Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone

So Long, Lou Reed
Oil on canvas, 30x30

Every day, I am thankful for the life I am so happy to be living.

I'm thankful for the good fortune and fine support that helped give me the courage to leave the security of a steady job to jump into the unknown and earn our living making art.

I am grateful for my husband, who encouraged me to take this leap. I am grateful for my family, who continues to be interested in and supportive of my painting. I am grateful for the parents who shaped me to be creative, and gave me space and encouragement to find my own way.

I am grateful for the decades of journalism work I did that helped me recognize how wonderful it is to be an artist.

I am grateful for the people I met along the way, who shared their experiences, their hearts and their hopes with me, enriching my world every day.

I am grateful for my faith, and my sobriety, and my optimism.

I am grateful for each person who has bought a painting from me. For each gallery that has welcomed me. For each show that has let me in.

I am grateful for each and every one of you, who receives my blog, who reads what I have to say, and looks at my new paintings and invites me into your world.

On this Thanksgiving day, I want to thank you to all of you, deeply and sincerely. I hope that you and your families, whatever form those families take, have a day full of joy and love. And I hope it is one among many.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Wave Upon Wave

Crashing In
Oil on canvas, 8x24

Seashore of the Mind

A month or so ago, when the fabulous painter Ronet Noe and I were painting at Center Framing and Art in West Hartford Center, CT, I brought with me an old painting, "Hurricane Waves," that I love and which had never sold. 

Well, that's not exactly true. The painting HAD sold, but had been returned to me. 

Here's the story: A few years ago, a big hurricane threatened the New England coast, but ended up swirling around well offshore. 

Even so, it stirred up HUGE waves. Peter and I went to the beach at Westerly, RI, to watch it. I made several paintings, made them very quickly, standing on the beach, holding onto the canvases so they wouldn't blow away. 

The paintings were full of life and energy and vigor, and the excitement of the storm. I loved them!

Back at home, I set them down flat on the deck to photograph them. 

Peter opened the door and the dogs came charging out, and one of them, the blind Samoyed, stomped across all the paintings. 

I was able to fix them all - but the even left dog hair in the paint of all the pieces. I saw it, but I left it. There is dog hair in many of my paintings. 

The person who bought this one returned it, asking if I could take the paint off, and the dog hair out, and repaint it. I politely said no, and returned his money. 

I brought this painting to show after show after show, and no one bought it. In fact, no one really saw it, which is an odd occurrence I've noticed... at some shows, some paintings are virtually invisible - even if they are huge. 

But that afternoon in October, outside of Center Framing & Art, the painting sold. I was holding it for the buyer, and throughout the afternoon, person after person tried to buy it from me. Go figure, right? 

One was a friend and collector, whose mother liked the painting so much that my friend commissioned me to repaint it. I had such a good time with the painting (the top one) that I painted another wave (the bottom one), and this is the one my friend's mom chose. 

I really love these paintings, and am going to make some more - and some bigger ones, too. 


YIKES!  FRIDAY NIGHT on Route 84 in eastern New York state, as I was heading to CT for a holiday gathering with my family, it snowed Like Crazy. This photo doesn't quite capture the blizzard quality of the snow, but it was coming down HARD, and the temp was just around 32 degrees. It was enough to make me tense up and worry, driving up and down the big hills in eastern NY and western CT. 


 HERE IS AN ODD, spooky photo of me, taking a picture of who knows what through a window.

Dog of the Day

It's Sparky! And she is a good girl. 

Want your pet to be the dog of the day? Send a jpg to me at

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Two Thousand Inches of Happy - and a Sad Farewell

Two Thousand Inches of Happy
Oil on canvas, 48x48
please contact me for price and delivery options

One of the reasons that I love to paint is that I love the way it makes me feel. I love where it takes my head, where it takes my heart. 

When I am painting, it seems that the world goes away. Well, that's not really right. My surroundings recede. My worries recede. Whatever is dark and sad in my life recedes, and I am left with what is joyful and full of promise. I am left with color, and with light, and with faith.

I paint - and especially with something like this piece, this big, bright, heavily textured sunflower piece - I find a rhythm that helps transport me, helps bring me to that transcendent place, that place where sorrow is something just out of the frame, just off of the horizon. 

We euthanized our 15-year-old Pekingese on Monday. He had had trouble walking for a couple of years, and his back legs pretty much gave out a couple months ago. This weekend, one of his front legs seemed to be on the way out. It was arthritis, the vet said, and Looie would not get better. He would not come out of it. 

Loo had a good long life. He was the top dog for a long time, and one of his major roles was to stop all playing, whenever possible. We called him the fun police. Kaja, the German shepherd/chow in the photo with Loo, is also dead. Kaja spent many joyful afternoons in Maine running into Looie at full tilt, knocking him ass over teakettle. He would roll and tumble, and then get up, barking, and chase Kaja until she'd do it again. 

I understand when people say they can't think of having another dog, because of the pain at the end of their too-short lives. I understand. But I wouldn't change a moment of this awful pain for a moment less of life with Looie or Kaja or any of the others. 

And so I painted, and painted, painted beautiful, bright, rhythmic sunflowers. I let myself get lost in the colors and the light and the promise, and the healing. 


IT'S NOT A GREAT photo, I know, but it was an exciting evening, earlier this week, when a rocket blasted off at night from Wallops Island, a few miles up the Shore. It was pretty cool to see it, arcing orange and fiery against the night sky, out over the Atlantic. 


THIS IS WHAT the Eastern Shore looks like in November. It doesn't have the wall-to-wall brilliance of New England, but it is pretty and bright nonetheless. The white stuff in the photo above is cotton. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Christmas Dreams - and Quick Cheese Layer Bake

Christmas Dreams
Oil on canvas, 10x10

I don't do many abstracts, and most of the ones that I do, I don't like much. I usually destroy them. But this one, I do like - at least in part because it arrived in my consciousness with the "Christmas Dreams" title.

And Christmas, of course, is coming - as is Hannukah, which starts on Thanksgiving Day. I'm hoping that this year, lots of you will give paintings as presents!

In addition to any of my available paintings, you can also give:

  • a pet portrait (please let me know ASAP if that's what you're planning - there's still time, but we're cutting it close), 
  • a gift certificate for a pet portrait
  • a gift certificate for a painting from my upcoming trip to Arizona... more on that in my next post. 

On the Easel
Nice, huh? What you don't get from this is how big this sunflower painting is - 48 inches by 48 inches! Whee! I'm painting it for my first 2014 show, the Southwest Arts Festival, in Indio, Calif. 

Quick Cheese Layer Bake

The memory of this, a childhood treat, came to me Sunday morning as I was looking in the icebox and thinking about brunch. I called my brother and he found the recipe - in my grandmother's handwriting. 

Here it is: 

12 slices bread
1/2 lb Kraft Old English sliced cheese
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
salt and pepper
minced onion

Arrange 6 slices of bread in a greased 12x8 baking dish
Cover with sliced cheese, then the rest of the bread, in another layer. 
Beat eggs, milk, seasoning, pour over bread and cheese. Let sit for one hour. Bake 50 mins in a 325-degree oven. 

I used a smaller pan, less bread, less milk, and whatever cheese I had in the house. Also, I used dried onions, and no mustard. It was fabulous! Not healthy, no, but delicious. And easy. 

Dog of the Day

I was at the vet's office the other day, when a man came in with this little kitten in a crate. A few moments later, a mother and her little girl came in with another crate. The man gave the kitty to the little girl, who wasn't so sure, at first, that she wanted him. Then she decided that she did, but she was going to change the kitty's name from Friday to something else. I suggested "Saturday." 

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

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Flutter-by - and Please Forward to Your Friends!

Oil on canvas, 12x12

Sometimes I try something new because I am interested. Sometimes I try something new because someone else is interested. 

This was the case with this painting. A sponsor of my Tubac trip wanted a painting of a butterfly for a friend who loves butterflies. I was a little hesitant - Butterflies??? Me??? - but I figured, what the heck? 

After all, that's pretty much how I learned to paint everything. 

Dog of the Day

I MET THIS dainty Samoyed this summer, on the ferry from Orient Point, NY, to New London, CT. She traveled often on the ferry, her owner told me, and always enjoyed the ride. We have a Samoyed, and he's about three times her size.

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


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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Spiral of Fall

Spiral of Fall
Oil on canvas, 10x10

I still don't like how short these cold days are. And I don't like how cold these short days are, either.

This morning, it was 28 degrees - way chillier than the average temperature here in January. And yesterday, for a moment, it snowed. Well, there was snow in the air. Flakes, at least.

Here, in Wachapreague, the earliest sunset of the year comes at 4:44 p.m. We will hit that on Dec. 3, and will stick with that same sunset time through Dec. 11. Then, the sunset starts getting later again. So while Dec. 21 is the shortest day of the year, a later sunset is already well on its way by that date.

Want to check your sunset times? Click here to get to

THIS PAINTING is part of a project idea, an experiment that's taking me into new territory.

 "Colors of the Spirit," which I posted earlier in the month, is a sort of companion piece, another step in this project. Both are in unusual (for me) color palettes, and both have, to my eyes, an interesting autumnal sensibility, the dark days, the long nights, the thin November light.

"Colors of the Spirit" is up for auction on Daily Paintworks - you can reach the auction by clicking here. If you want both paintings, please drop me an email - - and we'll talk price and delivery and all that jazz.

Dog of the Day

A couple weeks ago, the Times Herald-Record, the newspaper that kicked me out of journalism, eliminated the jobs of yet another bunch of talented and experienced journalists. One of them is Mike Carey, who'd worked at the Record for decades. On a whim, I searched for Mike Carey on Facebook. I didn't find him (he is about the unlikeliest Facebook person alive), but I did find a bunch of interesting-looking Mike Careys, and one of them had this dog as his profile pic. Isn't this little guy adorable? 

Want your pet to be the dog of the day? Send me a jpg at

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Day of Mias!

Mia with Pearls
I am lucky enough to have a string of good, fun commissions right now, of animals I'm sure I'd like in person, and people I know I do like in person. So it's a great combination. But that doesn't mean that it's not without its difficulties. 

In the Mia with Pearls painting, I got the dog right away. The pearls were a different story. My first pearls - wish I'd taken a photo - were large blobs of white paint, looking more or less like some sort of disease. 


My second pearls were little round outlined things, looking somewhat like Wilma Flintstone's pearls.


I got smart, then, and powered up the internet, and looked around until I found a video of someone painting pearls. I practiced on a string, and then went back to work on Mia, and - voila! - pearls! 

Mia the cat was another issue all together. My first attempt didn't capture the length of her hair or the expression on her face. 
Mia 1
My second attempt was closer, but still didn't get there.
Mia 2
Maybe a minimalist approach would work, I thought. So.. Mia No. 3
Mia Minimal
That was all on Sunday. On Monday, I did Mia with pearls in the morning, and then, voila, Mia Without Pearls. 
Guess I just needed to work through everything that wasn't Mia, until I found the real cat inside. 


 Mia without Pearls


It's hard to tell what this is, but it's a HUGE ship crossing over one of the tunnels 
in the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Cool, huh? 

Dog of the Day
Don't know who this dog is, but he was happily wandering around in his yard 
near Assawoman (yup!!!), over near Chincoteague. He came up to greet me as 
I cruised around, looking for something good to paint. 

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

Friday, November 8, 2013

Dream Away

Dream Away
Oil on canvas, 10x10

Sometimes, I paint a scene because it is so beautiful, so breathtaking, that it demands to be painted. "Miss You Already, Lou Reed" was one of those. It was just a field that Peter and I drove by late on October afternoon, when the light was round and rich and warm, and it lighted up the field and its white shell driveway. I made him stop, and I looked hard so I could remember, and took a photo - which never really captures the saturated colors that so often call to me. Two days later, before the October light truly left, I went back and painted.

And then there are the scenes that intrigue me because they capture my imagination. This little houseboat is one of those.

For years, I've pestered Peter to sell all our stuff and live in either an RV or a houseboat. He has, intelligently, pointed out that we have six dogs and two cats, and so either situation would be pretty nightmarish.

And he's right. Beyond the dogs, though, my husband wants to have a home that's attached to the ground. He wants roots - and he knows that without them, I wouldn't do well, either.

But wouldn't it be fun to have a houseboat as a weekend getaway place? As a camp. I'm sure that's what this one is used for.

The houseboat, in Willis Wharf, just down the road.

THESE DUCKS or geese or whatever they are are always hanging around Willis Wharf. Click here to see a YouTube video of these quackers carefully making their way across the mud flats. 

                                                                  Did you vote? Jojo did! 

                                            Dog of the Day

This is Nia McLoughlin's happy girl, comfy on her bed in a patch of November sunlight. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Colors of the Spirit - and Time, Time, Time

Colors of the Spirit
Oil on canvas, 10x10

On this first day of Standard Time - as opposed to Daylight Saving Time - I ended up waking at a reasonable time, 5:30, instead of the ultra-stupid 4:30 that I really didn't want as my waking time. Of course, the times were the same times, but the change made me feel a little better about it, a little less anguished. 

For all the people like me, who wake at the crack of dawn or before, the shift to standard time should be good. And it is. I love that dawn will come earlier, that I can get painting earlier, that the morning will not be as dark for as long. 

But I recognize that I'm in the minority. As much as I appreciate the morning light, I'd be a happier person if we could just keep Daylight Saving Time all year. 

We aren't really an agrarian society any more, so we don't really need that morning light. Yes, school starts early, but there would be few days in which kids would be waiting for the bus in the dark.  Sure, in northern Maine and northern New York, there would be more - but not that many more. Arizona doesn't do this time change stuff. Alaska doesn't. In Canada, Saskatchewan doesn't. China doesn't. 

It's bad enough that our daylight hours are cut by the very facts of planetary rotation. Is it really necessary to have sunset come at 5 p.m.? Even I, who loves the dawn, would gladly give it up for another hour of evening light. 


THE TITLE of today's painting comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson: 

"Nature always wears the colors of the spirit." 

HERE'S SATURDAY'S sunset, across the field behind our home in Wachapreague. 

Dog of the Day

Yes, OK, it's the same kitten. But she was so cute! And today, her new owner came by and took her off to her new life. Phyllis was supposed to come and get the kitty on Monday, but just couldn't wait. She got the OK from the hotel owner, and that was that. It made my heart glad to know that the new kitty's mama was so excited to get her. And yes, I must admit, I fell a little in love with the little thing. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Farm on the Hill - and a Story with a Great Ending

Farm on the Hill
Oil on canvas, 20x20

Yesterday, Peter and I went to the vegetable stand where he got the hnngghhh! the other day, and we bought some more, since they had been so delicious. 

It was a windy, rainy afternoon, not cold but not pleasant at all. As we were buying stuff, I heard a teeny little squeak, and saw a kitten dart beneath our van. The guy we were buying the veggies from said it had been around all day, and needed to go home with someone. 

"How bout you?" he said. 

The vegetable stand is on Route 13, at a very busy intersection on that very busy road. The kitten was about the size of a small apple, and was clearly terrified and also pretty clearly starving. 

We do not need another animal. We have six dogs and two cats already, and that's more than enough. But I couldn't leave that little thing there to get run over on the highway. So I got down on my hands and knees in the wet gravel, and scooted around until I could grab it, and off we went. 

We stopped at the grocery store, got some food and a disposable litter box, and set off for home. 

The kitten was more than a little cowed by the dogs - who wouldn't be? Here's this tiny thing, amid a pack of what must be (to cat senses) slavering, stinky, terrifying creatures with enormous teeth and huge mouths. 

But she held her own, and the dogs, for the most part, became disinterested, after an initial flurry of excitement. 

Still. We really don't want or need another animal. 

Today, a friend and patron showed up at the back door with two friends of his. Peter was feeding the dogs. The kitten was locked in a carrier. The dogs were barking and howling and trying to get at the kitten, and at the strangers, all the time wanting to get at their own dinner. It was chaos, utter chaos. 

I managed to get out the door. 

"Hi!" my friend said. "Is this a bad time?"

"No," I said. "Want a kitten?"

"Yes!" said one of my friend's friends. 

Turns out, her own cat had died, suddenly, just last week. I brought her in, and she and the kitten hit it off right away. So at the end of the weekend, the little kitty will head to Northern Virginia, where she will be treated like a queen. 

It just doesn't get much better than that, does it? 

Here's the little kitty, who deserves the high honor of being... Dog of the Day!