Wednesday, July 4, 2012

French Lilacs with English Tea

My lastest painting finished in my new studio in Portsmouth, NH. So strange to now begin a new body of work in a studio that looks out over an estuary and green hill as opposed to our garage and driveway in Stratford! Very inspiring, but it can get distracting. Summertime has boaters - mostly kayakers - floating by, and across the estuary is a public park and dock where swimmers and hikers can been seen.  I do love it here, but find my mind is wandering to painting scenery outdoors in this location, where I have for so many years painted set ups in my studio. Honestly, it will be interesting to see how my work evolves from here -- the best response still comes from my work with silver and florals, but perhaps there's room now for some fresh perspectives and ideas.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Transformative Winter

The new study is a mostly submerged autumn leaf in ice positioned next to a dead tree. The challenge is the ice, of course, but I also realized that this is a painting of all organic materials. I still have some work to do (I can never leave a detail well enough alone), but very nearly finished.

I think that the juxtaposition of my earlier work with the organic components of this new direction will be quite interesting. Fine china, silks, to dead wood and ice! It would seem that we now live in a log cabin wearing natural fiber clothing and dried flower arrangements, but reality couldn't be further from the truth. Instead, I'm allowing my artistic eye to be drawn to something more earthy and earthbound these days. I need to follow it through and see where it takes me.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

As it comes together...

Leaf in ice. A still life study in the woods behind home. I'm enjoying the change in scenery with my paintings; taking my focus out of doors. This particular painting is a study in nature as composition - a change for me since I usually orchestrate my compositions or "set ups". Kind of freeing to allow nature to present itself as a work of art just waiting to be captured on canvas!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Moving on to a new painting.

 For the first time in a long time I feel my world opening up to new inspiration and a new direction; while still feeling a connection to the past. The move has freed me to explore, and yet I remain somewhat anchored to a formula that has been my signature. I suppose it's the insecurity demons circling, telling me not to mess with what has worked. Lord knows I've been ready for a change for a couple of years now; it's not just the Council stint that took my focus off what I had created successfully and happily for 20 years. But, now in a sense I'm back to square one - a place where I'm shy about showing my work, not knowing how it will be received. I love the thrill of starting anew, and yet worry of losing my edge. This move has been cathartic, though. An evolution is taking form, and I'm hoping that it will be in a good direction.

Dave will come in to look over my shoulder every now and again, and leave without saying a word. While I know he lost in his own world, having just walked down the hall from his own work space, but I find myself frantically wondering if he is disapproving of my changes? I have to resist the urge to throw myself over my work and telling him to not look until it's done. The insecurity, it never quite leaves.

Quite honestly, I am excited about moving forward. I find myself getting frantic about having enough time, as though there is some end to this coming down the pike...(geez, I hope that's not prophetic thinking) reality I think it's just an urgency to get going. That's a good thing.

More to come.

Friday, February 17, 2012


I look at my body of work - all hanging in my new home - and remain so attached to the elegance of still life. In the case of past paintings, the subject matter rarely focused on anything but the usual suspects - silver teapots, spoons, colorful glassware, ribbons, silk fabrics. I still love those cherished pieces, but find I'm a bit...bored?... by them now. Maybe it's the move out of state, maybe the location and change of scenery. Maybe I'm just evolving to a new place in my craft. Whatever it is, I'm feeling less compelled than I have in over 25 years to work with the same subject matter, and seeing so much more potential in the area surrounding the outside of my home.

Moving in this direction is not life-altering and won't make a blip on the art scene in any significant way, but I do feel an edgy sort of excitement about changing the course of my work a bit. I'm comfortable in my chosen genre of silks and china, and the accolades have been generous and motivating....but this shift towards something new and different is irresistible.
Moreover, what I felt while working on this piece was a renewed sense of anticipation and excitement that it was working for me, working with me and captivating my soul again. I haven't felt that about my painting in several years now.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New Directions

Working on a new painting that goes in a bit of different direction from my usual still life subject matter. I'm having fun with it, but am curious what the response will be when it's finished, framed and displayed. 

Unlike our former residence in the heart of a neighborhood and small lots, we are now living next to a waterway and woods. I'm inspired by the natural settings on my walks and every day pass through woods and shorelines that, even in the dead of winter, grab my eye as potential backdrops for paintings. The woods behind our home follows the estuary and meanders for a mile in and around the long-defunct and capped landfill. Very few people seem to know of the area and it's amazing trails. The high school backs up to this woods and the school track team uses the trails in warmer weather to train. The trails are wide and well maintained for this purpose, but a few offshoots from the trails can take you into a very beautiful, peaceful spots to sit and reflect on life -- or, ponder new paintings. 

On a recent midday walk with Hazel when the temps reached nearly 50 degrees, I found a small, shallow area of frozen groundwater amid the trees. I returned to that spot and began trying out different set ups with easily transported props from my studio. I am playing with the combination of my props - man made and familiar - set against stones, wood, star moss. In the case of this painting, I utilized the pool of ice among the birches. The blue taking form in the painting is actually ice reflecting clouds and sky. 

I was setting up some possible ideas when my ribbon blew aloft with the wind and landed in the little scrub birch growing on the edge of this frozen shallow pond. The rippled drape of the red against the aqua struck me as somewhat spiritual in nature, truly speaking to me as a symbol of the direction I want to embark on. The ice is ethereal, the ribbon freespirited and bold....and yet it's connected significantly to earth by the woody branches of the birch.

There are so many elements that I love to work with in this piece. Textures both hard and soft, movement and solidity. Cool and warm; a contrasting yet complementary palette. 

But, it's not finished. This is just a preview; a tiny snippet....

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Fire Tulips and Figs

I'm creating a few smaller paintings for the upcoming show at the Firehouse in Newburyport, MA (June 2012). Just getting back full time into my work with still life and thought I'd kick it off with a spicy color palette! With our move to New Hampshire, I feel my artistic focus is changing and offering a wonderful opportunity to forge a new direction with my work. I am still compelled towards still life and the details that come with working at close range, however taking my work outside and into the woods and waterways in our backyard seems a very natural path to wonder down. Knarled deadwood, forest floors covered in star moss, frozen standing water encircling birch trees - all provide an interesting backdrop to work from. I've already started my new series and feel inspiration, anticipation - long dormant - rising in me again! Stay tuned....


What a face! And is there a better name for this little guy than "Henry"? Such a pleasure to paint this perky fuzz face, as I could imagine a personality as vibrant and darling as Henry's bright eyes suggest.

Baldwin and Carly

Patty, one of my best friends in Stratford, won the "name my portrait business" contest, and this is photo of the resulting portrait of Carly her Springer Spaniel, caught in a rare quiet moment! Baldwin - a gray and white fluff of a cat with brilliant green eyes - passed away last year and Karin, director of the Stratford Cat Project, still mourns her lost friend. Karin dedicates her life to rescuing abandoned cats and kittens. She founded a group that fosters cats, holds fundraisers to pay for their care, and organizes an army of volunteers throughout the area to work in a myriad of ways ensuring that each cat and kitten has a safe haven or is given the opportunity of finding their forever home.

Stratford Bird Festival

The Osprey in this painting resides in Stratford, and can be seen in Great Marsh and along the river and coastal areas of town. It was chosen as the featured bird in this year's 3rd annual Bird Festival, and I was asked to paint a portrait of her. Not knowing what an Osprey looks like close up, I was able to collaborate with a local bird photographer who was also a member of the Bird Festival committee, Ed Soderberg. He had so many wonderful photos of the osprey both in flight and at rest that the hardest part of my project was to chose which shots to work from. I decided to combine two shots into one painting, both flying and in repose. The feather pattern of the bird in flight is striking, but I aslo wanted to focus on the remarkable eyes and regal bearing of this bird that sets it apart from a hawk or an eagle. The background is Great Marsh, as seen when I bike along route 113. The sky was strictly creative license!

Pink Ears

I never knew the name of this darling cat, she was adopted so quickly from the shelter into her forever home. One look at the gentle face and shocking pink ears and it's no wonder - who could resist! I was drawn to this kitten by her bright face and eyes. Sometimes they just seem to look right in to your soul, don't they?


A portrait of Hazelnut, a favorite subject of mine (I'm partial, of course). Her amber eyes are outlined in kohl, really beautiful markings contrasting with the golden tones of her fur. She's just a great girl to paint. Hazel looks to be in sweet repose in this painting, but we're not fooled -- see the ear lifted in silent alert? Lurking under the calm demeanor is the extra-vigilant guard dog warning away the elderly woman who walks her tiny, ribboned purse dog past our house every day. This portrait was donated to the new Stratford Animal Respite Facility. As a rescued dog, her portrait will serve to how lost or abandoned animals have hope of finding a fovever home.