I like to paint series. My earliest paintings were of food—pears, apples and oranges, salad vegetables—mostly meant to be displayed together. And after I had painted my first tango dancers from the legs down, I painted four more couples, so that I could hang them all together. My pop portraits were originally intended to be shown in threes, and I painted three versions of the same lotus plant and then that plant in bloom! So it should come as no surprise that Shh…Don’t Tell Anyone has inspired me to paint more couples whispering secrets (or lies) to each other. Let’s Get Out Of Here is my newest addition to this new series. Watch for more…
We’ve always lived near the water–on the Atlantic when we were first married, on Long Island Sound where our kids were born, two blocks from the Atlantic for the last 40 years and on a man-made lake, complete with fish and birds, in Florida. When I was a kid, the beaches my family took me to–Far Rockaway, Atlantic Beach, Long Beach, Jones Beach, Coney Island, even Atlantic City–all had the same view: water, water everywhere, often plenty of surf, the horizon straight ahead. It was only when we moved to Boston that I became familiar with the rocky coast of New England. Quite a few of my artist friends paint these beaches with their brown sand and many rocks, large and small, coves cut into the landscape.
The studio I paint in is just across from Marblehead harbor, and last winter I saw a photograph someone had taken with just enough of that vast expanse of sea and sky to remind me of the beaches of my childhood. I painted that expanse on a square canvas and liked it enough to think that I should paint a larger version to hang in Florida. After spending most of February and March this winter in Boston, with some of the worst weather in years, I didn’t want to be reminded of winter in Marblehead when I was lucky enough to be in Florida. The view from South Ocean Boulevard in Palm Beach did the trick. Peaceful.
There’s something about pears for me…the shapes, the contours, the colors. Though I’d never turn down the chance to eat a sweet, juicy pear, I’m much more interested in them as subjects for still lifes. And they’ve got that anthropomorphic thing going for me: I certainly see them as female–all those lovely torsos. I painted BFF’s to celebrate the friendship between two women (I’m the taller one) and the Birds on a Wire are having a gossipy chat.
When I painted The Bartletts, a triptych of eight pears, I used pears I had spent some time selecting at our local fruit store as my models. I very carefully wrapped them up and kept them at the back of my fruit drawer between painting classes, hoping to keep them from getting too ripe. I was about half done with the painting when we went away away for the weekend, and as soon as we pulled into our driveway, I knew that our son had been at the house while we were away. (He just left a light on in the den.) I had no problem with that until I saw the note he left on the kitchen counter: “Mom, where did you get those pears? They were awesome!” He had eaten three of my models! Don’t think it was so easy to replace them, either. Who knew that no two pears are alike?
I have a bff who was approaching a “big birthday” about five years ago. Her husband was throwing a surprise party for her, and I was thinking about what gift I could give to a woman who really does have everything. Of course, I would paint something for her, but what? After awhile, it came to me…
Since my girlfriend and her telephone are never very far apart, I decided to paint a telephone keypad for her, with every number and symbol representing something personal about her. To make it physically look like a keypad, I painted twelve 8” X 8” canvasses, each an inch and a half deep, to look like buttons. The result, in its own way, is a portrait of her (I told you I think of all my paintings as portraits). I’ll explain:
Number 1 is painted on a house. She’s a very successful realtor and has been the number 1 producer in her agency for most of her career.
Number 2 is a conversation bubble. She’s a talker.
Number 3 is a nod to our girl golf trips to Aruba and her enjoyment of the craps table.
Number 4 celebrates the game we love to play together.
Number 5 is all about makeup. Did I say she’s a looker?
Number 6 is a conversation hearts candy. See number 2. Her favorite food is candy.
Number 7 is a ticket stub. She loves plays, musicals, and concerts and is the social director for a group of friends who rely on her to get them tickets too.
Number 8 is a triangle. Remember the ones you got to play in kindergarten? She has one. It makes her happy to play it sometimes.
Number 9 is a mah jongg tile: 9 dot. Girlfriends like to play games. See number 3 and 4.
The * key is a magic wand. She has one and uses it when she thinks she needs it. See number 8.
The # key is a scale (get it?). She organized a group that worked with a nutritionist to lose weight and eat healthier. See number 6.
Operator is a CD. She’s a big fan of music (see number 7 and 8) and often gifts friends with CD’s she’s burned of her favorite singers. If you play the notes on the music staff below the CD, you will hear Op-er-a-tor (Jim Croce).
I have a wall in my condo in Florida that was perfectly suited for a mural. Now, I’m not really a fan of murals—I’ve never seen any that I could imagine on my own walls—so I started thinking about what I might paint myself. The rug in that room is a needlepoint of parrots and palm trees, so I had to come up with something that wouldn’t conflict with it.
I was sitting on my patio, late one afternoon a year ago last May, just relaxing, playing word games on my iPad and listening to music, when I noticed the shadows of the palm trees in the yard on the building next to mine. The fronds were moving in the breeze, and it was somewhat soothing to watch the motion on the wall in front of me, a little hypnotic. I thought how cool it would be to have a palm tree inside, on my wall. The dimensions of the wall (9.5’ X 12.5’, then an arch over the bedroom doorway and another 9.5′ X 3′) wouldn’t allow for a painting of those palms that had inspired me, so I decided on a Bismarck palm, a variety of the fan palm with a short trunk and sage green fronds. I photographed one at my friend Judith’s house, because it was the perfect shape for my wall, then painted it last summer on a proportionately smaller canvas, as a sketch for my mural.
Last November, back in Florida, I was lucky enough to have one of my painting teachers, Alexis Baliotis, a young and very talented artist, come to stay with me for a week to help me paint my Bismarck palm on my wall. A few weeks after, I painted inside the arch of the doorway, then fiddled around with the background for some time, until I could call it done. It makes me smile every time I walk into my home, but it will be the only one of its kind, since I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever…paint another.
On my Artwork page, I have displayed all the paintings I have for sale at this time. Just a little more than half of the paintings exhibited in my Galleries are for sale; the others hang in my home or have been sold or were commissions, and some have been donated to various fundraisers. I do accept commissions. You may have noticed that Tango Series IV, 22” X 22,” reappears as High Jinx on a 30” X 40” canvas; Tango Series V, 22” X 22,” transforms into Submission, 40” X 30,” and …To Tango, 12” X 16,” is the same pose as It Takes Two, which is 12” X 12.” If an image interests me, I might imagine it in a different way, as in Black Swan and Reflection: two very different works, though based on the same image.
So if you see a painting in my Galleries and it’s not offered for sale in Artwork, I will consider painting it again–just for you. I will change sizes and even colors, if I think it will work for the image. I paint from photographs, as well as from life, so send me an image that you want reimagined as a painting, and I will be happy to open a dialogue with you about it.
It must have been about six years ago, when my daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters (at the time) were in Boston for a visit, and we found ourselves at the New England Aquarium. I only had my phone with me, but I took some pictures, mostly of the smaller exhibits, filled with creatures who wouldn’t have survived in the big tank–colorful, smaller fish and creepily beautiful jellyfish. The only jellyfish I was familiar with were the jellyfish of my childhood at Rockaway Beach or Jones Beach–round, transparent, seemingly slimy things, meant to be avoided. But days later, flipping through my photos, I couldn’t help but be attracted to the colors, shapes and, particularly, the transparency of these denizens of the deep.