Friday, August 30, 2013

A Green Thought - and a Nice Southern City

A Green Thought
Oil on canvas, 10x30
One night this summer, I went to dinner with a friend of my brother's, who I had met a few times but didn't know well. 

We went to a lovely restaurant in Elizabeth Park in West Hartford, and we had a great time, talking about life and hopes and goals and how to reach them. She inspired me and refreshed me - and I needed it. I'd done a series of shows in Connecticut, and they had been good, but hot and exhausting, and I was flat-out tired. But our conversation, and our lovely treat of a supper on a cool outdoor patio gave me the zest I needed to paint and get ready for the final Connecticut shows with vigor and enthusiasm. 

As we were leaving the restaurant, I took a photo of a large planter outside the restaurant. "A Green Thought" is my painting of that planter, and that cool and refreshing evening. 

MY HEAD HAS been full the past week in Wachapreague, and I finally realized why. I went by this house, and rolled down the window of the car to take photos of this white stuff climbing in lacy handfuls over everything, and WHAM! my head filled up, just like that. 

The stuff is called autumn clematis, according to my friend and native Wachapreagian Pat. It makes my head a balloon, but it has a rich, sweet fragrance, and it sure is pretty. 

IF I EVER wanted to live in a city again - and I think that 10 years in Boston was probably plenty of city living for me - but if I ever did, Charlotte would not be a bad choice. It's filled with art, cool buildings, good restaurants, wide ethnic diversity, a football team with a downtown stadium - and no snow.

A Panthers game was starting as I drove through the city tonight, and it made me think of being in downtown Boston when the Red Sox were playing at Fenway. Both stadiums are right downtown, and the excitement of a big crowd going to a big game on a warm night is very contagious and appealing.

Dog of the Day

He was loving it! 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Where He Loves to Fish - and a New Booth Shot

Where He Loves to Fish
Oil on canvas, 20x60

More than a few friends and acquaintances have expressed incomprehension or at least surprise at our decision to move from the culturally and commercially rich area where we lived in Connecticut (near Mystic) to the rural and undeveloped Eastern Shore of Virginia. 

And as we were driving home from Salisbury, MD (a sign of just how out there we are is that Salisbury constitutes a shopping and dining metropolis for us now), I tried to look with fresh eyes at this area. I imagined that I was a person driving through here for the first time, and wondered what I really saw. 

I saw flat land and a big open sky, for starters. 

I saw a huge amount of corn, some of it so high that you can't see the first stories, and even part of the second stories of the houses. 

I saw wealth and I saw poverty. Big new homes, carefully kept older homes, and houses dilapidated, with sagging porches, rusting cars, unkempt land. 

And I realized, for the first time, that we have landed in one of the very last undeveloped places on the entire Eastern Seaboard. Most of the rest of those undeveloped places are, I believe, in Maine. Aside from that - think about it! - the East Coast is mostly all built up. 

Here, there are a lot of places like Quinby Bridge, where Peter loves to fish. The water here is the Machipongo River. It has a big tide, and when it's low, is pretty much all mud. It's filled with oysters and crabs, turtles and fish, tons of birds - and when we were there the other day, we saw a skate. 

This quiet, this diversity, this wealth of nature and beauty, this is part of why I love it here, and am so very grateful. 

GENERALLY, WHEN YOU apply to be in a juried art show, the jurors want not only to see your work, but your booth as well. 

Booth shots have to be carefully staged and carefully shot. Jurors don't want to see slanting sunlight, distracting desks, cluttered walls, price tags, pet portraits, your name, or any artist junk. And jurors apparently hate booth shots taken at shows. So the only thing to do is set up the tent in the yard and take photos there. 

The tent was up for a day and a half while I finished "Where He Loves to Fish." Everyone in the neighborhood drove by and slowed down while the tent was standing. What are those crazy people with all the dogs doing NOW? 

So here's my booth shot for the next series of shows. I like it - what do you think? 

CONNIE METTLER, who runs the extremely helpful Art Fair Insiders website, is asking for your participation in a survey about art fairs. What's your favorite? She'd love for you to vote, to post the link on your Facebook page, all that jazz. And why not? It's easy and it's fun. 

To nominate your favorite art fair, click here: Voting for the best will follow at a later date!

Nominations must be submitted by Aug. 31, so Get A Move On! 

Dog of the Day

Gotta love that Corgi face! 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Thursday Afternoon - and Running Out of White

Thursday Afternoon
Oil on canvas, 18x36

Painting began for me with a random thought that I had the courage - or luck - to listen to, and follow.

That began a change in my life, and over these years, little by little, I've learned to listen and to trust. When a door seems to open for me, I take my courage in hand and walk through it. Maybe I end up in a small room that I leave quickly. Maybe I end up in a long, interesting corridor, with lots of corners and other doors. The important thing for me is to have the nerve to step through and see what's there.

Thus, this painting, which seems to me to be about freedom, and love, and the sky and, well, paint itself.


I KNEW I WAS running out of white paint, so early in the week, I ordered a bunch. I go through a lot, a lot, a lot of white paint. The UPS guy showed up on Friday, and I was thrilled. He was there just in time.

"Yay!" I said. "I'm down to my last tube of white!"

"Hmm," he said. "I don't think there's any paint in this shipment."

And sure enough, there wasn't. Canvases, yes, but no paint.

I can fake it when I'm out of other colors... but not when I'm out of white. And there are a lot of situations like that. We can seem to be OK, making do, or even shining people on - but when you're out of white paint, when you're out of whatever it is at the very core of what you do, or who you are, you're just stuck.

Peter and I went to the Big City of Salisbury, MD, Saturday, and I got a couple tubes of white paint - so I can go on. If only it were so easy in other parts of life.

Dog of the Day

This is a son of Tino, one of Kathryn Yamartino's fabulous labradoodles! 
Want your pet to be the Dog of the Day? Send an email to me at

Friday, August 23, 2013

Toby - and a Lovely Sky

Oil on canvas, 12x12

It's a rare and wonderful event in my life when someone wants a minimalist pet portrait. I love making them - even though they are 50 times more difficult than the regular, maximum-style portraits. 

The regular portraits are very forgiving. Get the ear wrong and you can scrape it off and start again. The shape of the eyes is not quite right? Go over the line until it is. 

Not so with the minimal ones. When you put a line down, it had better be right. Placement of eyes, nose and ears has to be right the first time. It's hard - and exhilarating, and exciting, and engaging. 

I admit, I did Toby a couple of times before I got him. And that was OK with me. He's a lovely dog, isn't he? And he has such a sweet and gentle expression - I enjoyed the challenge, and I believe I rose to it.

A FRIEND AND I have a yearlong project going. We're taking photos of the sky every day, and sending them to each other. It is an absolutely fascinating project, and is helping me see the sky better. Interestingly, I'm finding that I tend to like skies with lots of interesting clouds - I tend to like what the sky does. My friend tends to go after photos that show the breadth of the sky; she tends to like what the sky IS. 

Here's a photo I took yesterday, as I came home to Wachapreague in the early evening. 

Dog of the Day

Crazy eyes! 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fried Clams! ...And How Hubris Nearly Got Me Arrested

Fried Clams! 
Oil on canvas, 10x10

If you've lived in southeastern Connecticut, you know about the clam shacks that open every summer. 

They're not healthy, they're (for the most part) not cheap - but Who Cares? They offer delicious summertime treats, the stuff you used to love as a kid and, face it, you still love - foot-long cheese dogs, chili fries, fried clams and scallop dinners. 

This painting is of the Sea Swirl, Mystic's clam shack (try the chili dogs!).

Below is a scallop dinner I got recently at Fred's, in New London - Famous since 1972! Can you believe Fred's has a website? Click here to check it out. 

I PROMISED MYSELF at the outset that I would keep this blog honest and true, no matter what. So... at the Mystic Outdoor Art Festival, I've always been at the corner of Willow and Main. Also at the corner is a business, and right beside that, heading down the street, is a house whose owners hate the art show. 

They put tripods of sticks in their driveway, then run No Tresspassing yellow crime tape around their lot and driveway, and they somehow have convinced the police to put temporary No Parking signs along the parking spaces beside an empty field that's just across their driveway and, for all I know, belongs to them. 

On Saturday, I parked legally behind all of this stuff. But three cars parked illegally by the empty field, and someone took down the signs. 

On Sunday, I decided to do the same. Well, the people were watching, and they called the cops on me. The officer who accosted me was not pleasant at all. I apologized (not having the nerve to say - What do you mean? I did no such thing) - and moved my van, and gave him back his sign. He promised to get the show organizers to ban me from the show next year. 

It was an altogether unpleasant interlude. And it was all my fault. I was mad at how nasty those homeowners are, year after year. But mostly, I felt entitled. Other people had parked there, so I should be able to park there. 

But as my mother always told me, two wrongs don't make a right. So, I am chagrined and embarrassed. I don't usually do stuff like this... but this whole incident made me remember why. 

WELL, IN MY ONGOING journey of discovery, I had one of my minimalist paintings framed. 
What do you think? I'm honestly not crazy about it - but I'm not crazy about frames in general. I'd love to hear your responses... 

SO... IS THIS a street sign, or a directive to the artists?

Dog of the Day

Gotta love those ears! 

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Wind Ever Soft - and an Update on the Store

A Wind Ever Soft
Oil on canvas, 10x10

These days, these shortening days, I concentrate on breathing with my soul, on standing solidly on the ground, on seeing all there is to see, and rejoicing. 

Tired and exhausted, fulfilled and sad, all together, I curled up for a time, and now am putting that behind me, and striding out - to see, to explore, to paint, to move ahead. 

Here in the south, I'm meeting crapemyrtle, a fantastical tree that starts blooming in the summer, and blooms for months, it seems, coloring the landscape with dark pink, light pink, and also with white - though the dark pink, nearly fuscia, is what you see most. 

The crapemyrtle, blooming around the bigger house in this grove, is what made me stop to paint. Then I noticed the cool blue shadows, the lovely tall pines, and the bruised-looking clouds moving in on the wind. 

It is all part of re-energizing, re-seeing, reacclimating myself to home. 

Here's where I got title of the painting:
Know’st thou the land where the lemon-trees bloom,
Where the gold orange glows in the deep thicket’s gloom,
Where a wind ever soft from the blue heaven blows,
And the groves are of laurel and myrtle and rose!
Goethe, Wilhelm Meister.

Here's my painting in the landscape. It's hard to see the buildings in the background, but they are there.


Well, a wrecker pulled the truck out of Pat and Carol's store, and the building didn't crumble. Neither of the women has crumbled, either.

Dog of the Day

Yes, it's Woodreau, one of our dogs, who just looked so ratty and cute, I had to use him for DOD.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Berkley, and Two Losses

Oil on canvas, 12x12

Usually when there's a hiatus in the blog, it's because I'm at a show and too exhausted to post, or in a place where there's no internet connection (yes, there are still such places!) 

This time was different. After five weeks on the road, I got home last Monday night around 8 p.m., and our old cat, Eunice, died three hours later. 

Her death was not really a surprise, but it was, in the end, sudden. She was 15 or 16, and though she'd had kidney problems for a few years, she was in good health until the last few days of her life. She had had trouble keeping weight on, we knew, and just before I left, I noticed that her hind legs were giving her some issues. 

Peter said she'd been fine until a few days before I got back, when she stopped eating. By last Monday, she couldn't really walk. But she lifted her head when I got home, and purred a little when I petted her and held her, and I do believe that she was waiting to see me one last time, and to know we were all together. Then she just let go. 

I am heavy with sadness, still, and thinking of Eunice brings me to tears. But I remember her as a wonderful cat, a good friend and companion. She was sociable and clean and funny, and talkative. I'll miss her forever. 

Here's Eunice, taking over the bench we got for our chow/sharpei. 
Eunice was just a little cat, but she could keep that fierce dog off his bench any time she wanted. 

IN MY WEEKS AWAY, I had some very good shows and some not very good shows, and returned home with a boatload of commissions, which is always exciting. 
Here's Berkley, who I've never met, but who seems like a great dog. His people have told me he likes his portrait. 


THERE WAS SOME BIG EXCITEMENT here in Wachapreague Saturday night, when a man driving a truck very, very fast crashed into the antique store run by my friends Pat and Carol.

Thankfully, the store had closed for the night and was empty. But the crash knocked it off its very foundation and pretty much wrecked it, and most of what was in it.

Pat and Carol have spent years and years collecting items for the store, and they had some beauties.

Some of the things in the store were not ruined, but I am afraid that most everything was. I feel very sorry for my friends, but I am just so glad that no one was killed.

If the driver of the truck had missed the store, as my friend Linda Cicoira pointed out, he'd have crashed into the living room of Pat's house, where, in all likelihood, she'd have been sitting.

Linda is a fabulous painter, and her work is FUN! Want to see? Click here. 

Dog of the Day

Here's Lily, a Havanese-poodle mix who I met in town Saturday. 
She's 10 months old, and every bit as cute as she looks here. 

Want your pet to be Dog of the Day? Send me an email with a jpg!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Joy for Weary Hours

Joy for Weary Hours
Oil on canvas, 12x24

Though we didn't have a garden this year - a first in recent memory - the joys of the summer garden haven't passed me by.

I've savored strawberries still warm from the sun, and sweet, thin-skinned cucumbers from my friend Pat's garden.

I've served up squash and asparagus from Dulcie's garden, so fresh you could nearly taste the breeze in them.

I've breathed the rich spice of roses, the heavy weight of gardenias, the soft powdery scent of camellias. I've smiled at the swaths of black-eyed susans that seem to be everywhere this year, and marveled at the showy frills of irises and lilies.

I've missed having my own gardens. But there's always next year.

The title of this painting - my own little substitute garden - is the final stanza of a verrryyy long poem,  "The Poor Man's Garden,"  by Mary Howitt:

Yes, in the poor man’s garden grow
  Far more than herbs and flowers—
Kind thoughts, contentment, peace of mind,
  And joy for weary hours.

Coming soon to a painting near you! 


This Weekend! 
Corner of Willow and Main, across from the post office, on the Seaport side of Mystic. 
See you there? 


Dog of the Day

This is a pretty funny photo to start with, but it's even funnier when you know the story. 

Zack, who is a GREAT dog, lives with my friends Cynthia and Kevin and their other wonderful dog George (click here and here for more photos). 

Zack has degenerative myopathy. His hind legs pretty much don't work. He can walk, a gliding, sort of slouching walk on flat ground, but needs help with steps and uneven territory. He is not in pain, and he is a very happy dog, but he has serious trouble getting around. 

Still, STILL, he managed to make it into his favorite hiding/shame place, the bathtub, when he, uh, let loose on the floor. Poor, dear Zack... 


Extra! Extra! 

Click here to see a ridiculous and hysterically funny video!  Do it! You will laugh yourself silly! 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mystic River Racers

Mystic River Racers
Oil on canvas, 18x18
Please contact me for price and delivery options

At a recent show, I found myself next to a very crabby artist who made large watercolor paintings (probably 24x30) on paper. She hung them, unframed and unmounted, on the rafters of her tent, and also had them in a box on a table. They were very tight watercolors of flowers on draped fabric. Many of the arrangement were in front of mirrors, so they were reflected and doubled.

She was asking $1,000 each.

The first day of the show, no one bought anything, and fewer than a dozen people went into her tent.

But then, much to my amazement and the collective amazement of everyone near her, she won Best in Show. This brought her a check and a big blue ribbon, which, of course, she hung prominently in her tent. Not only did people go into her tent in droves for the entire day, but she also sold a bunch of her paintings.

All of you, who have bought paintings from me, and who have been interested in and supportive of my art, and of the art of other living artists working hard to make a living, you all should be very proud of yourselves.

You've not needed to see a blue ribbon to know that you like my work. You've not needed the vote of some expert. You have only needed to know your heart and trust your own eyes.


THE MYSTIC OUTDOOR ART FESTIVAL takes place Saturday and Sunday in downtown Mystic, CT. I made this painting in honor of the festival, and it's one of the pieces that's helping me get over my fear of painting boats!

If you come, be prepared to park a ways away and walk. It is supposed to be a gorgeous weekend, though, so the walk should not be too bad. If you park on the east side of town (the Mystic Seaport side), you'll walk right by me on the way to the drawbridge. I'll be at the corner of Willow and Main, across the street from the post office, and close to the World of Bagels, or whatever it's called.

The show is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Some cool pix

 Here's a bear I saw outside of Woodstock, NY! 

 Look, isn't this bizarre? The mountains in "Vermont Afternoon" and "Pulaski Farm" run into each other as though I'd painted them together. I have never hung them side by side, so I never noticed this! 

OK, across from me at SoNoArts was this free-refill soda place. On Sunday, I noticed the bladder-problem billboard behind it!!! Happily for all, the port-a-potties were just to the right of all this. 

Dog of the Day
It's Jilly, waiting for her mama to come home.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Far Illusive Dream - and Mystic!

The Far Illusive Dream
oil on canvas, 10x10

I stood on the bank of the Lieutenant River in Old Lyme, CT, and painted, celebrating this day, this summer, this life. 

The sun was hot, the shadows cool, the river shiny and rich. Thin clouds skimmed the August-blue sky, and the trees bent and blew in the mid-afternoon wind. On the other bank, kids and parents fished. Two kayaks slipped through the water, heading upstream. I could hear laughter, occasionally, from people having a late lunch at a restaurant a few steps away. 

It is so easy to get sucked into the day by day. So easy to focus on the shows, on the sales or lack thereof, on the applications and jury fees and whether I got in or not. It is so easy to be transported by this - the familiar, the known - and to forget about the leap I'm taking and the amazing success I am having. 

Just before that leap, I worked for, a network of online news and information sites. It was a good job, but too much of a good job. I could not do Patch and paint, and so, with my husband's urging and support, I quit Patch and jumped.  

As I paint, and show, and paint some more, as I find increasing success and continuing inspiration, it becomes easier and easier to forget the terror, the constant thrum of fear, the nearly paralyzing terror I was feeling just about a year ago. 

So please, remember me when someone tells you that you can't possibly be successful at something that, in your heart, you know you can do and do well. My success so far has not been easy, or steady or grand. But it has been thrilling, and fulfilling, and rich with new people, new friendships, new experiences. 

I named today's painting for a poem that captures some of my feelings. It's by John Townsend Trowbridge, and is from "Twoscore and Ten," which is a verrry long poem that you can read by clicking here. Otherwise, here's an excerpt: 

Riches I never sought and have not found
 And Fame has passed me with averted eye 
In creeks and bays my quiet voyage is bound 
While the great world without goes surging by 

No withering envy of another's lot 
Nor nightmare of contention plagues my rest 
For me alike what is and what is not 
Both what I have and what I lack are best 

A flower more sacred than far seen success 
Perfumes my solitary path
 I find Sweet compensation in my humbleness 
And reap the harvest of a tranquil mind 

 I keep some portion of my early gleam;

  Brokenly bright, like moonbeams on a river,

It lights my life, a far illusive dream,
  Moves as I move, and leads me on forever.

My painting in the landscape

OK, all that poetical stuff aside, the Mystic Outdoor Art Festival takes place This Weekend in Mystic, CT. I will be at the corner of Willow and Main - with this painting, and other new pieces, as well as some that I have shown before. 

Please come! And please tell your friends about the show and about my paintings. Your purchases and your friends' purchases are helping me make this a success - as is your ongoing spiritual and moral support! 


Dog of the Day! 

This goofy puppy was at the SoNo Festival this weekend. What a clumsy love he was. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Back to Old Lyme - and SoNo Arts This Weekend, Too!

Boat Launch Ramp, Old Lyme
oil on canvas, 12x48

Yes, I went back to the boat launch ramp! It's about the most beautiful place in Connecticut, I think - and a spot I just love to paint. It's easy to set up there, too, and there are no cars driving by, so for the most part, it's quiet. 


Peter and I live a quiet little life in Wachapreague. We talk, of course, and we talk plenty. But for each of us, long stretches of quiet - or at least of not talking - underline our days. 

In Wachapreague, the days themselves are quiet. There's almost no traffic in town. There's no noise from airplanes. Now that the arsonist has been captured, the fire alarm rarely sounds. There are no crowds, no hubbub. Our own dogs are probably the noisiest things in town, and when they get too much, I put them back in the house. 

This trip, all these shows, weekend after weekend after weekend, and then my gypsying existence, going from home to home, friend to friend, family to family, this has been great, and fun and exciting - but it has involved a lot of talking, from me, by me, and to me. It's not that I haven't enjoyed it, because I have. But it has been more than is good for me. More than is good for my painting. 

So when I find a quiet place to paint, I relish it. And who knows - I might go back to the boat launch again next week. 

Here's my painting in the landscape

SoNo Arts takes place this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, in South Norwalk, CT.  It's a fun show, with tons of artists, including the very talented Ronet Noe, who will be my neighbor on the plaza. We are booths 420 and 421. So if you're around Connecticut this weekend and looking for something to do, please come by South Norwalk and say hello - and buy a painting! 

Dog of the Day

This is Pascha, the dog of the day! She is an elderly labradoodle, and just a wonderful, sweet old girl. 

Want your pet to be Dog of the Day? Send a jpg to me at

And THANK YOU for reading!