Monday, November 11, 2019

My Ruined Heart

My Ruined Heart

The days pass, endless and endlessly, longer than they should be, longer than they are. Longer than any days of my life. 

My family has been my backbone. Our daughter Erika, heart heavy with her own grief after witnessing Peter's death, has kept me upright, with love and calls, actions and caring, and the help of her husband Paul. My sister and brother traveled to Wachapreague, and spent days with me, comforting me, doing with me tasks that I could not do alone. Their families have reached out in big ways and small to help me through this agony. My dad and stepmother have reached out across the miles with love and support and hearts filled with parental caring and help.

My Eastern Shore friends have come, once I became able to see people, and have brought gifts and food and flowers and the salve of distraction and conversation. My friends from across the country and around the world have sent me letters and notes, cards and gifts, posted their love and support on social media and reached out, over and over, during this awful time.

I am truly humbled by the outpouring of love and support, and truly grateful. Thank you, all of you. I see your love, I realize its power, and I understand how very much I need all of it and all of you, who have given so freely.

Even so, even with all that, it's hard to describe how empty and centerless my life feels without Peter. It's a long, straight hallway with dim lights and no clear end, no turns, no doors. No windows. It is hard to feel that things will look shiny and bright again ever. In my head, I know they will - experience has taught me that they will - but my heart just doesn't know it yet.

I have been painting. I have been eating, and sleeping fairly well. I've been tending to my unruly pack of dogs, and find that I am grateful for their endless needs and their exuberant joy, and how they greet me with exhilarated welcome every time I walk through a door.

Hold your loved ones close, that is a thing I know now in a way I never knew before, and find a way to a peaceful heart today, in this moment. If there is a thing you do, a way you are, that you don't like in your relationship, change it. Imagine - if he died today, would you regret being a nag? If he died today, would you wish you'd spent less time asking him to pick up his stuff and more time telling him how much you love him? If he died today, would he know how central he was to everything that you do?

These questions and their inevitable answers of failure have cut deep into my heart since Peter died. In the daily ups and downs of marriage, we take small frictions and minor squabbles for granted. I wish I hadn't. I wish I'd been more accepting, kinder, more willing to overlook, give in, acquiesce. I wish I'd written him more poetry and fewer reminder notes. I wish I'd sung him the song of my heart more fully and more clearly. I'd give anything to take back those careless quibbles and exchange them for words of love and support.

We had a good marriage - even, maybe, a great one. We loved each other, treasured each other, told each other so, and sought to make each other happy every day. But if I'd known it would end so soon, so abruptly, I'd have changed so much about myself. I'd have been such a better person, such a better wife. I'm sharing this now not to berate myself, but to offer a moment's pause that might help you avoid an eternity of longing.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Two Long Weeks


These days stretch out like fog along a gravel road, gray at the top, sharp beneath my feet.

For more than 30 years, it was the two of us together, with a changing retinue of dogs and cats. Always, there was my dear Erika, but usually at a distance.

It was Peter and me, in Westerly, in Portsmouth, in Idaho, in Maine, in Paris and Madrid and the Basque Pyrenees. It was him and me in Connecticut and Maryland and New York state and here on the Eastern Shore.

It was the two of us camping on the Big Hole River, fishing Kelly Creek and Silver Creek, skiing together at Bogus Basin, walking the woods in Bolster's Mills, swimming in the Neversink River, driving through western Canada, climbing to the top of a mountain in Lake Louise with our little dog, Gus. When we got to the top and were told Gus couldn't sit on the patio of the mountaintop restaurant with us, we turned around and hiked back down.

It was the two of us, together, complete. It was enough. We had friends, and we have family we love, but he made my world.

And now he is gone.

I can't believe it. Still can't believe it, two weeks after his death. I am sure he is about to walk in, yell "Hey, baby!" and hug and kiss me. Again and again, I am sure. Again and again, I relive the truth.

He is not coming back. There is no more "us." No more turning to him and asking, "Do you remember when we...?" No more, "Look at what I saw today!" knowing it would make him smile.

I made the painting of him a few days ago. When I was in New Mexico in the spring, I bought a set of pigments from a guy who mines the minerals and then crushes them into pigment. I'd been saving them for something special.

We are holding a memorial celebration for Peter on Saturday, Nov. 23, in Westerly, RI. I will paste the notice in below. You are welcome to attend. If you can't, maybe you can put a Hawaiian shirt on on that day, even over another shirt. If you want to read about his life, you may click here to get to his obituary, on


PLEASE JOIN US at the Calabrese Club on Saturday, Nov. 23, to celebrate the rich, art-filled and too-short life of Peter Richard Jacobson, who died Oct. 10. The club is located at 28 Pleasant St., Westerly, RI.

The celebration will take place from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Please come prepared to share stories and memories about Peter. And if you have or can get a Hawaiian shirt, please wear one. They were his favorite. 

The celebration will be alcohol-free. If you would like to bring a dish to share, please contact Erika Jacobson Chiaradio, either by tagging or messaging her on Facebook, or calling her at 401-595-6850.

To read his obituary, please visit To see his artwork, please visit

Wednesday, October 16, 2019



My sweet husband died on Thursday, Oct. 10, after a massive heart attack here at home Wednesday night.

He had come home Sunday from more than three weeks in Rhode Island, where he went to a Chariho High School reunion and spent great, loving, wonderful time with our daughter, Erika, her husband Paul and their youngest, Ashton.

If you knew Peter, you know what a triumph this trip was. A homebody bordering on hermit, he had terrible anxiety around travel. Going to the store, or even Virginia Beach or Salisbury -  90 minutes away, each - that was OK. But going away - away-away - that was hard for him. Very hard.

Armed with a brand-new iPhone, which he had reluctantly agreed to, after years of dismissing the idea, and had then totally fallen in love with - he set out in September for the land of his youth.

I was stunned to hear that he was interested in his high school reunion, but I didn't tease him or question it. That he was going, and possibly for an extended time, this was an achievements I celebrated - and he did, too.

He had a great time at the reunion, and a grand time with Erika, Paul and Ashton. He did a lot of cooking for them, and they sat on the front porch every evening and talked and laughed into the night. He called me from the porch and told me how much fun he was having, and again and again how proud he was of our daughter, who is in a great marriage, has earned her RN degree, has a job she loves and a fine house.

Peter reconnected with the Westerly area, too, in a way I thought he never would. He grew up there, and we met there and had our first home there, but he had been singularly dismayed with the building and development and crowding and commercialization that had occurred there over the years. He'd sworn that he'd never go back, at least not to live, and not to visit, if he could help it.

But he was so enchanted this trip that while he was there, we talked about finding a way to live there for part of the year, or even, maybe, move there. He saw old friends, visited places he had loved, and hunted for arrowheads for hours and hours many days.

And then he came home, and he was happy to be here, in our quiet little town. He told me how much he loves it here, and we talked about all the differences between Westerly and Wachapreague, and again talked about the possibility of finding a way to spend part of the year up there, in that place, yes, but more, with Erika and her family.

He had been having terrible back pain, starting between his shoulder blades and radiating out. It had been going on for four or five days by the time he got home. It seemed to ease up, but then kicked in again on Tuesday.

We went to the Rural Health clinic on Wednesday. His blood pressure was elevated but not dramatically, or at least, that's what they said. They gave him medicine for his chest cold and coughing, and for pain, and sent us home.

Around midnight, I woke up to a crash coming from the living room. He was on the couch, pale and clammy, holding his chest and arching his back. He told me to call 911 and I did, and stayed with him for what felt like hours until the ambulance arrived. They put him on oxygen and before they wheeled him out, I kissed him and told him I loved him and that it would be OK.

It wasn't. He had a cardiac arrest in the ambulance, and honestly, I believe that's when he died. Between here and our hospital. They were doing chest compressions when the ambulance doors opened. They put him on a ventilator, and got him back. Our hospital has one cardiologist, and no cardiac facilities. He came in, and said he thought Peter was stable enough to get to the hospital in Salisbury, which does have cardiac capabilities.

It was too windy for a helicopter, so we waited for the ambulance with the ventilator. Ninety minutes to Salisbury. Thirty in the ER. Then up to ICU, where he arrested again. They revived him - Erika and Paul were on their way.

I knew there was no hope. When they arrived, we spent a few hours with him, then disconnected the life support systems and let him go.

He died long, long, long before he should have. He had plans, and projects and ideas. He was vigorous, interested in life, discovering new things, new likes and hobbies. I know he wasn't ready.

And I am not ready. I am broken, lost, lonely and sadder than I could ever have thought possible. A friend of mine reminded me that I once told him that Peter completed me - and he did. He was my love, my soulmate, my very best friend. Everything I did, I have realized, I did to make him happy - because making him happy was what made me happy.

When I made a painting, I showed it to him first - hoping for delight and enthusiasm, or for a critique that would help me improve it. I made very few paintings that he didn't see before anyone. He was my audience, my target, the person for whom I painted.

The meals I cooked, I cooked because I knew they would please him. I found things and bought things and took pictures of things - all to amuse him or engage him or interest his sharp and active mind and imagination.

I don't know how to live without him, I just don't.

Today, it's finally gray and cold and horrible and rainy. Today the world matches my soul. These days since he died have been beautiful and warm and sunny, the kind of day in which we'd take a break from whatever we were doing, and sit in our quiet back yard and talk and watch the dogs, and he'd say, "Aahhh. This is why we live here."

A few months ago, as I was driving back from some show or painting trip, I realized that I absolutely loved my life. That it could not be better, could not be more perfect. I doubt I'll ever be able to say that again. I wake up each morning, and my first thought is, "Another day without Peter." And I weep.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Shapleigh, Maine

I'VE HAD MYSELF a busy time lately, and it's been fun! The Mystic Outdoor Art Festival was a success - and if you were a part of making it a success, thank you.                                                                                                                                Before and after, I spent time with friends and family, staying at our daughter's house in Rhode Island (with a pool!) and during a brief trip to Maine. I was able to drive up to Maine on one day, and back the next.                                                                                                                                              Crazy, a little, but it let me spend time with my aunt and uncle, two sets of cousins and their families (one, whom I rarely see, lives in St. Paul), my brother and his wife and daughter, and my friend Heather, (below) who came with me on one of my very first painting trips.                                                                                                                                          It was a whirlwind - and it was fun! We lived in Maine on and off for 10 years, and while it was a tough, and often depressing place to live, there was much I loved about it, including the landscape. I rejoiced that I had time to squeeze out a couple paintings, including this one, at left,  of a lake in Shapleigh, Maine.                                                       

Dog of the Day

 It's Annie, the bulldog who lives with my brother Rand Cooper, his wife Molly and their teenager, Larkin. And of course, Archie, who, I believe, thinks Annie is a little nuts. She clearly enjoyed her tutu T-shirt. And why not? It made her so special!

A Final Thought

"Art should be an oasis: a place or refuge from the hardness of life." 

- Fernando Botero

Friday, July 19, 2019

Slice of Light (After the Wedding)

Slice of Light
Oil on blackened canvas, 36x48
New version, above; origina version, below
I have brought this painting to a number of shows, and had it in a few galleries, and it has not sold. I think it's one of my best paintings ever - and it has a cool story. I go to breakfast most Thursdays with a group of  women who have come to the Eastern Shore from Away. We go to the Sage Diner, an Eastern Shore institution, have breakfast, talk, laugh, share. 

For years, we were helped by the same waitress, a gorgeous, tall (6-foot-plus, and always with her hair up, making her even taller) woman who's from the Shore. 

One day, she announced that she was going to marry her high-school sweetheart. They'd both been through marriages that hadn't worked, and had run into each other again and fallen in love. And all of us, the Ladies, were invited. 

After the wedding, which was in the afternoon, I walked out of the church and saw this scene across the street. A beautiful farm field with the last slanting light of afternoon cutting across it. 

I painted it initially (below) quite dark and light, and recently lightened and brightened it. What do you think? 


I'LL BE IN Westport, CT, this weekend, at the Westport Fine Arts Festival. YES, it's going to be hot, so bring fluids, wear a hat, expect to sweat - but please come to the show if you can. I'm in Booth 45, on Main Street, near the intersection with Elm. I'll put a Facebook Live video up on Saturday, if I can! 

Meantime, above, a photo of my booth from the recent Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in State College, PA. 

Dog of the Day

A Final Thought

"Art should be an oasis: a place or refuge from the hardness of life." 

- Fernando Botero

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Dancing Sunshine

Dancing Sunshine
Oil on blackened canvas, 36x48

THERE'S A THING that has happened to me now many times in my lengthening painting life. I get an idea of a painting I want to make - maybe even just a whisper of an idea - a ghost, a sliver of a thought. I know I want to make the piece, but I either can't see it, or just don't yet have the skills to paint it.  Blue Canada, the painting to the left here, was one of those. I knew it would be an amazing painting, but when I saw the scene, on a trip to the Atlantic Provinces with my friend, the terrific artist Heather MacLeod, I knew I wasn't ready to paint it. Today, it doesn't look particularly difficult or intimidating, but really, it was and is. There's almost nothing in it, and yet, it's a pretty cool painting. 

The sunflower piece above, Dancing Sunshine, is one I've had in my head for years - really, ever since I started making sunflower paintings.  But I hadn't been able to see it clearly enough to understand what was compelling me, what I wanted to do. 

From the photo, it doesn't look like anything special, I am afraid. This is one of the ones you really need to see in person. What attracts me, and makes me so happy, is the differences in thick and thin paint, the places where the nub of the canvas makes its way to the surface, or isn't covered at all. I love the looseness of the sunflowers and the feeling of their petals and colors and vibrance bursting onto the canvas. 

In my mind are several paintings that are calling to me, that I don't yet know how to paint, or have the skills to paint. I will just let them sit there until they force their way to the front and let me know it's time. 

Three Smalls

Shore Spring,
Oil on canvas, 6x12

Iris House
Oil on board, 6x6, not including frame

Three Ps
Oil on board, 6x6, not including frame

THESE THREE are headed for "Earthly Delights," my upcoming solo show at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, in Norfolk, VA. The show will open July 1 and run until the end of August. If you're in the area, I hope you'll stop in. The gardens are amazing - and it's been a long time since I've had a solo show. This is a real honor for me, and I'm excited about it! 

Dog of the Day

It's Koko! And she is happy on the couch, for sure. Paintings in the background are by Cynthia Rosen Malter (left) and Bethany Simpson. 

A Final Thought

"Art is man's nature; nature is God's art."

- Philip James Bailey

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Flowers, flowers, flowers - and a Mexican Koko!

 Brown-eyed Susans
Oil on black canvas, 14x14
Please click here to email me for price and availability

AFTER A WEAK show in Tubac and a round of self-doubt and self-examination, I dove back in and started painting again, and it felt great.

I have a solo show in July and August at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, in Norfolk, VA, and I need 30-40 paintings for it. So I decided to paint florals, and just let the paint flow and take me where it takes me.

You people - the community that has grown up around my paintings - you people are so very sweet and so very supportive, it takes my breath away sometimes.

I write about the bad times as well as the good to share the experience, with you who love and admire and buy my art, and with other artists, especially younger ones, who might think that they are the only ones who doubt, who question, who wonder about their work and their direction. I've been making and selling art for a little while now - and that is not false modesty, but the truth: In terms of people making their living at art, I'm still a neophyte.

But I'm successful, and people buy and collect and love my paintings - and still, I question my direction, my purpose, my way. I wish artists with vast experience would share more about their doubts and missteps. I'd love to hear their questions and their answers.

Thank you, all of you who wrote and sent me your love and support. I truly appreciate it, and it always, always helps me gather my courage.

And that is what I'm doing. I'm experimenting, I'm painting with faith and verve, I am going to go where the path leads me, and I'm not painting scared. And guess what? It feels great.

Inset - Peonies, 6x6
Above - Peonies and Tiger Lilies, 12x36
Below, Bouquet on White, 16x16


DAD AND PAULA and I went to Nogales, Mexico, last week, so Paula could have some dentistry work done. They, and all their friends - and a number of other people I know - cross the border from Nogales, Arizona, to Nogales, Sonora, regularly for dentistry. The dentists are first-class, and the work is miles cheaper and way quicker. It's often more economical to fly to Tucson, get a hotel, drive to Nogales and have your dental work done, than to go to your own dentist down the street. To the right is the dentist in his waiting room. Below, Nogales, Sonora. 

Above, the border going into Mexico by car. Below, Paula walking toward the border you cross on foot. Dad and Paula park in Nogales, Arizona, and then walk across the border. Apparently, the line for cars to cross back into the US can be very long. 

Above, a Mexican Chinese restaurant. Below, a Mexican Koko! 

Look through the fence at the border return, above, and you can see the metal fence, now lined with razor wire, separating Nogales, Sonora, from Nogales, Arizona. Below, the line to get back into the US. It looked pretty long, but took us only about 25 minutes. 

Perro de la Dia

IT'S THE MEXICAN Koko, above! For those of you who might not be able to conjure up an image of the Virginian Koko, I have included a photo of her, below. Amazing likeness, si? 

A Final Thought

"Art has many avenues; love is carried through many vessels. Your oceans are your colours, your ship is your brush and your treasures are in your heart." 

- Moncy Barbour

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

On Deep Creek Road

THE SHOW IN TUBAC, while not a loser of a show, wasn't great in terms of sales. I met some truly lovely people, visitors and artists alike, and made some marvelous connections, some of which will last for life, I think - and patrons and supporters of my work bought some paintings.                                                                                                                           It was excellent on a human level, and was not a disaster financially, but it was a long, slow, and very cold show. Standing outside in 40-degree weather, with a cold wind blowing, for 10 hours or so, to bring in $35, well, that's a tough day.                                                                                                                    Inevitably, a day like this, a show like this makes me question my direction, my production, my choices, even my talent. I talk positively to myself, I remind myself that I believe truly in what I'm doing, and that my job is to talk to people, listen to them, share my story if they're interested, hand out cards, invite them to sign up for my newsletter. And bring the art to them, the best art I can bring. But doubt creeps in. 

It's all an opportunity to critique my paintings honestly and even brutally, and that is OK. 

So, for your consideration, I'm posting my newest mosaic painting, at the very top, and the original painting I made of the scene, below. I like them both, I have to say, though they are very different. I'd love to hear your insights. 


MY NEXT SHOW is the Rio Grande Spring Festival in Albuquerque, March 8-10, 
at the Lujan Exhibit Complex at the Expo NM Fairgrounds. 
I'm glad to say that this will be an indoor show. 

Dog of the Day

It's Ringo Starr, whose humans made and sold macrame jewelry just up the road from me during the Tubac show. Ringo was friendly and very well behaved.
Want your pet to be the Dog of the Day? Send a jpg to me at

A Final Thought

"The purpose of art is not a rarified, intellectual distillate - it is life, intensified, brilliant life." 

-Alain Arias-Misson

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Curly, Larry & Moe

Curly, Larry & Moe 
Oil on black canvas, 20x20 / Available soon at District Arts, in Frederick, MD

This has been an exciting and busy stretch for me, as faithful followers of this blog can tell by my prolonged silence. I spent January painting commissions, painting for galleries, painting for shows - and somehow, I feel light on supply, in spite of all that painting. But it's a good problem to have, really! 

As I write this, I am in Tubac, AZ, visiting my dad and stepmother, in advance of the Tubac Festival of the Arts, which starts on Wednesday and runs through Sunday. I won't know my booth space until set-up time on Tuesday. I'll post it on Facebook then, and on my website, The photo to the left shows me and my dad, together on Saturday at the Arts Center in Tubac. Dad was 90 in September, and is doing great. He volunteers at the Arts Center, knows everyone there and has a keen eye for good. art. 

I've had the good fortune to be invited to show and sell my work - including Curly, Larry & Moe - at District Arts, 15 North Market St., Frederick, MD. ( The gallery, which is set to open later in the month, if all goes well, is owned by Staci and Bill McLauchlan, who are wonderful artists I met years ago, doing shows. Knowing them, and seeing the artists involved, I am sure the gallery is going to be spectacular. If you're in the area, please stop in. 

I'll have Nine Honkers (below) with me at the Tubac Art Festival. Hope to see you there! 

 Nine Honkers
Oil on black canvas, 20x60

Scenes from the Road

I STOPPED IN Robertson, Alabama, at the Oasis Travel Center, and was delightfully surprised and amused. The place sort of defies explanation - and is ridiculously fun. You enter through a giant VW microbus, find yourself face to face with a pirate ship, and then find an 18-wheeler, a school bus and a variety of fun sculptures, T-shirts, snacks, sodas and entertainment inside. It's a scream! I will make a point of stopping there any time I'm on I-10. 

Dog of the Day

It's Lulu - a/k/a Princess Yum-Yum - ready for bed. 
She doesn't really sleep this way - but my guess is that she believes she should! 

A Final Thought

"Every creative act involves a new innocence of perception, 
liberated from the cataract of accepted belief."

- Arthur Koestler