Thursday, January 31, 2008

Something Different

I completed a new painting today - well, at least I think I've completed it.  I had posted it earlier today but I have since changed it, tweaked it here and there.  It's different from anything I've ever done in terms of technique.  I was inspired by the colors used by the Italian artist Nicola Simbari.  After completing the other paintings of the greyhound, Kent and the two family portraits I needed to do something different, something loose and colorful.

So may I present to you, "Maui Dawn".

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Detroit Institute of Arts, a Sparkling Gem on a Winter's Day

For those of you in the metropolitan Detroit area, if you haven't been to the "new" DIA, shame on you and get yourself to the museum!  My husband and I have been there twice now.  The first time was for the advanced opening for members.  It was a wonderful experience.  The galleries are gorgeous and it's new layout is very user friendly.  It's almost indescribable how wonderful it is.  Really.  It's fabulous.  

The second time was this past Sunday.  We had spent the morning doing the usual: hangin' out, drinking our coffee, reading the paper... and it would have been lovely to just stay holed up in the house, snuggled under afghans, reading - but we had decided on Saturday to visit the DIA on Sunday and we were sticking to it.  Boy, am I glad we did!  It was just as wonderful as before.   I had said to my husband that I didn't want to "do" the entire museum.  It just becomes overwhelming and a chore, rather than an enjoyable experience.  We decided to visit some of the galleries that hadn't been open at the grand opening or that we'd missed the first time and of course, revisit our "favs".  Speaking of which, I have a new "fav": the Prints and Drawings Gallery.  There's an energy in drawings that isn't present in paintings, but that's a whole different blog entry...  When you go, look for the small little Ingres drawing of a woman.  It is just exquisite.

To tackle the DIA in this manner is really the way to enjoy a museum and being members allows for such a leisurely visit because you feel like it's "yours" to enjoy on your timetable, as many times during the membership period as you like.  Of course, living within a reasonable distance helps, too.  But, you know what I mean... think about the times you've been to a museum (or zoo!) that you're not a member of.  There's the tendency to go on a "forced march", to go to all the exhibits, all the galleries, (all the animals) - to make sure you get your ticket's worth.  No wonder children tend to roll their eyes when you say, "Let's go to the____  museum!" 
We've always been members and when my Lizzy was around 4 years old, I was a student at the College for Creative Studies, which is located behind the DIA.  I used to go there much more often and knew where all the galleries were located within the building.  I would take Lizzy there on occasion - which one of my professors thought was absolutely amazing that I would take a 4 year-old to the DIA.  I explained to her that we didn't go for an extended period of time,  we just went for brief visits to a couple galleries for my fulfillment and to acquaint Lizzy with the museum and hopefully build an appreciation for art in her, but there were always three things on Lizzy's "must do" list:  go up and down the "roundy" stairs (the spiral staircase); get white cheddar popcorn in the Kresge Court; and visit her favorite room: "The Pink Room".   It was a gallery that was filled with Fragonard paintings,  Louis the somethin' or other gilded furniture, pink walls, pink satin bedding, pink upholstery, pink, pink, pink... a little girl's idea of heaven.   This was during the same time that the DIA had to cut back on hours and close certain galleries on certain days due to budget cuts.
On one particular day, we were on our pilgrimage to "The Pink Room" and when we arrived at the particular spot where it should have been.  It was "gone"!   I remember standing there, holding Lizzy's little hand and turning around, looking and looking - certain I was in the right spot since I knew the layout of the museum so well.  A guard spotted us and asked me if he could help us.  Puzzled, I explained to him about "The Pink Room" and how it was her favorite room and how I thought that this was where it was.   He said, "Well, you're right. It's over here." and led us over to the wall where lo and behold! he opened a concealed door and let us into "The Pink Room".  He opened the gallery just for the two of us, for Lizzy and her enjoyment of "the Pink Room" and explained to me that due to budget cuts, this gallery wasn't open on this particular day.  Now, how cool was that?  I'll always remember that the act of kindness.  He could have just turned us away, but he chose to brighten a little girl's face instead.
"The Pink Room" is gone now due to the renovations and revamping of the museum.  I don't imagine it'll be missed much.  It wasn't my favorite gallery - too frou-frou for me - but it will certainly remain as a fond memory of time I spent at the DIA with my Lizzy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


"Winston", 84" X 24", oil

"Winston", detail

This is "Winston". Kent's "bro". The much more laid back, dignified dog. Sweet as can be - "Winston the Winsome".

The spark of inspiration for Winston's image came as I was driving down Woodward Ave. one day. The entire painting just popped into my head from nowhere. I "saw" just the top half of a greyhound depicted. One always sees their big chest or their long legs. I saw length. The image tucked itself away in the recesses of my brain where I keep my other "paintings". I ran into my friend, Robert one day and mentioned it to him - fortunately for me, they had Winston which would work for the dog in my vision. Robert said he'd think about it...

Robert called me a few weeks later. Now I had never thought of the size of it, just the image. Robert came up with the size: 7' X 2' - to go over their mantelpiece. Zoikes! Alright, cool!

And that's how "Winston" was created.

Kent, the Clown

Kent, 48" X 48", oil

And now for your enjoyment, I give you "Kent". I completed his portrait this past weekend. Kent is a rescued greyhound that rehabilitated by inmates and then adopted. I refer to him as Kent, the Clown because that's what his personality conveyed when I met him and it is my understanding that that is a good description of him. He's a happy dog. A big, gangly greyhound with a heart as big as he is.

Kent is the second rescued greyhound adopted by my friends. This is the second portrait they have commissioned from me. The first portrait was of Winston, who is much more "dignified" than Kent. "Kent" also presented an interesting challenge due to the sheer size of him - 4' X 4'. His tongue is as long as my forearm and his eye is the size of a dinner plate!

Monday, January 28, 2008

It's a Family Affair...

Whew!... I just finished this family portrait.  It was a surprise for the family so I had to work from two photographs provided by the mother/grandmother.  I changed the clothing to make it more cohesive and timeless.  

I also reworked a portrait for another daughter and her son that the mother/grandmother had purchased from an internet portrait company.  She was unhappy with what had been delivered to her.  I don't believe I'll be showing that portrait.  But I will say I did improve the final image.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Doggie in the Window

Aside from collecting quotes, I collect "funnies"  - you know, the comics from the newspaper.  Some are just too good to send to the recycling bin!  Often I find one that is apropos to a given circumstance or something will remind me of a family member.  I keep a file on my computer of my favorites.  Occasionally I go through the file and have a good laugh all over again.  Here's one that I saved the fits my Bailey to a tee!

The thing that is so funny about Bailey is that on a leash, on a walk he never ever has barked at anything!  Not a car, dog, squirrel - nothin'!  He doesn't even try to chase a squirrel or bird.  I've always said a chiquaqua could kick his a_ _, if Bailey's on a walk. He's the biggest baby dog there is.  But in his own house?  He's Sir Bailey of York, Protector of All He Sees.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sibling Rivalry - It Never Ends

"Pigtails",  30" X 50", acrylic

I got a nice e-mail from my Sarah yesterday congratulating me on the new blog and how it looked but, she did say, " I am hoping to see "Pigtails" grace the computer screen or the "Love is..." series."   Now the back story on those two paintings is that they are about her and I appreciate her suggestion to show them on the blog but, I also suspect a little sibling rivalry there since Lizzy, her sister is so prominently displayed... like I said, sibling rivalry - it never ends. 
So here you go, Sarah, these are for you.  I love you...Mom. 

The "Love is..." series is something I have started for Sarah and Nick. Starting with this painting given to them at their Engagement Party, I intend to do a series for them that will be little snippets from their life together. Sarah is a shutterbug.  She probably has hundreds of photos of them together.  I ran across one that just had a little bit of them in the frame and they were obviously laughing madly.  That when the idea for the series popped into my head with this one being "Love is... finding someone you can share laughter with." 

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It's Raining Cat and Dogs

Yes, folks, only one cat... one measly little kitty...out of all the animal portraits I've done - just one itty, bitty kitty, Oscar. 
Can someone explain that?  I have a hard time believing that only dog owners are likely to have their pets' portraits done!
Of course, that should all change now since my daughter, Sarah and her husband, Nick - the newlyweds,  got a little, itty, bitty Siamese kitty shortly after they got back from their honeymoon.  Their kitten's name is Maggie, after Magglio Ordonez.  (Did I mention they're big Detroit Tigers fans?)  The biggest trick will be getting Maggie to stay still long enough to have her picture taken!

Now I'll share some of my favorite dog portraits.

This is my Bailey.  He's a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.  
He's the "son" we never had... we have two daughters.  He also believes himself to be The Protector of our street as he sits in the window scrutinizing each person, dog, truck, car, stroller, roller-blader, jogger, squirrel, cat, chipmunk, etc. as they pass by.  
The sanitation workers call him "Doggie in the Window".  
I call him, Sir Bailey of York.

This is Cody.

These pet portraits are all done in pastels. I also do painted portraits. Really I do! But it's taken me so long to get these posted, in a fashion that I like, I can't spend any more time on them.  Will this blogging ever get easier for me?  Oy!

Tank                                              George                                                                                                                                                     

Don't Tell My Dog, Bailey!

Let me  introduce you to "Libby".  This is my favorite dog portrait (sh-h-h-h!  Don't tell my dog, Bailey!).  I was commissioned to do this portrait by a lovely woman, as a surprise Mother's Day gift, for her daughter-in-law.  You see, her daughter-in-law was a "puppy raiser" for the Leader Dogs for the Blind, in Rochester, Michigan and Libby was the puppy she was raising - her first puppy.  Libby was to be turned over to the Leader Dogs for her training shortly after Mother's Day and the mother-in-law wanted to do something special to commemorate the bond between Libby and her "Mom".  I met Libby at her "Grandma's" house, where she had arrived on the sly (remember this was to be a surprise gift), with her "Dad".  I took some reference photos of her and we chose the pose we liked the best for me to work from for the pastel portrait.  During her photo shoot it became quite obvious she was a remarkable dog.  Her ability to comprehend commands and behave belied her young age (the puppies return to Leader Dogs as one year-olds).   Libby is a beautiful specimen of a Yellow Labrador and it was my honor  to capture her spirit.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Same Day...Later...

I have so much to learn about this blogging thing! I now realize that when I introduced myself and my art to you I failed to tell you more about "Lizzy's Locks of Love". It was juried into the Third Annual Michigan Portrait Show at the Orion Art Center, in Lake Orion, Michigan this past September. The judge for the show was Kathleen Van Ella, founder of Portraits/Chicago Inc. "Lizzy's Locks..." was awarded a Juror's Merit Award. Also juried into the show was "Sh-h-h...", a pastel portrait of a sleeping baby, Eleanor Genevieve.

January 15, 2008 - Musing and Muttering

Well, here it is - my first posting. After spending a good portion of my allotted computer time ( I try to limit my time for working on the computer before I head for the easel. Otherwise, I'd never get anything done!) trying to figure out how to "blog", I managed to get something up and posted. I certainly hope I get this all figured out rather quickly because right now "blogging" takes way too much time! I'm amazed at the size of some blogs I've seen and now that I've actually started my own, it's hard to imagine how much time some of these blogs require! And honestly, how many people will truly be interested in reading my musings? Is this really the way to keep in touch with everyone? I guess I'll find out...