UNION TWP. – One never knows where inspiration may strike.
Batavia-based artist Margi Hopkins found it at Shor Park – 4659 Tealtown Road, Milford, OH 45150 – photographing the toddler son of a friend crawling through the beehive portion of the playground.
“It was just a really fun photograph of him coming through that beehive,” Hopkins said. “The way the light was coming through one of the holes, his expression, that window behind him looking out into the park.”
She turned the photo into “Hive Mind,” a 20-by-24-inch color-pencil portrait and submitted the piece for inclusion in the Colored Pencil Society of America’s 28th Annual International Exhibition & Convention.
(The exhibit was scheduled to run at the Dunedin Fine Art Center in Florida, but in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis moved to an online exhibition opening July 15. Hopkins is a signature member of the CPSA and has been selected for several previous international exhibitions.)
How long does it take to turn a photograph into a piece of art?
“My canned answer is a lifetime,” Hopkins said. “I’ve been doing commission work since 2000, but I’m in my 60s and have been doing art since I was a kid. In terms of actual time for this piece, I try to work with audio books. This was about three and a half books worth of work, so maybe 60 hours.”
Hopkins takes some license when creating her art. The bee at the center of “Hive Mind,” for example.
“It’s intentionally big because it’s the boy’s imagination,” she said. “It’s also closer to the viewer than the child, so it’s more in focus. I blend all kinds of things to make the picture.
“The texture was intentional. I meant to make it look pixilated. I got real tight on the bee, real sharp, but the boy kind of dissolves so it would feel atmospheric.”
Hopkins said she’s done other pieces created from exploring Shor Park for the last nine years.
“My artwork is very local, things that you see all the time,” she said. “The thing that holds it all together is that I love nature.
“We’ve got a beehive and bee right there. What would little boys and girls do if they didn’t have bugs to explore? You don’t even need the play scape, it’s just a place where you can explore. The parks are a way to keep people connected to those things. They need the time to explore what’s right in front of them.”
The beehive feature is part of Clermont County’ first certified inclusive playground. The play structure opened to great acclaim in the spring of 2019 and had its official dedication July 16.
“This was and is a beautiful property,” said Sylvia Shor at the dedication. She made the donation of 56 acres to the Park District to create the park in her husband’s memory. “It’s more than I ever could have imagined. I love it. But look out there (at the busy playground). They like it and that’s what matters.”
Hopkins is represented by the Row House Gallery in Milford, where some of her work is on display. To see more of her art, please visit www.pepperportraits.com.
During the Covid-19 crisis, the playground at Shor Park is closed to the public. The paved walking path and hiking trails through the park remain open from sunrise to dusk seven days a week. Please practice social distancing of at least six feet from your fellow guests when visiting the park.
Mark D. Motz is the Community Relations Manager for the Clermont County Park District. A native Cincinnatian, he has worked for more than 25 years as an award-winning journalist and public relations professional. Away from work, he enjoys photography, theater and spending time with his nine godchildren.