Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Shine Theory and the Sentry Lionesses, oil on linen, 50" x 50"

I completed Shine Theory a few weeks ago. Sometimes the idea for a painting evolves as I compose. Images appear and disappear. The music I am listening to changes. The mood swings and swings back. This is one of those paintings. It is lots of things to me. It is about a safe and quiet space. It is about vulnerability. It is about allowing the light that glows from others fall onto you and glisten. It is about illumination. It is about the meaning of beauty. So just gaze at it and let it be whatever it means to you.  

Here are a few words by the poet Marcin Brykczynski 

A white heron's dream 
The orange moon 
Is blinking 
Over the roofs of Manhattan 
Don't answer 
If he asks you 
About the dreams 
The white heron has brought 
You don't have to reveal it 
As long as the lions you dream 
Protect you 
Against the curiosity of the world

Monday, June 3, 2019

"LIterary Dogs and a Few Cats" Connie Morella Library Bethesda Maryland- The Installation April 12, 2019

I recently had the great opportunity to do a mural for the Connie Morella Library in Bethesda, Maryland. It is 40' long and 5' tall. I painted it in my studio on a giant scroll contraption, rolling out 8 feet of canvas at a time. It is painted in Golden Matte Fluid Acrylics on primed canvas.  It took me 5 weeks working 6 days a week and on the seventh day we rolled up one section and rolled out the next blank 8 feet of canvas.  Rolling it took four people because of the weight.  It was installed April 12th by Jim Lackford of Paper and Paint in Silver Spring. Thank goodness for his expertise!
It was wonderful having so many dogs and cats in my studio for awhile! I miss them but I can always go to the library to visit. It is really nice to have a mural in my own community!

roll out on the library floor pre- intall

video of Jim installing


Big Red, Lassie, Jack and Bandit, Old Yeller, Buck, White Fang, Luath, and half of Bodger

Bodger, Teo, My Dog Skip, Fang and Crukshanks

Winn Dixie, Cat, Big Dan and Little Annie, Sounder, and in the air -Asta

on the right- Thy Servant Dog by Rudyard Kipling

Nana from Peter Pan

Ribsy, Zoe, The Watchdog, Charley

my favorite- Beautiful Joe, his friend, and Puss 'n Boots

view from left of circulation desk

full view

some touch up

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Portrait through Still Life

A few years ago a mother of three daughters asked me to do a little still life for the middle daughter as a high school graduation gift. She brought me various objects and photos to include that represented her daughter's childhood. There are two of her favorite stuffed animals, a favorite pink perfume bottle, her rosary beads, a special box, a bracelet, and a photograph of the Australian Shepherd she grew up with.  There is also a swimming medal (she is a great swimmer!), and an envelope with the Sacred Heart logo on it, representing her education. The background is a William Morris design with lilies for her name.

A few years later the youngest daughter was graduating from the same school and I was honored to do a portrait for her as well. This daughter was quite an outdoorsman and an artist well as a swimmer. She liked a different color palette. Her well worn hiking boots anchor the composition posed with her very much loved stuffed rabbit. Also from her outdoor life are a couple knives, one for whittling and one for everything else. Her school team swim cap is in the painting as well as her blue goggles. Some of her creative projects -an amazing duct tape cap, a cup and a few other items complete the composition. (She made a lot of beautiful pottery while in high school which I had the pleasure of seeing when I helped her assemble her portfolio). And not to be forgotten is her favorite book "The Hobbit" and a little photo of herself with her sisters. In this painting the Sacred Heart logo is pinned to the wall. 

The oldest daughter graduated in 2018 with an MBA from University of Chicago and her mom asked me to do a still life portrait for her on this very important occasion. (We didn't do a portrait for her when she graduated from high school because her parents had given her a study from the Jacksonville Murals that I had painted during the time she was growing up. She was a huge Harry Potter fan and the study was of Hedwig.) 

So this daughter's portrait became an amalgam of objects from her childhood as well as her current life as a young woman living and working in Chicago. Raggedy Ann and Andy were made for her by her grandmother. The mirror, perfume bottle and tray sat on her childhood dresser.  Other favorite objects in the painting are the pearls, a silver bracelet and her class ring which bears the logo of the Sacred Heart. The shared experience of being educated at a Sacred Heart school was important to the three sisters. They are very close to each other even though they live spread out across the country.   
The two books depicted are "book ends" to her love of literature. "Chronicles of Narnia" was read to her by her father when she was a child, and she read Anna Karenina while an undergrad at Northwestern. Another nod to her time at Northwestern is the purple lanyard draped across the mirror. Also on the mirror is a small photo of the three girls when the youngest was a tiny baby. The two older sisters hold her between them in their arms. A crucifix that  hung on her childhood bedroom wall is reflected in the mirror. The envelope that rests on top of the books displays the University of Chicago graduate school logo, emphasizing the transition of time/stages of life that are present in the painting. The Chicago skyline, her current home, defines the landscape behind the objects and reflects the foreground composition.    

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Adrienne's Feast, oil on linen, 24" x 40"

I loved doing this painting because it reminded me of an Italian predella panel that tell the story of the life of a saint in the various stages of their life and work.
This is Adrienne, mother of four, cherished and adored wife, talented and much traveled cook, and animal lover. Adrienne saw my painting "Lake House after the Storm" and related to it having experienced the flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas where she lives. She had a birthday coming up and her husband Jody contacted me. After some discussion, and learning that Lake House was no longer available, Jody asked me to create a painting specifically for his wife, including things that were dear to her. Jody was wonderful to work with as he had studied a number of my paintings and had a good idea of what I needed. He also liked the composition in Lake House-a series of arches that structure the rectangle so we decided to do something similar for Adrienne's painting. He sent me family photos and pictures of their home and their dogs and cats (a wonderful menagerie!). He told me some great stories and family legends including the phenomenon of the Christ figure statuette from Rio de Janeiro that continuously turns to face them no matter how many times they straighten him to face forward. The figure is included in the painting on a pedestal...facing Adrienne. Adrienne's three sons are grown men now but in the painting they are young boys playing ball, visible through the arch on the left. Adrienne lost a baby girl but the child lives on in her heart so Jody asked that I include a little girl in the painting. She is in the arch to the right, in a translucent pink dress, releasing white doves into the sky, where images of Adriennes's mother and father and brother Michael, are subtly represented in the cloud formations. The bookshelves are lined with Adrienne's collection of cookbooks that she formed during many international trips. Adrienne is wearing a formal blue gown that she wore as mother of the groom in her son's wedding. Some other small things are another painting of mine, called White Stockings, which they have in their collection as well as a few images of creatures that come and go on their property in Houston including deer, a white heron, and the hen that is watching Adrienne closely while she prepares a feast. Note- a favorite book and film of Adrienne's and Jody's is Babette's Feast, and Jody decided that Adrienne's Feast would be a perfect title because of the way she instills love into all aspects of her life. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

View from the Terrace-a Narrative Portrait

"View from the Terrace", oil on linen, 34" x 40"

Sometimes the resources my narrative portrait clients give me to work with allow me to take a virtual vacation in a beautiful location. This was definitely the scenario with John and Lee Stough. John is in real estate and Lee is an interior designer. They love dogs, travel, food, family and history and their lives revolve around those things. They bought and restored a medieval village house in Umbria, Italy and they moved a circa 1800 log meeting house from Kentucky to Sewanee Tennessee and built a house around it. So these were the rich and visually wonderful things I could incorporate into the composition. 
Since their Italian homes are in Umbria, I decided to structure the painting around the architecture from a painting by one of my favorite Umbrian painters- Perugino. I have always loved the geometry of the arches in Delivery of the Keys. I wanted the arches to open to an expansive landscape that would evoke the views they enjoy in both Sewanee and Ficulle so I settled the log home on a rolling hill, visible through the left side arch. A medieval village, inspired by another Early Renaissance fresco, is in the center and an Italian village, inspired by their village in Umbria, sits beyond the terrace on the right side above the grape arbor. John and Lee provided me with a photo of themselves dining al fresco and the two dogs are their beloved Brittany Spaniels Gracie and Tyler- one is on the trail of a clever rabbit (their daughter's nickname is "Bunny" and the other is contemplating disturbing a hungry Bear (their son's nickname). There are chairs at the table for both their children  when they visit and a tool box in the foreground to represent their self-confessed "addiction to sawdust". 

Thumbnail sketch 

Perugino's arches

Thursday, January 25, 2018

End of an Era- a quarter century- Private Sale

I am moving my studio for the first time in 25 years. It has been a lovely studio at the top of my house, full of light and space. I am going to miss it but I am ready for a change and with change will come more ideas and more paintings. So before I leave it I want to clear out my painting racks to make room for the next stage both mentally and physically.  I decided to have a little sale of these items for my dearest friends and patrons. There are small paintings and drawings. Have a look and if there is something you would like to have let me know right away. These are all from different stages of my career-different themes and different series dating all the way back to when we lived in Brooklyn. Sizes are approximate. Some of the photos are not that great because I have been packing my studio and decided to do this at the last minute. Some things never change!

"After School", egg tempera and oil emulsion on panel, Brooklyn New York, $500

             "Girl with Green Cowboy Boots and Cat", oil on panel, 10" x 11" framed $350 sold

Education of the other Senses-Touch, oil on panel, 20" x 24", this painting was in a solo show called "Sense and Sensibility" shown at the Tatistcheff Gallery, 57th Street, NYC. $400 framed sold

 "Angel and Bear", 9" x 12", oil on panel, unframed-from the Toward a Peaceable Kingdom series $100
"Girl Catching a Ball", 5" x 8", oil on panel-from my Brooklyn days $100 sold

Liberation of the Tigers, oil on panel,  16" x 20", Study for the Peaceable Kingdom painting of the same name that is in the Cleveland Clinic, Naples FL, $350 sold

Lovers, oil on panel, 9" x 12"-from my Brooklyn days- $150

Sisters, 11" x 14", oil on panel, Brooklyn days, $150

The Guardian, 11" x 14", oil on panel, Block Island, $350 framed sold

The Rescue,  28" x 32", oil on wood- I am and will always be in awe of Italian predella painting and for a period when I was living in London, I did several multiple panel narrative paintings inspired by them. I have always loved telling stories.  $500 sold

 Three Graces, 10" x 12", oil on panel- from my Girls and Ravens series. A painting from this series is in the Polk Museum in Naples, Florida.This was a study for the large version, which resides in DC $350 framed sold
Zebras Running, oil on panel, 16" x 20"- Study for The Peaceable Kingdom series. The large version 
is in the Cleveland Clinic (I think) sold

all drawings are $200
"Arbor Day", sepia ink on paper,  study for painting of the same name which was shown at Tatistcheff Gallery, 57th street NYC 
"Black Bird Fly", charcoal on paper, study for a big painting called Black Bird Fly that I did in London which was shown at Tatistcheff Gallery 57th street

"Cello in the Woods", graphite on paper, study for a painting in the Stories from the Woods series

 "Counting Sheep", charcoal on paper, study for a painting I did in London and was shown at Tatistcheff Gallery, in Chelsea sold
"Let the Poet Sleep", sepia ink on paper, -a theme I have done several times and will return to. The first "Let the Poet Sleep was done in Warsaw, Poland and shown at Tatistcheff Gallery, 57th Street

London Mounted Policeman, charcoal on paper, a study for the painting "Black Bird Fly", which was done in London, and shown at Tatistcheff Gallery 57th street sold

Rowboat, Hyde Park, charcoal and white chalk on paper, study for a huge painting I did in London called Sirens of the Crescent Moon which is in a large corporate collection. 

"She Heard the Midwives Whisper", charcoal on paper, study for a painting inspired by the Isabel Allende book "House of Spirits" 

"The Conversation", charcoal on paper, study for a large interior, which is in Boston 

"The Queen of Hearts",  sepia ink on paper, study for a large painting that was auctioned to raise money for the Clown Care Unit of the Big Apple Circus. The man and head clown who started the Clown Care unit, owns the painting. The story is in the archives on this blog. 

"The Virtues of Air", charcoal on paper, study for a painting from the Painted Stories series, London

"The Weather Channel", charcoal on paper, study for a painting that is in an environmental law firm in DC

"Trained Garden Rabbits", charcoal on paper, study for a painting in my Enchanted Garden series that was shown at Tatischeff Gallery in Chelsea sold

"Woods Angel", charcoal on paper, study for a painting of the same title from the Stories from the Woods

"On the Walk Home" Highgate Cemetery, London, print on paper, framed 

Sunday, August 27, 2017


When I paint a narrative portrait for someone I always think of myself as the weaver and my client as the provider of the yarn.  With my recent project my client provided some truly beautiful and rich threads to work with! The painting is a gift to his wife to celebrate their marriage and their family. Right from the beginning I was moved by his love and admiration for her. He took so much time thinking about the project and carefully choosing photos and memories from their many years together, that he thought she would enjoy, for me to incorporate into the painting. It was truly a labor of complete adoration by him and thus very inspiring for me to create it.

"Tapestry", oil on linen, 34" x 50"

The concept of the painting was to represent their life together and their travels, as well as personal talents, interests and occupations of the parents and their three children.

He thought that his wife would like a deep space that would feel like a window into another world. I looked to several Dutch street scenes as inspiration for the composition and architectural elements (Both of them like Dutch paintings.)- One by Willem Koekkoek and one by Joods Dommersen. 


On either side of the street are two little interiors.  On the left, a couple sits at a table in an intimate scene of domestic happiness as they plan their next trip together. There is a map on the table and an antique globe lifted from Vermeer’s painting- “The Astronomer”.  The pose comes from a painting by Pieter de Hooch titled “Couple with Parrot”

In the foreground of the interior is a suitcase with a guide to Paris and a beret - a tribute to his wife’s love of French culture and language. The Pinocchio hanging from the chair is a reference to the client’s profession.   

On the upper level of the house a young man stands with a telescope. This is the eldest son who is at SpaceX in California, working on sending a rocket to Mars. Note - the moon looks a bit like Mars - and there is a rocket stream in the sky.

Also on the left side monkeys cavort on the roof tops - these are from some of the many photos of animals taken on their family trips.

Connecting the composition from left to right is their daughter as a little girl dribbling a soccer ball through the street and a young version of their two boys, about to launch a model rocket. The family does not have pets but I couldn't resist adding a little hound in the door at the right as a symbol of fidelity.

In the interior on the right side there is baking going on. The two younger children are serious bakers and it was difficult picking which gorgeous cake to include in the painting. Also in this interior are a trumpet their daughter plays, a typewriter and an apple with a bite out of it. The younger son is a screenwriter and also works for Apple. On the back wall is a map of Indonesia -a frequent destination for the husband and wife before they had children. In the upstairs window is a Probiscus Monkey - one of the family’s favorite creatures from their many trips. It is sort of a family joke because probiscus in Malaysian means old Dutch uncle.

Now for the landscapes. There were so many to choose from and making the transition from one to the next to create a deep space was one of the many enjoyable challenges in this project. At the end of the street are a number of warriors from the tomb of a Vietnamese emperor in Hue, which make way for a bridge in Nara, Japan. The couple, in their early years together, are about to cross the bridge to visit The Golden Temple in Amritsar India. Behind the temple the landscape changes rapidly to Morocco and five camels just visible on the horizon, before your eye makes a leap to the vanishing point for the entire painting - which lies somewhere beyond Machu Pichu.

I feel honored to have been asked to collaborate on this project, to have gotten to know this amazing family vicariously through their personal photos and stories, and to bear witness to the deep love and pride a man has for his wife and children.