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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
Lucky to have the chance to be included in the fourth Revolving Art Show this season at BallenIsles Country Club, I entered Rabbi Rich, the portrait I painted of my husband from a color photo taken of him the evening he officiated at the wedding of our son and daughter-in-law, and Argentine Tango, a celebration of the dancers I love to paint. The exhibit is up for viewing from February 3rd to March 9th.
I’ve had the privilege of exhibiting my work at the annual Art Expo at BallenIsles Country Club since 2006, where it’s always been a delight to see how many talented artists live and work in the community. After our clubhouse was razed and rebuilt in 2018-19, all interested parties met to form an Art Club, which includes both artists and members interested in art and boasts a membership of over 340 residents. For those interested in the arts, there are lectures, films and field trips designed to stimulate lively discussion and feed the soul. For the artists, there is now a schedule of open studio time for those who like to work on their own projects and appreciate the camaraderie and benefit of having other artists’ eyes on their work, as well as a variety of art classes offered with various professionals from late fall into spring. And…once again…there is an annual Art Show, with 67 artist members exhibiting their paintings, sculpture, photography and even needlepoint from January 14-19 in our beautiful clubhouse. It is a privilege to have an opportunity to show my work and a delight to admire the work of my fellow artists.
On Saturday, November 2, the Ballenisles Art Club opened its first Revolving Art Exhibit outside the East dining room of the clubhouse. I was honored to be included in the first of what will be four to six week long art exhibits throughout the season. After our beautiful new clubhouse opened just one year ago, the artists and lovers of art who live here, at BallenIsles Country Club, formed a new Art Club that now has over 300 members and sponsors field trips and lectures and provides open studio time as well as art classes for its members. In addition to the Revolving Art Exhibits, Art Expo 2020, exhibiting a variety of mediums in work created by members of the Art Club, will open with a gala on the evening of January 15, 2020 and run through Sunday, January 19th. I’m happy to be a member of the Art Studio committee and the Art Show committee, since I’m so pleased to have a place to come and paint with other artists right here where I live, as well as new opportunities to exhibit my work.
Amidst the barrage of hurricane warnings this Labor Day weekend, it was a distinct pleasure to get an email from the LightSpaceTime Online Gallery congratulating me on winning Special Recognition in their 9th Annual Open Art Competition for Black Swan. The gallery received 782 entries from 20 different countries from around the world, as well as from 34 different states and the District of Columbia, so it’s a distinct honor to be included among the artists receiving Special Recognition in the Painting & Other Media category.
I make it a habit to regularly enter art competitions for several reasons but mostly because compliments from family and friends are lovely but no real measure of how good your work is. It’s mostly from juried competitions that you can answer the question, “How am I doing?”
I’ve been painting portraits of our grandchildren for the last fourteen years, to be able to display them in our condo in Florida. Looking at them makes me smile, when I can’t be near them. So now it’s Teddy’s turn to be painted and join his sisters and cousins and remind me how lucky we are. He’s so cute, so good-natured—a happy boy whose smile lights up the room. You don’t have to take my word for it, you could ask his grandfather!
When our oldest granddaughter, Izzy, was little, she pointed out that I always called her my darling girl—as she certainly was. Then came her two sisters and, eventually, her first two cousins: my five darling girls. And now along comes Teddy…