Monday, September 27, 2010

Rusty Refrigerator

Rusty Refrigerator
Oil on canvas, 30x40

It was a gray, drizzly day, and Heather and I were on West Mabou Road on Cape Breton Island, waiting for the fog to lift.

We'd backed the van into a driveway, and were sitting there looking over the gorgeous landscape when the guy who owned the gorgeous landscape came into view.

Clearly, he was curious about who we were and what we were doing. Clearly, he didn't want us to think that he wanted to know who we were and what we were doing. I was tired, and just didn't want to deal with the guy, but Heather, abrim with optimism and cheery friendliness, got out of the car and approached him.

They talked and talked and talked and talked. I think I fell asleep for a while, and woke up, and they were still talking. Finally, he headed toward his house, and Heather came back to the car.

We had an invitation, she said, to visit him - in five minutes (why? To give him time to get the plastic blow-up doll off the couch and into the closet?). He wanted us to see some newspaper stories about the crop circles he'd mowed one summer on his land.

It did occur to me, as we were walking in his front door five minutes later, that maybe this wasn't a great idea, going into a strange man's house. But Heather and I could have taken this guy, and mostly, my guess was, the major danger was that we'd be talked to death by this guy.

This guy's house was awful. Just awful. It was a beautiful house - or had been, when his grandparents had built it. Had been, I'm sure, when his parents had lived in it and brought him up. Now was a different story.  He had had a wife, and his wife had left him, and Heather and I figured that he hadn't cleaned, or swept, or washed a dish, since. We never found out when she'd left, but it must have been a few years ago.

He talked and talked and talked and talked, about the farm, about his job as a school-bus driver, about the crop circles. The stories were on the door of his refrigerator, and as soon as I could, I made a move to read them. As soon as we read them, I figured, we could leave.

He pulled a chair over to the refrigerator so we could sit and read. We did. Behind the stories, behind the photos, the refrigerator door (1950s vintage, I'd say), was covered with rust, literally. Covered.

We read the stories, looked at the pictures, oohed and aahed and then got the heck out of there. To this day, I am thankful that we got out before he opened that rusty refrigerator.

These cows in this cowscape? They're his.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wickford Harbor

Wickford Harbor
Oil on canvas, 24x24
Please email me for price and delivery/shipping information

Next Saturday (is it possible that next Saturday is October?) from 5-7 p.m., you're invited to a reception for me at the Voila gallery in Wickford, R.I. 

This is a nice cooperative gallery, at 31 West Main Street in one of Rhode Island's most delightful downtowns. Natalie Thompson, the proprietor, has made a go of it for more than a year, selling paintings, offering classes and selling art supplies. 

The gallery shows work by six or eight artists, ranging from abstract to realist, with pretty much everything in between. The gallery seems to be characterized by paintings with bright colors, and it's lovely to be in there, with the sun shining in, and the paintings shimmering beside you. 

If you can come to the reception, think about arriving early enough to walk around downtown Wickford.  My mom and I used to go shopping there once or twice a year. We'd make a day of it, trooping around the stores, having lunch, visiting the harbor, enjoying the gorgeous old houses. 

Here's the postcard announcing the opening. I hope to see you there! 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Oil on canvas, 12x12
Donation to Deerpark/Port Jervis Humane Society

In this new universe of work, I have to remind myself to breathe, to feel, to look deeply at the landscape.

These are things I've been doing during these years of painting, and they are things I've realized I let pass me by, in all my years of working.

In those years, I rushed, I ran, I pushed, I pulled. I stared at computer screens and notebook pages, at the dark road on my way to work in the morning, and the dark road on my way home at night. For more than two decades, I barely saw the world around me, in any way that mattered.

These past years, I've seen it, lived in it, soaked it up. It has enriched my eyes, my heart, my soul. And I hope I've learned how to hold some of the grace that's come to me in these years. Hope I've learned how to balance it with the work.

This afternoon, I walked in the field with the dogs. I watched as little Woodreau ran at the top of his speed, just for the pleasure of it. I watched the afternoon sky turn pink and gold, and soak the hillocks with sunshine and with shadow. I watched the birds fly, and heard them call, and I stood and lingered while the dogs poked and sniffed and dug and sniffed some more.

I promise myself that I will seek these moments, and when I find them, treasure them and revive myself by them. I promise myself.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Oil on canvas, 12x12
Donation to the Port Jervis-Deerpark Humane Society

On Saturday, I traveled to my old hometown to paint during the Deerpark Family Festival. It was really fun, and it was for a good cause.

I made two paintings that I really like, and donated them to the Port Jervis/Deerpark Humane Society. I bought a painting I loved that had been in the All-Animal show in Port Jervis (the show had been moved to the site of the festival). I saw old neighbors and friends, got a glimpse of the house where we used to live, and honestly, had a little breather.

I was feeling enough pressure about my new job, though, that I drove back here Saturday evening instead of staying and painting Sunday morning with my friends in the plein-air group of the Wallkill River School.

I did a little work on the job on Sunday, but mostly, I got things around the house settled a little more than they were, and that settled me, too. When my immediate environment is messy, it makes noise in my head. When my schedule is unclear, it's rocks in my path. Tasks left undone pull at me, over and over, taking energy and spirit from me.

Also, I started a new painting on Sunday, a new cowscape, that has me so excited, I can hardly wait to work on it again. So my challenge for myself is to organize my days, yes, even this early in the project, so that I can paint every day.

If you're near Orange County, N.Y., on Sunday, visit the Humane Society's booth in the Fall Foliage Festival in Downtown Port Jervis. They said they'd have my paintings there, and said they might be saeling or auctioning them.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Two Dogs

Two Dogs
Oil on panel, 16x20, $100
Please email me at if you'd like to buy this painting

I'm alive! I made it to Virginia (two flights) and then to Boston (one flight) and I got back to earth safely each time, and I couldn't be happier.

I am hopeful that these flights have marked a turning point in my life. I'd love to go to Scotland, I'd love to go to Italy - and I always said that I would, in spite of my terror of flying. But as my brother pointed out, chances are that I would have just continued to put the trips off, and put them off, and put them off, as long as the terror ruled.

In the midst of these flights - and the reason I took them in the first place - I was trained and trained and trained for my job at

I think it's going to be fabulous, I think it's going to be fun and challenging and worthwhile, but I must admit that right now, it's overwhelming. I am nibbling at the edges of something that feels enormous, so enormous that I can't see where it begins or ends. I'm sure I will find a way in, if I keep pushing.

The first segment of the job involves getting a bunch of people to go out to every business, school, church, etc., in Montville, take photos and get information. When we produce and upload all this stuff, we will have an elegant, complete and fun directory of everything Montville.

The second part of the job is gathering and writing news. That part, when I get to it, should be something I can do well, and do well handily. The first part - well, I will find my way through.

If anyone reading that is in the area and would like to make some money helping me build this directory, please contact me. The work is not hard, and should be fun, if you're computer-literate and you like to write. The pay isn't bad, either. So drop me a line at

I think it bears mentioning that I realized during the training that I have spent most of the past few years outside. It was a little tough simply to sit, inside a room, for hours on end, but I managed.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Oil on canvas, 12x12, $300

It's only mid-September, but it's time to start thinking of Christmas!

Last year, I made many, many pet portraits for people. I made lots of them in the last two weeks before the holiday. Some of them I delivered wet.

This year, I am experimenting with some new drying techniques. There are substances I can add to the paint or the medium. There's a spray that supposedly dries paintings for transport (I tried this yesterday and it seemed to make no difference). There is a whole line of paints that dries very quickly, and a medium that dries so fast, it's frightening. It's hard to imagine that any of this stuff is as good as just using regular paint and drying it the regular way, but it does offer options.

So if you want a painting of your pet for a Christmas present, or you know someone who does, send them my way! I would appreciate it so very much.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Oil on canvas, 12x12, $300

As I was painting this Siamese, I began to wonder why Siamese cats have blue eyes. I mean, I know why their eyes are blue. I know about the way light bounces and how it makes colors and all that, but genetically, evolutionarily, I wonder why their eyes are blue.

I had an all-white cat, Niobe, for many, many years. She had green-gold eyes, and she was a funny, grouchy, willful cat for all her years with me. Had she had blue eyes, I've been told, she would have been deaf. That's right. Blue eyes and a white coat have a genetic link to deafness in cats. Who knew?

I had great fun painting this Siamese. It was the third piece I did on Saturday in West Hartford, and I was tired and rushed. Sometimes, that situation makes for disasters. Sometimes, it makes for the best work!

Monday, September 13, 2010


Oil on canvas, 6x6
Not for sale

Mid-morning on Saturday, as painted on the sidewalk in front of Center Framing & Art in West Hartford, Conn., I heard someone say my name. I turned, and there was my brother with Archie, his brand-new rescue puppy. 

This puppy is about the cutest thing I've ever seen! He is 12 weeks old, and is supposed to be a cross between a bichon and a pug... but who knows. The only reason to find out would be to make more like him. If you could, you could make a fortune. Everyone who came along, it seemed, oooohed and aaahed and asked all about Archie. 

Rand, his wife Molly and their 4-year-old daughter Larkin have Bert, the longest-lived English bulldog in existence. Bert is 12 or 13. He's stone deaf, completely white in the muzzle, and he has cancer in his leg. He wasn't supposed to be alive now, in September, but he is plugging along with a vigor and enthusiasm that's really remarkable. 

And now he has a little brother, who's come all the way from Tennessee. 

Archie is the fourth dog in the extended family to come from one of these southern shelters. I am not completely sure what the story is on them, other than that the shelter system in the southern states is not as extensive as the one in New England. No-kill shelters are a rarity there, and so animals are rescued, fostered and shipped north to loving, happy homes. 

There is no doubt in my mind that Archie is in a happy home, and making it happier by the moment. Here's a photo of Rand and Archie making faces at each other: 

Here's Archie again: 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Autumn Sky

Autumn Sky
Oil on canvas, 24x24

A hummingbird is whirring just outside the kitchen door, this cool September morning. He's hanging there, looking in, or watching me, or  looking at his reflection in the glass.

Or maybe, just maybe, he's saying goodbye. 

Last summer, Peter told me he was sitting at his desk when a hummingbird came up to the office window - something they never do - and hung there, looking him full in the face, then zoomed off. 

That was the last he saw of the hummers last year. It was Sept. 15. 

The hummingbirds amused us all summer, darting and fighting and zooming around the deck. It's nearly time for them to go, and I know it. The bluebirds are long gone, the robins, too. Most of the goldfinches have left, though some will spend the winter. In the gardens, the weeds have finally won, and here and there in our yard, trees are turning red and gold. Summer is slipping off, into the cool mornings and the cool evenings. 

On the Fire District Beach in Misquamicut a few days ago, fall rolled in on dark clouds and darker water, and the sweet, short sun of a September day. Seagulls turned and whirled and dove for fish, and the beach was empty, the summer crowds gone home, and peace come in their wake. 

Today is Sept. 12, my mother's birthday. Autumn was her favorite time of year, and she would have loved this one, with its brilliant skies and its golden days and its bright, happy promises. 

Today, also, I have to fly, first to Philadelphia, then to Virginia. Tomorrow, another flight, to Boston. I am a terrified, phobic flyer, but I have to do this, and I feel, honestly, that it is time to get a grip on my terror. 

My mother was afraid, too. But she flew. And so, as the hummingbird hung effortlessly in the air, and then darted off, I've come to believe that maybe, just maybe, he is bringing from my mother a song of joy and peace and safety in the air. 

Friday, September 10, 2010


Oil on canvas, 16x20
Please email me for price and delivery/shipping information

Ginger Blanchette died on Saturday, and it was a quiet loss to this world of ours.

Most of you didn't know her, but all of you would have loved her.

Ginger was the mother of Jill Blanchette, a dear friend of mine. Ginger was best friends with Marie, my husband's mother. They were neighbors for most of their adult lives, and they loved each other.

Long before I knew Peter, he spent many hours at Ginger's house. He and his friends used to hang out there, talking with Ginger, watching TV, doing who knows what with Jill's brothers. Peter and his friends were wild, and Ginger loved them. After Peter and I were married, we visited Ginger pretty often, and Ginger welcomed me as if I'd grown up in the neighborhood.

She was a remarkable woman, one of those rare people who always saw the bright side of things. She always had a smile and a laugh, and a good thought about something or someone. She was happy to believe the best about you, no matter what circumstances might seem to imply. She was glad to welcome you, and even more glad to know what you'd been up to.

Jill read a few words at Ginger's service. She read a story about a friend who'd visited Ginger often. Sometimes he and Ginger talked animatedly. Sometimes he said almost nothing. Often, he fell asleep on the couch.

For Ginger, Jill said, that was the highest praise, knowing that someone could feel at home enough in her house to fall asleep.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Oil on canvas, 12x12

To say that Heather and I laughed our way through Canada would be putting it mildly. Things struck us, again and again, as simply and utterly hilarious, and we laughed so hard at times that it was hard to see.

One night, we got to the metropolis of Margaree Forks moments after the grocery store closed. There were no restaurants in town, and the one hotel, run by a gregarious German named Werner, had no working restaurant. Werner informed us that if we drove to Northeast Margaree (he made this sound like it was just down the road, when in fact, it was about 40 miles away), we might be able to get a pizza at the gas station.

Well, the pizza was all gone, but there was ice cream, so we had ice cream for dinner. But when we'd driven the 40 miles back to Auberge Werner, we found that we were still hungry.

In the van, we had cheese, and we had bread, and we had Cheez Whiz and so we slapped together a couple of cheese-and-Cheez-Whiz sandwiches.

This meal was so utterly ridiculous that the very notion of it sent us into gales of laughter... and midway, a couple bites into our delicious sandwiches, we found ourselves staring into the cutest little dog face you'd ever want to see. It was Buttons, and at the other end of the leash, Wanda.

Wanda, hearing our laughter and our stupid story, took pity on us, left Buttons with us for a few moments (OK, I begged), and came back with muffins. What a dear.

On our route home, we looked up Wanda and her husband in Schubenacadie, Nova Scotia, (this town is pronounced shoe-ben-ACK-a-dee, and it's really fun to say), but neither they, nor Buttons, was home. Maybe next time!

Friday, September 3, 2010


Oil on canvas, 12x12

Dusk was falling when I pulled into the driveway yesterday and saw my husband walking a spaniel-looking dog I'd never seen before.

He was a good dog, this black and white fellow, gentle and polite and calm. He had a nice collar, too, and so we figured he was an escapee, owned by someone in the neighborhood.

We loaded the dog in the van and set off into the sweltering dusk.

Our first stop was the trailer across the street. There, Byron introduced himself. He looked to be about 30, was retired from the Navy and working at EB. We'd never met, though he'd been there for a month or so. He didn't know the dog, but it was good to meet him.

Our next move was to pull in to the driveway of the Avalonia Nature Conservancy trail that runs alongside our property.

A teenager sitting on a rock and (surreptitiously, I am sure) smoking a cigarette, identified himself as Mike, one of the foster kids of our Christian neighbors. He didn't know the dog, but said that in the third house on the right on the street across the way, there were dogs. Maybe it was one of theirs, or maybe the guy would know.

Well, it wasn't one of theirs, but Andy said he thought it looked like a dog he'd seen with Roberta, who lived at the end of the road.

There was no answer when Peter rang the bell, but Peter went around back and there was Roberta, in her 60s or 70s, smoking a cigarette, hyperventilating, peering into the woods and calling.

She took one look at Peter and asked, "Did you find my dog?"

"Yes, I did," he said.

"How did you know?" Roberta said.

"I'm the Dog Santa," Peter said, and at this, Roberta nearly collapsed, in worry and gratitude.

She had adopted Charlie, an older dog, just a few days earlier, and while he is gentle and calm around the house, he chases squirrels, and it was this that had led him to his adventure.

So all is well that ends well, here in Dogland.

If you are in the area over the weekend or Monday, stop by Olde Mystick Village Shopping Center. I'm participating in the "Meet the Artists" show there, and it looks like it's going to be fun!