Seven years ago, fascinated with the challenge of being able to paint transparency in oil paint using glazes thinned with linseed oil, I started a series of paintings on 12” x 36” gesso boards with a match that had just been blown out. Painting the stream of smoke wafting up from that match led me to paint a birthday candle, a stick of incense, and a big fat cigar. For the fifth and final panel, I intended to paint a pipe. I googled images of pipes and came across several before I settled on a calabash, the kind of pipe that Sherlock Holmes smoked. Fast forward to last month, when I was going through the photos on my iPad and found the quirky blond smoking that pipe that I had painted for my fifth panel. I’ve been looking at that blond for years and finally thought I’d try to bring her to life. As much as I always enjoy painting portraits—she was a trip! She looks so very 1940’s to me, and with her chin out, pipe in mouth…that’s attitude for you…so Retro is what I’ll call her.
I entered my first online art competition at the Light Space & Time Online Gallery in April of 2017 and have been awarded 8 Special Merit Awards and 25 Special Recognition honors for my work in 28 of their online exhibitions since, including the 3rd Annual 555 Special Art Exhibition that opened today. Double Exposure took the honors, my effort to simulate a photographic effect in oil paint. You can view the exhibit at lightspacetime.art through the end of the month. #feelinggratified
It was mid-September 2018, and my husband and I had just spent a few hours on a Sunday afternoon at Devereaux Beach in Marblehead MA, him sleeping in the sun and me reading in the shade. We were in our car getting ready to leave, when I looked up to see two women on a bench under the canopy in front of me. I was immediately struck by the notion that the woman on the left looked like my mother, who had died in 2002. Of course I knew it wasn’t Mollie…but in that haze through the windshield, she did have her profile. I took two photographs with my phone from inside the car: one of the two women and one of her alone, reading a paper. I didn’t get out of the car. I didn’t walk over to her. I didn’t want to know if she actually didn’t look like Mollie, because for that moment and, honestly, the rest of the day, I was somehow feeling comforted by the thought that i had been visited by a vision of my mother.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago…having finished a very large painting of a roseate spoonbill and wanting to paint some humans again, I had a small canvas that I thought would be perfect for painting that apparition of my mother. Of course I still had the photographs! Even more of a personal painting than those I’ve done of my grandchildren, now she’s on the wall of my bedroom, in full view of my bed…someone to watch over me.
I always get a little thrill when I see any of my paintings on someone else’s walls, so I had a delightful reminder on Sunday, when we were in Charlottesville VA for her daughter’s wedding, that my niece Randi has two of my tango paintings hanging in her beautiful home. About eight years ago, Randi had admired the dancer in the Louboutin shoes in Close Encounter, and since she had a big birthday to celebrate, I sent it to her. She was so happy with it that she commissioned a second one to hang alongside it. Having painted Too Close For Comfort without the benefit of having the first one in my studio anymore to compare the colors and the application of paint, I was pretty pleased to see how well they work together. And I had totally forgotten that I had painted the edges in red!
Waking up after a wonderful but exhausting weekend at my grandniece’s wedding in Charlottesville VA, I found an email from the Light Space & Time Online Gallery, congratulating me on winning Special Recognition for Shall We Dance? in their 11th Annual Animals Art Exhibition for June 2021. Proud to be included among the 230 winning artists featured in the Painting and Other Media Category, there were 895 total entries from 29 countries around the world and 35 different states and the District of Columbia competing for prizes in the Photography & Digital Category and 3 Dimensional Art Category as well. All the animals will be on view for the month of June on lightspacetime.art.
My first oil painting was a still life of three pears. I followed it up with a painting of a bowl of cherries, then the makings of an egg cream—seltzer bottle and all. I continue to paint a still life now and then, but that series was the start, followed by sandwiches, china cups, and more. My first painting of tango dancers was a happy accident that I continued to paint on sixteen more canvases over the years, sometimes just painting the legs, others up to the dancers’ waists, and a few including more of their torsos. A visit to the New England Aquarium with my granddaughters inspired me to paint my first jellyfish, and I’ve done ten paintings of jellies in all. Nervous at the thought of attempting portraits when I was a novice, I painted a series of pop portraits first, taking inspiration from Andy Warhol and other artists from the 60’s, because I thought it would be easier than capturing all the more realistic details of a face. I segued to realistic portraits and figures soon after and, today, consider myself a portrait painter above all.
So it was no surprise that after I painted In the Pink, my first roseate spoonbill, I wouldn’t be done. I thought I’d do another 36” x 36” canvas, perhaps to hang as a diptych. Commerce intervened, and I found myself with a commission for a small painting of a spoonbill. Ready For My Closeup was the result, and once he was done, I was ready to paint that other large roseate. I’ve worked on him for the last month and couldn’t help thinking that he looked all dressed up and ready to dance in his glorious pink feathers, so I thought I’d call the painting Shall We Dance? I’m not saying I’ll never paint another bird…there are eagles and cranes and blue herons that abound here in Florida…but this spoonbill is it for me for now.
The first time I entered an online art competition was in 2017, and it was for the LightSpaceTime Online Gallery’s 7th Annual Figurative Art Exhibition. I won two Special Merit Awards that year, then two the next, then Special Recognition in 2019, 2020 and now 2021. It’s an honor to be one of the 200 artists recognized this year in the Painting & Other (two dimensional work) category. It Takes Two to Tango and all winning entries will be featured on lightspacetime.art for the month of April 2021. While I enjoy painting still life, animals and the occasional abstract, figurative is where I live. I am constantly inspired by portrait and figure, which makes this kind of recognition so very meaningful.
I have a good friend who has had a good friend for many years who is nuts for spoonbills. I don’t think she gets to see too many in the flesh, since she lives in California, and roseate spoonbills are the only spoonbill species found in the Americas, mostly in Florida and parts of Louisiana and Texas. After seeing In the Pink, my friend commissioned a small canvas portrait of a spoonbill for her friend, and Ready for My Closeup is what I came up with. Hope she likes it…
I’ve said before that it’s lovely when people tell you how much they love your work, but the highest compliment an artist can get is a commission or a sale. When I exhibited Hair Love at the BallenIsles Art Show 2021 in January, the curator saw fit to hang her in the Elvis spot for the exhibition: the painting everyone saw as they entered the building. My friends Sydelle Sonkin and Herb Siegel loved it and asked to buy it—and now Hair Love lives in their beautiful home! It’s a thrill for me to see it hanging amidst all the other wonderful art they own.
I painted Contact in black and white three years ago, a suggestive image of a couple on the verge of a kiss, on a canvas 36” wide but only 12” high. A year later I donated it to the Lighthouse Art Center for their annual fundraiser, D’Art for Art. Earlier this month, between paintings and with a spot on one of my walls that was calling to me, I took a canvas 24” wide and 12” high and thought I’d enjoy the challenge of painting that same carnal image in slightly different dimensions. As it turns out, I think this is the better proportion for what I’m now calling Seduction. Go know…
When January comes along, it’s usually time for the BallenIsles Art Show. Despite the pandemic and luckily for 58 of the artists who live here, the art show opened today. It’s always a treat to see the work of so many talented people displayed, even if we have to be screened to enter the clubhouse, wear masks and be socially distanced. I can’t think of anything better to feed our souls right now than enjoying art…
I have managed to navigate pretty well through these strange and terrible times we’ve been living through, thanks at least in part to finishing ten paintings since last March. As much as I like a painting class, these days I’m grateful to be able to paint in my own studio at home. Good news also helps. I entered the Light Space Time Online Gallery’s 10th Annual All Women competition at the end of the year and was thrilled to hear that my tenth painting, In the Pink, won Special Recognition. The gallery received 1,093 entries from all over the world and saw fit to honor more than 150 of those women artists. The exhibition will be available for viewing on lightspacetime.art for the month of January. Some good news indeed…
A year after we bought our condo in Palm Beach Gardens, I was playing golf with my friend Marlene and suddenly looked up, because of an unfamiliar noise, to see a HOT PINK flock of birds flying closely past us. My immediate response was to say, “What the [expletive deleted] was that?” I knew they weren’t flamingos—the color was off—but what were they? Marlene didn’t know, so I went home after the round to see if I could find out. The first iPhone wouldn’t be launched for over a year, but my husband had become completely enamored of the birds of south Florida, so I had a beautifully illustrated book to look through. The roseate spoonbill was shown in all its glory. Not the largest of birds, it’s more the size of a greater egret or a stork than a blue heron or a sand crane. Its beak is remarkable—hence the name spoonbill—and it sweeps it back and forth through the water to gather its food in that spoon. I see the spoonbills all the time on our golf courses here, but always just one alone or perhaps two. I’d love to catch another glimpse of a whole flock again…now that I know what they are!
I’ve had it in mind to paint a roseate spoonbill for months and finally got to it. I’ve found that there’s so much less pressure around painting an animal than there is doing a portrait of a person. I’ve had some fun painting a few animals this year: JJ the Beast, my grand dog, Charley Redux, my friend Herb’s Shichon, and, now, In the Pink—a roseate spoonbill that has just touched down on the tip of a branch, not yet hiding those glorious hot pink wings.
It’s wonderful when people tell you how good your work is, but the biggest compliment an artist can get is a sale or a commission. I had the great good fortune to meet a lovely woman at a dinner party a year or so ago who admired the portraits I had done of our hosts. She took my card so she could look through my website, and I thought no more about it. But she did, and she chose to commission two of my tango paintings to be redone and hung as a diptych.
I’ve been painting dancers for fifteen years, starting with a tango series of five paintings that showed the various phases of the dance: the presentation, the flicks and kicks, and the surrender, all represented by the dancer’s legs alone. As my canvases got larger, the images grew to include torsos. This commission called for two 30” x 40” canvases, both with white backgrounds and colors that related to each other, so that Close Encounter and High Jinks could become It Takes Two to Tango.