Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"Happy Places"

My Happy Place

When most people think of late December, they feel happiness and a lighthearted joy; it’s a time for family and loved ones to get together and show their love for each other. However, if family members collide it can cause major stress and the busy stores and consumerism is not for everyone. Christmas can certainly be chaotic.

This reminds of a funny story about a recent customer I had. A little while ago, in a nostalgic mood I had painted a red 1950’s pick-up truck. A very nice customer bought it recently and after she received the painting, she sent me an email. She thanked me for the painting, and told me that it reminds her everyday of how she wants to just put her dogs in the old truck and escape her chaotic family.

Her sarcastic words made me laugh, I know we’ve all felt that way before. In spite of how much we love them, family can be stressful. But in addition to making me giggle, it also peaked my interest. My painting had taken her to her “happy place.” You know, that place in your mind that you can go that energizes and uplifts you with it’s utter calm and peacefulness. It’s wonderful to think that one of my paintings could take someone there. So I got to thinking this week, with the chaos of the Christmas season upon us, “Where’s my happy place?”

Everyone’s is different. Some might be looking for a way to escape the stress of family, work, or bills, but the conclusion is the same for everyone: Total peace. That customer of mine would have taken her pets along with her, which is wonderful, but not for me! No, my annoying “FEED ME OR I TRIP YOU!” cats would not be in my dream location.

I decided to paint my happy place and if you paint, I encourage you to do this as well. It was a fun experiment in making dreams a reality and I truly enjoyed it. My happy place: I’ve left all the stressors of my life behind, all the things holding me back are now in the dust. I’ve made it down to some exotic island and I’m alone: There’s only me, some beautiful tropical plants, a sun-soaked beach, a breezy blue sky and I’m sitting there, in a deck chair, just absorbing the peace and the sun and the breeze.

If you don’t paint, or don’t know where your happy place is, I suggest closing your eyes and thinking to yourself, “Where do I want to be right now, instead of pushing papers at work/racing through the mall/sorting bills like a robot?” Without a doubt, you’ll immediately go to your happy place.

Everyones location is totally different. I spoke to my daughter Caitlin, and she told me about her happy place: In a misty wood, like in an old fairy tale, she is wandering around a dark trail and then she finds an antiquated, deserted library with big cathedral-style wooden doors and she enters, and all of her favorite books are in the library and some she’s never heard of as well. She sits by a fire place in a cozy over-sized chair and reads a great book, and that brings her peace.

Please share where your happy place is in the comments section below. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Beautiful Contradictions

Based on the photograph  by Bob Gruen, 1974

The most recent challenge on the 'Daily Paintworks' website was to paint a portrait in blues and purples. It was supposed to be of my favorite actor, but when I pondered on who I wanted to paint in this moody color scheme, I came upon John Lennon.

I painted this based on the famous photograph by Bob Gruen of John Lennon, taken in 1974 for the walls and bridges album. I've read a lot about Lennon and his life. He was often a stormy and emotional individual, and I think that is why I chose him for my painting of blues and purples.

Often the stormiest, most dramatic lives are the most influential and artful. John Lennon left a large array of beautiful, inspiring music and a legacy of peace. And yet, when I think of him I often think of mood swings and rebellious attitude. It seems like quite the contradiction, and indeed the best people are made up of contradictions. 

Think about it. Have you ever said to someone: "I love it, but I hate it too!" That scary movie with the disgustingly gorey zombies that gross you out? That extra piece of chocolate cake that you know will make you feel sick? Those cigarettes that you can't help craving but don't want to smoke? The best things are contradictory.

Most people don't like to think about contradictions, because it's not simple and easy. It's not nice to think about the fact that John Lennon sang of peace but had a dark side as well. And yet some people would read his biography and call him choice names, but it's never simple. No one is clear cut. I believe he was a human being: an amazing lyricist, and an imaginative, inspiring individual, faults and all. Everyone is full of their blues and purples and I tried to illustrate that in this painting.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Are you a traveler or a homebody?

I've been thinking a lot about traveling lately, and how exciting it can be and also how unattainable it seems. So when Daily Paintworks had a blue challenge, I decided to paint this national geographic world atlas, along with my blue wine glass and vintage lantern.

Travel is a funny topic, there are only two reactions to travel. Those who are passionate about traveling get a glassy look in their eyes when a far off place is mentioned, as if their hearts are already there. However, those who'd rather stay in their "hobbit hole" reading a good book and never get into any trouble at all, will brush off travel as if it's insignificant.

I am of the first category, I love to travel. However, due to uncontrollable circumstances I am limited in my travel. I'd love to go to Europe, see The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam or spend a week in awe looking at The Louvre's collection in France. Alas, one must not be blue about circumstances, everyone has something to look forward to.

I'm currently considering making a trip to Massachusetts after the holidays so that all three grandchildren can be together for a few days. While it's not Europe, how can I not say that I am blessed to be able to say that? I have three beautiful healthy grandchildren, and just the ability to say that sentence reminds me to count my blessings.

What about you, are you a homebody or an adventurer? By choice or by circumstances? And what are your blessings?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ordinary items can be extraordinary

Ordinary items often get overlooked. However, sometimes 'the everyday' can be the inspiration for a piece of art. You don't need a "muse", but to look at the everyday in a unique way. This old pasta sauce jar is a makeshift container for my paintbrushes and I've glanced at it a number of times; it's on my desk.

However, I have never really -looked- at it. It was next to me often and never seemed to be beautiful, but when I decided to pay attention to it, and paint it, it gained character and a special quality.

The way it held my paintbrushes, and the faux flower I had stuck in the jar so haphazardly reminded me to look at things from the viewpoint of a person who just gained eyesight: with awe and appreciation. So today, I am trying to notice the small things in my life, the unexpected but everyday works of art that surround us all. Consider trying to take a moment to appreciate 'the everyday', and then life will seem more beautiful.

Friday, November 16, 2012

American Red Cross

As a member of DailyPaintworks we have weekly challenges to inspire Or help us in creative process. Last weeks challenge was to paint something for the relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. I can imagine how difficult it must be for the people deeply impacted. I would like the proceeds for these small 4 inch by 4 inch, one half inch deep canvas to go to the American Red Cross.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


A very small painting of a lemon on an artist trading card. I find those little ATC varieties fun and addicting. This lemon was painted on the watercolor card. I love the simplicity of this small design and the way it painted itself.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Small Potatoes

Recently, I have been extremely busy. A lot of changes, new challenges and demands, while I am waiting for these life events to sort themselves out, I decided to dabble in watercolor. I love the way you can draw a simple shape in clear water with a brush, fill it all in with water. Add a dab of color here, a different color there, let it blend. Turning the piece at just the right moment and letting the colors mix and add value.

I have just completed a series of miniature paintings. Very easy set up and clean up. Pack it all in a rucksack and it is hidden until the next time you have a moment. Planning, an acquired skill.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Happy Halloween Week

It is that time of not the kick off to the holiday season. The weekly challenge was to paint a zombie. I had a photo of two relatives at a zombie walk they attended a few years ago. Taking clear gesso, I applied a coat to a copy of the photo. After it dried, I painted over the faces and enhanced the details with gouache paint.

It was different, fun and think it turned out pretty awesome for two zombies.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Time.....on time or a lack of time. Make time. Time passes. Time is up.
I did a series of very small paintings one day this past week. I did the best with the time I had. Time is a gift. Use it wisely. Spend it with some people.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Big Sky Challenge

I knew that this was going to be a favorite challenge. A sky filled with different characters of clouds have always been an inspiration. I lived in Florida for awhile and the clouds are breath taking, frightening and ever changing.

I grew up near the Great Lakes and live close to Lake Erie at the present time. It is a wonder to watch the ominous clouds come rolling in off the Lake in the Fall. I am thankful to live here, there is such beauty even in the darkest sky, you just have to see. I love how the dark, purple greys play off the bright foliage in the Fall in the first painting. The middle is a photo of a sunset I took in the early spring. The last painting is a very small study of clouds using a gouache paint set that I seldom use. I like the chalky thick look when used without water. This was a thumbnail for the final painting. I could paint clouds and beaches all day. Maybe when I grow up.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Importing a photo taken by my son, I turned this ordinary crow into a Halloween raven. Sketchbook pro is a entertaining app for the iPad. Summer has blown by, that is what happens when your daughter gets married.

The past few days have been rainy, cool and welcome.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


I just did not know what to call this painting or this post. Summer is almost gone, this summer has been like no other. I settled on Birdman. One of my all time favorite tv shows from the past, was St. Elsewhere. A favorite character, written out tragically and early in the series, was the Birdman.

I am reminded a lot lately, how swiftly time is zooming by. I am very aware of it, and yet it will not slow, only speed up. I recently read a book about the Earth rotation slowing down and the resulting time increase. Didn't help.

I am hoping to adjust to this new lifestyle with the challenges it now presents, with an open heart.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Water Balloon Challenge

I'd really like to thank Carol Marine for coming up with this weeks challenge. Painting water balloons. They were a challenge, getting shadows and values on translucent objects. I placed them in a sunny spot, hoping the water areas would show.

The more important lesson is how much fun water balloons can be for a good sport. Filling these up with water really brings out the inner child. Good memories of childhood and summers gone by. It also helps if you can run fast.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Egg challenge

Broken egg. Painting is harder than it appears. Every drawing class has you draw an egg or two. Very interesting study painting the egg whites. Lots of reflection, things are never as they first appear. A lot of shades and shadow in a white egg shell.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Complementary Pear Challenge

Since the complementary challenge of last week, I have discovered the richness of color. The challenge : take a color in the above case yellow, add the complementary color, purple, add a shade lighter and a shade darker. You are right Layne, yummy greys happen.

Painted on a 6 x 6 inch canvas portrait canvas texture, with a depth of 3/8 inch.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sunflower Save Me

An oil paint version of Pam's Sunflower. Still looking over the fence. Watching.

I used a brush and palette knife to try for a more abstract feel to this piece. I am going to miss this flower....I have fall and winter to learn how to grow my own for next season. Maybe start a notebook, or a journal on gardening.

This big guy is painted on an 11 x 14 inch canvas panel.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Summers last breath

Walking out in my backyard I saw this looming over my neighbors fence. Only one, but what a gorgeous sunflower. I have always wanted a row of these strange giants, but I heard from another neighbor the chipmunks were also very fond of these.

I photographed and painted this in a very different style for me. I m trying to go a little more on the abstract, but not quite there. I wanted to stretch my watercolors, making them more vivid than I usually paint.

The back to school rush almost over, some already back. This means one thing, summer is a heartbeat from becoming a memory.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Complementary Challenge

This is probably the most difficult challenge. I did what I thought it was asking. If not, no worries, paint over. I took this photo a couple of weeks ago of my neighbors front garden. I know it was the complementary colors that made this garden pop. The challenge was to take one of the complementary colors, I chose red, and used yellow red for one aspect, and dark red for the other side. Green was the complement, combined they made the greys in the background. Yellows and purple were added, and we're used for more greys.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Still learning

Well, my tomato plants bombed. I got a couple paintable, but very tiny.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Dinor

This is a painting of a little Dinor, yes, that is how it is spelled. Located on Main Street in Lawrence Park, Pennsylvania. It has been around so long it is on the National Historic List, rumor has it.

Today's challenge for DPW was to paint Streetwise. A treasure right in my own backyard, I have been wanting to paint this for quite sometime. You know when you see something everyday, you don't really see it. Today was perfect, after an all morning downpour, the sky and clouds reminded me that Fall is just around the corner.

Friday, August 10, 2012

My crop of tomatoes this season. Pretty special since last years crop had zero yield. My hats off to all you green thumbs out there. These are mini tomatoes from a container garden. They were not suppose to be so tiny. Next year I will have a long conversation with the green thumbs in my family.

Still, tomatoes are lovely on a sunny window sill.

Location:Gardening 101

Monday, August 6, 2012


I live within walking distance of the beautiful beast known as Lake Erie. In the past, often joked about, and some of the jokes were based on truth. When I was young, my friends and I would climb down the cliffs to skim rocks and look for shells. This was a forbidden form of entertainment by my parents, punishable with a bed sentence. What we found more often than beautiful shells, dead fish. A lot of dead fish. If you have seen the IMAX movie, The Great Lakes, you will not believe the comeback kid, Lake Erie. It is truly, stunning! The joy of a colorful, summer sunset,the harsh, cold, crisp winter terrain. My favorite mood of the Lake is the turbulent, grey, overcast with lots of movement in the sky and water.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Trucks and Days Gone By

This red truck challenge really struck a chord within me. The challenger, found this red truck while on a walk around Eugene, Oregon. She photographed and challenged us to paint this old, red beauty. It immediately brought a smile to my face and memories of my Grandfather, Bomp. A sign painter by trade, he painted advertisements on the side of trucks for business owners. He kept photos of all the lettering and signs in a small photo album. Recently my family put these delicate photos on a DVD. Bomp has been gone a long time, but I treasure these photos and not so long ago painted a similar red truck.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Yellow Rose of Promise

Dailypaintworks challenge this week is to paint a rose.

Yellow Rose of Promise

Promise when it is not so hot outside, I will get to the gardening.

Dailypaintworks challenge of the week, paint a rose. One of the more difficult flowers to paint, at least for me. My new neighbor gave me several rose bushes last year and luckily I managed to find this bloom. Heat and water restrictions, combined with neglect, this little, yellow Rose did survive.

Yellow Rose of promise

The weekly DailyPaintWorks challenge is to paint a Rose. I have a few neglected Rose bushes in my backyard. The heat has probably chased away even Mrs. Greenthumbs. I found a few blooms and a couple of buds to photograph.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Another look

I did this painting in watercolor from a photo taken of an impending storm. This is my oil version. It was the atmosphere of electricity that I was feeling while working on the sky. I have been thinking of focusing on skies and seascapes. There is just a range of moods conveyed in the sea and sky. Serenity, peace, calm, meditation paradise. In a moment that can change to angry, turbulent, blown of your feet, crushed by waves, all wonderful emotions!

The color spectrum is always changing in the clouds and sea. My favorite color palette is the gloaming at sunset. I love the reflective color in the crest of a wave and the pink, orange hue in the foam at sunset. Even in the deep grey of Winter, you can find color at sunrise and sunset, well, only a few in the Great Lakes region.

Rantings of a beach person.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Primary Colors

This DPW challenge was very deceptive. At first glance painting this photo in primary colors and using 3 values, seemed so easy. I am very out of practice, and probably spoiled, regarding color mixing.The biggest challenge for me was not using white. I did some scraping, added more medium. Very difficult. I decided it was impossible to avoid not using white and only used a dab here and there.

I love this subject. I have twin Grandsons that in a few days will be 6 months old. Can I tell you I hope to spend many summer days at the beach with the boys when they get a little older? I lived in Florida while my own children were growing, our best memories are at the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. No electronics, just discoveries, wonderful conversation and buckets of laughter.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Summer Breeze

I know a lot of people are not fans of the summer heat. Beach people tolerate the heat better than most creatures. My cats stretch out under the ceiling fan, how nice to not have to move, ever. In another life, I hope to have a small cottage on the beach. I could listen to crashing waves and the snap of the brisk wind thru the curtains all day, every day. A glass of wine would complete this picture in my head.

Here are my recent grocery store treasures.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Small Painting

The challenge this week is to paint very small. 2.5 by 3.5. Made popular by The Artists Trading Cards of recent, this is harder than it seems but fun.

This painting was inspired by a group of Birch trees on Presque Isle State Park in Pennsylvania.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Inspiration in the grocery store.

I only hope that there are other people who shop the produce department of their local grocery store for painting inspiration. The next subject will be that perfect bunch of asparagus with its lovely blue rubber bands.

I found these wonderful cherries in the sunshine hard to resist.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


My muse is definitely Lake Erie. Misunderstood, in the past the object of many jokes. I find it's beauty mysterious, ever changing, and a constant source of inspiration.

If I was not a painter, my second choice in life for favorite past time would be a storm chaser. On the day I took this photograph, a severe weather statement was issued for Presque Isle. I grabbed my camera and took an amazing set of photos. I love when a storm bellows in across the lake. You can see it coming, the winds pick up in seconds and a colorful sunset can change its pallet in a blink. I love it.

For the DPW challenge of painting my muse, Lake Erie Storm Warning.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Summer colors

What started out as a very cool and lengthy spring has now blasted into an inferno of a summer. Summer is my favorite season, but the heat for most of the country is nothing to joke about. Living next to one of the Great Lakes cools the air a little.

My daughter brought me this huge pot of colorful flowers, this is a painting of just one section of this lively mix. I wanted to paint it loose and used a large brush to give it an abstract, impressionistic feel. I don't know if that happened but it was fun to paint.

Yesterday, my daughter took her beloved budgie to the vet. She was 15 years old, her mate died last March. It was very sad to see what old age does to the avian world is not far from what happens to everyone and everything. My daughter was 13 when we got Scully and Mulder, and I feel very differently now about caging beautiful birds. They did have a lot of spunk and I believe a lot more intelligent that they are given credit. Will miss them both.

Friday, July 6, 2012


Finally getting back into the swing of things, a lot going on the past two months. Additions and subtractions to the family.

This weeks DPW challenge was to do a painting from a photo taken by a mobile phone. I will post more at another time.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Congratulations, Now What?

This has been quite a Spring. Alone in my thoughts a lot. I took this photo at Presque Isle State Park last night. The weather forecast was wind and waves and I love a good howling storm. It was actually quite beautiful, no storm.

My son graduated last Friday from High School. I did not attend. The reason it would be beyond my emotional control. I have a child with very involved special needs, intellectual and medical. It has been quite a journey. We have worked hard, my son, my family and an amazing variety of people, I consider it an honor to have known. My child is a gift, I have learned more from him than I could ever possibly acknowledge. He is my hero, but one of the best gifts I received from him was meeting the dedicated people that support a child and family with Special Needs. I have met an army of heros, people that are selfless, giving, heartfelt and genuine. None of us will be acquisition wealthy, but wealthy in ways far beyond what I could even imagine. To these people, I will always be grateful, for your support for Kevin and for me, too. In the beginning of the journey, you do not realize how easy it is to become isolated and alone, excluded. It starts simple with no longer receiving invitations to classmates birthday parties, and eventually you fear behaviors will not be accepted in Public situations. Always stressful! A lot of planning.

We had a lot of rough days, years, and we worked hard together and succeeded. My son is a beautiful young man with an amazing potential. Everything I had hoped for...We got there, together.

Due to severe budget cuts in the State of Pennsylvania, he is now retired. Not one to easily give up, my caring army and I are taking a week off and back to work. Thank you Rhonda, Ann, Joy, Kim and Debbie. There is a greater purpose and really good people out there! Every cloud does have a silver lining.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Daily Paintworks Challenge

I chose this scene for the latest Daily Paintworks Challenge.  The task today was to chose a painting and when finished do a zoom in image of a part of that painting, on a smaller canvas.  The first painting was painted on an 8 x 10 canvas board.  It was from a photo I took at the end of summer, 2011.  There is a lovely little boat launch and beach known as Shades Beach, in Harborcreek, Pennsylvania.  My family had a few reunions at this spot, and I love to go there and look for interesting photography opportunities.  This particular day was one of my personal weather favorites, bright, warm, sun and lots of wind.  I love what the sun does to the water color as it peeks in and out of the fast moving clouds.  The wave action was amazing that day, glad I painted an impressionistic version of this challenge, called the Seeing Double Challenge.  I'm calling the upper painting, Shady Winds and the lower one Lake Erie Waves.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

New England Abstract

Last Fall I went to Minuteman National Park, I find the place enchanting. History and ghosts, hidey holes and lots of walking. This spot I photographed was a little meadow of color, and did a small abstract. The photo was purple, yellow, white and greens. Loved the color palet.

I don't live in the Boston area, I did awhile ago and this is one of the places I miss.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Watercolor Inspiration for change

Is there a better time of day to take a photograph? Early morning or sunset, the sun works it's atmospheric magic on your photography. A neighbor of mine gave me a couple of iris plants last year. I have quite a few of the Majestic Irises that my sister gave me, but, Pam said these are different, smaller. I had forgotten about them until yesterday. I am drawn to the beauty and delicate nature of flowers. I immediately want to grab my watercolors...Clouds have this impact on me too.... I have always wanted to try painting outdoors, but my neighbor has two terriers, that do no allow a peaceful backyard experience. So I rely on my canon camera. Sigh.

I am working very hard on organizing my homework to accommodate my overwhelming feeling I want to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. I am feeling a pull or force that something needs changed or I am getting eccentric. That might be cool...

If you could wake up in a different place tomorrow, where would your fantasy take you?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Spring Colors

I love the flowering trees in Spring. The town I live in lined the street with the most gorgeous, flowering trees. I know some of them are Dogwoods, and some are an intense, scarlet pink. I would love to have the time to know more about these beautiful trees. I grew up with a magnolia tree, and it was amazing when it was in full bloom. Someday, I hope to have a magnolia in my yard.

This painting is available to purchase in my etsy shop.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Color Yellow

When I think of the color yellow a lot of images come to mind. Flowers, butterflies, crayons and paint cards from the paint dept. at the hardware store. I keep going back to sunsets, living on the shores of Lake Erie, past life on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, and a visit to Key West, all about the sunsets. We should all take a page from Key West, every evening, pause, celebrate and reflect on the sunset. My favorite example of the color yellow.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


As a child I remember, on those summer nights it was difficult to sleep, making shadows on the wall. This weeks challenge was to paint something with a shadow. I received these tulips over the Easter Holiday and photographed them on a rare sunny day in the North East. A difficult exercise, since my first attempt was wiped away. I love how shadows bring back such strong childhood imaginations. Do children of the electronic age still get a kick out of their shadow?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Cropping challenge

Second painting from the DPW cropping challenge. The author of this challenge mentioned the amount of paintings one could work out of a single photo. After painting the porch, I loved the mood of this place. I have always wanted a yellow home, with a wrap around porch. Inside would be lots of nooks and outside, gardens of colorful flowers. In the back is my private art studio.... In my dreams, this is in Key West.....