Monday, December 21, 2009

Wishing You the Gift of Joy this Holiday Season

6x8" oil on linen panel

I know it's been a long time between cupcakes and Christmas. Mom continues to decline, and I'm hanging on. Please know that I'm thinking of you, that I miss visiting everyone's blogs as often as I used to, and that I'm wishing you and your families joyous and heart-filled holidays.
With love,

For Taz's story, visit Art for Animals. Thanks to Pam Townsend and the PGSPCA for the photo reference of Taz, who was adopted in 2007.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sweet Couple

8" x 8"

Acrylic on BFK Rives

Couldn't resist the subject matter for Karin Jurick's latest challenge. Cupcakes make me feel nostalgic for simpler days, and birthday parties. Realized if I focused on the confetti sprinkles, I'd miss the deadline, so they're unadorned.
Check out the Different Strokes from Different Folks site to see the delicious entries. Happy one year anniversary to DSDF, and many thanks to Karin.

Want to also thank Lee at the inspirational A Day Not Wasted for this very cool artist's apron. It's fantastic. Thanks, Lee!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Red Hot and Blue

20 x 24"
Acrylic on BFK Rives

Huge thanks to all of you who've e-mailed and checked in to see if I'm still breathing. My computer and painting time has been limited lately, so I'm posting a few of the abstracts I painted earlier this year. I feel rather tender about these. They're out of my comfort zone, but sheer fun to paint. Anyway, here's the first.

Good news: I do have help with Mom now three days a week. An enormous relief. Bad news: she's getting up more often during the night, and I spring up from a sound sleep to intercept her in the hall. Recently she was dressed head to toe in black at 3 am, full makeup and jewelry on, hair coiffed, ready to head outside. She looked like an exotic cat burglar. Baffling since she needs help dressing during daylight hours. I'll see the humor in all of this one day when I'm not so sleepy.

Many thanks to the multi-talented Jala Pfaff and to uber blogger Mi for passing along two blog awards.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Windows to the Words:Art Challenge

oil on canvas
9 x 12

This is my entry for James Parker's Windows to the Words Challenge.  The subject this month is old folks and wrinkles.  A friend of mine, Barbara Motter, has wonderful photos from her world travels, and kindly let me submit some for this challenge.  This is an old gentleman from Russia. Thank you, Barbara. Please visit the WTTW site to see the other entries, and also stop by James' blog to say hello.

Also thought I'd post the beginning stages. I roughed in with shades of burnt sienna, and then wiped out the highlights with a paper towel.  Then I came in with thin washes of more intense colors to establish rough value patterns and warms and cools.  

I hope that all of you Dads and Granddads had a Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Flower Girl and thanks, Akiko!

Wedding Reception, detail, 24 x 30 o/c

In the mid 90's, I attended a friend's wedding on the Island of Malta. The setting was spectacular. The ceremony was in a lovely church in the historic city of Mdina, and the reception was held in a converted palace complete with courtyard and formal gardens. Twelve years later, I uncovered the photos I'd taken, skipped over all of the landscape and architecture shots, and as an experiment, began a pastel on canvas of the maid of honor and one of the flower girls. Pastel on canvas was not a happy experiment. I scrubbed it, came over it with acrylic, then water-miscible oils. ack. Peeled off the maid of honor's head, re-gessoed and built up the paint again. Then painted over everything with regular oils. Someday I'll be brave enough to try the architecture.  

Thank you to Akiko Watanabe, who kindly sent me the Noblesse Oblige Award. Akiko's animal paintings and ACEOs are breathtaking. I spend a lot of time scrutinizing her work, and still can't figure out how she gets so much loving detail and spirit into such a small format. Please visit her site to see her extraordinary portraits of animals. Thanks, Akiko--am humbled and honored. (award details in May 17 post).

Friday, May 22, 2009

For Fun..

Ovarian Act II
30" x 40"  o/c

An older work, based on a strange dream I'd had.  I put together a small collage first of the elements, and then worked up the larger painting.  The cat is my mom's cat, and the shell is another from my grandmother's collection.  I don't know who the women are, but rest assured, the one with the egg is not me. Well, then again, it was a dream.

Update:  Thanks to Sara Winters for passing along the Kreative Blogger Award.  Please visit Sara's site to see a beautiful painting of one of the most creative "castles" you'll ever see, and to enjoy the rest of her fantastic work.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Thank you and blog awards

My sincere thanks to all of you who have been so kind and encouraging about my mom. It means the world. I appreciate it so much.

Recently, three wonderful artists passed a few awards my way. Many thanks to Christine Regan and to Christine Pierce for sending the Kreativ Blogger award, and to Sandy Sandy for the Noblesse Oblige award. I am honored ladies. 

Christine Regan is an emerging artist currently working in  Delaware. Please check out her unique landscapes and abstract views of the DC metro system.

Also visit Christine Pierce , an artist from Oregon who works in multiple media--digital and hand--and creates truly joyful images.

The award entails linking back to the person who sent the award, listing 7 random things you love, and sending the award on.
I've recently posted my 7 loves, so will go straight to passing the award to these dedicated and Kreativ bloggers: 

I've also received the Noblesse Oblige Award from Sandy Sandy, who authors several creative sites, and is a team member at the Art for Animals Project.  While I'm not sure that my blog fits the parameters of this particular award, I am grateful and honored, Sandy. She sent this from her Inspiration Every Day blog, which is full of terrific quotes.

A Description of the Attributes this Award Recognizes:
1) The Blogger manifests exemplary attitude, respecting the nuances that pervades amongst different cultures and beliefs.
2) The Blog contents inspire; strives to encourage and offers solutions.
3) There is a clear purpose at the Blog; one that fosters a better understanding on Social, Political, Economic, the Arts, Culture, Sciences or Beliefs.
4) The Blog is refreshing and creative.
5) The Blogger promotes friendship and positive thinking.
The Bloggers who receive this award will need to perform the following steps:
1) Create a post with a mention and link to the blogger who presented the Noblesse Oblige Award to you.
2) The award conditions must be displayed in the post.
3) Write a short post about what your blog has thus far achieved.
4) The blogger must present the Noblesse Oblige Award to blogs in concurrence with the award conditions.
5) The blogger can display the award at any location on their blog.

I'm relatively new to blogging, and can only share what my blog has meant to me: It's allowed me to meet many kind, talented, funny and gracious people from all over the world. 
I'd like to pass this award on to a few blogs that I turn to for inspiration, information, and admire for their community spirit.  In addition to Art for the Animals, which has already received this award, please stop by...

As always, recipients--if you are tagged out, or don't participate in awards, no worries!
Happy creating everyone.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I've started and deleted this post five times now since Mother's Day.  I had wanted to keep the joy I feel about painting and the blog community somehow separate from the realities of my day to day life.  But my painting--or more to the point, my struggle to write and to paint lately--is completely tied to the sense of overwhelm that I feel caring for my mom. She's lived with me for 10 years, was formally diagnosed in 2006, and since Christmas has needed help with almost all tasks.  I used to take heart that at least she remembered my name.  On Mother's Day, we took a short walk in the park, and she asked what my name is.  If this sounds like a bid for sympathy,  it's not.  Just my admission that I can't keep my life compartmentalized, nor handle it all alone anymore. There are days lately when I feel I'm standing at the edge of a dark abyss, screaming into an empty universe.  I know that sounds a tad dramatic.  I won't bore you with the details of what life is like other than to say imagine trying to explain what Google is to someone who doesn't remember what tuna fish is, and repeating "it's 4:00. it's Thursday, the clock's in front of's's still Thursday...I didn't change the station, it's a  commercial, it's 4:05...."  all day, every day to someone you miss with all your heart.  A very dear friend is currently helping me interview in-home agencies, so I can reclaim a few hours a week for work and for friends. Thank God for friends. 

I know I'm not the only one dealing with a difficult situation, illness or loss.  Thanks for bearing with me through this post. I've also received some really nice blog awards, that I promise I will post tomorrow.  

The good news is, Mom always has been, and remains, except for a few tantrums over commercials and my not allowing her to get a riding mower,  a cheerful soul.
A few photos...


Mom, her sister Nancy, my grandmother, Zena
aboard Tres Jolie, Chesapeake Bay

This Mother's Day, in front of our house

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tickled Pink...

...that Nancy from Every Photo Tells a Story has selected one of my paintings for today's image prompt.  Please stop by her inspirational site and read the lovely poems and words of thanks from others.  Nancy writes that "pink roses often symbolize gratitude."  I am grateful to have found Nancy's site.  I am grateful for each new day. I am very grateful to have discovered so many talented and generous artists in all media in the blog community to call friends. This rose is for you! 

watercolor, 11x14,sold
previous post March 16th

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Timmi Play Bowing

8x10,  acrylic on canvas board
This is my second submission to the Art For Animals Shelter Project. Timmi came to the Prince George's County SPCA/Humane Society emaciated and covered with fleas.  He had been kept tied up outside, and suffered from "fear aggression" behavior--especially with men.  The kind folks who are fostering him have been working to build Timmi's confidence, but it will take a patient and gentle adopter to understand his needs.  When he trusts someone, he loves to snuggle in their lap to have his belly rubbed.  Timmi's also very attached to his orange ball. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"A Companion of Diana"

vine charcoal on sanded illustration board, 11x14

This is my entry for Karin Jurick's Different Strokes from Different Folks challenge.  I decided to try this in vine charcoal on sanded board, and after too much rubbing out, my fingers were bleeding.  I started drawing the head, thinking I had lots of space to fit the figure, and lo and behold, had no space for her beautiful feet.  I used to tell students: block in, adjust, re-measure, fit the whole figure in.  In my rush to finish the assignment, I didn't do it! Please visit the DSDF site to see the beautiful entries from dozens of talented artists, and to see Diana's companion's feet.

On another note, a special shout-out and thank you to R. Garriott, an amazing artist, and one of the truly good folks in the world.  If you want a visual treat, visit R.'s painting blog.  Need some digital photo editing tips? Check out R.'s Photoshop Tips for Artists.  Best explanation of "lossy" versus "non-lossy" formats I've heard.  Thanks, R! 

Saturday, April 25, 2009


16 x 20 o/c
Another week with little productive painting time, so I'm posting an older painting.  The copper pot is Mom's, the conch belonged to my grandmother. In retrospect, I'd take out the wood stand, but at the time I was more interested in the colors, and the light bouncing around.  

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Trixie, o/c, 8 x 10"
I've heard the definition of insanity is endlessly repeating the same action while expecting a different result.  Every day I'd darken Trixie, and then lighten her up. Then darken, then lighten.  I'm not sure I've got it yet, but I've got to stop.  My hope is that in the time it's taken me to paint this, sweet Trixie has been adopted!  This painting is a donation for the the Prince George's County SPCA/Humane Society, and my first submission to The Art for Animals Project.

Thank you to Sara Winters for sending me the Passionate Painting Award.  Please check out Sara's blog and see the magic she creates with a limited palette of 4 colors.  She is an inspiration. 
My 7 loves and passionate painting rules are listed on my March 25th post. I will name a few additional artists who inspire me:

As always, if you've just received this, or are "tagged out," no worries!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Seeing Red

 I've been working for a week and 1/2 on my first portrait (no not this one!) for Sheila and Carrie's Art for Animals Project. I thought I was close with my painting of Trixie, who's being fostered by the great folks at the Prince George's County SPCA/Humane Society in Maryland. I sent a jpeg to my friend who volunteers there, and she gently pointed out that Trixie is a dark brindle, and not the pale grey I seemed to have her.  Today I darkened her, lost the shape of things, made mud, tried to "fix" the background to help poor Trixie, and generally botched it up.  Which brings me to today's post of another stalled painting.  

In Progress: Oil on gessoed watercolor paper

This young model was trying her best to stay alert to no avail.  I tried my best to get some spark, but no luck.  No matter what I did,  the heavy-lidded bored expression crept back onto my canvas.  I brought the portrait back to my studio to finish, and started to think of her as a contemporary Turandot.  Do you know the famous opera poster of Puccini's mysterious, dark-eyed princess?  I decided I'd give my subject one of those knit hats with the ear flaps and tassles that teens wear, give her a nose ring, and intensify the red.  On a whim,  I blocked in the changes, and came to a roaring stop. I have no reference for the hat, and I'm thinking she looks more Ed Norton from the Honeymooners than Princess Turandot.  She's now holding court in a corner of my studio with the rest of my Where do I Go From Here stack, which sits next to the What on Earth was I Thinking pile. Tomorrow I'll tackle Trixie the foster pup again. (Wasn't Norton's wife named Trixie?)

Thanks so much to all of you who have been leaving such kind comments.  You galvanize me to keep painting.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


22 x 28"
Charcoal on BFK Rives

When I left the corporate publishing world to paint and sail, I hadn't anticipated the initial isolation of  the freelancer's life, or the pitfalls of my naive lack of a plan.  I still had my friends at National Geographic, but, heck, they were working! I'd divorced, moved farther from the bustle of D.C. to the relatively quiet town of Frederick, Maryland, and wondered if I hadn't made the biggest mistake of my life. In a scramble to make ends meet, I painted murals, did faux finishing, worked for a florist, served for a catering company, sold art at local fairs, cleaned houses, and delivered a sailboat from Grenada. One of the first artists I met in Frederick was Andrea Burchette.  I signed up for her watercolor class, expecting to brush up on my skills, and perhaps make a few pretty paintings.  We started out painting dead bugs in sumi-e ink, and ended with Itten, and full color theory.  Concepts I had learned in college finally made sense. Inspirational, spiritual, thoughtful, intensely present, Andrea has that gift of empowering people to be better. I've been through many critique sessions over the years, and hers were revelatory-- always respectful, and astute. When she was unable to continue teaching her classes at Montgomery College, and Frederick Community College, she recommended my name, and bolstered me through my new instructor jitters when I was hired.   I would not have made it through some of the challenges of the past 10 years without her friendship and mentorship.  I snapped reference photos for the portrait in her Church Street studio just before she and her husband packed up and retired to Southport, N.C. 
Do you have, or did you have a mentor who's helped you in your painting career?

Saturday, April 4, 2009


22" x 28"
Soft pastel

 In 2002-3 I spent an intensive year in the Post Baccalaureate program at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore.  The post bacc candidates had studio space in a converted warehouse on the outskirts of campus.  The lighting was poor, the air circulation nonexistent, and the neighborhood none too safe.  None of that mattered because we were painting, and dogs were welcome!  This is Broadway, whom one of my studio mates, Dana, had rescued from life on the streets.  Broadway was a frequent visitor, and often kept me company into the wee hours.  True to her border collie roots, she would stare at me with intense focus until I put down my brushes to come play.  

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Angel on High

Soft Pastel
22 x 26"

This is Angel. He was part of a feral litter born to a neighborhood cat that no one could catch.  One day I heard a kitten screaming, searched the yard, checked under the deck, but saw nothing. After an agonizing day searching, I finally crawled under the deck and looked down a slender standing pipe with a flashlight.  A tiny screaming face looked back. A fallen Angel.  He was only a few weeks old, and had wedged himself so he couldn't move his paws. In desperation, I lowered a rope with a rag tied to the end. He grabbed onto the rag with his teeth, and I pulled him out.  He was one wet, stinking, screaming kitten: scared but otherwise unharmed.  From that day on Angel was my constant companion until he passed away at age 14 in 2006.   

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Art for Animals, Lemonade and more Passion!

 Sheila Tajima and Carrie Jacobson, the talented and generous women who have launched the Art for Shelter Animals Project , sent this lovely thank you for my donation of a few dollars to help the cause. They have a unique spin on linking visual artists with local shelters. Sheila and Carrie are energetic in their support of animals in need of homes, and in their support of their fellow artists. Thank you both!

Speaking of energy and drive, the indomitable Cathyann Burgess, has sent along the Lemonade Award given to bloggers who show gratitude and a positive attitude.  Cathyann is a prolific and talented painter from Virginia whose site has some of the most lovely springtime daffodils, not to mention my favorite e.e. cummings quote.  I'm honored, Cathyann.  Thank you.

Phenomenal father and painter Tom Pohlman zapped the Passionate Painting Award back my way this weekend.  One look at Tom's work, and you know this man is passionate about life. He is the brushwork king, and always has a light-hearted word of support for his fellow painters. Thank you, Tom.  You are a shining light.
(please see previous post for my passionate painting award list....)

The Lemonade Award rules:
1. Post the logo on your blog
2. Nominate at least 7 blogs that show great gratitude and/or attitude
3. List and link your nominator in your post
4. List and link your nominees in your post, and let them know they're recipients

The Lemonade Award goes to the following artists with generous spirits:

Dear recipients: again - no worries if you are "tagged out."  : -)

This just in !  Also received the Passionate Painting Award from the fantastic painter Douglas Hoover !  Am humbled. Thank you so much.  Doug's glowing paintings of life on the N. Carolina coast are superb. His harbor, boat and beach scenes are a vacation for the soul. 

 I'd also like to say if you love cats, and great photography, please visit Doug's friend Teressa Williams' site and see her cats of Ocracoke Island.  They are stunning.  

Friday, March 27, 2009

Live Sketch 2

Oil on gessoed paper
11" x 14"

I lucked out, and was actually close enough to the model for this studio session to see into the shadows.  My goal was to develop an orange/green/violet triad, and to paint the air around her as much as the features.  She was the most pleasant woman.  Her eyes shut by the end of the session, but she was still smiling.  She seemed to radiate light.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thank you!

Wow!  I've gotten my first blog award thanks to the very supportive and excellent painter Dean H. at Deano's Den ( Gallery).   Dean's great passion for paint and for depicting animals, landscape, still life, and the figure in glowing, sculptural brushstrokes is only surpassed by his great heart. Thanks, Dean!  The award, created by Kim Ratigan, requires the recipient to list 7 things we love, and to pass the award along to another 7 passionate painters.

Addendum: Thank you to dear Irit Bourla for also sending me this award. Irit is a self-taught painter and travel agent who paints colorful people and animals.  I am honored, Irit.

In addition to a current affair with Winsor Newton Deep Turqouise, I love:
  1. laughing till my sides hurt.  It makes everything else feel better;
  2. sailing, or any activity on, near, or in salt water;
  3. the cool hush of cathedrals, libraries and deep forests;
  4. the excitement of busy airports; exploring new places;
  5. time with friends;
  6. animals, and cuddling with my 4-legged pals;
  7. flowers, books, clean sheets and summer melon.

I'm sending the Passionate Painting Award on to:
(and if you're "tagged out," no worries! )

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fading Light

18 x 22"
soft pastel

Rough day.  I eventually got to the studio, painted for two hours, and wiped it out.  I know it happens, but I still find it distressing.  My hat's off to all of the daily painters who paint so beautifully, and so quickly.  I'm posting a pastel study that's preparatory for a larger oil.  This is my mom, who lives with me.  She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's three years ago.  I've finally taken leave from teaching art at the community college to care for her full time. Each day brings a new challenge. Some days I just feel flattened. And at a loss for words.  : -)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Nana Richards

Annie Richards
Soft Pastel
22" x 28"

This is my Nana Richards, my mother's grandmother.  She was Welsh, and moved to the U.S. as a young woman with my great-grandfather.  I based this on an old tinted photo from my mother's stash of keepsakes.  I've heard she came to visit when I was a newborn, and insisted on taking me out for an "airing in the pram" in a blinding snowstorm.  I was also told that she had a strong personality, and consequently great-granddad spoke little, and drank a lot of gin.  Some hat, huh!  

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Live Sketch

Live Model
oil sketch
11" x 14"

Moving models are a particular challenge to paint.  And by moving, I mean anyone breathing. Too often, I'm chasing subtle shifts in light and expression all over my canvas, forgetting the lesson to simplify and grab hold of the essence. The frustrating thing about sketching live is the time limit.  The great thing about sketching live is the time limit.  I can only "tweak" things for so long before the sitting's over.  Usually, I just pray I've learned something to take to the next painting.  It was heartening to read that Sargent would pace back and forth in front of his easel swearing, and that Degas' family would wrestle paintings away from him because he never thought they were done.  


"Tandem Leap"
14" x 17"

These were white daffodils from the garden last spring.  The two flowers were swaying in the breeze, and reminded me of sky divers linking arms for a jump, or dancers swaying to a private song.  I've had a bad case of wanderlust today--a warning sign that a major case of Spring Fever is about to hit.    
Happy St. Patrick's Day!   

Monday, March 16, 2009


15" x 11" 

The great friend to bloggers, and wonderful painter, Edward Burton, mentioned in a recent post that he and his wife are rosarians--serious cultivators and admirers of the rose.  I love painting roses, and struggle to do them justice. The transparent petals, velvety soft and sharp-edged all at once. They really are a miraculous flower.  The Burton's garden with 45 rose bushes must be a sight to behold.  Imagine!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Studio Pals

photos: Devlin (top) poodle 
         Callie, shitzu mix

I've been busy today with family, and with letting my studio pals in and out, and in and out, and...well, anyone who shares their lives with active pups knows what I mean.  Devlin (top) came from the wonderful no-kill shelter Hearts United in Nebraska.  I'm not sure where he got his unusual name, but since he was 3 when I adopted him, I didn't think it would be right to change it.  The shelter docs had amputated one of his hind legs because of an injury.  He gets around like gang-busters anyway.  Happy guy that he is, I probably could have called him Tripod, and he wouldn't mind.  

Callie came to join the family a year later from the Prince George's County SPCA.  A friend of mine is a volunteer there, and was fostering Callie for the weekend.  The rescue group  labeled her a shitzu mix.  After two years of her joyous company, I can confidently say the other part of the mix is: kamakazi/squirrel stalker/bird catcher/biscuit thief/snuggle monster. 

Friday, March 13, 2009

Look Up

Study: features
5" x 5"
oil on gessoed paper

The eyes at an angle, looking into light, posed a challenge. How to keep them properly shadowed and in the socket, yet feel illuminated and wet, all within a relatively narrow value range. Like most painters I know, I've spent a good deal of my life studying the works of others - past masters like John Singer Sargent and John White Alexander, or contemporary painters like Burton Silverman or Jeremy Lipking --wondering about paint handling and mediums, light direction, the colors in shadows, and what gives a particular painting life. In the end, it isn't until I tuck the mental analysis away and just paint that things begin to come together.
Thanks to my first blog followers, things are looking up!

Thursday, March 12, 2009


study: features
5" x 5"
oil on gessoed paper

The wonderful painter and instructor Ed Ahlstrom recommends that painting students continue the practice of close-focus studies of features beyond the classroom. Excellent advice.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Up Close

5" x 5"
oil on gessoed paper

I had lunch with a good friend today who asked if the last post was cropped or the full image. Good question! These studies of facial features are the full image. I was zeroing in on the parts of the face I wanted to practice painting. Keeping the format small and intimate, I could concentrate on developing skin tones and color mixing without worrying about the dreaded "rest of the picture." Thanks, Clare!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


study: features
5 x 5"
Oil on Gessoed Paper

I've been wrestling all day with understanding the technical side of blogging and search engines. Whew, do I have a lot of catching up to do. So I'm posting a study that I did a while ago to remind myself to smile.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Oil on gessoed paper

This is Darla who was a foster pup at PGSPCA. She was hanging out with the Townsend pack until she went to her forever home. Pam Townsend took some amazing photos that she graciously let me use for reference. Thanks, Pam!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

"Bloom Where You Are"

White Rose in Window
7" x 10"
oil on gessoed paper

This is my first post.  I'm a life-long painter, but I'm new to the blog party.  I'm trained as a classical realist, and decamped the corporate publishing world to paint full time fourteen years ago. Life, death and health intruded, as they do, and I'm now finding my way again.  Have been studying with Ed Ramsburg for the past year, and having great fun painting abstracts in acrylic.  Ed's critiques coupled with the freedom and challenge I've found in non-objective painting have informed my representational painting.  At least I like to think so.  Thank you for stopping in!