Friday, December 21, 2007

is the theme of the week at Illustration Friday. I thought this little painting might fit the bill. Painted on the beach on Chincoteague Island a summer or two ago.

The Red Umbrella, oil on canvas laid to board, 4 x 6 inches

Friday, December 7, 2007

is the theme this week at Illustration Friday. Not a hard topic for me, since my mind tends to run on small matters, not least when I am in the studio. Night, sleep, death and the stars are all very good as topics for brain activity when you are a childless, unmarried, middle-aged, male poet but not such all-consuming topics when you are a married, middle-aged, female, painter with three children. Vive la différence, of course!

Speaking of little things I am currently in two different small works exhibits. They seem very popular these days, lots of galleries do them in December. Perhaps as a last gasp attempt to get a little of people's holiday spending money before the old year passes on? Anyway, this little piece is up at Artists' House Gallery and the opening reception I will be at (there are two) is this Sunday. I prefer this opening which features a classical guitarist, tea, coffee and cookies, as opposed to the Friday might opening which is wine and cheese and hordes of heavy-booted art students. Not that there is anything wrong with heavy-booted art students, I was one myself! Still have the boots as a matter of fact, they are very useful. Anyway, if you are in Philadelphia (PA, USA) on Sunday then do please stop by the gallery and introduce yourself!

December 5 to December 23, 2007
Reception: Sunday, December 9, 1-4pm
Sunday Snow Date: December 16

Artists' House Gallery
57 North Second Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 923-8440
Hours: Wed - Sun 12-5 PM
or by appointment

Powdered Sugar Doughnut, oil on gessoed paper laid to wood, 4 x 6 inches

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

is this week's theme at Illustration Friday. I guess the week is almost over actually. But I prefer to take a wider view of these things: it's Illustration Friday ALL WEEK in my opinion!

I was interested to see so many varying interpretations of the theme...musical scales, fish scales, weighing scales, proportional scale and what have you. I'm going for small scale here. This is one of the smallest paintings I have ever done, yet the objects are slightly larger than life-size! It's all relative.

Small Candy, 3 1/2 x 5 inches, oil on canvas laid to board

Monday, November 12, 2007

for which I shot the cover photograph, is just coming out. I think you can pre-order the book from the Publisher, should you happen to be a teacher who has an inclusion classroom with kids with autism! The publishers wanted the cover photo to be authentic, and it really is. The little boy in the photo really does have autism, and really was in a regular classroom with some extra supports (you can see his wonderful aide behind him.) The teachers, students and administrators at the school, Philladelphia's Penn Alexander, could not have been nicer or more helpful to me. The whole job was a pleasure, from beginning to end.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

are this week's theme at Illustration Friday. Very seasonally appropriate I thought. I have already started looking out the family's winter hats as our house is wonderfully cool in the summer but also in the winter, alas! Wearing a hat makes a big difference.

In fact, when winter really hits, a hat is a necessity, especially in my studio. North-facing and with a very feeble radiator, there are times when you can practically see your breath in there. No need to wrap up my palette at the end of the day...the paint stays nicely refrigerated and fresh for days on end. Me too I guess, so I wear a hat, a neck-warmer and a paint splattered down vest to work.

Self Portrait in a Cold Studio, oil on canvas, 16 x 12 inches

Friday, October 5, 2007

is the topic of today's Illustration Friday! I was very happy to see this theme, as I have quite a little thing about open boxes as characters in my still-life paintings. There is something so generous-looking about an open box, as well as it being (to me) of "architectural" interest!

Ducky Buns Oil on canvas 16 x 20 inches

Friday, September 7, 2007

is the theme this week at Illustration Friday. I've noticed lots of the regular participants apologize if they put anything old up in response to a theme. I've never understood that, and I am not going to apologize for this being done several years ago. It's a rarity for me, an action image, as I seem to specialize in stillness.

This is one of my young sons (even younger when I did this) galloping down a hill in a local park. This park is situated right up next to a high school, and to me there was something very poignant about the wild, golden freedom of the young child, contrasting with the strictures of society's expectations and duty (as evidenced by the school building off to the left) looming in the future.

It also seems very appropriate to this Back-to-School week!

Springtime, oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches

Saturday, July 21, 2007

is this week's theme at Illustration Friday. By odd coincidence I have been working on writing poems for some of my paintings. Here's one with the most seasonal subject matter. You can click on the painting to enlarge it. My son H is the model, enjoying a moment at one of his favorite places in the world: the lake near my parent's house. I used to love it it's a joy to watch the boys basking in the same feelings the lake always awoke in me. Time stands still for a heartbeat.

Edge of the Lake, 30 x 40 inches, oil on canvas

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I did it myself and apparently I did a pretty good job too. I hung it on the fridge and there was a clamor later that day when the men in the family saw it, grasped instantly what (or who) it was and came rushing over to me "How'd you do that?!" "Me too, me too!!" Ironic that in a houshold of Simpsons fans I was the first to find this site, because I can't actually stomach the Simpsons. I admit its theoretical brilliance but in actuality it's too crude for me. The drool, butt cracks, drunk jokes and the like just gross me out. I have a fondness for Lisa, of course.

I picked a pink frosted doughnut for my Simpsons shirt. I thought it was appropriate as some art reviewer once called me "the foremost doughnut painter of Philadelphia." It may sound banal (and perhaps it was meant as a back-handed compliment) but I was thrilled. How often does one get called the foremost of anything, anywhere? And I certainly do love to paint doughnuts! I guess there's a streak of Homer in me after all.

Anyway, I've seen so many of these Simpsons avatars on illustrator's sites that I can't remember whose I saw it on first. If you want to make your own, go to the Simpsons Movie site and click on the Make Avatar button. It's fun! If you try it drop a link in the comments here to your Simpsonized self (or entire family like my friend Ned ). I'd love to see what you come up with!

Friday, July 13, 2007

is the topic for the week over at Illustration Friday. This painting leapt to mind. It is fascinating to watch children discovering the world, all its riches and surprises. A table laden with still-life objects can be an enchanted island brimming with allegory and possibilities to a four-year-old. I still feel that way myself.

Hugh at the Table oil on canvas 28 x 44 inches

Monday, July 9, 2007

is this week's theme at Illustration Friday. One of the definitions of geek is "A person who is interested in technology, especially computing and new media." -Wikipedia. I decided I did not want to do the stereotype of thick glasses, buck teeth and mismatched plaid: it's a dead horse. Very few people still sport that Poindexter look from the 1950's, and I am amazed how pervasively it has lingered in our collective cultural memory. Most of the geeky guys I personally know wear tee shirts, jeans and sneakers. They often have beards, and sometimes glasses but not always. They just look regular which is not very visually exciting. Instead, I found this drawing I did of kids having fun on the computer, and colored it up in Photoshop. Geeklings!

Personally I am not a technology geek. I take no particular interest in the technological aspects of the tools I use, my computer, camera etc. I value them but just as a means to an end. In fact, I only learned how to turn off my cell phone last week at a bar-mitzvah when they made a general request for this courtesy and I had to ask the man sitting next to me for help. He shot me a look that read Are you kidding me?" then quickly realized I wasn't and showed me how. Duh, right? (In my defense, it is a new phone!)

Confession: it all seems like magic to me and I am content to let it be so!

Pen and ink on paper, scanned and colored in Photoshop

Monday, July 2, 2007

is the theme for this week's Illustration Friday. You can see, I think, how influenced I was by the work of Lucien Freud at the time that I painted this. Although I was not aiming to be a Lucia Freud or anything...but I was poring over books of his work and obviously it made an impression.

It is unfinished. My model, Oliver, a free spirit, took off for California (land of the free spirits) after we had only a couple of sessions. I hadn't gotten around to taking good reference photos and so that was pretty much that. There was always something about it that kept me from painting over it, despite its rough state, although I never exhibited it. Till now!

On the Floor, oil on canvas, 44 x 60 inches

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

is the theme of this week's Illustration Friday (I'm very very late getting to it.) This painting is only tangentially related to the concept of rejection. It's mostly about newness: it is a marvel to see young children and babies experiencing the world for the first time. It is not all wonder and delight, but it is all interesting.

This is my friend Kelly and her young son H. They were visiting me and had stopped at a farm stand and brought peaches as a gift. We cut some up, they were lusciously ripe, and Kelly gave a piece to H...his very first experience with a peach. There was something so beautiful to me in the way she was watching him quietly, to see if he'd like it. And also in the way H took this dripping, tender and velvety morsel, then ruminated over it, tasting it carefully. We waited. He rejected it. Then Kelly took another piece and carefully peeled off the fuzzy, powdery skin. This time: acceptance!

Strange Fruit, oil on canvas, 30 x 44 inches

Saturday, June 9, 2007

is the theme of this week's Illustration Friday. I was initally stumped. I don't have a lot to do with suits as a general rule, business suits that is. Then my mind relaxed and my thoughts widened and I realized Oh yeah: suits of armor, lawsuits, suits of cards and... bathing suits! And I had done this piece just days before. How I enjoyed painting the red stripes on the little guy's bathing suit!

Some back story: I'm in a group of local artists that meets once a month for mutual encouragement and critique. The last meeting was a few days ago, and I decided to bring in a print-out of this piece and a couple of others like it. As soon as I stood up and cheerfully announced "I'm doing some illustration now!" I realized I'd made a big mistake. The pieces circulated to awkward silence. Finally someone cleared their throat and asked "Why are you doing this?" People then started chiming in with suggestions for alternate ways for me to make money: teaching, web design etc. ANYTHING, it seemed, except illustration! I was taken aback, didn't say much, and resumed my seat quickly.

Later I spoke with a friend who is in the group. "Is the work really THAT bad?" My friend said "No no! You've got it all wrong. It wasn't the quality of the work the others were objecting to: it was the fact that you used the dread word Illustration!" Her insight shocked me, but mulling it over, I suspect she is right. I myself don't think that way: fine art v. commercial art. It is ALL just art to me! So it never occurred to me that other artists would have any issue with it either. But these, apparently, did.

Before the art group debacle, I'd queried a little children's magazine and yesterday I got back an e-mail from the art director telling me they love my work and are going to find an article for me to illustrate in an upcoming issue! It is not a sure thing, or even that big of a thing, but I'm thrilled. The praise felt like balm to my wounded confidence! Has anyone else ever run into similar peer issues working in both "fine" and "commercial" art? It just seems so silly to me...!

Little Lake, micron ink pen, watercolor, Photoshop "neatening".

Saturday, June 2, 2007

is the theme this week at Illustration Friday. Last week it took me so long to get it together that I missed joining in the fun, and I can see there is a danger for me with this theme as well. But for different reasons! Last week I didn't instantly get in the Cars groove because I have about zero interest in anything automotive. (I did eventually complete the assignment though!) This week I have almost too many thoughts and ideas on the subject.

I can see myself over-thinking this all the way till next I am just going to enter a painting I did a few years ago called In the Chestnut Grove. I started the painting while on an artist's residency. I got to stay in a small secluded house/studio on the grounds of a wealthy estate, and do whatever I wanted. Which of course, for me was read, draw and paint 24/7. I also cooked myself lovely little meals and took leisurely swims in the estate swimming pool. It was literally heaven on earth. My family and a few friends came out from time to time to pose for me and partake of my temporary good fortune. This is my friend Katie and her little daughter H who were amazingly obliging about posing. I did another painting of Katie that I think was more successful than this one...but it's darker. I think this attempt, despite its flaws, caught a tiny glimpse of a mother's paradise: a golden afternoon in a beautiful grove of trees with one's beloved child...

In the Chestnut Grove, oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches, 2005

Friday, June 1, 2007

Last week's Illustration Friday theme was Car. I groaned when I saw that, and since I was busy with the big holiday weekend, I made no attempt to try it. I am notoriously uninterested in automotive subjects. My sons love to tease me by asking me the make and model of various cars we've just seen. They want to hear me say "Um, I think it was a blue one. Right?"

But then just a few days ago I looked out my window and there was my little two-year-old neighbor going for a drive down the sidewalk in his shiny new pedal car. I raced outside with camera in hand. "Hey, honey, what kind of car is that?" I asked, snapping away. Little guy replied "Mine!"

Micron pen on paper, with watercolor, and photoshop "neatening"

Saturday, May 19, 2007

is the the theme of Illustration Friday this week. For whatever reason, upon seeing the theme, protest signs flew into my head and had to be exorcised by being drawn out. I am still digitally semi-illiterate: this is pen on paper, colored with Prismacolor pencil, and then scanned in and cleaned up a bit in Photoshop. My color penciling scans terribly: it looks like moth-eaten tweed! I'm getting better at fixing it in Photoshop, but any ideas on how to correct this in the scanning stage are very welcome.

Micron pen on paper, Prismacolor pencil, Photoshop "neatening"

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I love my tiny little sketch book and never leave home without it. I have a bigger one, for if I am going someplace where I know sketching and note-taking will be possible, but I also keep a tiny one in my purse for drawing emergencies! Such as this. Friends Molly (a painter) and Sigmund (a doctor) invited us to dinner last Saturday and afterwards Sigmund treated us to some pretty fantastic piano playing. Knowing what was on the agenda for the evening my husband Paul brought his flute, and it was great to hear the guys jam together for a while. Sigmund is a neurologist, but could probably have become a professional pianist if he'd wanted. Musical talent runs in his family: one of his nephews is the Rap Champion of Norway!

This was just a minute of quick scrawling with a ball point pen...I knew I'd be interrupted and I was. One of the kids needed something, then Molly wanted my opinion on one of her newest paintings, and then it was time to head home. But I was glad I got this done: I love my sketchbook, even if it is not full of carefully rendered scenes, but mostly is a bunch of croquis, doodles and lightning sketches. (Plus phone numbers and names of books and movies people recommend!) It's my funbook, and we can all use a little fun!

Friday, May 11, 2007

is this week's theme at Illustration Friday. Making me realize that although I am a still-life painter, I very rarely paint citrus. I find limes and citrons useful little notes of color, added to a larger painting, but rarely are they the focus. Here is the one piece I could dig up that fits the bill, a painting of grapefruit. They were waxed to a high gloss, and I was fascinated by both their shiny surface and the feeling of weight: heavy and juicy. I was looking at a book about William Bailey when I painted this and you can see I am indebted to him for the color scheme.

My ten-year-old son H just walked by and said "Why are you posting that to your Illustration blog? That's a painting not an illustration!" Yikes, this topic is too big for me to even know how to begin to reply to it. My brain frantically fumbled around for a moment and then I said "Well, people think some illustrations are art, and paintings are certainly art, so maybe paintings and illustrations are sort of the same, too. Sometimes. " He looked a little confused by that (so was I, truth be told.) Then he shrugged and said "OK, Mom, whatever!" Whew, saved by quick thinking up of baffling art theory! I'll be writing for ArtForum any day now.

Plate of Grapefruit oil on canvas 16 x 20 inches 2003

Monday, May 7, 2007

is the current Illustration Friday theme. This is a painting I did last year, a small quick oil sketch of a neighbor who dropped by with a huge bunch of white lilac from her garden. I had my camera close to hand and snapped a quick shot. The painting was in an exhibit and I invited the neighbor. She had not seen the painting completed, and when she came to the show, I think she was surprised and even somewhat horrified, a reaction I simply had not anticipated. I felt pretty bad, she is a very nice lady and a great neighbor. But she has never again stopped by with flowers from her garden...alas!

Neighbor with Flowers oil on canvas board 8 x 10 inches

Saturday, April 28, 2007

is this week's Illustration Friday theme. I recently finished this little scene of a grandmother reading aloud to her granddaughter. The grandmother is reading from an old baby book, or dance card, or perhaps it is a menu, autographed by friends at a festive dinner long ago? Her grandaughter listens with rapt attention...seeing it all in her imagination. I think most people can remember some scenes like this one from their own childhoods.

By the way, many thanks to everyone who wrote me so encouragingly about my last post! All the advice, encouragement and tips are invaluable...I am really grateful. I have not progressed technologically very much since last week...but a little. I scanned this in, a traditional ink drawing colored with prismacolor pencil, and then cleaned up the color using Photoshop. So, same as last week, but I'm a little more comfortable with the brushes and things now. Some small progress!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

for Illustration Friday's theme of polar. I've always liked the look of the polar fox, sometimes known as the arctic fox. If anyone knows the work of illustrator Roger Vernam, you can see a shadow of his influence here, I think. But as far as technique goes, it is back to kindergarten for me! I did a drawing (the usual paper with pencil and ink) and scanned it (first time ever!) and then re-worked it in Photoshop (also first time ever!) I am stumbling along trying to figure things out as I go.

Some (gentle) advice would be very welcome. Obviously I need to find time to take the tutorial, but also, do you recommend using Photoshop or Illustrator or something else?

Friday, April 13, 2007

is this week's Illustration Friday theme. Made me realize that I have quite a little thing about fortune cookies... I have several paintings that feature them. Funny when you discover themes in your work you had not consciously chosen. Sometimes I think the things we do and choose unconsciously speak of our truest nature...there is no "show" or public presentation in them!

What does it all mean? I have no idea. But a fortunate Friday the Thirteenth to you!

Chime Bird with Orange Soda and Fortune Cookies oil on canvas 16 x 20 inches

Saturday, April 7, 2007

is this week's Illustration Friday challenge. This gave me a moment's pause, as actually the problem is that I have SO MUCH to choose from. I've been told that I use green too often and that it is not a particularly popular or appealing color to the general public. Alas! Because I love it, almost every shade and variation of it appeals to my eye, and yes, I admit it creeps in everywhere...even when I am making an effort not to use it as much.

Oh well, to thine own self be true (since you don't really have any choice in the matter!)

White Hydrangeas and Assorted Treats oil on canvas 20 x 24 inches

Sunday, April 1, 2007

is the theme of this week's Illustration Friday. My first thought was of playing the card game Snap...which we love to do in this family (preferably after dinner so the table is cleaned off otherwise it can be quite a mess!) But illustrating that epic scenario just seemed overwhelming. Then I got this idea "Oh yeah! Snap, like fingers!" Pretty obvious, I guess, but it took me a few days to make that mental leap- oh well! I'm trying out a new pen, an indian ink fibre brush and having fun with the line variation.

Faber-Castell Pitt fibre brush pen and color pencil

Fruit and Water oil on canvas 8 x 10 inches

Happy National Poetry Month! Well, the artist's reception in Chelsea for this show was yesterday. Lots of fun: wine, chocolate, poets, friends. I was thrilled that an art hero of mine, Jules Feiffer, came to see the show! (I was too shy to ask him to pose for a photo, more's the pity.)

The show was written up in The Village Voice as "A group show illuminating the relationship between text and image." Sounds very cool, doesn't it? Maybe not everybody likes the idea of pairing art with writing...fearing the dread "illustration" but I am completely fine with it. I love illustration, I love art, I love poetry, and I feel the boundaries between all forms of creativity are actually very blurred. The artists in the exhibition were directed to pair our paintings with poems, and so I asked a poet friend, Cathy Cohen, if she had a poem in her files that had any relation to this image. She didn't, but then she went ahead and wrote one! I was blown away. Here it is:

Still Moment

We balance near the edge
like crystal,
ready to embrace.

If we stare long enough
we enter fragrance,
vibrating color.

But a still moment will burst
and skim its soul
from thing to thing,
from vessel to vessel.

~Cathleen Cohen

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Illustration Friday's theme is "I Spy" and I thought this girl and her parakeet, part of a project I am working on, might fit the bill. Now that the image is posted I can see that I am going to have to get a scanner, mostly to keep the tones even on the paper. Any recommendations?

Ink pen and colored pencil.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Delicious inside and out. This is a small 4 x 6 inch painting I just donated to our local Manna auction.

Boston Kreme, oil on canvas, on wood, 4 x 6 inches, 2006

Friday, March 9, 2007

Just want to see what it all looks like! This painting will be in an exhibit at Sherry French Gallery in NYC, next month.
After The Meal oil on canvas 11 x 14 inches 2007