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Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Onionskin   Watercolor/Gouache   20.5 x 13
I decided fairly early on in my art career that re-do's were a waste of time.  Sometimes we think that if we re-paint our subject, we will certainly do better.  Usually, for me, I find that some passages are improved and others, which were previously satisfactory, are left wanting on the second trip around.  Re-Do's also interfere with commitment.  Morayo is the younger sister of my son's friend Bandele.  She is a prickly girl.  She modeled many years ago during a hot summer for my colleagues Jack Liberman and Judy Carducci.....and me.....when we painted in an upstairs garret room of The Italian American Center in Akron. Her pose, with delicately placed fingertips and a flower, is at odds with her personality.  Her life had not been easy.  The first time I painted her, I was dissatisfied to the point of torture.  A second painting yielded approximately the same results.  Now, many years later, I look back on this work and realize that she is there.  I see both Morayo and her her brother.  I see who she is on the inside.

Onionskins......layer upon layer.  Sometimes it takes a while to get to the inside.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A painting is never finished....

Girls Named Susan   oil/canvas   8 x 8
  It simply stops in interesting places.
                                                         Phil Gardner

I know artists on both ends of this spectrum....those whose goal is a signature and a frame, being more stimulated by the product than the process ; as well as those who add a brush stroke now and again for decades.....really.  I guess I am somewhere in the middle.  I really like to keep a painting leaning against my studio wall for a while, usually upside-down, being somewhat certain that I have resolved most major issues.  The release of the work just happens....either sooner or later.  That doesn't seem to matter.  It is deeply disconcerting to find awkward passages in those works that have "passed over".  Usually, for me, it happens more often in small works, those little paintings that I would like to think are so casual that they fill in the gaps; those little paintings that are taken a bit less seriously; those that I haven't pondered about in excess.  And yet, "Girls Named Susan" hung on my studio wall for less than a week when I realized that it could me made stronger and more exciting by adding some violet passages.  I succumbed.  Removed from the frame, it was.  Back on the easel.  I am happier.

I think it is a mistake to constantly correct paintings....that goes nowhere.  The best tack for me is to internalize the lesson learned and apply it to future works.  I am, at this point, wise enough to understand that perfectionism is rarely the solution for me.  I adore the happy accidents along the way that provide a searching, a discovery.  And so.................I really do try to honor the release of a work into completion.

Almost always.  Never say never.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Game On...

Saturday Morning Mancala...a sketch
Competitive gaming on a large scale makes me nervous.  Too much tension.  Too much noise. Too many egos on the line.  But I am always up for board games at home.  I look at these games as mental exercise...they keep the brain moving forward and back, side to side, and help us to discover all kinds of possibilities.  I was fortunate to marry into a family of gamers.  And, as a result, we enjoy Euchre, Oh Hell, Dominoes, Phase 10, Scrabble, Pictionary, Quiddler, Rapidough, Sequence, Jenga and Mancala.  Mancala is our summer game of choice and is permanently set up on the patio for short breaks during the day, or for enjoyment before dinner.  As is the case with all endeavors, what seems simple is actually complex.  The more one plays, the more one is able to see connections that are not initially visible.  "Saturday Morning Mancala" is a small drawing done on a visit to our son's apartment.  He and my husband were playing on the balcony while I peered through the sliding door, trying to capture his head as it pivoted during the game.  It is a small imperfect drawing that gave and still gives me pleasure and sweet memory.

Friday, August 19, 2011


This week I have been getting some work ready for an exhibit which requires fetching, cleaning and, sometimes, framing.  In doing so, I come across works that had been put aside.  "Amanda" is such a work, a charcoal drawing which gave me pause.  In fact, I pulled it out twice.  Mostly, in pulling out past works, I focus and fixate on weak passages....those passages that haven't been considered.....well....well enough in my opinion.  In this case, I was pleasantly surprised.  Because I have been painting all summer, the strength of the drawing and its values pleased me.  I loved the quick and spontaneous way the charcoal stick had moved around the paper.  The color of mid-tone paper was satisfying.  I enjoyed the rendering of the short and choppy hairstyle.  I remember being disappointed at its completion that the likeness wasn't right-on.  In the rediscovery, I had completely forgiven myself for this shortcoming and was thrilled with its essence.

Time heals.  Rediscovery.

Amanda   Charcoal/Paper   16.5 x 11

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Glory Be to Limoncello!...

August Limoncello   oil/canvas   20 x 10 x 1.5
Soothing essence of lemon.  My first encounter with Limoncello was the lemonade beverage offered by The Olive Garden.  Heaven.  A bit too sweet but I replicated this beverage at home.  Limoncello desserts followed.  But still I was in quest of a simpler way to drink it.  My friend and colleague Judy Carducci sips hers on warm European evenings at the end of the art day.  She keeps hers in the freezer where it takes on a freezy syrupy quality.  This summer my usual gin and tonic was replaced by a limoncello and tonic served over crushed ice.  Fabulous.  Quenching.  The perfect refresher at the end of a hot summer day.  Piquant.  New.

"August Limoncello" is the painted ode.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Flowers have an expression...

Sun Queen   oil/canvas   20 x 16 x .5
of countenance as much as men and animals.  Some seem to smile; some have a sad expression; some are pensive and diffident; others again are plain, honest and upright, like the broad-faced sunflower and the hollyhock.                        
   Henry Ward Beecher

Painting with the season seems to suit me.  One of my challenges this summer is to incorporate a bolder color scheme into my work....just to push my comfort zone.  I am a unadulterated neutral-lover.  Loud colors scare me.  This morning while leafing through a fashion magazine, I came across a multi-paged article on bold color-blocked garments.  I shuddered.  "Sun Queen" is fresh off the easel.  I am not certain I am satisfied yet.  But the colors are bolder than I can recall using before.  The power of the sunflower seems to demand it.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Virginia Foothills   oil/canvas   20 x 10 x 1.5
is a wonderful word.  To me, it implies the distilling of something into its most flavorful, fragrant or visual parts.  A boiling down.

The Place:  Carter Mountain in Virginia
The Time:  a muggy day in May

My husband and I accompanied our son Seth and his friend Louise on an upwards hike up the mountain.  I was promised a natural fruit slushy of my choice at the top.  Well.....both Seth and Louise are marathon runners.  They trudged upwards effortlessly.  I enjoyed the exercise but was happy to wearing my sweat band......I was sweating like a.....well.....perspiring to some degree.
The fruit slushy was fabulous.  We took many photos.  The trip down was easier.  The day was amazing.

The patchwork patterning of the orchards was intriguing.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Balancing Act...

Mary in Polka Dots   oil/canvas   30 x 24 x .5
Yes, indeed it is.  For almost everyone.  Finding that median in the land of polar opposites.  Work:Play.  Self:Others.  Visual balance is important in my work....and I have noticed that most people are highly sensitive to balance and can tell when, in any situation, it needs to be improved.  Being off-balance is disconcerting.  (There are cases, when asymmetry is very exciting and helps to tell the story.  In that case, imbalance is intended and purposeful).  Mary was a tall and lanky young model.  And then she did that pretzel thing with her legs wrapped around the rungs of the stool.  First of all, painting the human figure on a standard size canvas is difficult at best.  If the standing figure is painted in its entirety, the proportions of the surface are wrong to me, leaving far too much negative space.  O.K.  In this case, the lankiness was offset and balanced by some emphasis on the horizontals.  In the working of these horizontals, the relationships of shoulder/shoulder; hand/hand; knee/knee and boot;boot became even more important.  In this particular scenario, the stool had to be included as it was inseparable from the legs.  The horizontal rungs also helped to balance this extremely vertical situation.

I have watched people straighten a barely-crooked painting on a wall as they walk by.  I believe that a need for balance is deeply engrained in our physiology.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I am not a traditional realist...

Tomato Basket   oil/canvas   16 x 20 x 1.5
There, I said it.  Acceptance of my artistic direction.  Said with a sense of loss.  And also with a sense of relief.  I so admire traditional realism.  But after years of wiping out chairs upon which the models rest, I am ready to face my own direction with fortitude.  I have tried painting the barn behind the horse, the curtain behind the still life and the trees behind the model.  My sense of aesthetics has urged me to wipe them all out.  Yes, a light source matters to some degree.  It helps to describe my realistic forms, to ward them away from flatness.  But the design approach of dark and light patterns is where my thrill is....those patterns that exist and move and relate without regard to the subject matter.

"Tomato Basket" took quite a while to paint,  I remember being confused by my own desires being in conflict with the window behind the basket.  The tomatoes literally rotted while I figured it all out.

I am what I am and that's all that I am........Popeye