For more information about the Christmas Card Sale for the Gard

For more information about the Christmas Card Sale for the Gardner-Simmons Home for Girls, Inc., call Kelly Wiggington at (601) 844-4433 or Sandy Lipscomb at (601) 844-2851.

By Eileen Bailey

Daily Journal

Artist John Carlson hopes others will see his painting, chosen as this year’s Gardner-Simmons Home for Girls Christmas card, as thought-provoking.

The painting features a young girl sitting on a rock with her feet dangling in water and her head bowed.

“This is a thought-provoking painting,” said Carlson. “I was flattered that my work was considered.”

The painting is one of many works Carlson does featuring children. His works have been displayed at the Gum Tree Arts Festival since 1978. Each year, Tupelo dentist Dr. Richard Warriner has purchased one of Carlson’s original paintings. The Carlson painting being used by the Gardner-Simmons Home is owned by Warriner and is on loan for the Christmas cards.

Carlson, a former dentist who lives in Birmingham, said he waived his reproduction rights for this painting for the non-profit organization that houses up to eight girls, ages 11-18, who are abused and/or neglected.

The home also provides an independent living program to assist older girls ages 18-22 in preparing to live on their own. It also has a Foster Family Home Program which licenses and trains individual foster families to provide care in their homes for children who – due to abuse, neglect or other family problems – are unable to remain in their own homes, said director Kelly Wiggington.

Sandy Lipscomb, chair for the Christmas Card Committee, said the home has sold Christmas cards for the last four years to raise funds. Two years ago the group raised $8,000, she said. Last year, the cards brought in about $10,000. The cards are the largest grossing fund-raiser for the organization.

In the past three years the cards were designed by girls at the home. This year the group wanted to try something different to provide a more “universal appeal” to individuals and industries, Lipscomb said.

The cards go on sale for industries in mid-July and on Aug. 15 for individuals. The cards will sell for $22 for 20 folded cards and $50 for 50 folded or flat cards. Orders of 100 to 1,000 will receive a 10 percent discount and orders of more than 1,000 will receive a 20 percent discount.

In addition to cards, Lipscomb said they also are exploring using the picture for note cards and a limited number of prints.

Painting as a way of life

Carlson began painting as a hobby. The then-practicing dentist said when he began dabbling in watercolors in 1975 he had no idea that would become his new profession. He said the first paintings he did he used to decorate his office.

His wife, Jane, thought they were good enough to show. “I was not for that,” Carlson said. Unbeknownst to Carlson his wife signed him up for an art show. But at the show, he didn’t sell a single painting.

Carlson said he decided then that there would be no more art shows. But once again, his wife had signed him up for another show. At this show he sold a painting and from there the rest is history.

Through the years Carlson began to cut back on the days he was at his dental practice. In 1994 he sold to a dentist who had joined his practice earlier.

He now travels around the country to art shows selling his paintings.

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