Performance Art Redux

Topsy Turvy

Topsy Turvy

When I posted Polarized, in early May, I ended the blog with “More to come…,” so here it is at last, Topsy Turvy.  My dancer made it to the pole, as athletic as she was when she was approaching it, her lower body and abdominal strength in view, matching that upper body strength of the first painting.  

A shout out here to Whitney Browne for allowing me to use her gorgeous photos of these terrific athletes in action. Again, I was attracted to the sensuous curves of the dancer and the play of theatrical lights on her body…fun to paint! 

I have extolled the values of painting class before and was reminded of that the other day, when it was one of my painting friends who told me about the Brown University Poler Bears, a coed competitive pole dancing team with their own FaceBook page. If I ever paint another pole dancer, I might want to look for a male model…

Performance Art Redux

Topsy Turvy

Topsy Turvy

When I posted Polarized, in early May, I ended the blog with “More to come…,” so here it is at last, Topsy Turvy.  My dancer made it to the pole, as athletic as she was when she was approaching it, her lower body and abdominal strength in view, matching that upper body strength of the first painting.  

Polarized

Polarized

A shout out here to Whitney Browne for allowing me to use her gorgeous photos of these terrific athletes in action. Again, I was attracted to the sensuous curves of the dancer and the play of theatrical lights on her body…fun to paint! 

I have extolled the values of painting class before and was reminded of that the other day, when it was one of my painting friends who told me about the Brown University Poler Bears, a coed competitive pole dancing team with their own FaceBook page. If I ever paint another pole dancer, I might want to look for a male model…

Love and Marriage

Rabbi Rich

Rabbi Rich

 

My husband is my biggest fan and my most thoughtful critic. He was quite taken with my latest work in black and white, encouraging me to do more of it, so I decided to try to paint him. For even more of a challenge, I painted him from a color photograph.

IMG_0303He had the distinct honor of marrying our son and his bride five years ago. Licensed as an officiant by the state of Vermont, he wrote a beautiful ceremony that he performed at Stowe Mountain Lodge. The photographer took a wonderful picture of him as he walked down the aisle, and those of us who love him, called him Rabbi Rich for awhile. That’s the photograph I used to paint this portrait in black and white.

Grandparenthood

My Darling Girl

My Darling Girl

Sixteen years ago today, our first grandchild, Isabelle, was born in NYC. A natural born leader, Izzy taught us how to be grandparents, named us Granny & Rich (I might have preferred Gramps & Nance, but it wasn’t to be), and has continued to dazzle us ever since. I first painted her offering me a sweet kiss on a beautiful day—not the last time I painted her, but the only time I’ve painted me. Happy sweet sixteen, Izzy!

 

What I Do For Love

Steeplechase

One of my husband’s best childhood memories comes from going to Coney Island–just a subway stop away from his home in Brighton Beach, but still a big treat for him when he was a kid. After the Nathan’s hot dogs, his favorite thing to do there was at George C. Tilyou’s Steeplechase Park, where he would ride a mechanical pony in the horserace course that ran two miles around the park to the finish line and gave the park its name. If his father had taken him or if he had enough money of his own (sometimes he didn’t), he’d always choose to go on the mechanical horserace ride.

A few months ago, he saw a piece in the New York Times about the rebuilding of Coney Island after the disaster that was Hurricane Sandy in New York. There were a bunch of old photos of the amusement park as it used to be in its heyday, including one of the grinning face that was the iconic symbol of Coney Island. It brought him back to a happy time during a not so happy time in his life, so he asked me to paint it for him. I find it hard to refuse him, though most of the people who saw me working on it could not understand why I would paint such a weird looking guy. The truth of the matter is, a portrait’s a portrait, and the same challenges face a portrait painter, no matter who the subject or how appealing. I’m happy to have survived painting all those teeth for him, especially when I see the smile on his face whenever he looks at Funny Face.

Sources of Inspiration

Seven Veils

Seven Veils

When I met Whitney Browne this summer, I proposed a collaboration between photographer and painter…thinking we might be a good fit, particularly because of our interests in dance and in portraits. Having just spent months painting faces and looking for a change of pace, I went to whitneybrowne.com, Whitney’s website, for inspiration from her photographs of dancers. I can’t imagine how she got this shot, but the movement and flow captured in a moment made me want to paint it. I cropped and edited and took some liberties with her work, but I hope I did the dancer justice. Actually, I hope I did the photographer justice…

150616_OutoftheBlue_WhitneyBrowne-7-1

On scenarios…

Haven't I Seen You Here Before?

Haven’t I Seen You Here Before?

You feel like you get to know people when you paint them (staring into their faces for hours at a time), and when you paint two people, you find a narrative for them. Haven’t I Seen You Here Before? describes a man trying to pick up a woman with the oldest line in the world, which is likely the cause of her slight smirk.

Room 503

Room 503

Room 503 paints the woman as the aggressor…

Let's Get Out of Here

Let’s Get Out of Here

as does Let’s Get Out of Here, though that appears to be more of an invitation than a full press.

Shh...Don't Tell Anyone

Shh…Don’t Tell Anyone

Shh…Don’t Tell Anyone seems the least suggestive of this group—more a secret being told than any desire being expressed. But these are only my narratives…what do you think?

Ménage à Deux

Room 503

Room 503

I continue to be fascinated by the juxtaposition of two faces on a canvas, most recently in the act of telling secrets or whispering sweet nothings. If painting a single portrait is an intimate act, painting two people relating to each other goes far beyond that. Are they friends or lovers? Do they even know each other? All sorts of scenarios can be imagined as their faces take shape on the canvas. And when the painting is done, I get to choose a title that gives the viewer a sense of what I’ve been thinking…sweet…and, in this case, sexy.

Flesh of My Flesh

There’s something very intimate about painting portraits. The act of studying a face intently, reproducing its planes and contours on a canvas, seeing it emerge until your subject is looking back at you…is exceedingly personal. Many artists have fallen in love with their muses, but I contend that even painting from a photograph provides a connection between painter and subject that gives me, at least, that feeling of intimacy that informs the work.

My granddaughters have been frequent subjects of mine, always drawn from photographs. I’ve been painting them for the last fifteen years, completely smitten with them all. Lasa Grey is my son’s first child, about to celebrate her first birthday, and this is the second time I’ve painted her. The beautiful infant I couldn’t take my eyes off of last summer is growing and walking and giggling and delighting us all.

Spa Day

Spa Day

BallenIsles Art Expo | 2015

After a crazy week with a Twitter threat causing my flight to Florida to be cancelled so that I could be in Boston in time to experience the more than two feet of snow from Juno, I finally got to Palm Beach Gardens for the BallenIsles Art Expo | 2015, which featured paintings, photographs, collages, mixed media, sculpture, needlework, woodwork and even hand-made Christmas ornaments.  Eclectic!

photo (36)photo (34)

Blurred Lines

Shh..Don't Tell Anyone

Shh..Don’t Tell Anyone

 

I do love a painting class. There’s usually a teacher or two there, someone to engage you in a dialogue about what you’re doing, what you want your painting to be and how to get there. And when you step back from your own painting, as you must do and often, you are surrounded by other artists and the myriad of subjects that they’re painting. You learn so much from other people’s work! Sometimes it influences you; sometimes you might even steal something.

Almost a year and a half ago, I stopped by the Acorn Gallery during the Marblehead Arts Festival and saw Lexi Baliotis (getting married next week, she’ll be known as Alexis Kereakaglow) working on a painting of a girl on a beach.  I was completely enchanted by it—a back and side view that featured the girl’s ear in close up detail.  You could have reached out to touch that ear or at the very least whispered a secret!  So this year, I painted Shh…Don’t Tell Anyone with the image of Lexi’s ear in my mind’s eye.  I’d call that inspiration.

  

About Inhaling…

Guillty Pleasure

Guillty Pleasure

I haven’t smoked cigarettes since the Surgeon General declared smoking a hazard to health, but I must admit to inhaling every now and then since.  And because a friend went into a business associated with vaping, I’ve been able to try vaping “juice,” not with nicotine, but with herbals like menthol, eucalyptus and lavender.  I might be exhaling steam, but it behaves like smoke, making it perfect for me to study the patterns and understand what smoke does as it drifts through the air…and to blow smoke rings.  When I was sixteen, I must have thought it was the height of sophistication to be able to blow a perfect smoke ring; now, I think it would make a good painting.      

It Takes Two to Tango

I’m a great fan of dancing of all kinds, but I especially love to paint tango dancers. The tango is such a sensuous dance that the figures on the canvas, caught in a moment of time, still seem to be moving. I really enjoy the challenge of figuring out where each leg needs to be and which shoe goes in front of which shoe, especially since they’re so often black on black on black.

Close Encounter found its way to Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this year, and the lovely couple who own it commissioned a companion piece, Too Close for Comfort, so they could hang the two 30” X 40” paintings together on a large wall going up their stairs: two couples destined to dance near each other but never meet or even bump into one another on the dance floor.

Too Close for Comfort

Too Close for Comfort

Close Encounter

Close Encounter

 

 

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

My husband is my biggest fan.  He loves most of my paintings, even the ones that don’t include pretty women or body parts, but he doesn’t really like my jellyfish.  It’s not that he doesn’t appreciate the skill involved, but the subjects creep him out.  He grew up in Brighton Beach, NY, spent his childhood at the beach and apparently had his fill of slimy, stinging jellyfish.  That doesn’t stop me from painting the more beautiful and interesting of the species, but it doesn’t make him like those paintings much either.  I’ve been fooling around with ways to paint other things that are transparent and in motion, as much to challenge myself as to find something he might enjoy.  I decided to experiment with smoke: blowing out candles, lighting matches, watching smoke streams.

Up in Smoke

Up in Smoke

 

When I’m in Boston, it is my habit to come home from a day of painting at the Acorn Gallery, put my current painting on the easel in my studio (which faces out into my front hall) and look at it.  I stop on my way out of my kitchen and study it; I stop on my way back to the kitchen and stare at it, often having to remind myself that I came down to make dinner or get a drink.  I look at it when I’m bringing the newspaper in, and I see it when I’ve picked up the mail.  But that’s just me being a little obsessive about my work—seeing what needs to be changed, what might be enhanced, what should come next.  I never really expect anyone else to be quite as mesmerized by something I paint as I am.  Until now.  There’s something about staring at that smoke stream in Up in Smoke that keeps you hypnotized.  I don’t know why it does that, but it makes me want to paint more smoke—a series, perhaps, with the smoke on each canvas coming from different sources. Inspiration sometimes floats in on a puff of smoke…

He’s So Fine…

 

photo-86

 

For no particular reason, I don’t paint very many portraits of men. And when I do, that man is usually in the company of a woman. But I wanted to give one of my paintings as a gift to my very handsome hairdresser, who celebrated the 5th anniversary of the opening of his own salon last fall, and I didn’t think his wife would like it as much if I used an image of him with another woman. Wanting to surprise him, I had to rely on the internet for a photo of him that I thought would work for me, a task made easier by the fact that he’s done some modeling over the years and is currently getting press regarding the launch of his new hair product line, V76 by Vaughn.

Vaughn Acord has been my hairdresser since 2006, first at Bumble & Bumble in New York and then at Mizu New York, the salon he opened on Park Avenue with his partners in the fall of 2008. Trusting him to keep my hair looking as fabulous as possible, I see him every couple of months and have gotten to know him well in the last 8 years.  I think he looks like he could be in Game of Thrones (his kids should love that…or not).  Happy anniversary, Vaughn.

Vaughn

Vaughn