Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Persimmon queen

It is persimmon season again and I can't resist them. Not to eat - in fact, though a ripe persimmon is quite sweet, I still find it an odd consistency - but to paint. They come in a lovely range of colors and their shapes are appealing and I always find myself hanging around the fruit and vegetable market across the street from my apartment looking for the perfect specimen. I perched the queen, above, on top of an upside down ceramic bowl; her subjects are at her feet.
The painting is 6" x 8" and can be purchased here, if you would like.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Vacation mode

Greg wore his faded old Dodgers cap several weeks ago when we went on vacation to Martha's Vineyard. It was an act of pre-emptive kindness to Red-Sox fans who, he assumed, would be losing the World Series to the Yankees who, at that point, had a good shot at the pennant and my husband was feeling lucky. A Yankees cap would be rubbing the Sox fans' faces in the "win" a little too much and he didn't want to hurt the feelings of the good folks of Massachusetts. Oh well. . .
So it goes.
This is a weirdly pixilated image of the study I made from a photo taken on the ferry. I have a new camera and somehow, I'm still not very good in the photography department. But the likeness is good - the husband, great.

Friday, October 21, 2011

pumpkin time

I should never order totally useless, but really cool-looking items from Fresh Direct (like these) because I know that I won't be satisfied until I paint them. So I bumped a portrait I am painting of my husband (doing it from a photo, since he doesn't really understand the concept of sitting still) onto the back burner and painted these two "Baby Boo Mini-Pumpkins" (I kid you not) on a 5" x 7" linen covered panel. And now back to the portrait! If you are interested in purchasing this little painting, please click here.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

alla prima!

study in pink and grey, as it turns out.

last day study

Lobsterville in the fog

Monday, October 10, 2011

another Menemsha boat

I am finding the boats on Menemsha Pond irresistible - something about the brilliant autumn sunshine, the marshes - which are just beginning to turn color - and the boats, seemingly abandoned for the winter. That, of course, is probably not the case - I feel certain that Menemsha Pond boat owners are nothing if not conscientious about taking good care of their seagoing property, but poetry dictates that the boats will lie here, buffeted by the elements, their paint peeling - the only denizens of a deserted island. Anyway, this is a study of one of them - 5" x 5" on a linen covered panel. Sold.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

MV wildlife refuge

There is a huge beautiful and, at this time of year, totally empty wildlife preserve near the Tisbury Great Pond on Martha's Vineyard. This is a study looking out towards the marshes . The trees have not yet started turning to fall colors, but the grasses have and the light is decidedly autumnal.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

MV tree study

This old tree stands at the edge of the property, just against the forest. Most of the day it is in shadow, but first thing in the morning, it catches the brilliantly cold dawn light full in the face. I have had to spend some chilly time out in the yard for a couple of days to catch its few moments in the sun!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Eliot's tomato

Our friend Eliot has always ranked way up there in the galaxy of good guests at the farm. He so clearly loves the house, the land and the area that it is a pleasure to have him around. But this year, he got the gold star because he brought me heirloom tomato and kale plants from the farm where he is working for the summer. Sadly, the kale met an early demise when the bunnies got to it, but the tomatoes thrived, at least in so far as tomatoes can thrive in a climate that has more in common with Canada than it does with the lower 48, and last night we dined on home grown tomato and basil salad! This fellow above didn't make it through Irene and was on the ground, so while it may still end up as part of our dinner (fried green tomatoes, anyone?), right now it is sitting in my studio, a very shapely and interesting subject for a still life.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

La foret

Oh, to be in Rambouillet now that autumn's here!*
11" x 14" oil on panel

*with apologies to Robert Browning

If you would like to purchase this painting, click here.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

yay zinnias!

To me, zinnias are the perfect mid-summer garden flower: brilliantly colorful, oddly sturdy and a little sassy in their unwillingness to be carbon-copy blossoms, one just like the other. I never have any success growing them at my farm - they get eaten by rabbits - so when I saw them for sale today in a NYC greenmarket, I bought them, pricey as they were. The farmer who sold them to me told me that his trip into Manhattan from southern Jersey took him three hours - two hours for the highway trip - a distance of about 100 miles - then a third hour to creep along from the Lincoln Tunnel into the heart of the city, 15 miles at most. What a trooper!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

the barn, morning mist

A little encouragement is a dangerous thing. I wasn't really going to say anything about this painting when I posted it - it is pretty self-evidently a barn - but my friend Judy told me she likes reading my blog. Not looking at it, but reading it. So this is for Judy! Judy has been to my farm in the mid summer and in fact, when she visited she and I had the most unexpected small-town kind of a day. When she arrived, I told her the brief history of our house, the area, the town and some of the people I know up here - the kind of deep background info that I always feel people like to hear. I mentioned several notable names - that of my running buddy Joan, those of my friends Jane and Harold who own the paint and paper store in town, the name of the estimable woman Faiga who runs Good Cheap Food, aka "the piano store" (but that is a story for another time) and finally a nod to Leland, the contractor who renovated our house - all people who one way or the other dip in and out of our life in the country. That afternoon Judy and I went to town for lunch and by golly, who should we run into on the Main Street, but Joan, Jane and Harold and Faiga - just as if I had stationed them there for Judy's benefit. At each encounter, there were introductions and a chat ("this is Judy - she is here from the Berkshires and this is Joan, my running buddy" etc.) After lunch, we got back in the car for a spin around the countryside on our way home to the farm and on one of the back roads, there was a house under construction and sure enough, as we slowed down (so as not to raise too much dust from the dirt road), who should we see coming around the side, but Leland, the contractor, the only personage we hadn't yet run into. So once again, introductions and a little chat and then home we went, everyone accounted for. Judy was at my farm at just about this time of year and though I don't remember if there was morning mist on the land, the yellowish late August foliage and the barn in need of a good paint job were probably much the same.
If you would like to purchase this painting, click here.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

July Virtual Paintout

This is a stylized painting of a photo taken by the Google truck on the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel - this month's destination for the Virtual Paintout. Parts of Jersey are green and manicured and parts are a little wilder but to me the most charming feature of the landscape is that there are tiny lanes everywhere that corkscrew through the dense island foliage. I hope to have captured some of that feeling here. It is 4 " x 4" painted in oil on a linen covered board. If you would like to purchase this painting, click here.

Monday, July 4, 2011

fireworks on July 3rd

One thing we have in upstate NY is serious weather. Saturday was gorgeous! Picnic weather. Sit outside in the back and look at the wildlife through binocs - weather. Couldn't have been prettier and because the light in my studio was lovely, I started a self-portrait. Self-portraits are always helped mightily by good lighting. Candles would probably be best. But yesterday - Sunday the 3rd of July - we woke up to major rain. It was dark and heavily grey outside and so much water was falling that you could see the drops smashing against the road and splashing back up so that there was like a thin layer of foam on top of the asphalt. The self-portrait was hopeless. I tried, but with no light coming in, it started to look like I was painting myself in a dark mask, so I stopped and since I had this little marigold in a jar out there in the studio, painted it. But that is not the story. The story is that sometime in the mid-afternoon, there came a lull in the thunder and lightening that had been booming around the valley all day and then all of a sudden out of nowhere a flash of lightening and an unbelievably loud crack of thunder simultaneously crashed down around our farm. I was so startled that I dropped my palette on the floor! Yes, the lightening hit the property but amazingly the only harm was that it took a limb off of a tree in the front of the house and for some reason - bypassing all other electrical systems - knocked the phone out. I went back to my studio after my heart slowed down and painted a second flower, but that effort failed. Not a surprise.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

rose exercises

It was a dark and stormy day today in upstate NY. The sky never did turn blue and from time to time it got so black and threatening that I thought we were going to have another big thunder and lightening thing like we had last night. My dog has never been much of a marine, but last night she was super-scared - cowering in the corner farthest from the window. Today, she spent the day curled, quaking, in the armchair in my studio where there was little light, but a lot of nice roses picked from the wild and gnarly bush by the barn. The roses are very delicate, even a little malnourished - not your chubby English types at all. And they open from bud to fully formed bloom very very quickly. The weather made me just as jumpy as the dog and so I sort of flitted around my studio throwing paint on various surfaces hoping to make something that resembled the roses I had brought in from the cold. Don't know if I managed or not, but I learned a little something. And I was rewarded for my efforts when, listening to the glorious "Softly awakes my heart" aria from the Saint-Saens opera "Samson and Delilah", I looked out my studio window and saw not only a rabbit in the grass, but also a beautiful deer leaping across the pasture AND a blue heron flying overhead on its way to the pond!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

the girls

Cows are surprisingly curious creatures so when I was out walking with my sketchbook and found these girls in a pasture over near East Meredith, they came right over to the fence where I was standing and actually stood there long enough for me to draw them - sort of. I also took a photo and though we were leaving pretty soon for the city, I spent a couple of hours out in my studio trying to capture something of the cute profiles they offered to me as well as the color of the deep, rich, green foliage which - right now in Delaware County - qualifies as a wonder of the world. Sold

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June Virtual Paintout - New Zealand

When I arrived at my son's college graduation a few weeks ago, I realized that I had forgotten my little point and shoot camera. So in a moment of largesse, brought on not only by the great pride of this second child finishing a degree but also by the happy conclusion of more than 23 years of paying tuition, my husband drove us straight to Best Buy where we purchased a much fancier camera than we either could afford or could figure out how to use! With a quick glance over the start up pages of the handbook, I managed to have it up and running in time for the ceremony and the family gatherings but now that I am back in my studio trying to take accurate photos of my paintings I am totally lost. This is the best image I could manage of this painting which is my submission to the June Virtual Paintout blog. What you see is way more vivid than the Google street view it is based on and only slightly more colorful than the actual painting. Next post, I hope to do better!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

liberty and old glass

8" x 9" oil on stretched linen
click here to purchase


This is prime time for wildflowers in upstate New York. The fields and roadsides are covered with daisies and clover, little pale purple flowers that look like a cross between asters and daisies, tiny blue flowers - it is really quite something to see. I remember the first run I took here 24 years ago this month, I kept myself occupied by counting the different varieties of flowers I saw as I ran along the back river road: I stopped counting somewhere in the fifties and that didn't include flowering shrubs or trees. If you look out into the distance right now, you can see fields of pale yellow - not the brilliant solid patches of lime-yellow like the mustard fields in France, but a richer shade as if the color has been lightly scumbled over the green grasses beneath. Those are masses of buttercups - one of the daintiest little flowers around. When I was a child we used to hold them up under our chins and the bright reflection would prove just how much we loved butter!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

some kind of flower

We don't really have a "garden center" up here in farm country. What we have is a house on the corner of Route 23 and East Meredith Road where, for many years, the family sold garlic. Yes, a garlic stand on the side of the road. A fine, french idea if ever I knew one. There was a greenhouse or so at the back, but their main product was, yes, garlic. Then several years back, they expanded. One greenhouse followed another and now, though they don't sell tools or fertilizer or wood chips or burlap, they do sell annuals and perennials, herb and vegetable plants and, if you get there early enough in the season, seed potatoes. Every year now, they expand ever so slightly and this year's improvement was a big one. It used to be that you would turn into the parking area from Route 23 then, leaving, have to back around and go out the way you came in. This year they bulldozed a driveway from the parking lot out behind their house and onto the East Meredith Road which makes the business of getting in and getting out so much easier! When I went there this past week, I bought a few herb plants and a huge tomato plant (having already ordered my seeds and potatoes from Burpees) and I also splurged on the annual (painted above). I think it is an annual, anyway. When I got home, the labels had fallen off so I don't know the name of the flower, whether it is an annual or perennial, whether it grows in sunlight or in shade or any other important pieces of information. So I planted it next to the herbs in my vegetable garden figuring that everything is happier around basil and rosemary. And because I spent a good part of the last few days digging and planting, I have only had enough time to paint this small canvas depicting my new, unnamed flower. For this week however, I feel that my beautiful potager, which is the french word for vegetable garden, is enough of a work of art.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dandelion shadowplay

I know that we are not supposed to like dandelions because they muck up the grass and spread around the lawn like wildfire. And indeed, they are something of a problem in my vegetable garden once the new, edible leaves are gone and the thick, feisty ones arrive. But I still think they are delightful. They don't last long in the vase, just as they don't last long out of doors, but I was able to paint these two - and the beautiful shadow they made on the wall - before they started to fade. While I painted, I listened to The Hazards of Love, by the Decembrists, having been introduced to it by my son. He and his talented friends made a most thrilling theater piece based on this music which I saw last weekend at Skidmore College. The painting is 8" x 10" on linen-covered foam core.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Virtual Paintout - Cote d"azur

This months Paintout location is the Cote d'Azur which has far too many beautiful street views to choose from. I picked this one which is not exactly a street, but it is a view of a lovely little corner at the entry to a church. It feels deeply Provencal to me, what with the beautiful ceramic pots and the wonderful ochre and sienna colors and the quiet sense of timelessness. The painting is 8" x 9" on stretched linen and if you would like to purchase it, click here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

portrait study, Martin's friend

My friend Martin Wainwright who is a noted author and journalist, not to mention the husband of Penny, my long-ago flat-mate in London, can claim among his millions of interests a passion for the study of moths. He writes a blog on the subject which is by turns esoteric and amusing as well as a totally accurate written form of the way he talks! My father, who was also a journalist, was much the same: he wrote as he spoke, so when I read back over his letters now, it is as if he is still in the room. Martin's writing has that quality too. Recently in his blog he posted a photo of this gentleman Sir Harrison Birtwistle - a composer and, like Martin, a moth enthusiast. Even though the photo is a little blurry for painting purposes, it has a wonderful and very British feeling about it, what with the hyacinths in the vase at the back. So having nothing particular to do today since my model is coming tomorrow, I made this study. I hope, if Sir Harrison Birtwistle ever sees it, he finds that I did justice to his extraordinary face.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

two-hour Kate

Not only does Kate have a full time job, but she is also in a play at the Flea, so modeling for me is way down on her to-do list. But when she has a couple of hours on the weekend, as she did yesterday, she comes over and sits for me. I figure that with only two hours every now and again, I should just go for it and paint as good a picture of her as I can in the time allowed. So this was my first sortie into the territory of alla prima portraiture. I found it a little nerve-wracking, but invigorating - kind of like an athletic event. And in the end the study is both not as good as I hoped it would be (I didn't get back to correct the values on the nose, for instance) and better than I expected because it actually does look like her. So I hope she comes back soon for another try!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

the old Chapman farm, a plein air-ish study

Our road is strictly a farm road. It goes nowhere, really, though I think that the few cars who drive along it on weekends are using it as a short-cut to get from Route 10 over to Route 23 and then on to Oneonta, where there is commerce - the inescapable Hannaford, Home Depot and Walmart - on the outskirts and at the center, a charming main street where several independently owned stores and restaurants struggle mightily to stay afloat in the face of the behemoths at the periphery. But our road is all about the farms - four of them, all dairy. Our farm is not exactly a working farm. We have no cows of our own and the only crops we raise come out of my yearly vegetable patch but the three other farmers from the road make use of our land - take its hay, pasture their heifers, store tractors in our barn and so we feel very much a part of this increasingly rare agricultural community. From my studio I can see the Chapman farm which has been in the same family for at least two generations. It is a little run down now but I have always loved the look of those old barns nestling into the valley as if they grew there as organically as the trees that surround them. The colors of the land right now, just before it turns spring upstate, are beautiful and subtle and a heartier woman than I would have bundled up against the chill and painted this scene outside. But I didn't. I positioned my easel next to the window and while listening to Schubert, painted quite comfortably and with only the faintest twinge of guilt.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

drapery study

vase wrapped in liberty scarf
graphite on paper

Friday, April 1, 2011

Rambouillet, recalled

gifts from le patron
5" x 5" oil on linen board
My husband and I spent two weeks at French language school in Rambouillet last fall. Every day after school, we went to one particular cafe for coffee (for my husband) and hot chocolate (for me). Then we would go home to our studio, complete the day's homework and then go back to the same cafe for a glass of wine before dinner. Little by little, the owner of the cafe came to know us and, treating us like true regulars, stopped taking our order each time and just simply appeared at our table with coffee and chocolate or wine (red for my husband, white for me). The last visit we made to the cafe, we mentioned that we were leaving the next morning and after he brought us our wine, he went back to the counter, and returned to our table with a gift of a deck of cards and a tiny bottle of Ricard pastis for each of us. I put a small liqueur glass with the cards and the Ricard and painted this thinking of that cafe with great fondness and a certain amount of longing. Sold.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

porcelain roses

5" x 5" oil on linen covered panel

Thursday, March 24, 2011

the great Kate

portrait of an actor
oil on linen-covered panel

Friday, March 4, 2011

Virtual Paintout March 2011

The Virtual Paintout location for this month is Cape Town South Africa. There were a lot of rather spectacular seascapes and mountain views, but I was moved by a rather blurry photo of three children sitting on their steps in a shabby neighborhood. In the actual photo you can't make out the features on their faces, but the positions they are in speak of curiosity and enthusiasm as the Google camera car passes by. The details in the photo were indistinct, but the shape, colors and sweetness of the kids intrigued me, so I made a painting that looks somewhat like a poster study. It is 5" x 5" in oil on a linen covered panel.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar Day flower

I hate to admit how excited I always am to watch the Oscars. No matter how lengthy, dull or self-congratulatory the spectacle is, I love it! The dresses, the red carpet, TIM GUNN - what's not to like? What this flower has to do with any of that, I don't know. I found a few dollars in my pocket yesterday as I was walking home from my run in the park, so I bought a stem of these beautiful white flowers which, though they look like roses, are not! Don't know what they are called, but they are really pretty and I had fun painting them while anticipating the evening's big show.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hot peppers in the cold winter

Depending on your point of view, it is either a sad fact or a wonder of globalization that hot peppers are available in an upstate NY supermarket right now, in February! Being a fan of local foods, I usually pass right by the winter assortment of mangoes, bright red tomatoes, nectarines and fresh basil on my way to the leeks and butternut squash and other more seasonally appropriate, if not exactly local, produce. But last night, I couldn't resist these brilliant peppers. Not for eating, but for painting. They really lit up my studio which, right now, is bathed in a cool blue glow from the three feet of snow on the ground outside. So, yes, I chose art over principle. There you have it. This painting is 5" x 7" on a linen covered panel and if you would like to purchase it, click here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Virtual paintout submission

This month's Virtual Paintout location is Boston which I found to be an interesting, if slightly difficult challenge. Although there are all kinds of tempting old townhouses and colonial churches and some interesting juxtapositions of steeples and modern towers, there is not too much drama in the cityscape, so paintings didn't jump out at me from every Google street view as they did last month in Ireland, for example. But I found myself drawn to this modest grey shingled house in the Melrose section of the city - probably because it is from the same era as the house I grew up in outside of Philadelphia. I painted it with a limited palette of ivory black, yellow ochre, french ultramarine, alizarin and titanium white on a 5" x 7" linen covered panel. Sold.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Valentine's Day??

When I was putting the ornaments away after Christmas, I kept this one out thinking that with the hearts, it would make a good subject for a Valentine's Day painting. Now having painted it, I can see that is not the case. For Valentine's Day, you need pink or red or fuschia - candy or doilies, something sweet and tacky. So herewith, a painting of a Christmas ornament - in January! The gorgeous orange cloth it is sitting on came from Fabricana, an Etsy store that sells wonderful fabrics from India. The painting is 5" x 7" in oil on a linen covered panel. Click here to purchase.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I always try to find a blue pitcher whenever I travel. Why blue? Not sure and over the years, I have loosened the requirements so that the pitcher needs only a touch of blue to qualify. My newest pitcher - the one at the back - came from a tiny hole-in-the-wall antique store in the medieval center of the town of Thouars in western France and is interesting because the handle is on the side, close to the spout. The pitcher on the left is made of ironstone. I found it in a big junk store near Cooperstown, NY. And the pitcher on the right at the front is from a favorite little shop on the Rue Jacob in Paris that sells ceramics and linens from Provence. The painting of these three pitchers is oil on stretched linen, 10" x 12". If you are interested in purchasing it, click here.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

County Clare, Ireland

December's Virtual Paintout site was County Clare,
Ireland. Here are two paintings I made from
Google views - the landscapes look very very green, I know,
but if the photos are telling the truth, Ireland is indeed
emerald! Quite beautiful and lots of fun to paint, even
from a photo.