Friday, December 31, 2010

Pig in the Cubby

If you are following this blog at all, by now you have realized that I am a pack rat. I collect all kinds of things wherever I go, and yes, they are showing up in these daily paintings. It can't help but wind up being an autobiography in paint for any artist practicing daily painting. I think that is what makes the body of work interesting. It is a lens into a person's life, what they observe and what they surround themselves with.

Here is a cast iron piggy bank I picked up somewhere along the way. I love the chipped and worn paint. I actually think he is more attractive that way than if he were in pristine condition. My friend Mary (who is a fantastic artist) thinks this painting is edgy and dark. I never started out to create that impression, it is just what happened.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pop Caps of Childhood I

I really like the graphic simplicity of the old bottle caps. I wonder if you can get birch beer and sarsaparilla anywhere anymore.

Even though I call this piece "Pop Caps of Childhood", they come from an era a bit before my childhood. I picked up a big jar of these at a flea market probably 30 years ago.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pop Caps and Pop Art VIII

Here's Warhol again with the seal on the soup can mimicking a pop cap in the composition. 

Something I didn't even notice until I'm posting this (and I went into my kitchen to check a tomato soup can), but the O in soup is tilted like the O in Robert Indiana's "LOVE" (but in the opposite direction). I've read so many interpretations of that tilted O, but wouldn't credit any that didn't come from the artist himself. Sometimes I think that those making a career out of art criticism come up with interpretations and meanings that the artist never thought of or intended. I can think of as many reasons why an artist would not refute any of these and is the wiser for remaining mute.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Pop Caps & Pop Art VI

Of course, I couldn't do an homage to pop artists without Andy Warhol!

Glowing Scent I

Over 2 feet of snow fell here last night, and as I look into the yard I can see that some of the drifts will be over my waist. No plows have come down the street yet, and even though the snow stopped at daybreak, no one is out clearing yet. 

So it seems like a good day to post this warm, gemmy little perfume bottle painting. The sun pouring through the bottle seems to set the shadow on fire.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pop Caps and Pop Art V

Here's another in this series, this time with Robert Indiana's famous "LOVE" poster. I don't think there was any other artists who has been defined by one single piece of art like he has been. Certainly he himself has reiterated the theme with other words and numbers and reinforced that perception, but he has contributed much more to the graphical imagery of the Pop Art movement than that and deserves investigation by anyone interested in the genre.

Olive Green

Another piece in a recurring theme. The notion of artist's materials as our sustenance. The necessities for the life of the artist as it relates to food and drink, the necessities for the life of the body.

Martini's aren't really a necessity for life, but they can make it more interesting!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Blues Brothers III

Here's another piece with a assortment of blue glass. My favorite part of the painting is the Coca-Cola glass and all the shapes and color in it.

In anthropomorphizing the painting, it kind of looks like an odd couple being confronted at a checkpoint. (Now where did that just come from?)

Keys to the Castle

So many kids have a fascination with keys that lingers into adulthood. Maybe it's because they are associated with treasure boxes and represent possibilities. At any rate, I am one of those.

This big steel ring came with my house when we bought it years ago. It is loaded with skeleton keys that fit all the many doors. I have always looked at them and thought of Bluebeard's wife with the ring of keys, one of which he forbade her to use. It's a very creepy story that stimulates my already over-active imagination. I added a tin whistle to the key ring years ago to take away from that and add a whimsical counterpoint.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Oystering Sort

I just love these old wood oyster boats that ply the waters of Oyster Bay. It always amazes me how they weave in and out among the moored boats and without snagging a few anchors.

Clammer's Break

Clammers in Oyster Bay normally set up quite a distance from each other. Come the end of the day, however, they sometimes raft up and share a few beers and stories.

This painting breaks a lot of rules (some less successfully than others), but I think it does evoke the feeling of a hot summer afternoon and comraderie on the water.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Basking in the Sun

My little cast iron mermaid looks quite comfy on the windowsill, dreaming of warm summer days and warming her back in the sun.

Yesteryear's Patch Kit

My husband's family was well known in bicycle racing circles back when there used to be numerous velodromes in the New York Area. My father-in-law raced many 6 Day Races in these velodromes and placed in prestigious venues such as Somerville, NJ.

My husband and his father both belonged to the German Bicycle Club which utilized the track at Kissena. When my husband was a boy, my father-in-law paid him 25 cents for each flat he would fix for customers in his basement bike shop. This painting is of the materials that he would use to patch flats back in the day. He still keeps them around in a corner of his workshop just for sentiment's sake.

My favorite thing in the painting is the rusty dusty Mennen talcum for men tin. It's got to date back to the 40's based upon the lettering style on it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pensive Moment

I called this painting Pensive Moment because the little ceramic mermaid seems to be contemplating something deep on this wintry day.

Painting glass is always a challenge and a delight.

Wall Drug Landscape VIII

In the land that time forgot.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Primary Sentinels

This is actually a scene from the same day as the prior painting. It owes its completely different feeling to the use of intense chroma in the chairs themselves and charging the shadows with lighter values of those same pure colors. No Grays here. The feeling is completely different from "Winter Curves". Here, you sense the bright sunshine after a good snowfall. In the former, you are aware of an overcast that softens and grays everything. A successful realistic painting isn't always about the reality that the painter sees. Rather, it is the reality the painter creates out of what she or he sees and if, therefore, the painting can make the viewer feel something.

Winter Curves

It's the bright yellow graphic of the arrow signs and lines on the road against the myriad hues of gray that drew me to paint this simple scene.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Dragon Teacup

Yes, If you've been following, you may have noticed I have a fascination with dragons. I've collected them in every form since I was 16. This is a delicate little teacup I found in a roadside antique shop in Virginia years ago. The delicate bone china begged delicate treatment in the painting of it, soft coloring and shadows.

Sweet Shot

Jujyfruit, who doesn't like these? Pre-gummy bear, gummies, basically.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Good and Plenty Reflections

This was a challenging piece to paint. The defraction of the light through the glass into the shadow held a fascination for me and I'm very pleased that even the "quiet spaces" of the uninterrupted shadows have interest because of the variety of color in them.

Wall Drug Landscape VII

Here's another of Dobby's creations. This time a billboard is imagined at night with headlights washing into the scene.

If it's your first time traveling along this highway in South Dakota, by the time you see this billboard, you are thoroughly confused as to what Wall Drug will be. Grizzled cowboys serving coffee over a campfire, a giant 6 foot rabbit, dinosaurs, buffalo, an antique railroad train and so much more are touted along the way. It sounds like a western Disneyland!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Storytime Tea

These are worn little treasures I found over the years at a flea market and junk shop. There is nothing particularly valuable about them in the eyes of collectors because of their condition, but it is that wear that attracts me. I imagine the hands of the children that loved these items. The child that opened that book to read so many times that the spine cracked and fell off, or the little girl serving tea to her friends and dolls so often that she wore the paint right down to the tin.

Even though these were not my own as a child, they evoke memories of the things that I treasured.

Blues Brothers II

It's the translucent shadows that made this so much fun to paint. The coloring ties the objects together, but the elipses repeated throughout also give them a relationship. 

The items in the lower right corner are weathered glass bottle stoppers. I found them on the beach of David's Island which is not far from where I live. The Island has been abandoned for many years, but had a military base and housing there late enough to have an underground missle storage area. Because of the population that was once there, it is a gold mine of old glass bottles, pottery and more.

Unfortunately, (or not, depending upon your point of view), the Island has been off limits for several years now as the town it belongs to has decided to develop it into a park area. Until that work is done, no one is allowed on the Island.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

City Island Monopoly VII

Of course, Earley Street has to be Boardwalk! Of all the little playing pieces, the iron has got to be the weirdest. Why an iron?

Patrice Eaton - Bronx Opera Company

Patrice is a mezzo-soprano with the Bronx Opera Company. Her wonderful voice lifts you up and transports you when she sings.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas House II

This is another of my little handmade Christmas village houses. I am particularly pleased with the frosty glitter, especially on the white. 

It makes me think of home, cozy evenings, family, friends, good times and all the things I am grateful for in my life just to look at them.


The coloring on this scan is off. The palette is much softer and greyed. The scanner seemed to skew towards blue greens too much and lose a lot of the subtler details in the lightest areas. I tried to adjust it, but am not satisfied with the results at all. It was precisely the soft, greyed palette that drew me to this otherwise mundane scene.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

City Island Monopoly VI

Another painting of my handmade monopoly board. The different wood veneers are so intriguing to look at and to paint.

Vase & Urchin

I love the soft color palette of this painting and the way the shape of the sea urchin echoes that of the quirky handmade vase that I picked up at a yard sale.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Salt & Pepper Icons

I've got a salt and pepper collection that was started as a joke by my husband. Because of friends jumping on the bandwagon, it has grown to epic proportions. I especially have come to love the mid-century plastics. These are a couple of my favorites.

Storm's End, Huckleberry Island

A gray and blustery day at my favorite little island in the Sound.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sun on the Pampas Grass

A simple little scene that reverses traditional color logic. The cool whites are in the foreground and the warm ones are in the background. It works well though, and goes to show that there really are no unbreakable rules in painting.

What makes the composition work is precisely that role reversal. The very strong shape of the boat bow would command and hold your attention in the corner if not for the warm, centrally located brights of the pampas grass.

Got Rocks

I am a (very) amateur rockhound and love going to sites in my rockhound guidebooks when we are traveling. Mostly I find prairie and bubble gum agates, but what I really love about the experience is that it takes us WAY off the beaten tourist track. I absolutely love that. This country is amazing and beautiful in so many different ways. It's a shame that more people don't step outside of their comfort zones of where they live or get away from the known touristed areas, but on the other hand, I'm glad they don't, because these places wouldn't be so wild and beautiful if they were filled with people! 

Anyway, my husband gave me a rock tumbler for Christmas so I could polish up my finds. I have pretty little bits all over the house, even in the fish tank! Several of these square glass jars that used to have scented candles in them line my windowsill filled with stones. I love to look at their variety of color and pattern.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Paper Dragon & Thai Silk

The gifts of 2 different friends came together in this painting to create some drama. My friend Marilyn gave me this beautiful silk scarf from Thailand and friend Doris gave me this paper dragon puppet. It was challenging to paint the accordian paper body, but it is like anything else, just painting shapes that coalesce into an illusion.

Wall Drug Landscape VI

Here Dobby gets creative with some of his signature characters.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tinkerton and Crossword

My neighbor Reina Mia Brill makes these very distinctive creatures out of wood, pottery and knitted wire. I acquired this little fellow who she calls a Tinkerton. Why is he on top of a crossword puzzle? Because he looks like a very erudite fellow to me. I also like the complex shadow he throws on the b/w graphic of the puzzle. 

In hindsight now, I'm thinking he looks a bit stunned. Maybe this piece should be called "Crosswords Were the Death of Him". What do you think?

You can find Reina's work online at:

City Island Monopoly IV

Another watercolor of my handmade Monopoly board. I like the graphic look of the board and money being so flat and geometric in their blocks of color, juxtaposed against the dimensional playing pieces.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wall Drug Landscape V

Moisture in the morning air diffuses the landscape and is so thickly rising off the field in spots that it looks like smoke.

Christmas Village House I

I have a small set of these Christmas village houses, each complete with its own landscaped yard. They were made by my Uncle John Nelson, probably back in the 50s. There are little cutouts at the back so that you can poke a bulb from your string of lights inside and it will light up the windows. He used to sell them at his own church fair, and because he was married to my grandmother's sister, he also sold them at my grandmother's church (Grace Episcopal) here on City Island. I often wonder how many survived and are still going under the tree or on mantles every year. I cherish them!

I am very pleased with the sense of the glowing light and the irridescent "snow" glitter on the house in this painting. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pop Art & Pop Caps IV

Can't leave the wonderful Peter Max out of this series. I love how the root beer cap in particular and the shadows dovetail with the coloring in his poster.

Home Plate with Lemon

Friends of mine gave me a whole slew of these old cans. They are actually reproductions and are empty, sealed cans. This one would have had hominy grits in it. I do love the graphics on these cans.

Wall Drug Landscape IV

We thought we were immune the first time we went west. But by the time you see what seems to be the 1 millionth sign about Wall Drug, you are inexorably drawn in. There is no escaping, you feel compelled to go see what all the hype is about.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Leslie Swanson, Bronx Opera Company

Leslie is a soprano with the Bronx Opera Company. The BOC folks come and sing for my Rotary Club each year around the holidays. I have to admit something. I thought I didn't like opera. OK, put a black mark on my brow, or a scarlet P for Phillestine on my clothing, but that is the truth. Then I joined Rotary and went to the holiday party and heard BOC. Leslie brought tears to my eyes. Then, Paul Potts' triumph was the clincher. I watched the YouTube video over and over. He rocked Nessum Dorma! He came onstage as Clark Kent and left it as Superman.

Anyway, I love the backlighting on Leslie's curly hair in this painting.

Wall Drug Landscape III

The irony is inescapable.

Blue Brothers I

Just love painting glass, especially colored glass, for the colors it throws into the shadows.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pop Caps and Pop Art III

Now my bottle caps are mingling quite nicely with Jasper Johns' work. The root beer cap is carefully positioned to pull the eye across the painting from the orange field of stars which otherwise would dominate.

Wall Drug Landscape II

Another Wall Drug sign. I like using the contrast of the tightly painted sign against the landscape and sky that is so loosely painted, it almost painted itself. It emphasizes the alieness (is that a word?) of the man made in the vastness of the grassy plains.

Huckleberry Island Backlit

This beautiful little island is in Long Island Sound just off of New Rochelle. I am fortunate to be friends with the caretaker, so I get to spend time there occasionally. It is a private island owned by the New York Athletic Club and is off limits to everyone else.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Many Thanks

 So many of us can relate to these old candy machines. This one has seen a lot of miles, the touch of many an eager child's hand has worn the chroming right through to the pot metal on the trap door.

Watercolor has been the medium that I have been using most over the last few years, but here I am venturing back into oils for a bit. Something about the worn and pitted nature of the turn nob, face plate etc. seemed to lend itself more to oils.