Anyone who knows my friend Herb Siegel knows that he loves his dog Charley more than anyone or anything else on earth. A Shichon (a mixed breed cross between a Shih Tzu and a Bichon Frise), Charley has been with Herb for about fourteen years, such a sweet dog as his constant companion, even during those brief times when Herb didn’t have a female companion. A big supporter of the arts, Herb owns quite a few drawings and paintings of Charley, including a little 5” x 5” canvas that I painted of his dog over four years ago. I must confess that I tossed off that little painting in one sitting, simply to complete a grouping of portraits of Herb and his beautiful Sydelle.
Fast forward from four years ago to four months ago, when I had just completed a portrait of my granddog JJ. Herb took one look at that painting and turned to me to ask, “Will you paint Charley for me?” How could I refuse? Herb and Sydelle are dear friends and among the very few couples we see in these days of Covid-19. I have a habit of labeling photos of my paintings “redux” when I’ve revisited a subject, which happens from time to time, so here is Charley Redux…four years older, done by a better painter than I was four years ago.
Lady Sings the Blues
I’m fascinated by the use of photographic effects to change and enhance images, so I welcomed the challenge of painting a figure within a figure in light and in shadow. Not for the first time, I was attracted to a face looking up—to the heavens? to a better world? to an obstacle to be surmounted? to a love now gone? I’ll let you decide.
In this time of Covid, the only place I can paint is in my studio at home. My husband had never actually watched me paint before now, but since we’re together constantly these days, he gets to observe, comment, and suggest at will, always with the caveat, “You probably won’t listen to me anyway.” That’s mostly true, even though he does have great taste and a good eye—I’m the one who gets to decide what and how I’m going to paint. I do, however, welcome suggestions for titles of paintings, which brings me to my point. Early on, when I just had the grisaille done and was starting to apply color and hadn’t even begun to think of a title for it, he told me I ought to call the painting “Lady Sings the Blues.” “It’s perfect!” he insisted. Well, damned if I could get that out of my head! I couldn’t even think of another title, so Lady Sings the Blues it is. The power of suggestion indeed…
JJ the Beast
Needless to say, in this time of Covid-19, everyone has to try hard to have a positive attitude and keep their spirits up. For me, that means FaceTime with my kids and grandkids, painting, playing golf, working out and staying in touch with good friends. Last week, I neglected to check what Gmail characterizes as Promotions and didn’t see that JJ the Beast had won Special Recognition in Light Space Time Online Gallery’s 10th Anniversary Art Exhibition, which opened online on Saturday and will remain on display until October 2nd. The gallery received 2,129 entries from 34 different countries as well as from 41 states and the District of Columbia.
I began entering art competitions at lightspacetime.art over three years ago, in April 2017, and have received Special Merit and Special Recognition for 28 of my paintings to date. Proud to be in such good company, I’m especially happy to have JJ the Beast applauded before this painting of him leaves for Wisconsin this fall with our granddaughter Maddie—as a reminder of home and everything she loves.
I am thrilled and delighted to have been invited to participate in this international exhibition:
M.A.D.S. is a contemporary art gallery set up with screens, aimed to create a continuous multimedia exhibition with the use of new video system projection technologies. It’s the first fully digital multimedia gallery, exclusive and unique. Hundreds of artists from all over the world find in M.A.D.S. the answer to their needs: of exhibition, curatorial, of marketing and sales.
Then, allow me, with pleasure, to present you the next event 2020 by M.A.D.S.: the International Contemporary Exhibition “BREAKOUT” that will take place starting from July 17, 2020 and has been extended to August 7, 2020. Opening will be on Friday, July 17 inside the location in Milan, Corso San Gottardo 18, Italy.
There has been so much disappointment and worse in these days of Covid-19 that good news of any kind can brighten your day. Isn’t it appropriate that mine was brightened by winning Special Recognition for On Fire in LightSpaceTime Online Gallery’s 2nd Annual Primary Colors art competition, when the very first artist’s statement I ever wrote about my work said, “I love color. Don’t choose my work if you’re in love with neutrals. There’s nothing beige about me or about my work.”? The gallery received 772 entries from 32 countries around the world and from 34 different states and the District of Columbia. 185 artists were recognized in the Painting and Other Media category, and I’m honored to be among them. All winning entries will now be featured on the Light Space & Time website (www.lightspacetime.art) for the month of July, 2020, and links to my website will remain available in the Light Space & Time Archives.
My Blue Heaven
I lost my brother-in-law Ed on May 28th, at the age of 88. A great guy who my sister started dating in 1956, when I was not quite 12, I’d known him for over six decades. He was the big brother I had never had, and I will miss him, remember him with love and laughter, and hold him in my heart always. I wanted to paint a portrait of him for my sister to have, complete with his signature blue blazer, button-down shirt with a tee shirt under it and comb-over. I don’t have to see the rest of the reference photo to know he was wearing khaki slacks and cordovan penny loafers. I’d like to think of him at peace now, so I’m calling this My Blue Heaven. Edward W. Schwab, R.I.P.
With plenty of time on my hands these days, I’ve been spending more of it painting and entering art competitions than ever before. It was lovely to get back from my walk this morning to find an email congratulating me for receiving two Special Recognition awards from Light Space Time Online Gallery’s 10th Annual Seascapes Competition for Spash and Mixed Marriage! I don’t usually paint traditional seascapes but remain fascinated by the process of painting underwater images. And in a time when many people aren’t going to art galleries or art shows, it’s a privilege to be included in an online gallery show that reaches so many viewers in our newly virtual world. Check out the 10th Annual Seascapes Exhibition on http://www.lightspacetime.art for the month of June. Some good news indeed!
A White Study: Portrait
My good friend and former student (Long Beach High School Class of ’67), Jeffrey Felner, posts #wakinguptofashion every day on FaceBook and Instragram, featuring fantastic fashion photographers of the past and today. Last fall, I took a screen shot of one of his postings—a beautiful, young model who was swathed in white tulle from her hat to her toes. I filed it away and came across it last week, when I was looking for something new to paint. The whiteness of her made me think of one of the earliest painting assignments presented to students at the Acorn School of Art: the white study, an exercise that teaches just how much color there is in a painting of white objects. I thought it might be fun to try a portrait in white, having just watched Debra Highberger’s portrait painting lesson on YouTube through acornartschool.com. I got to give myself the challenge of painting a portrait, painting a white study and painting the transparency of tulle…all in one. Having just finished two very large paintings, I decided to change the pace by painting a couple of small canvases. I painted JJ the Beast and A White Study: Portrait alternately, because one canvas could sit out on my patio to dry for a day or two while I painted the other.
JJ the Beast
I’ve been painting for twenty-one years but still love to take a painting class. There’s always something to be learned, and it’s always a good idea to have other eyes see your work. Lucky for me, my friend and mentor, Debra Highberger, is teaching online on YouTube through http://www.acornartschool.com during the pandemic. I watched her lesson on painting a white kitten and was inspired to paint JJ the Beast, our beautiful white lab granddog. JJ is a sweet and handsome devil and, like many pets, has been a particular comfort to my daughter and her family in these trying times I get to see JJ on FaceTime and in photos and videos my granddaughters send of him doing things like sitting down and shaking hands. Can’t wait to see him in person again…
Light Space & Time Online Gallery ran a competition last month asking artists to share the art they had created while in self-isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. Since painting has been one of the things keeping me sane in a time when I can only see my children and grandchildren on a screen, I was happy to share the two large canvases I had worked on and finished in the last two months: Hair Love and Splash. A few days ago, I was delighted to be notified that one of my pieces had won an award and would be included in the Created in Isolation Exhibit on lightspacetime.art for the next month (until June 15th). The gallery received 1,189 entries from 30 different countries around the world, as well as from 35 states and the District of Columbia; 215 winning artists are now featured in Painting and Other Media. Speculating that Splash seemed more in keeping with the theme of isolation, I was surprised and delighted to wake up today to the email telling me that it was Hair Love that won Special Recognition. While many of the winners used the pandemic as subject, most of the works were just about creating art in this strange time in our lives. Hair Love sits on the floor in my front hall waiting to be shipped to Town Stages in Tribeca, once it opens for business again.
I’m not much of a believer when it comes to fantastical things like unicorns and trolls and mermaids, but I’m a grandma, so I suspend my disbelief now and then. Back in early February, when we took our last trip to Boston, our granddaughter Lasa gave us a picture she had colored of a mermaid, and my husband promised we would have it framed and hang it in our house. Which we did.
A couple of years ago, I gave one of my painting teachers, Aj Rombach, a blank 30”x40” canvas that she covered with an oil ground for me, which is something like gesso, but made of oil, not acrylic. A thick surface resulted, with trowel marks all over, so it wouldn’t have served for most of my portrait and figure work, which is usually very smooth. The texture somehow suggested water to me, so I painted the background first, and then, inspired by Lasa’s little mermaid, I thought I’d paint my own. She’s underwater, just like those jellyfish I’ve painted before, and even looks a little transparent, which seems suitable for a figure that may or may not be quite real.
Note: Though a picture is often worth a thousand words, some paintings are just better viewed in person, whenever possible. Since I don’t have that option, this photo will have to do.
A few years ago, I had the luxury of choosing from a series of photographs of a pole dancing competition and chose to paint two of them: one of a dancer balanced on her arms with the pole in sight and the second of a dancer upside down on the pole. Though of two different competitors, I took some artistic license and painted the red haired dancer in a red costume on the pole as a blonde in white, to make it appear as if the same woman had advanced to the pole and intending to hang the two paintings as a diptych. When submitting five paintings to the 10th Annual Figurative Art Competition at the Light Space Time Online Gallery last month, I included the dancer on the pole as one of my entries and today received word that Topsy Turvy won Special Recognition and will be posted on lightspacetime.art for the month of April. The gallery received 623 entries from 27 different countries around the world, as well as from 30 different states and the District of Columbia. I am delighted to be one of 100 artists who were awarded Special Recognition and to have the opportunity to show my work and make my website available to the public. Receiving notice of the award yesterday, I was happy to know that the email from Light Space Time was no joke!
I love movies. I’ve been a big fan since I was eleven, watching Million Dollar Movie almost every day of the six weeks I was home with whooping cough (though not socially isolated) and, until the last few years, going to the movies almost every weekend with my husband. And I’ve always watched the Oscars—no matter how long and boring the telecast might be. One of the highlights of this year’s Oscar’s was the winner for Best Animated Short Film: Hair Love. While you may not have had a chance to see the long features, animated or not, so many people were taken with Hair Love that you can find a link to it and watch it at home—even now. Since I was in the process of painting another version of Diva in a much larger format (4 feet x 3 feet) at the time I watched Hair Love, I couldn’t help but borrow the title for my painting.
This Hair Love is going to hang on a black wall in the bar and lounge at Town Stages in Tribeca, the women-centric, all-inclusive, fabulous event space for the arts that’s owned by our niece, Robin Sokoloff. Seize the Day…Rose and Seize the Day…Violet are already there and waiting for Hair Love to arrive, which won’t be until this pandemic is done with us and it’s safe to reopen all the wonderful event spaces and venues for the arts in New York and elsewhere. Ever the optimist and lucky to be able to paint at home in these unsettling times, Hair Love is finally finished and ready for hanging. Here’s to better days for us all!
Last month I entered five portraits of women in a competition at See.Me.com called “S/HE PERSISTED,” celebrating the power and strength of women for this year’s Art Takes Armory 2020 exhibitions, from March 4th to March 26th. On February 26th I received an email notifying me of this:
“After a long and thorough review by the jury panel, your work has been selected to receive a digital feature at the “S/he Persisted…” exhibition. Your entry did not rank in the top ten and was not selected as a prize-winning submission.
One of the images from your submission will be chosen by our curatorial team to be featured digitally on a large TV monitor at the exhibition. The image will be accompanied by a short excerpt from the written section of your submission and the name (for display purposes) you provided us with on the submission form.”
I was thrilled, of course, though I had no idea which of my entries had been chosen. I even briefly thought about flying up to New York for the opening at their event space on Lexington Avenue & 46th Street. COVID-19 put an end to that notion, and, of course, the event has been cancelled, along with almost everything else in New York and the country.
I received an email this weekend confirming that Diva was the painting that had been chosen for the event. This original Diva is on a 20” x 20” canvas, and I am coincidentally painting her again in a much larger format as a commission. Grateful that I can paint amidst all the insanity surrounding our lives right now, I’ll be posting another diva soon…