Reaching for the Stars

I like to name my paintings…to give them titles that convey at least some of what I’m feeling and thinking about them as they come together from drawing to finished piece. This beast of a 40” X 40” canvas took a couple of weeks to paint, giving me more than enough time to think of a name for it. The dancer is so powerful, so focused, so aspirational in this moment frozen in time that I chose to call it Reach. I see him on the prow of a ship, on top of a mountain, on a stage in a theater, on top of the world, calling to mind Robert Browning’s poem, Andrea del Sarto, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?” In what I now call my first life, I was a high school English teacher and taught creative writing; now I’m a painter, who continues to write and just quoted a poet who used a painter for his subject…now that’s the circle of life.

Thanks again to Whitney Browne, a most painterly photographer who allows me to use her images for inspiration. See what she does, especially Dance for the Photographic Eye, at http://www.whitneybrowne.com.

Thank Heaven for Little Girls

 

 

Baby Bird

Baby Bird

 

 

Today our beautiful, talented, hilarious granddaughter, Maddie, turns 14. I first painted her, when she was barely a toddler and I was barely a painter, kissing her Mama on a sunny summer’s day. Happy birthday, Maddie!

 

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…

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.

Yes!

Yes!

 

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

 

About Girlfriends and Birthdays

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).

Telephone Keypad

Telephone Keypad

Of Parrots and Palm Trees

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.

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Bismarck Palm

Bismarck Palm

A Word About Commissions…

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.

Tango Series V

Submission