Human. Advent coincides with the longest nights of the year, leading up to Solstice, the longest actual night and the pivot point of the year, getting the world ready for the possibility of a fresh start in seasons to come.

It takes grace to wait with patience. Ask any expectant mother, any artist, any child, any commuter waiting on the morning traffic, any lover awaiting the return of the beloved. Whether we wait in fear, anxiety, or peace, it is often the hardest (and perhaps the most necessary) part of any journey.

Just ask Marcus and Anne, for that matter! We are currently in a forced period of waiting on the book, Flight of the Mind. A testament that has been 26 years in the living and a year and half in the making is now, at the eleventh hour, held up in a port in California, hostage to a union strike. Honestly, we would have preferred pirates. Repeating the mantra, "good things come, good things come" still doesn't keep us from nail-biting, bargaining with powers beyond our control, and wishing the books could literally grow the wings of Marcus' imagination. If you have ordered a book, you will be receiving communication soon about the outlook on arrival.

Along with grace, it never hurts to have a little fortification against long nights and seemingly endless periods of anticipation. The tradition of luminaries, lighting the way for the advent of the awaited event, does the work of shoring us up for the long haul. A illuminated path marked out in the formless void and darkness of the wait provides a thread to follow, directing the soul to the ultimate point. This evening from 6-9pm, Weaverville hosts its Annual Candlelight Stroll through downtown, complete with a luminary leading visitors to celebrate with music, horse and buggy rides, shopping and Santa. Marcus and Anne will be at Art Accents on Main Street with an advance copy of the book, the first official preview of Fight of the Mind. By all accounts, the book is beautiful and well worth the wait. Come see for yourself and join us in our grace-full wait. In this journey of a lifetime, a little patience could be a good thing in itself.