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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.