Attitude is Everything

Seven years ago, fascinated with the challenge of being able to paint transparency in oil paint using glazes thinned with linseed oil, I started a series of paintings on 12” x 36” gesso boards with a match that had just been blown out. Painting the stream of smoke wafting up from that match led me to paint a birthday candle, a stick of incense, and a big fat cigar. For the fifth and final panel, I intended to paint a pipe. I googled images of pipes and came across several before I settled on a calabash, the kind of pipe that Sherlock Holmes smoked. Fast forward to last month, when I was going through the photos on my iPad and found the quirky blond smoking that pipe that I had painted for my fifth panel. I’ve been looking at that blond for years and finally thought I’d try to bring her to life. As much as I always enjoy painting portraits—she was a trip! She looks so very 1940’s to me, and with her chin out, pipe in mouth…that’s attitude for you…so Retro is what I’ll call her.

Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, Wherever You Are

Pipe Dreams





When I thought about doing another smoke painting, I decided to use a pipe as my source for some voluminous smoke and couldn’t help but choose what I and probably everyone thinks of as the pipe Sherlock Holmes smoked for my subject, if only because I love the look of it. It wasn’t until just now, trying to come up with something to post about my painting, Pipe Dreams, that I googled “Sherlock Holmes pipe” and found out that the one I painted is called a calabash and was first used by an actor playing Holmes on the stage. As soon as I saw “calabash,” I could only think of Jimmy Durante (google him, if you’re too young to have heard of him), who said goodnight to Mrs. Calabash after every performance. As mysterious as smoke…