Early in the 1970's, the specific year is not remembered, members of the group thought it would be a good idea to break up the long winter with a mid-season extended-weekend artist retreat. The specific location selected was a cold, drafty old place by the name of the Warm Springs Lodge, about a forty-five minute drive from Harrisburg along Sherman's Creek in Perry County, near the village of Landisburg, Pennsylvania. At one time, long ago, "very" long ago, it was a stagecoach stop. Later on it became a hot (warm) springs resort. In the 1970's, the current owners at the time operated the establishment more like an inn, renting out the rooms to anyone who wanted to spend a few nights, serving weekend dinners, and hosting the occasional wedding ceremony. It was the perfect spot for the desired Thursday thru Sunday morning retreat. Quiet, secluded, rustic, friendly owners, wonderful food, and plenty of room to open up easels and establish the getaway artist weekend that would break up the mid-winter blues.
Breakfast was served normally around 8:00 in the mornings and painting began immediately thereafter. Mostly everyone would paint until 12:00 noon, stopping only when the call would come out from the cook that lunch was ready, and then all would take a break to eat before heading back to the easels where the painting would continue for the rest of the afternoon until dinner was served.
It turned out to be such a successful weekend, in terms of quality painting time, and camaraderie, that the group would return the following year....and then the year after that...and the year after that....and so on...and so on...for over the next forty years.
The Warm Springs Lodge winter weekend was part of being a member of the Seven Lively Artists, but there was one man who started to attend these annual gatherings that was not an official member of the group. Not only was he not an official member of the group, this fellow wasn't even an artist, at least not in the sense of being a painter. And unlike everyone else who only had about an hour's drive from home to reach the lodge, this non-painting guest for the weekend would drive six hours from his home in Connecticut to be part of this exclusive get-together. His name was Larry Zimmerman, and even though he wasn't a painter, he was a talented writer who did have a special connection to the group, his cousin and Seven Lively Artist member Bob Zimmerman.
Now, as it turned out, weekend winter retreats also seem to work out well for writers, and year after year Larry would return to take part in the activities...enjoying the food, the card games, and the occasional glass of wine or scotch, while sitting in the main room next to the stone fireplace, working on his latest story in the midst of the working artists and the smell of linseed oil and turpentine.
One year not so long ago, Larry arrived and set up his computer at the same spot where he sat, year after year, in the big room, usually with a stack of his previously published books close by, and announced he had finished the latest book in his series, "Murder at Amston Lake", producing a number of copies from a small box. He hinted that we might be especially interested in this particular book as he distributed a number of copies as gifts. It seems as if several members of the Seven Lively Artists, this meek, mild-mannered, innocent group of artists from Pennsylvania, had become involved as suspects in his latest murder mystery.......who would have known...
Books by Larry Zimmerman: