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.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Come for Drinks!

Come for Drinks! oil on linen, 30" x 40"

I was so excited when my art dealer Jaynie Spector, owner of Dog & Horse Fine Art in Charleston South Carolina asked me to do a family portrait of her with her husband Joe, their son Sean and all their dogs past and present. First of all I adore Jaynie as all her artists do. She is a lovely person with all that southern charm mixed in seamlessly with a great business mind and a love for great art (and dogs). Jaynie and I first met many years ago when I was a young artist in NYC and she was a young art dealer working at a gallery in Soho. We met through a mutual friend, Dorian Rogers Winslow, also a great lover of art (and dogs) and owner of Womanswork

To make a long story short, I moved overseas, lived in several countries, exhibited my paintings in galleries in New York and abroad, finally settling in DC. Jaynie moved up in the art world, ran several galleries before settling in beautiful Charleston -and we lost touch. One day another mutual friend walked into the gallery, told Jaynie I was living in DC, gave her my number and the rest is recent history.  

If you ever go to Charleston you must go visit Dog & Horse at 102 Church Street. It is an intimate space filled with work by some of the best dog and horse painters in the world. This is not an exaggeration. A few whose work I especially love are Lese Corrigan, Robert Clarke, Beth Carlson, Ian Mason, and David Terry, but they are all incredible. See for yourself!  And going to Dog & Horse Fine Art is not your typical stuck up gallery experience. On any day you will be greeted warmly by a person, an English Cocker, or maybe a rabbit or...

So a little bit about Jaynie's portrait. I guess the big things I wanted to portray was the charm and hospitality she exudes as well as the very appealing "controlled chaos" that sort of whirls around her and those who love her.  The Spector family loves to entertain and cook and Joe publishes the most beautiful food magazine about the food culture of the south, called The Local Palate You can see a copy on the chair in the left foreground.  

The interior is a composite of several rooms in their home in Charleston and yes the ceilings are that high. The art on the walls and the books on the tables all have significance to their family or professional lives. And if you look closely- that is a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. :) And the dogs-oh yes the dogs.  On the right with Sean is Tommy, the current greeter in the gallery. In the center is Jaynie's dog love of her life, Lucy. On the left is Joe's beautiful and devoted boxer Natasha, from an earlier time, who he adored. And the dog racing across the foreground, knocking over chairs, spilling the chardonnay and carrying the red high heel? That is  "Crazy Zed" about whom many tales/tails are told in the Spector Family history book. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Lullaby for Lions

Lullaby for Lions, oil on linen, 48" x 60"
I have been working on this painting for several months, but it has been in my mind for a long time. The first kernel of an idea happened on July 1, 2015 when I heard on the radio that Cecil the Lion had been shot after being lured from the sanctuary by an illegal party of big game hunters.  I was in my car and I remember thinking thank god I wasn’t at that stage of my life when I was ferrying small children around in my minivan. One of them would certainly have heard the report, as children have finely tuned ears for things like that. And I would have had to come up with some explanation of why a man would want to shoot and kill a beautiful, magnificent, unsuspecting living creature. And I would not have had an explanation that would not destroy a child’s vision of humanity for the rest of their lives- at least not at that moment. I think I would have said something like "well as a good human being it is our responsibility to guard and protect beauty, creatures at risk, and things more vulnerable than ourselves". And then I envisioned a child’s answer, a salve to soften the horrid, nightmarish image of poor Cecil dead on the ground with a poor excuse for a human standing over him, grinning victoriously. 

...So the vision was a little boy who had invited the lions into a safe place, a sanctuary where he could read them stories and sing them lullabies and let them sleep peacefully…not a worry in their lion hearts.

When I started doing sketches and research for the actual painting, I was drawn again to Rousseau. Studying his paintings over the past few years I have been attracted to them in a different way than ever before. I am in awe of his inventiveness and unencumbered capacity to create form and narrative without any responsibility to realism or naturalism. I have fallen in love with his tigers and lions and fantastic botanical forms. I borrowed his palette and landscape elements from The Sleeping Gypsy for the setting for Lullaby for Lions.
Henri Rousseau, The Sleeping Gypsy, 1897
Other lions that I looked at are the beautiful sculptures outside the New York Public Library, named Patience and Fortitude.

And a tiny statue that was given to me as a gift. It sat like a muse on my painting table while I worked...and then there were my own cats who wander in and out of the studio and conveniently curl up at just the right moment.
Otis and tiny lion sculpture
I also fell in love with the paintings of lions by the French painter 
Aime Nicholas Morot (1850-1913) whose work I didn’t know until I started looking at lions. He could really paint lions.  

Morot Lion
And many thanks to the young boy next door who modeled for the little boy in the painting. At the time his hair had grown beautifully long and unruly like a lion's mane. When I told him he was to be reading to lions, he took that pose like he had read to lions everyday of his life. Perhaps he has. I know for sure he will never, ever shoot one.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Mending the Tigers

I just finished painting "Mending the Tigers". I have been working on it since March 9 when I last posted about it in progress. It has been almost three months. People often ask me how long it takes me to do a painting but I never keep track. So now I know. I guess keeping a blog is good in that respect. 
"Mending the Tigers", oil on linen, 4' x 5'

As I mentioned in my earlier post the idea came from a short story by Aimee Bender called Tiger Mending. It is a mesmerizing story so you should read it. It is in her collection called "The Color Master". Here is a link to her website
I interpreted her story to have an environmental message. In my mind the tigers were coming out of the mountains to get help from humans. Their stripes falling off as symbolic of the fragility of this great beast in the modern world. The young woman mending the tigers represents the mindfulness, inventiveness and skill it is going to take for us as the responsible party to "mend" the environment. While she is the creative and the talent who has the ability to do the mending, her sister, leading the tigers in, is the facilitator-the person with the brain and resourcefulness to make things happen. 
(Note that this is my interpretation. There are others out there that focus on the relationship between the sisters). 

While I was preparing to do this painting  I looked at lots of paintings through art history that were about tigers both to see how they were handled by artists in terms of drawing and painting but also to see their place in art.  I went to the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia to see Henri Rousseau's "Scout Attacked by a Tiger".  It is a brutal scene but Rousseau's vision is magical. They seem like mini figurines in long grass. The tiger's anatomy is a little odd but it makes for an enchanting painting. I hope the tiger came out on top of the situation, but Rousseau keeps us guessing. 

Eugene Delacroix was another great painter of tigers. I especially love his "Tiger Resting" which I also included in "Mending the Tigers", hanging above the Rousseau, and his beautiful watercolor and pencil study, simply called "Tiger". It is in the National Gallery.  I included it as a plate in the book in the right foreground- as if the young woman was studying it to see how to stitch the stripes back on.