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My First Art Acquisition

What art does an artist want on the walls their own home? 
That is a something I have thought about over the years. The question is even more important to me now, because I have minimal wall space in my home and I have to choose very carefully. My own art is already hanging in a few spots, but I also want to surround myself with works of art that inspire and move me in some way. To own a work of art by someone I know and respect adds an extra dimension of pleasure to my experience.
So, I am happy to start my art collection with an original pastel painting by my teacher, Jeanne Rosier Smith. I heard of Jeanne a few years ago, when my first pastel teacher described her technique and beautiful paintings of waves. Eventually, I made my way into her classes (which wasn't easy!) and when I viewed her seascapes up close I was stunned. I didn't know it was possible for pastels to capture the translucent quality of waves with such painterly strokes. 
When viewi…
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Painting a Memory


















In 2013 I was fortunate to travel to India for a wedding and spend ten days exploring this remarkable country. The trip was memorable on many levels, especially sharing in the joyous wedding of people we love and seeing the country through their eyes.

From an artist's perspective, India is undoubtedly one of the most visually compelling places you could ever hope to see. Once you are able to turn down the volume, aromas and chaos you can focus on the ultra-vibrant colors that populate this region.

In the photograph (on the right) we had stopped for lunch during our camel ride adventure at a location in Rohet. While we enjoyed icy cold drinks and catered lunch I was fascinated by the women working busily at the water's edge. At first I felt guilty under the luxurious shade of the tent, but as I watched the women I could see the playful interactions between them and the laughter from them was refreshing.

Even on this steaming hot day, they were layered in gor…

The Flow of Still Life

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Flow is defined as a state of complete absorption in an activity which leads to energized focus and increased enjoyment of the process. 

While carefully crafting the subtle intricacies of the pears' shape, and texture I lost all awareness of time and self. Whatever part of my brain that generally nags me with worry, self-doubt and the sense of a never-ending rush softly departed from my psyche and left me open to the joy of pure focus.

From time to time, as I stepped back to view my art in progress, I would feel the familiar voice begin to criticize my work. But as soon as I put pastel to paper I became entranced again. At the end of my two hours working on this piece I gently returned my consciousness to the room and felt almost giddy from the invaluable respite from my overactive mind.

Yoga and the Art of Looking at Nothing

Yoga and I have never mixed. I like fast, adrenaline-inducing exercise like skating, biking, sailing and anything combining speed with a dash of danger. Frothy waves rushing by me and gravel blurring beneath my feet demand my attention and have been my favored activities since I was a teen.

But yoga keeps coming back for me. I have tried probably twenty times over the past forty years and every time the same thing. Not strenuous enough, too slow, boring, tedious. And you want me to close my eyes and quiet my mind? Insane.

Last year while nursing my injury of the month I decided to venture forth into the land of Namaste once more. It was a gentle yoga class taught by a calm, patient woman name Michelle. The first twenty minutes of the first class I plotted my escape. When everyone is facing due east in their warrior 1 pose, I will sprint west and out the door to freedom.

Then, at minute fifteen something started to shift in me. I watched Michelle, eyes closed, as she spoke of self-acce…

Creating My Perfect Caribbean

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If I can't be in Jamaica, I may as well paint it in pastels. I am taking a big risk here showing you my painting as it begins (see original photo at the left corner in each image). As one of my teachers loved to tell us, most pastels don't look remotely attractive until the last ten minutes. So I apologize for the progress images, but I think it is worthwhile to study what colors need to build up to create the rewarding final ten minutes.





A key component of this process is the color wheel. In the early stages of the painting I am laying down approximate tones that are the complementary colors to the final ones I want to achieve. I am a little loose with my choices because I am not looking to create a replica of the scene... but instead, an interpretation. The under painting (which is seared into the sanded paper with alcohol and brush) is what creates the beautifully rich, layered tones that made me fall in love with pastels. Unexpected rusts peek out from underneath the ocea…

Inside Out

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The arctic winds are blowing (again) and another foot of snow is falling into place (again). Since I can't be outside in my natural habitat I am supremely grateful for my windows. All 28 of them. My house is tiny, but I can see the elusive outdoors from almost anywhere I sit. As claustrophobia and cabin fever edge toward me I snuggle up to the glass, and peer out into the vast white wasteland. Even though visibility is limited I still feel a sense of relief touching the cool glass and hearing the wind whistle by.

Windows have always been my virtual escape. As children we traveled in station wagons, untethered and in motion like Mexican jumping beans. When bored, annoyed or just desperate to escape the chaos... I would lay flat in the back of the car and watch the world pass by upside down. Trees, stars, power lines all stringing themselves out behind me and providing that sweet remove. Even now I much prefer to be passenger rather than driver as I never tire of the show just outs…

Fear of Drawing

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I sketched today at the Isabella Stewart Gardener museum and found myself battling the demon of perfection as usual. The assumption always seems to be that I will fail or create a visual that is supremely subpar. Do all artists face a blank canvas with trepidation? Or do they reach a point of unchallenged confidence and start every sketch, painting, sculpture with a pure, anticipatory sense of excitement?




For me it seems more like dread I experience as I lay down that first tentative mark on the hopeful empty sheet. With over 20 reasonably good pastel paintings under my belt it is still impossible for me to believe that I am capable of creating a successful painting again. When does that doubt subside? At 100 paintings? 1000?

I choose to wage war against my self-doubt and armed with my shiny, new sketchbook I will go forth to do battle at the MFA, at home, in class... wherever I can. And each time I find something pleasing, but imperfect in my sketch or pastel painting I may be slowl…