Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Because I have had so many inquiries about small 5" x 7" paintings on panel, there is now an official link on my website so those interested can find all the specifics in one place.

This has been a week of catching up with friends and updating my website. I did find time to work on the baboon and tamarin paintings yesterday and I am quite excited about the direction they are headed. I pick up the work from the Athenaeum on Sunday and it is nice to bring home a lot less than I dropped off. I hope to have a few paintings to add to those for the Caton Merchant show which opens on the 4th of February.

Being an artist who likes to introduce other artists, I leave you with Greg Simkins work today. For me, creativity coupled with technique is the one quality that attracts me to most art. Greg's work is really at the pinnacle of that mountain. Though I don't always connect with his work on an emotional level, I am blown out of the water each time I see one of his new paintings. As someone who works with narrative, I often wish he would share verbal bits of info along with his paintings. Coming from a graffiti background, for descriptive purposes, his work falls under the pop surrealistic category. I am sure your responses will sit along the spectrum, so let me have it.
And, uh, yes that is acrylic paint he uses. Amazing.

c. Greg "Craola" Simkins

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy Christmas......

I am sure many of you got as much snow as we did over the last few days. Being socked in, I have had plenty of time to cook, which is really just a thinking exercise. As Christmas and the close of the year approach, I stand in my studio, thinking about the paintings created over 2009, wondering about how well I executed each, where I can improve and concocting new ideas in my mind. I plan to follow this frame of mind through New Year's Day. I have about five paintings in early stages, but, if you have known me long enough you have figured out I tend to start painting after painting as the ideas are just too big to sit on. They seem to carry with them birth pains and I can so nothing about it. They are coming to be. But I commit to finish those waiting as soon as I am back to the easel the first week of January. A New Years' resolution of sorts (...we know how those tend to work out....)

At the close of 2009, a grateful thanks to each of you for encouraging and challenging words, for supporting me in a myriad of ways in my life as a painter, a life I would not have without your presence.
Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and a blessed New Year to each one of you.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

On the easel...

I have about four of five painting that have been waiting to be addressed. This one is finally coming along and some new ideas are bubbling up....

commissioned painting
5" x 7 " oil on panel

(I have had many orders for these small paintings, so if you'd like to get in line for one, just email me.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Small paintings

The 5" x 7" paintings on panel are in high demand of late and I have been working on those commissioned pieces over the last week. I have sold four that hang in the Athenaeum show and have a few commissions in line. Although I really prefer to work on a larger surface, I can understand the attraction of the little paintings from a subject matter and price perspective. They really work well for small animals and have a very intimate feel. And $250 is a very reasonable price for a framed oil painting.

Hoping to have at least the baboon painting and maybe one new painting completed for the Caton Merchant Gallery show in February. We will have to see with the commissions and holiday travels.....

Friday, December 11, 2009

Women Artist

The interesting current letter from Robert Genn at the Painter's Keys.

"Dear Artist,

Last night I was giving a short talk and signing books at one of our local art clubs. I happened to notice no men were in the hall. The club has many male members, they assured me, but apparently they don't come out on rainy nights. Not to listen to me, anyway. I wasn't crestfallen--I was being sociologically informed. I've always noticed the 80/20 split in these organizations, but I knew the full-female thing was just around the corner. Anyway, it was a combined lecture and holiday-season windup, the shortbread was good, and no one asked me to dance.

If you don't mind, I'm going to lay some statistics on you. Of the 82 new people who signed up for the Twice-Weekly letter yesterday, 56 were women. That's 68%--which pretty well mirrors our current ratio of 67% women subscribers. Maybe this means females might be more willing to listen to males than males are. If true, one wonders what percentage of males is willing to listen to females.

Yesterday, among the people buying my new book on PayPal, 65% were women. Funnily, more men paid by check-in-the-mail than women. One might conclude women are what social scientists are now calling "early adopters."

Fact is, women are more into growth, self-improvement, networking and learning than men. In a recent UNESCO study, more women than men got university degrees in 75 of 98 countries. This goes for most professions with the exception of engineering, computer science and math. Some fields are being overwhelmed with women. The vet school in Guelph, Ontario, for example, reports 80% of current grads are women.

The fact that boys lag behind girls in school is well known and not peculiar to our times. Studies show that as early as grade nine girls crave learning more than boys. Apparently the boys are now lagging later and later. The new statistics might be alarming to some. Roles may be reversing. Are men going to be stay-at-home-daddies while the women go out into the world and slay dragons? Is breeding going to grind to a halt? Are women going to be all the doctors, lawyers and artists? And by the way, do men just not want to listen because they already know it all and need to get on with it?

Best regards,


PS: "It's not ridiculous to say women will have the upper hand in a way they haven't in the past." (Economist Ross Finnie, University of Ottawa)

Esoterica: The "demographic bomb," as it's being called, may have its short term benefits, but the longer picture is not so rosy, particularly for Western cultures. If women are busy building empires, where will the new customers be coming from? One more statistic and I'll shut up and get back to my easel: In my four top galleries it looks like 27% of living artists represented are women. Ten years ago it was 24%."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wright to Read Program Wednesday Night

We had seven Wright to Read kids and tutors (and friends) last night at the gallery to do some creative story writing about my paintings. This whole experience was new to me, but I worked really hard to step out of my comfort zone and in the end it was a really wonderful time. I hope to get copies of the stories they wrote soon so I can post them.

After an introduction, the kids spent time choosing a painting and then writing a story. We then had each one read there interpretation and I would read my narrative.

Children have a wonderful ability to see things as they really are. Some of the stories were very concrete, and some were very detailed with great sensitivity. I find many adults don't notice the slight nuances in my work, but most children do see the less obvious. Hearing the interpretations of kids is such an incredible experience because they SEE and see in a unique way. This way of seeing happens before the creativity is all but wrung out of us all by the time we are 13 or so. In some ways, it is sad to think that most probably they will lose that sense over the next five years. But I am glad to have a hand in encouraging the imaginative mind and with the help of the tutors and Twig, the gallery director, hopefully, there were seeds planted that will blossom into a creative life.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Wright to Read program

Tonight, kids in the literacy program Wright to Read are coming to the Athenaeum gallery to hear me talk a bit about creativity and then choose one of my paintings in the exhibit to write a short story about. This is new territory for me, but I am really excited about interacting with kids and promoting the importance of creativity and imagination. And, of course, I am very interested in hearing the stories they create. I will let you all know how it goes tomorrow along with photos.

While cruising around Etsy yesterday, I stumbled across the most brilliant and beautiful sculptures by artist Robin VanValkenburgh. I cannot find much about her process, but I think she uses antique molds to make the sculptures. I have my eye on this one.

c. Robin VanValkenburgh
"Matilda Marrie"

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Today's Painting

This particular painting has been hanging around unfinished for a long time. It is one of the few paintings that I was wrong on for the original idea. Usually, a painting ends up almost exactly like the original vision. This one had at least four different transitions of idea and many, many countless hours of painting and repainting.

It also has been to source of hours of frustration, despair and doubt since I began so long ago. At least one thing I have learned from it is persistence in the presence of pain.

Having loved this baboon from the moment I saw him and I knew somewhere in that image was a character to be created and a story to unfold. The last few days he has become a beacon of creative energy. I am so grateful for that gift today.

Now....what would he sitting on?..........

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Self Portrait

The portrait. I keep thinking it is done (like the baboon painting....which, I worked on today) but I began to think about what it says about me...being a self portrait. My love for animals and the fact that they are the subjects of my painting coupled with my strong feelings concerning their welfare, I decided on baby mice. They are to me are the most helpless of creatures. Every dream I have has a animal in it and most usually the appearance is that of young or baby animals.

In my own life, I constantly walk a line of joy and pain, as I am sure many of you do. There are moments when we see the triumph of mercy, kindness and goodness, in my fellow humans and then there are great periods of darkness when it seems all the earth is filled up with the pain and misery we inflicted on our fellow creatures human and animal.

The weight of innocence lost or destroyed is a heavy, heavy one.

I painted in the mouse nest and then went back after meditating more and made the hole in the they are in the wall.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Good Times

Did you grow up in the 70's like I did? CHIPS, the Dukes of Hazard, the Love Boat...Good Times?
Remember that J.J, played by Jimmy Walker, was a young aspiring painter? Do you know that the amazing neo-mannerist paintings used on the set and credits were created by Ernie Barnes, the football player turned painter? I didn't realize he passed away this past Spring.
Here is his website and here is a CNN video tribute.

c. Ernie Barnes
"Sugar Shack" (used in the intro of "Good Times")

Monday, November 23, 2009

Veterans as Artists

In the "Combat Paper Project" veterans make their uniforms worn in combat into paper and then into works of art. This cathartic process of papermaking and creating art helps them embrace their combat experiences. This is a very cool project and is a fine example of the healing power of the art process.

The Athenaeum Opening

The opening of the Athenaeum show last night was really great. Plenty of friends and family present along with others. I really enjoyed engaging new friends about art and all manner of topics from Andrew Wyeth to pet pigs. Receiving such wonderful feedback and response is always a humbling experience and I count myself very blessed to be a professional artist with so much support for the work. Thanks everyone. As of today four paintings have been sold.

And special thanks to the lovely and amazing Twig Murray who really is behind all of this and has been such a wonderful encouragement to me.


The Historic Athenaeum

Phil and my husband, Craig.

Eugenia anf Steve Ryner

Mike, my sister, Sarah and Chris

Craig managed a few interior shots before the people arrived.

Friday, November 20, 2009


The Athenaeum opening is this Sunday. It has been an odd week. I have worked some on paintings in progress, and started a new painting, but really mostly have enjoyed relaxing and getting some other things done this week. Family is coming in, some for the opening and some early in the week and then Thanksgiving arrives, so next week might not hold a lot of painting time either.

I will leave you all this Friday with the new project by my favorite photographer, Andrew Zuckerman, called "Bird."

One of my all time favorite images is his photograph of Andrew Wyeth.

c. Andrew Zuckerman

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Artist Statements

I have to thank fellow artist Kathleen Krucoff for the laugh I had this morning by going to the link she posted on Facebook. With the Market-O-Matic 1.0 (fine arts version) one can simply use the drop down boxes, click the "crank out the crap" button and out comes a ridiculously pretentious artist statement. I read one of these this past week by an artist whose work I liked, but the cryptic statement did little to help me engage the art. I came away confused, not compelled to engage the paintings. I wished I had not read it.

Those of you who are artist know the pain of writing an artist statement. Those of you who are not artists know the pain of reading those statements. So, here is mine:

"Work of Sub-Art in the Age of Generative Reproduction

The mind creates, the body profligates. In the synoptic hallucination, art objects are resurrections of the creations of the mind -- a mind that uses the body as an organism to materialize ideas, patterns, and emotions. With the evolution of the electronic environment, the mind is conceiving a point where it will be free from the body to transcend immersions into the parameters of the delphic hallucination. Work of Sub-Art in the Age of Generative Reproduction contains 10 minimal "flash engines" (also refered to as "memes") that enable the user to make victorious visual compositions.

measuring chains, constructing realities
putting into place forms
a matrix of illusion and disillusion
a strange attracting force
so that a seduced reality will be able to spontaneously feed on it

Tracey Clarke's work investigates the nuances of modulations through the use of slow motion and close-ups which emphasize the Generative nature of digital media. Clarke explores abstract and heavy scenery as motifs to describe the idea of imaginary hallucination. Using powerful loops, non-linear narratives, and interactive images as patterns, Clarke creates meditative environments which suggest the expansion of space...


Monday, November 16, 2009

Breathe and relax.......

I feel a pretty big internal sigh of relief after delivering the show for the Athenaeum yesterday. Those of you who have been with me through the journey of the last several months know I was a bit overwhelmed by it all. But, it all got done and with the FCCA show hanging now and getting really positive reviews and the Athenaeum show opening this coming weekend, I know now that I can do it with a lot of dedication and discipline (and support from my husband who was so helpful with the admin.)

I am back on the self portrait I thought was finished. Every dream I have has animals, and I have recurring dreams particularly about baby animals. As someone who feels strongly about the stewardship, compassion and care of animals (and children) whom I consider innocents in the grand scheme of history, this is the path to follow in bringing the portrait about myself to completion. So, on we go.......back to the blessed easel.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Upcoming Gallery Opening

Varnishing paintings is on hold with all the rain we are having. I may be able to do a little painting today just because of this weather.

I reminded of late how much history there is in Northern Virginia area. The historic Silversmith House in Fredericksburg is the location of my current exhibit. The Athenaeum gallery where my next show will be held has quite a history as well.

The photograph of the Athenaeum below was taken by Matthew Brady in 1864 during the Civil War. Located in old town Alexandria, it was a bank building when it opened in 1851. After Alexandria fell to the North during the Civil War, it became a headquarters building of the Union Army. These are Union Army officers standing outside their HQ. Today, it is home to the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association (NVFAA).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday Update

I think I have forgotten how to paint. Five weeks post-last painting, and feeling it. When I took on two shows opening within a month of each other, I knew it would be a challenge getting enough good work, but now the ongoing framing (with two damaged frame shipments), varnishing and writing narratives have worn me out. It has been a learning experience as one show I (and the other artist, Anne) were exclusively responsible for press, hanging, the reception and cleaning of the gallery. I did enjoy getting the reception together and will do that again with the first opening of 2010 in February. But I have to say I officially hate varnishing. I wonder how many brain cells I have murdered by breathing that stuff over the last month?

I spoke with journalist Craig Schulin from the Freelance Star newspaper today about the FCCA show. I will post the story he is writing on the exhibit as soon as I get it from him.I really enjoyed speaking with him and hearing his comments and thoughts on my work.

I deliver the Athenaeum show this Sunday. The inventory will be nine large paintings and ten
5" x 7" panels. Until then, I will keep tying things up, making sure each painting, each word is right, and photographing (which I loathe.) And...(sigh of relief) I will officially be back at the easel on Monday. We will see if I can paint a stick animal or remember color mixing at all........

I leave you with the Latte artist.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

FCCA Opening

We had a great attendance at the gallery last night with people moving through all evening. I am a blessed person to have so many "regulars" who come to every opening to support me. I was thrilled to have friends Steve and Eugenia there, as well. These are two people who have been overwhelmingly supportive of my work in many ways. And of course it is wonderful to connect with new people.

This morning I debriefed the event with my friend Pam who will often walk around listening to comments and talking to people. The painting that by far received the most varied response was the "Shepherdess of the Sea." This painting is the most surrealistic and generally cryptic of all of my paintings thus far. It is interesting to find that from the beginning, it evoked strong response. Many people really loved the idea and encouraged me to pursue it, but some felt otherwise. It seemed that as long as I was painting the lovely fawn, all was well, but as soon as the idea evolved in a directly surrealistic direction, I received some opposition. Originally, the initial drawing utilized some of the ideas of "The Flowering Bull" such as using botanical elements for the legs with the thought that she may be his predecessor. But as I went along in the process I realized she had something to do with the ocean, and followed that leading.

Among the common comments were that some did not feel comfortable with the pairing of land and sea life, and others didn't "get it." Working in this genre requires a non-left brained way of seeing. Many people have a hard time connecting with surrealism most likely because the viewer often has to work harder to "get it" in this genre than any other, maybe with the exception of minimalism. It can appear "nonsensical", odd and often times there may be nothing to "get." In most of us the rational brain, the labeling and compartmentalizing brain is the first to respond. I find even in myself this kind of unconscious habit of trying to explain and make sense of art when I look at it. In my painting, this kind of immediate reaction hinders my creativity, so I work at trying to let the work speak to me.

As the artist, this spectrum of reaction is a fantastic thing and in no way a negative. The more I think about the Shepherdesses' evolution and the volume of reaction, the better I feel about the painting. When everyone likes a painting, you have to wonder how challenging it really is and on the other hand, if people are really being honest. The very worst that can happen is no response. A huge part of why I paint is to evoke a feeling and I feel every individual reaction is valid. So thank you to everyone from sketch to opening night who voiced their thoughts on this painting openly and honestly. You bless, encourage and challenge me when you do...

One woman approached me to say she thought my work is scary and indeed, there are dark undertones and notes to be sure (forbid it that I would ever paint a work that is simply "pleasing" or "enjoyable." It wouldn't be authentic for me to do that). So, another wonderful reaction from someone who took the time to "look", let the work speak and so feel what comes to the surface.

I hope that my work is uniquely creative with a strange beauty that others remember and that in some way it will speak to each individual in a personal manner.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Art Hoarders or Collectors?

Filmmaker Megumi Sasaki has made a documentary about Herb and Dorothy Vogel, art collectors who have amassed over 2,ooo works of art in their lifetime on postal clerk's salary. The focus of the majority of their purchases have been of minimalist or conceptual works. This looks really interesting and I am glad for collectors....but....I'd call it hoarding. Some folks hoard food, some cats, some clothes. The Vogels obviously hoard art. What is the point of buying art that is put away in stacks of boxes or shoved under beds?

See the trailer here.

Monday, November 02, 2009

FCCA hanging at the Historic Silversmith house

Sunday was a rainy day to transport paintings, but we did it and the FCCA show is hung and looks fantastic. Anne has one side of the space and I have the other. Our work is drastically different from one another, but I think it works great. Something for everyone, I hope.

The Member's Gallery in in the basement of the house. You can see the old beams in the ceiling supporting the main level floor. Because the basement walls are stone, our hanging system consists of a wooden strip all the way around the top of the walls and using fishing line to suspend the works.

Because this is an artist run organization, Anne and I will also be responsible for the food and drink. This is something I really enjoy, so I am looking forward to a trip to Trader Joe's for great unique food and good, inexpensive wine. The upstairs gallery is also opening a juried show and it is First Friday, which means the area galleries are also opening shows, so we should have a lot of traffic.

The gallery is housed in the Silversmith house in densely historic Fredericksburg. Built in 1785, the house sits right on the Rappahannock River in old town. In 1961, in danger of being torn down, it was bought be the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation and eventually became the property of the Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts.

Thanks to everyone for sending well wishes for the show.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Humane Society Blog Post

Not much that needs to be said....
As a person who loves animals and as the they are the focus of my work, I cannot turn a blind eye to these issues. I share so we can all be informed.
May we not ever tolerate the cruelty, abuse and neglect of any living being.

Humane Society Blog
: October 30th

I am off shortly to hang the FCCA show.......

Friday, October 30, 2009

Countdown to FCCA and NVFAA

I am just beginning to feel the pressure of not painting for the last three weeks. There is an out of sorts feeling that also can be attributed to traveling, I suppose. It almost feels like I am neglecting myself in some way by not painting.

Going over the paintings for the two upcoming shows has been a little painful. I guess as we progress as artists, though a painting may be quite strong, we still see room for improvement, and a desire to go further along in our craft. I am all for a "natural" way of painting, i.e. going with natural bent in style and method, but sometimes there are weaknesses that need tweaking. I think these are helped along by observing other works, like in my case, a trip to the
High Museum while in Atlanta. We are helped to see different approaches to our medium, new ways of proposing our ideas when we "fill the well" with the work of other artists and, if you are so blessed, to receive the feedback of fellow artists.

So, the framing is done for FCCA. The easel is calling, but I still have a few ends to tie up for the show which we hang on Sunday and then it is on to framing and varnishing for NVFAA which will be hung on November 17th (more about that later)......then comes the Caton Merchant Gallery in February!

I will leave you with one of the paintings I always make a point to see at the High.

Joseph DeCamp
"The Blue Mandarin Coat"
oil on canvas, 1922

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Michael Sowa

A few weeks ago I was visiting family in Norfolk and while at a party at my Uncle and Aunt's home, my sister pointed out a unique print on the foyer wall. It was this fantastic Michael Sowa print called "Kohler's Pig."

My Uncle went on to tell me how connected he felt to the painting and even showed me a photographic print of a landscape he bought because in his words "it made me want to go be there." It was nice to here one of my relatives speak of connecting to artwork and not merely buying pieces that match the couch.

I did some research on Sowa when I returned home and really fell in love with his work.

Monday, October 26, 2009


While we were in Atlanta last week, we went to see the Leonardo da Vinci: Hand of the Genius exhibit at the High Museum. The exhibit focuses on the artist as student, sculptor and mentor. Most of the pieces are sketches and studies, most of which I have seen in books. I was really struck by the delicate nature of Leonardo's marks. These are among the most beautiful sketches I have ever seen.
In the High courtyard is a re-creation of the 26 foot high Sforza horse made from sketches for the statue honoring the Duke of Milan. Though he worked on sketches and plans for over 17 years, the statue was never realized in Leonardo's day beyond a 26 foot clay model. The model was destroyed by french soldiers who used it for target practice.

I moved to Altanta in 1987 to go to the Atlanta College of Art, which is now part of Savannah College of Art and Design. I am amazed at how much that area between 15th and 17th on Peachtree has changed. Where the ACA dorm was, there is now a parking garage and another wing of the High. So, it is a bittersweet to walk around that block. The High is a division of the Woodruff Arts Center along with the Alliance Theater and the ASO which all reside on the same block.

The building at One Atlantic Center was just being completed when I moved to Atlanta in 1987. A reproduction on Rodin's "The Shade" is in the foreground and was inside the Woodruff Arts Center (which is housed ACA) back when I attended.

Shot of the city from the walkway between two wings of the High.

Monday, October 19, 2009


We are off to Atlanta this week. Since we returned from Virginia Beach, all my time has been spent assessing paintings, and getting all the promo created and printed. I also have a new laptop to set up and switch files over, so there hasn't been any painting going on of late. It makes me feel a bit out of sorts........

I will leave you with a cool story about a previously anonymous drawing now confirmed as a da Vinci. Great for us, fantastic for the current owner.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Countdown to opening day.

I am always amazed when a painting moves so quickly along, without a hitch. It does not happen often for me, so I am basking in the wonder that is the "Shepherdess." She seemed to come along like magic. Meant to be.

Craig and I went to visit family over the long weekend and by Sunday, I was beginning to mull over the FCCA and NVFAA shows which both open in a few weeks. I have hardware to hunt down, varnishing to do, more promotion as well as working on the reception food and drinks. Some of the paintings are so new that they will get no more than a coat of retouching varnish.
So, all that to say I am pretty much wrapped up with painting and won't be back at it in a focused manner for awhile.

On a very cool note, the Van Gogh museum is displaying Vincent's letters alongside paintings he is speaking about in those letters.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Today's Painting

"Shepherdess of the Open Sea, Source of all Fish Life"
36" x 24", oil on canvas