I’ve been painting portraits of our grandchildren for the last fourteen years, to be able to display them in our condo in Florida. Looking at them makes me smile, when I can’t be near them. So now it’s Teddy’s turn to be painted and join his sisters and cousins and remind me how lucky we are. He’s so cute, so good-natured—a happy boy whose smile lights up the room. You don’t have to take my word for it, you could ask his grandfather!
When our oldest granddaughter, Izzy, was little, she pointed out that I always called her my darling girl—as she certainly was. Then came her two sisters and, eventually, her first two cousins: my five darling girls. And now along comes Teddy…
I subscribe to an arts organization called See.Me that specializes in providing online profiles for artists to display and promote their work and holds real-world exhibitions every few years. Last week, See.Me featured Rising Again in Volume 4 of Art Takes SoHo on their website, directing viewers to my website when they click on the image. It’s very gratifying to be included in a juried show with artists from all over the world.
The Marblehead Festival of the Arts is celebrated every Fourth of July weekend with exhibits and activities throughout the town. I have submitted paintings to the Painting Exhibit and Senior Art for as long as I have been eligible but have never won an award. Imagine my surprise when I got a phone call yesterday morning to tell me that my painting, Rising, in the Senior Art exhibit of the Festival, won the People’s Choice Award this year! People attending the exhibits have an opportunity to vote for their favorite work, and Rising got the most votes in Senior Art! I am beyond thrilled and happy to have this encouragement from the people who attended the festival in the last five days and saw fit to choose my painting. I am very honored, and I can’t seem to stop smiling!
I attended a lovely reception at the Lighthouse ArtCenter in Tequesta, FL, Thursday night, celebrating the Best of the Clubs exhibition, which features the works of artists from thirteen country club communities in the area. While I enjoyed many of the paintings and the 3-D art, there were countless photographs that were impressive and a few that looked more like paintings—remarkable manipulation now possible in this world of digital photography.
I entered Love Me Tender and What’s Love Got To Do With It as a diptych called Film Noir, hopefully evoking those black and white movies of the 30’s and 40’s that I’ve watched ever since the 50’s (remember Million Dollar Movie?) and continue to see on Turner Classics. Just call it nostalgia…
Today our bright and beautiful oldest granddaughter, Isabelle Tess, turns 17. It’s hard to believe that 17 years have passed in what seems like the blink of an eye, but the high school junior who gets her driver’s license today is surely proof. As any grandparent can tell you, it’s a remarkable privilege to be able to live to watch your children raise their children and the thrill of a lifetime to see them do it so well. We couldn’t be more proud. Happy birthday, Izzy!
My project in Florida continues, as I go on to complete the triptych I’ll be calling “Three Sisters,” with a portrait of Izzy & Maddie’s 8 year old sister, Cassie. I’ve written before about the intimate nature of painting someone’s portrait. You spend hours gazing at a face, trying to unlock the secrets of resemblance, and can’t help but feel a connection, even if you’re using a photograph, rather than painting a live model. Painting portraits has given me a much greater understanding of those artists throughout time who have fallen in love with their muses, but in my case, the love came first…
Today our gorgeous, brilliant and hilarious granddaughter, Maddie, turns 15. (I know I’m her grandmother, but I’m not exaggerating.) She fills our lives with laughter and joy and makes us proud of the amazing young woman she has become. Happy birthday, Maddie!
My winter project in Florida this year is to paint my three oldest granddaughters as they look now, to replace some paintings hanging in my condo here that I did of them when they were very little and I was just beginning to paint. It’s so much harder to capture people you know and love and are emotionally tied to than strangers, who can be reduced to pure patterns and measurements. There’s much more pressure to get the likeness right. Someone I once knew liked to say that everything easy is done already, and that is certainly true of portraiture. I’m no Michelangelo, but painting a portrait is 95% agony and 5% ecstasy…and only if you actually achieve the likeness. Believe it or not, that 5% is enough to bring you back to paint another. So here I am, already working on the next portrait…
If it’s January, it must be time for the BallenIsles Art Expo, and this marks the twelfth year I’ve shown my paintings here. Polarized caused a fair amount of conversation, but I was most gratified by the reactions to the portraits I showed as a diptych: Almost Herb and Sydelle. My friends have lived in BallenIsles as long as I have and were immediately recognizable to their friends and neighbors here. I’ll take that as a compliment…
I’ve been unusually absorbed in painting faces this past year, many in pairs and most on smaller canvasses or gessoboards. I love seeing a likeness emerge from a blank canvas from the moment I start the grisaille (underpainting), but the real pleasure for me lies in mixing and applying color, searching for the light and accentuating the planes of the face, even when I choose to crop the image.
Mum’s the Word
Mum’s the Word is a companion piece, I suppose, to those people I’ve recently painted who are whispering to each other. But is she keeping a secret, or has she just told one? Hmmm…
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 paints the woman as the aggressor…
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 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?
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.
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.
Let’s Get Out of Here
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…
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!
Dropped in at the Lighthouse Artcenter Museum in Tequesta, FL, on the last day of the year to see my painting hung in the juried show for artists from ten country club communities in the area. As always, it’s impressive to see the range of talent exhibited; I particularly enjoyed the pottery and sculpture shown, a fond reminder of past endeavors for me.
Blowin’ in the Wind
“Blowin’ in the Wind” is meant to be a portrait of my daughter, who grew up near the ocean and still loves to hang out at the beach.
As any grandparent will tell you, grandchildren are life’s greatest gift, one of the few experiences in which the reality exceeds your expectations. I have been blessed with four beautiful granddaughters, Lasa Grey being the newest.
Mirror, Mirror | Izzy
Mirror, Mirror | Maddie
Completely besotted with all of my girls, I’ve painted them each several times over the years. My favorite paintings of Izzy and Maddie show them looking at their own reflections in an old mirror at a playground in Nantucket, when Izzy was four and Maddie two.
The portrait of Cassie in sunglasses at the beach is a reminder that she’s had attitude from the get go.
No Autographs, Please