What I Do For Love


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.

Deep Purple and a Little Blue

My husband loves women and is enough of a man to be very much in touch with his feminine side. He was in the fashion business for many years and never lost the habit of looking through Vogue or W, though now he might be paying more attention to the beautiful women on those pages than he is to the hottest new colors and latest fashion trends. He is a Brooklyn boy of a certain age, after all. Of the many different things I paint, he probably likes my paintings of women best and wants to keep all of them for himself. I painted a small portrait for him to see before I committed to painting it on a larger scale as a gift for him for our upcoming 50th wedding anniversary.




I like to fill a canvas, edge to edge, which causes me to crop my images. When I first started taking drawing lessons from Duddy Fletcher at the DeCordova Museum School, she had us use view finders before beginning a new drawing. I do it to this day, whether I’m painting from life or a photograph. For the last year or so, I’ve taken to using my iPad when I’m painting from a photograph; the clarity of the images and the ability to enlarge and crop that enlargement makes it a great tool. It also allows you to flip images around, particularly if they’re square. When I do that to Yes!, it makes it a much more provocative painting. I’ll have what she’s having…photo-86