Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday Morning Sketches

I keep a sketch pad and pencils by the bed in case I think this will be a day I need to sketch before getting up & around...much like when I was pregnant and kept saltines on the nightstand. It helps me deal with mental nausea.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

It's been a long long hot summer. The oppressive heat and humidity bring out the dullard in me, and the least thing on a dullard's mind is keeping a current sketchblog. Every now and then, however, in order to keep from sinking into a completely vegetative state, I force myself to do something "productive"...ergo this sketch from the beach at Oyster Bay. Why can't it be Fall tomorrow? Why don't I have more than one puny air conditioner?

Sunday, June 17, 2007


I did this pastel painting of my Dad last week. My father died on June 2nd after our whole family had gathered, one last time, which is something he had wanted for a long time. I missed the "Dad" he was before his stroke, which left him unable to speak or engage in the activities he enjoyed, but so admired his courage and tenacity in continuing to live the best life he could in his remaining years. It was during this time that I got to see and know him as a vulnerable human being, beyond the "Dad" persona. Happy Father's Day, Dad...I love you.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Mother's Day Card

Another surprise from my attic collection. I found this hand-crafted card made by my mother for her mother on Mother's Day many, many years ago. I posted this for my mother, and for my children. We have some of the best mothers, past and present, in our family. Happy Mother's Day, Mom, with all my love!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Erika’s Work

I’ve taken a very long break from my work for some major free-lance projects. Too long a break is a bad thing since I am finding it extremely difficult to motivate (climb the stairs to the attic). I spent some time up in the studio rummaging for something ANYTHING! to spark me into starting a new painting. I even taped up a pastel "canvas"...and stared at it for a long time. Then I went back downstairs to sit on the bed and watch TV. And then...I checked my e-mail and found these great sketches my daughter sent me. So here they are. I think I have found my inspiration! (The top picture is of my Dad, her grandpop, painting lines on the lawn for badminton. The bottom, I think, is from one of her life drawing classes) Thanks, Erika!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wedding Dress

I had a very small, conservative wedding 26 years ago on April 25th. It was a beautiful ceremony, but I often wonder what it would have been like to have been a traditional bride with a gloriously billowing, tiny bead studded gown; princess for a day with adoring subjects. Come to think of it, since I was a little girl, I've spent hours drawing "what ifs" and "if onlys"...ei. long long hair, skinny legs, many sisters and brothers or a face like Olivia Hussey's in "Romeo and Juliet". So, if I didn't/don't get to experience it in real life, at least I am able to indulge in my dreams while recording them on canvas. I don't know what happened to the dress (Gunny Sack) I was married in...but I have pictures. Maybe next, I'll do a pastel of one of my wedding pics. Soft Pastel on approx. 16 X 19" Colourfix paper.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

At the Beach

This pastel is based on several photos taken at Virginia Beach with our daughters (spring break probably around 1990). While painting (pastelling) this, I had the sensation of being there...feeling the salty, misty ocean breeze on my face, and the gentle warmth of the late day sun on my back. The rhythmic thunder of waves and sizzling foam lull me to such a peaceful place, I could stay there forever. Some critics believe that painting from photos is not the "high art" that plein air painting is. I believe that it is different, not less than. When I paint from photos like these, the work is infused with a depth of bittersweet memory and experience that wasn't there at that time. For the record, whenever I use photo reference, I simply tape the photo up on the wall next to the blank "canvas"...and start by sketching with harder pastels to set the composition. Then lay in values and shapes progressing to finer detail. With this particular piece, I deliberately stopped before I thought I was done.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Summer is

A great big slice of juicy, sweet watermelon in the blazing sunshine. Of course, it helps to be a little kid too. I am still working on this one, but wanted to get something posted before too much time went by. As it is, it looks as if the little girl is sitting on a bench in front of a backdrop a la Olan Mills. I'll repost after refining. I've spent way too much time on it already! Soft pastel on Wallis sanded paper, approximately 19" X 25".

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The End of the Road

Well, the end of our hallway which is the road between the bathroom and our bedroom. I like this particular spot in the house because it is very sunny. My fig tree likes it too. I bought that plant at a garage sale for $2.50, in the mid 90's. Since then, it has survived 5 moves! I didn't think it was going to survive moving from Cincinnati to New York, especially since it is somewhat fragile. . . .or not, I've learned. Anyway, this work is another practice session in depicting light. Thanks for stopping by!

Trumpet Fanfare

I shot the reference photo of red trumpet flowers at the Gould Castle on the north shore of Long Island, this past summer. Since I had run out of paper, I did this pastel over the top of another that didn't make the cut, and wound up having to "build up" quite a bit giving it a very painterly look. I love working with soft pastels for that feature, but they are extremely messy. I tend to get overly aggressive, resulting in a very short life for the softer pastels ie. Schminke & Sennelier, and terrible looking fingernails. Never do a pastel like this just before an interview.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Flowers in the Attic

It's a very cold and snowy day, which makes my little studio in the attic a very cozy place to be. There is a little window, so I can enjoy the winter scene outside, while pastelling tropical flowers inside. Yesterday was my birthday (50 in Donatello years) (the first five years don't count). I spent the day doing things I love, ie. playing my guitar & singing (and imagining that maybe I really could become a folk-rock-pop star in my so-called "second adulthood", or tertiary childhood, and by the way, how come they don't have middle-agers on American Idol?), writing poetry (or pieces of poetry), and working in the attic, each in 15 minute intervals (anxious to fit everything in before I buy that big farm I've been looking at for the past few years). You never know..... Both: Soft Pastel on 9X12" Colourfix paper

Friday, March 09, 2007

Family Gathering

A gathering of items representing family members from the early 1900's to April 2006, all found in the attic. The violin, missing strings and other parts, is something my husband picked up at a garage sale intending to use the case for a design project. My father and younger brother played the violin...everyone in my birth family plays or played at least one musical instrument. The little photo album in front was my maternal grandmother's and contains photos from her youth (early 1900's). The letter is from my father to her (1949). The teacup is of unknown origin. The roses were given to me last year by my husband on our anniversary (25th). The photo in back is a portrait of my paternal grandmother's family (she is the young girl with a bow in her hair). I arranged all of these items on a table top just below the window in my little attic studio. We had such a lovely time together. Soft Pastel 19" X 25"

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Name this flower

I haven't been able to identify the flower in the photo I used to do this pastel. It's another from a neighbor's garden. If you know it, please leave it in a comment. If not, make one up. Soft Pastel on 9 X 12 Colourfix.

Still life #3

Here is another grouping from "kitchen stuff" this time. I really struggled over this one for some reason. I need to do another flower. The previous post "Cornflower Power" was really a "break" from the post before that, another complicated still life...and flowers are easy and relaxing for me. Note: My husband is the cook. I don't use these things, just draw them. Soft Pastel on 9" X 12" Colourfix paper.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Corn Flower Power

I did this pastel from one of my flower photos taken this past summer. Corn flowers, dandelions, buttercups, iris, and grape hyacinth are all nostalgic for me. They remind me of my pre-school days in LeRoy, New York, where I spent many hours outside contemplating flowers, worms and those curious little mud-ball clusters that formed after it rained. I remember, also, the bitter taste of the "ooze" inside a dandelion stem (glad it wasn't poisonous). I don't remember, however, the time I ran out into the street and was almost hit by a truck...until Sparky saved me. Did that really happen Sparky? or is that just another story to keep me beholden to you?? Soft Pastel on 9 X 12 Colorfix paper.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Peacock Vase

The true color and depth of this pastel is much better than pictured here. This is the second in a series of still life pastels from junk in the attic. My biggest challenge is to STOP before overworking. Pastels are very forgiving...and allow much reworking, which can be a disadvantage for a neurotic perfectionist. It's like a great TV sitcom that continues past its prime, losing its audience. With this exercise, I am striving to recognize that "peak", and resist the urge to correct over and over and over. I may be forced to, anyway, since I am running out of supplies.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Something Special

There is something very special about this little boy. Why, you can just tell by that look on his face that he knows something the rest of us don't, including his father who is holding him. He appears to have intelligence beyond his years. There's a spark of genius (and cynicism) in those inquisitive little eyes. What will he be when he grows up? A doctor? A lawyer? An Indian Chief? or.....CRACKSKULL BOB! Yes, this is "Sparky" and his (and my) Dad.

Slab Pot Still Life

This is the first in a series of small "groupings" made up of found items around the house & attic. I made the little slab pot in my college ceramics class. There is a pile of "junk & treasures" to pick from, so I ought to be able to come up with some interesting compositions. So, you see, being a pack rat isn't such a bad thing after all.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


I love lighthouses. During a family counselling session years ago, the psych metaphorically referred to me as a "lighthouse" to my husband and children who were "adrift at sea"...or, at that time, the one trying to hold our family together during stormy times. We all were impressed by that image...and it haunts me to this day. Now, I see both my husband and I as a "lighthouse" for our grown children. It has only one bedroom, however, and I think I need to change the lightbulb.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Hairy Model

On this nice, sunny Saturday morning, I was watching Zoey in a head-to-toe grooming session, which is usually a prelude to a long nap...for both of us. (I often take long naps shortly after waking up) I've been neglecting my sketchbook lately, so I thought I'd do a quick sketch, which turned into a series of sketches as he kept changing poses every several seconds. At first, I was a little annoyed, but then began to see it as a life drawing session with quick poses. The model was a bit hairy, but very obliging. After an hour or so, we took a nice, long, well deserved nap.

Two More

Finally, Zoey found his "nap" position, and I was free to go. But, since there was nowhere to go, I napped. The end.

Friday, February 16, 2007


A pastel portrait of my youngest daughter, Erika.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

In Good Hands

I found this picture in a box of my parents' photos. It's my mother with my daughters Allie and Andrea (both in their mid 20's now) on a walk at ? park, and must have been taken by my dad. Such a sweet, peaceful moment in time.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Pink Robe

Any resemblance to anyone is purely coincidental. OK, so I borrowed my daughter's face...but the rest is made up.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Cone Flower

Another from the neighor's garden.

Still Life Practice

My objective is to try to "loosen up" and capture light and dimension with more expressive stroking and less blending, and end up with a fairly accurate representation. Does that make sense?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Winters Past

Thought I'd better record it while it lasts.

Friday, February 02, 2007

More from the Attic

This is a pastel done from a photo taken in the mid 70's (probably playing "Guantanamera" for my mom).
From a photo I took this past summer.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Illustration Friday "Red"

An appropriate image considering the trouble I went through making this first post on the "NEW" blogger???

Thursday, January 25, 2007

It's Damn Cold In the Attic

Landscapes are not really my "thing", but I thought I'd give it a try. I tend to lose patience on a subject that has a lot of complicated elements especially on a large (for me) canvas. This was done from a photo my dad took, somewhere in Ohio...maybe Milan?
I took this photo during a walk around our Port Washington (Long Island) neighborhood this past summer. Hydrangea is everywhere, and reminds me of my grandparents' gardens in Westbury. So, this one's for you, Dad, and I hope it makes you smile.
Don't you just want to pet that li'l bee with your pinky?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

New Work

This is a pastel done from one of my favorite photos of one of my favorite cats, Twinkie, who is no longer with us. Neither is the bush.
This picture was taken on Sanibel Island. (Pastel)
Another from Sanibel. Wish I was there right now!
This lone bloom against the Long Island Sound background caught my eye...and captured the mood of the day.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


I know, "Zoey" is a girl's name...but I like it...and Zoey likes it even though he's a boy. He told me. Anyway, he is the most intelligent, affectionate young man. He even used to retrieve before is right hind leg went lame...and is painful at times. It's only a matter of time before the left knee dislocates, as he still races around the house and causes all kind of kitty chaos. Any offers to help defray the cost of surgery will be greatly appreciated!!!