A Pennsylvania State trooper can face stressful situations, and so it was for Glenn Blue two weeks ago.
Blue and the patrol he commands in the Avondale Barracks responded to two shooting incidents in Lancaster County in one day. They were out at the Amish school where several young girls were murdered. After eight hours at that scene he heard another call and responded another location in southern Lancaster County where a man shot himself after setting fire to several structures.
Then Blue, 46, had to get paintings ready for his own one-man show at the Chadds Ford Gallery. His paintings will be on display their through Oct. 29.
Cpl. Blue is a fine artist as well as a 16-year veteran of the state police who, several years ago, recaptured convicted murderer Norman Johnson.
He admits there are times when he gets tired of the anger, dirt and filth he faces as a law enforcement officer and finds peace and escape in his studio at home. At other times he jokes that he gets so frustrated when a painting isn't going well that he can't wait to get back to his police work.
The contrast between the vocational and avocational facets of his life is not lost on police force colleagues or those in the art world.
Jill McKone, a criminal investigator at Avondale, has known Blue for 15 years and said the contrast is interesting to her.
"He's very good at his job [as a trooper]," McKone said. "You wouldn't think a police officer would be emotional enough to paint."
McKone has known about Blue's painting for about 10 years, but this is the first of his shows she's seen. "I never realized how talented he is."
Chadds Ford Gallery Director Barbara Moore said the allure of Blue's work is that it reflects a softness and peacefulness. She thinks his artwork reflects a universal need for peace, but with Blue it stems from the demands of his police work.
"His [art] work displays the need for tranquility in all of us," she said. "There's a comfortableness we can relate to, and that comes from the artist."
Blue's wife, Peggy, said the contrast makes her husband of 19 years "The most interesting guy in the world. I love his extremes. Life is always a surprise, never predictable."
Peggy Blue said she doesn't worry when her husband dons the uniform and hits the streets because she chooses not to worry. She's confident in his intelligence, ability and training to get him home safely after a shift on patrol. She doesn't interfere in that phase of his life, but does help to a point with the artistic side.
She said she can see signs in him when he needs some external inspiration from going to workshops or galleries and does what she can to make that happen. And there are times when she can get him to the studio when she sees his need to paint.
"He'll try to do household chores and I'll tell him we can either both clean or I'll clean and you paint." That gets him into the studio, she said.
Blue is our years away from retiring looking ahead to making art is full-time work. He spends vacation time studying art in other states and in Europe.
He spends a week in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan every year and last year spent three weeks in Venice, Austria and the Czech Republic. Some of the paintings in the show are from that European trip, he said.
He began painting in high school working with acrylic and then some oil. He started getting more involved with watercolor about seven or eight years ago, and now focuses mostly on that medium.
Both of Blue's parents were art teachers and he has a younger brother who's also an artist. He jokingly says that as a state police trooper he's the black sheep of the family.