There’s something so special about being with someone who loves what we love as much as we do. This painting came out of that kind of experience. I was in the gardens at Filoli in Woodside, California in the spring of 2016 with Lenore and Sue - two new and very dear friends. Sue and I share a thing about apple blossoms – how sweet and chubby they are, the buds are soft pink and they open to flowers with delicate, roundish petals. And there are the beginnings of green leaves at the same time as the flowers and buds – some flowering trees the leaves come after the blooms. Green and pink are such a happy combination!
While Lenore amused herself in other areas of the garden, we reveled – we obsessed – pointing out to each other this cluster and that. The bees, the bright sunshine, the freedom from anyone hovering, trying to be patient while it’s clear they are bored and ready to move on. We snapped pictures on our iPhones with all the time in the world at hand. It was a piece of heaven!
Later, looking through all those pictures, not a single one of them on its own expressed how I felt – so off to Photoshop I went. I ended up with basically two images, top and bottom, but I had to fit them together so they appeared as one. And then because I could not help myself, I brought in two more bees. I wanted to portray the sense of aliveness of the moment - and a single bee just didn’t. I simplified the background some, but I didn’t want to paint just sky behind the main subjects. I wanted to include the profusion of all the other trees in the orchard around it – meaning I had a whole lot of detail to wade through.
I started working on it late in the spring of 2016 and through the summer, disciplining myself to paint the background sections before working on the branches, leaves and finally the flowers. But, when August came around I was craving intense color. The time had passed for soft colors and for the first time I set aside a painting that had come this far, to work on something else. When the spring of 2017 came around I was totally ready to work on it again, finishing it up in just three weeks.
The name "Eden" came to me at the beginning – even before I’d painted it. I had considered giving this name to a rose painting I did just before starting this one. When that one became “Eve” I realized that “Eden” - the name of the original garden, with all its fertility and promise – was meant for this painting. That it is an apple tree makes it all the more so.
40"x40" - May 2016-April 2017 - Original - Sold
When we were living in Petaluma, two dear girl friends - Cathy and Nancy - and I went jogging at the crack of dawn most mornings. The three of us were the "The Lulu's" and our jogs were a hoot! Mostly we jogged in the rural areas just outside of town, but now and then I could talk them into a "garden tour" jog, to see what was blooming behind all the charming white picket fences in town. Now that we're in Fairfax, I head out in the morning with our dog -- and sometimes with my camera. I took this photo in Dean and Nancy's old place - they've moved on, but their garden blooms on. As often happens, I fall in love with an image and HAVE to paint it because of something that grabs me - in this one it was the light bouncing off the shiny camellia leaves. Wow! And as often happens, I am challenged as to how to represent it with paper, water and paint. The background is a departure for me, it was just the side of the house in the image, so I got to play with layers of washes and subtle texture - it was fun. My husband really likes this painting - my guy's guy - a pink flower - how cool is that?! 22"x30" - September 2010 - Original available - contact me for details Sizes/Prices: 22"x30" - $450/$550* 15"x20" - $250/$325* 7.5"x10" - $75
* hand-torn and painted edges
Morning ShineOriginals, Other Flowers
When I exhibited at Art Expo in New York City in the winter of 2009, after the setup, my mom and I went to the Nancy Hoffman Gallery to see if they had any of Joseph Raffael's work on display. We walked up the stairs to the second floor of the gallery and at the top of the stairs was a gigantic painting of his - apple or cherry blossoms - about 5 feet high and 7 feet wide. We both - involuntarily - took a huge breath in - this is where we get the term breathtaking! It was just stunning - blue sky and white blossoms expanded so that the tiny blossoms were as big as a human head, intense yellow and orange around some of the edges of the blossoms. Incredible energy and life. Amazing - in the exact sense of the word. To think that this kind of art might be in some way in me seemed beyond reality.
The image that I used to create this painting was taken on a walk in Fairfax, not too far from home in the spring of 2008. The tree was in its prime bloom, no spent blossoms. It captured me in the same breath-taking way. This spring (2014) I got the inkling to paint it. When I projected this image and fully saw all the detail in it, I got that it needed to be as large as I could make it - 40"x40." I started with what was the most challenging part - the blue sky. I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep some consistency between the various areas of sky in color and intensity. Mixing three pigments: cobalt blue and manganese blue hue with a little ultramarine violet, I layered on a thick Life in Full Color blue. Yikes, it was too much! Too intense. It needed to be softer. So I lifted it off with a lot of water and paper towels. Painting it back on with a less intense wash was definitely better. Painting the rest - branches, leaves, blossoms and buds was a matter of stamina. Plenty of detail, lots of spaces and shapes and shading.
Somewhere along the way, I realized the blue was still too violet and cool. What to do to "warm" it up? I didn't want to add yellow, that would make it greenish. A relatively new-to-me pigment, cobalt teal blue (think swimming pool blue) popped into my head. I took a small part of the blue and floated a layer. This did it. The cobalt particles tend to sit right on top and reflect light. The pale turquoise color was what was needed to balance the violet. Success!
The name came from another one-word song title. I'm so grateful for the bouyancy and joy in Pharrell Williams' Happy song - I can listen to it over and over and over. I love the lyric: "if you feel like a room without a roof." This is my room without a roof. Right now, as I've just finished the painting, "Happy" sounds like a goofy title for a painting of blossoms. As it has with other paintings' names, this name will grow on it - and me. Happy is a fine idea to be echoing into world. Thank you to Joseph, the Fairfaxian who planted this tree and Pharrell!
40"x40" - March-June 2014 - Original - Susan Howard
This is from the evening before I was to lead a Saturday workshop in June - on painting glass. I decided at the last minute that I really wanted to have something new to work on myself - to have something to demonstrate on that wasn't just a sample, but a "real" painting. It was about 6pm and I went wandering around our yard to see what I could find to put in a jar that had had rose petal jelly from Hediard in Paris in it. But our yard these days is looking really sad with the drought. Our lawn is gone, not just dead, but dead and gone! The deer got in and stripped all but two climbing roses. They have been struggling anyway with the low watering. I did find a few things in bloom: the blue hydrangea had a few blossoms, as well as the pink rhododendron and the New Dawn climber had just a few roses near the end of their bloom. That was it! But it was enough. Next to no flowers in the yard and I still came up with something. It's a really small arrangement - the jar is only about 4" in diameter. I went around with two cameras, an SLR and my iPhone 5, setting my little arrangements in various places where it would catch the evening light. When I had it sitting on the fence, all of a sudden, a whole bunch of the petals just tumbled down on to the fence rail on either side of the jar. Oh, how wonderful! I couldn't have planned for that to happen. So, a few more pictures and I had my image. I used the projector to make the drawing after dinner that night. Painting the glass was actually pretty straightforward. It's a simple exercise of "paint what I see." I'd never painted hydrangeas before though, and this was where I was most challenged. Like the lilacs in "Still" from earlier this spring, I found it tedious to pick through all the detail. I gave up on it part way through, switched over to paint the pink rhody and then came back to it before finishing up with the roses. Blue seems to be working its way into my paintings these days and this one has it - not just the hydrangea, but in the shadows of the other flowers. In a recent week I wrote in my weekly online journal about "sweetness," which had me think of the French word "douce" - the feminine adjective for "sweet." When I looked it up and found its other translations: soft, gentle, tender, quiet. Oh, how lovely. I could use more of this, these days, can you?
June - August 2015
This is the first photo I’ve been inspired to paint (apart from commissions) that I didn’t take, I didn’t witness the moment the camera captured these shapes, shadows and colors. It was taken by Paulette, one of the faithful artists in our Thursday group, of a rhododendron in her garden in Mill Valley. She had uploaded it to her folder of potential paintings on Dropbox. Whenever she asked me to look through the folder with her in search of her next painting, I kept asking about this one. “Why don’t you paint this one?” I asked. I just loved the soft light and the wonderful shapes and colors in the out-of-focus background. Over and again, she said she couldn’t see herself painting it. In response to another “nah” from her, I said – mostly teasing - “well, then, I’ll just have to paint it.” She took me seriously and bequeathed the image to me.
This is the second in a recent series of small paintings. I’m painting them using a printed image to refer to (no electronic devices) and a tiny palette of just some my favorite paints. They are “unplugged” paintings – something to work on when taking a short break from my bigger work, or when it’s not practical to use my big palette and computer. I’m enjoying working at a more leisurely pace as well as having little attachment to how it “turns out.”
The name came via one of my weekly posts. Feeling like we are swimming in a sea of irreverence and disrespect, I found myself writing a post about reverence. Looking at the in-progress art and the reference image and it just worked. I wasn’t intending on offering these unplugged paintings for sale. But then Lissa, my business coach and a devotee and collector of my work saw it in progress and it did that mysterious-something that art does to those it’s meant for. When she read that I was considering calling it “Reverence,” that cinched it. And it is now in eastern Canada.
15”x15” - January 2017 – Original Sold
These hydrangeas were blooming the Christmas before last out at my parents’ place. I was enjoying the unseasonably mild weather wandering the garden with Leigh and Lena, my niece and her partner, visiting from Brooklyn for the holidays. The light was low - even in mid-day - illuminating the whole thing, and grabbing my attention to save it all with my trusty iPhone. The leaves reveal the lateness of the season, but most of the flower clusters were as bright and vibrant as mid-summer! It was a mild winter, but still – this colorful?
After the presidential election of 2016 put much of the world into turmoil, I wanted something to paint that would bridge my inner spaces, some tattered and weary and others committed to life and beauty no matter what. The series of images I took of these vivid pink flowers and yellow leaves came to mind. In my studio was a square frame of beautiful wood that “Rest” left behind when it went off to Alberta, Canada - prompting me to see if I could come up with a square composition that would please me.
Before even drawing it, as I was still working with the image in Photoshop, the name came to me. Though the word “beatitude” means “supremely blessed,” in my mind it was an allusion to the Beatitudes - part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. I have very little to do with the Bible, though the tradition that is the most mine is Christian. But this passage is different – I have a history with it that dates back to a 2003 trip to Cuernavaca, Mexico with my former church when I learned of its prominent place in Liberation Theology - for those living in terrible poverty in Latin America.
After the name came to me I looked it up and realized that living by the Beatitudes is more called for at this time in human history than ever – at least since I’ve been alive. There is a paradox in them – the meek inheriting the earth – a defying of standard logic - that I felt in this image: Blessed are the late-season hydrangeas, though they are tattered and tired, they still are filled with color and illuminated by the light.
I tussled inside with whether I had the audacity to give a painting of flowers this piece of scripture as its name. As I was finishing it, I revealed my struggle with Sandy, one of the artists in our Friday group. Sandy is wise and awake and has a spacious heart. She told me I must go with it. I knew that I did – and it helped to be encouraged too. The name had come to me so early on, and had never left, throughout the weeks I worked on the painting. I’ve learned to accept and honor these messages – regardless of how much they challenge me.
29”x29” January 2017 – Original Sold
This is painted from an image from my stay in France in 1996. I took a long weekend on my own in August to tour the chateaux along the Loire valley. There was an amazing garden exhibition near one of the castles that was fascinating. These dahlias were growing in one of them. I've been in love with the right side of the image - it's so full of motion. Painting it I became entranced by the light. Once finished, these two flowers evoked the spirits of my twin nieces: Kiersten and Nicole. One is face-first, full-out bold energy, the other a bit more reserved, thoughtful and mysterious.
22"x30" - June 2007 - Carol Hannon
Twin DahliasOther Flowers
This vase of peonies is sitting on the sill of a window in the stairwell of my parents' house in Woodacre. Through the window is a bank of flowering plants just above where my brother and his wife were married and 8 years later where my husband and I were also married. My family had this house built when I was in junior high - I remember the day I came after school and I could sit in my own room (before that I'd shared with my older brother). There were no walls anywhere yet, just plywood sub-floor. There is such history in this place. Painting it came in three distinct phases. I spent quite a while on the garden-background - sculpting the paint into the soft shapes outside the window. Then came the faceted glass and the stems inside, which I thought would be a fright to do, but instead was quite fun and surprisingly easy. I stalled out painting the right big blossom. The photo image was murky and my drawing was unclear. But once I found my way through it, the big flower on the left I painted almost all in one Saturday. It's a large painting - the same size and dimension as "Touched by the Sun" and has a similar standing in the light quality. Our friend Sara (who is also the minister who married us) from across the street was visiting and I asked her what I should call it. When "Blush" came out of her mouth I was amazed! I had been thinking the very same word! It's in honor of the shy part of me that was so easily embarrassed. I had terrible stage fright and my face turned red when I was in the spotlight. Though I don't suffer in the way I used to - I'm so grateful to be mostly healed - that sensitive part of me is still here. Instead of wishing it away, I've learned to honor this part of myself. It's now safe to be really seen.
41"x29" - March 2013 - Original sold
Steve-o and Annette Lamott are, as she says, a miracle. They met the first time in 1996, she had a huge crush on him. She gave him her phone number on her business card, he never called. Instead he met someone else, married her and had a daughter. She carried on and raised her daughter not finding anyone special enough to be with. He divorced in 2006. They went hiking with a mutual friend and stayed friends for 7 months until they kissed in March of 2007. This is time he fell madly in love with HER and her cat, Ginger. They married on May 30th 2010. It was a beautiful, joyous wedding. She gave me a centerpiece to take home. I set it on our front stoop in the late afternoon light and took some photos. Somehow I couldn't see the painting-to-be in it right away. October of 2013, I was bent over, my belly flat on the large work table at Light Rain, reaching forward, de-curling a print and my body said to me "orange, I want orange." I'd just finished two pieces with lots of green-blue-violet-pink-red and I was left with a hunger. I'd just bought a new paint, Daniel Smith's quinacradone sienna and this was the image to take on. The terra cotta pot was the color I was craving. This was a wonky winter, with two bouts of flu and new mugs to market, I did a big weekend event 10 days before Christmas. I exhausted myself and found myself without the energy to paint more than I liked, which carried into the new year. I'm grateful for this lovely painting to have been the piece sitting waiting to be worked on. It was never "that old thing." It was a promise of life and color and a celebration when I came out of it. Here it is, feminine and earthy and overflowing, at the same time, patient for life to unfold in its own time. Steve-o calls Annette his "Lusty Latina." "Lustina" it is.
29"x38" - October 2013 - February 2014 - Original Sold
29"x38" - $550/$650*
24"x30" - $450/$550*
16"x20" - $250/$325*
8"x10" - $75 * hand-torn and painted edges
In 2011 I had a show at the Two Bird restaurant in the San Geronimo Valley, where I grew up. On a visit to the restaurant, a woman bought my painting “Honey Bee and Rugosa Roses” (actually it was the artist proof, the original had already been claimed). Thus we became connected so I could include her as I shared what I was painting and where I was showing. When I sent out a postcard with “Blush” announcing Open Studios in 2013, she called me asking if the original were available. These two paintings started her collection of my work. Later in 2013 she joined our Friday painting group and has become a Friday regular.
In October of 2014 she invited the Friday group to paint and have lunch at her house, in her garden, instead of in Larkspur. She provided an enormous spread of yummy food not just for lunch, but also coffee and goodies for when we first arrived. I’ve come to know her as one of the most gracious and generous and loving people I’ve ever met. She invited us again the next October. One of the gifts offered to her were these hydrangeas from another faithful Friday artist who grew them in her garden.
We were all captivated by the range of intense colors, so out they went into the garden to rest on a piece of Italian tile set on the corner of a wall-mounted fountain so we could take photos. I led a Saturday on painting water, so I drew this one to have at the ready as a demonstration piece. I painted it off-and-on over six months, setting it aside to work on other things. Once I returned to it, though, it had me. It’s the most intricate and complex thing I’ve painted so far. I painted the flowers last, which was a trip around my palette with all the colors. So much fun. Though the colors are intense, there is something somewhat softer, less vibrant than much of my recent work, making it soothing.
I continue to challenge myself with one-word titles. The one that came to me for this one is “Offering” which combines “gift” and “contribution,” both of which I am enormously blessed by – from our hostess that day - and in my life as a whole.
29"x39" - November 2015 - June 2016 - Original Sold
Touched by the Sun
This dahlia is from Mike and Julie's garden where the Zin vines I've painted grow. All the Browns were at their place for a barbeque late summer 2008, the low evening light on this flower caught my eye. This painting swam in my imagination for weeks while I was preparing for, doing and recovering from my first ArtExpo in New York this year. I couldn't wait for the time and energy to bring it through. Its name comes from a Carly Simon song title. I've played this song whenever I need to be really inspired for years. This single bloom stands on its own - lit externally by the sun as well as from within by its own power. 41"x29" - April 2009 - Mike and Connie Tiret Sizes/Prices: 41"x29" - $550/$650* 30"x21" - $450/$550* 20"x14" - $250/$325* 12"x7" - $85
* hand-torn and painted edges
Touched by the SunOther Flowers
A Celebration of Pink
What to paint after the meaningful yet difficult experience of painting my dog BJ, just after he died? I just couldn't get into resuming the painting that I was working on (of grapes) when the accident happened. Three weeks ago I was out at my mom and dad's house on a Saturday. I was in their garden taking photos of roses and happened to notice the lovely afternoon light coming through this rhododendron from behind. Later looking at all the images on the computer, this one jumped out. It almost looked like a painting as it was. I just loved all the abstract shapes in the background and all the pink! I have three brothers and am used to being around a lot of male energy - which is pretty much everywhere in our world. At the same time, I am unequivocally a pink-girl on the inside. We call our guest room the "pink room" and I need regular "pink time" in it. It seems that painting all these pink colors was just what I needed. Sometimes I feel bashful about how much I love pink and other times I claim my pinkness with great pride. It is with that spirit that this painting is named - a celebration of pink.
22"x30" - June 2010 - Original Sold
A Celebration of PinkOther Flowers
These blossoms are from a rhododendron bush in our front yard, right after the rain, in the bright late morning light. After the daffodils, these are the first of the spring flowers in our yard. They are faintly fragrant and so delicately colored. These images full of drops and sunlight have captivated me for a while and yet none of them seemed quite right. Playing around in Photoshop, I combined two images and the result jumped out saying "paint me." Painting all these drops was fun and puzzling. Painting the center I had the thought that I was painting the inside of an oyster - the round organic shapes, the luminescent, pearly colors. It took a while for this one to proclaim itself finished. I'm happy that it is.
22"x30" - May 2009 - David and Cindy Weaver
Rhododendron RaindropsOther Flowers
Apple Blossom Spring
Our dear friends Dean and Nancy lived for many years in a sweet house with an even sweeter garden in Fairfax. I took this photo of their Gravenstein apple tree growing in their side garden. I just loved the configuration of the branches and the delicacy of the apple blossoms in full bloom. Of course, I'm also a sucker for back lighting! It seems most of the paintings I'm drawn to create contain some new artistic challenge. In this one it was white blossoms. I actually painted them first, as I had a hard time trusting that I could paint them to please me and did not want to paint the whole thing and then "ruin" it with badly painted white flowers. This is the least colorful of all the paintings I've done, so it's quieter. It speaks of trust, beginnings, becoming and it is anchored by the steadfastness of the giant sycamore tree.
30"x22" - April 2007 - Original sold
Apple Blossom SpringOther Flowers
I was on vacation with my parents just before my divorce in 1995 when I took this photo in Quarante, a small village in Languedoc where we spent a week. Those 12 days in France continue to be some of the best days I've ever spent on vacation, and I love being reminded of it by this painting. This was an attempt to paint in a looser, more impressionistic style. It was an interesting experience, and I wasn't sure I was happy with the resulting painting. A dear family member, Illa Newman saw this little photo in my journal at Marin Open Studios in May 2007. She asked about it. I was unsure about its appeal, so I had not included it in the show. I later took it to her and now, not only is it hers, but she has painted her front door blue! This painting evokes for her, her many visits to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. I love how my work brings people to places that I'd never anticipated.
22"x15" - April 2005 - Illa Newman