I feel like not enough people love opossums, so when I got this little joey pic, I was so happy to paint him. His name is Kenny Rogers and this painting was shipped down to New Orleans, where he lives with his very lucky human.
I feel like this is my Madonna and Child of dog paintings. This was one of those commissions in which we were both in immediate agreement of which photo to use. With “adopt, don’t shop” as the battle cry of mixed-breed and rescue homes, this image offers a peek into the whelping box of a responsible preservation breeder, where all of the needs of mom and pups are met — especially love and comfort.
April 19: I got a little lost on details (as usual), and started playing with things I’d already finished. I have pearlescent ink which I wanted to try on the pearls… but that didn’t really go as planned! But it’s now completed and waiting to dry a little before transporting it to NJ.
March 26: Some progress on Caboo. I wanted to name it Boo, but didn’t want to imply fright since her posture can resemble a sense of fear and her eye may need to be relaxed a bit (what do you think? Post in comments!). I failed to take a pic of the sketch, but here the color mapping is complete and some work has been done on the couch, tans, and white. I almost forgot her signature pearls, but I’ve outlined them in and will add a couple (though shadowed) under her chin!
People are often surprised that I work upside down, but it really helps to lose subconscious preconceptions of where lines and curves are supposed to go… because so often our brains are wrong. Anyway, I’m posting this to show the actual status in the studio: painting upside down, photo above for reference, early afternoon light beaming through the window.
As layers are added, colors and shading improved, and details corrected, I’ll post more updates. Since changing studio hours to morning, my time there is more productive and I’m hoping to start whipping through paintings more quickly to catch up from the pandemic lag. This painting should be done within two weeks.
Feb 19, 2021: Completed
I wasn’t satisfied with this until the last day I had to work on it. I kept waiting for it to pull together, but every night I would dab and get distracted and dab a little more. One night I went to the studio and spent the entire evening avoiding the painting. I think I mixed some tongue flesh-tones, but left at about 11pm without touching brush to canvas.
The enemy of this painting was perfection. I wanted this one to be my grand opus. And so, every day that it wasn’t perfect or heading toward perfect would just set me back, subconsciously. Cauterized. I finally got around to doing the top coat highlights and the eyes. And BAM- it finally seemed OK.
Feb 1, 2021: In process
These dogs have been in my queue for a long time, and we just kept putting off the photo shoot. I would be inspired by an idea, but then something would come up, or there would be some reason that we couldn’t do it, or some such thing. Then COVID hit and productivity ground to a halt… until there was just no way that any other thing was getting done before this painting.
I’m actually working off of 4 different photos for this (60″ length canvas), and getting the perspectives and relational sizes took a couple of tries to get right; but we’re on track, now. It’s funny how different paintings have different process cycles. Some fly straight out of the gate and then I get bogged down in details later in the process, and others take forever to get the foundational stuff down, but then the rest of it flies. This has gotten a super slow (but steady) start, so I’m counting on this being the latter. Should be a couple more updates over the next couple of weeks, and I can’t wait for it to mature.
For someone who says she doesn’t paint the standard ‘head shot’ types of portraits, I certainly have done a few. Sometimes I take the commission, but just don’t post it here; as it’s not the type of work that represents what I do.
And yet, it does.
Sure, my paintings are usually animated or goofy or expressive, but I will sometimes take the opportunity to explore the more serious expression of contrasts between shadow and light — as with this latest commission. Frustrated with the lack of expression that this little guy offered, I fell back to what I love most. I suppose I could have emphasized the light more, but in this dark month of social distancing, hand-washing, and hand-wringing, the darkness came forward.
I’m one of those few people who loves turning the clocks back in the Fall to welcome the darkness descending into the afternoon. I read tarot and look to the shadowy aspects of the cards which (in more of a Jungian sense) reveal our darker urges and motivations, coaxing them up into the light. And so it is here, with Rummy, one eye obfuscated as we try to discern a hint of a lash or a lid as it peers out from its safe reclusivity.
The first time I visited Somerville Open Studios, I was living just south of Boston, and some friends and I hopped on the train and rode in. As a latent artist myself (I hadn’t been painting for years), I was intrigued by this concept of visiting artists in their workspace; just roaming through and seeing how they work. I mean, it’s great to see an artist’s work carefully curated and displayed on the clean white walls of a gallery, but getting that glimpse of artists in their studios offers a whole different level of intimacy with (and perhaps even understanding of) their work, and it inspired me. It’s probably what inspired me to move here some years later. At any rate, here I am, preparing to open my studio for what is probably my 6th (7th?) SOS weekend.
Having never been particularly good at business or marketing myself, I’ve always left my studio as is and just keep working during the weekend, happy to have visitors come in and look around and ask questions, reminiscent of my expectations years ago. Other artists go to great lengths to clean and curate and present only their most current work, gallery-style. I’ve been inspired to do this in the past, but the notion dissolves away into the ether as we get closer to SOS weekend. I guess I am an experiential person at heart, and to me, this takes away from the experience of seeing the artist in their daily grind. This year, though, I have planned to level up my professionality.
Yes, definitely. I look around my studio for the work I’ve completed only in the past year, and find that most of it is in the homes of those who commissioned it (and I don’t ask to borrow them). So, I will probably hang 4 or 5 newer paintings along a well-lit clean white wall and stack the older ones away in a corner with a “make me an offer” sale sign. Yes, I will remove all the extraneous items in the studio which detract from the visitor’s appreciative gaze of the work arranged so carefully on the wall, and label each painting as in a gallery, with little placards explaining their stories in a carefully chosen font.
Or, I will just keep my studio as is, vacuum the rug, empty the wastebasket and recycling, and put out a plate of crackers & cheese to welcome those who come to visit artists at work and ask about the process and the stories of each painting; rather than polished up and sterile like a kid on her first day of school. I may not attract gallery representation, but I will have a great time.
Please come visit and see which I went with.
Mad Oyster Studios (studio G4)
2 Bradley St in Somerville
Friday | May 3: 6 – 9pm (featuring a variety of Bantam cider!)
Sat & Sun | May 4 & 5: 12 – 6pm
I worked this up from an old photo I had, on an old computer. Rupert has been gone almost a year now, and the couch didn’t survive the move a few years ago to a smaller apartment. God, he loved that couch. After a long day in a busy city retail shop or a good hike on the trails, he would climb up into it and collapse into a glob, dripping off the sides like candle wax that snored. Sometimes, I wasn’t sure where the dog ended and the couch began.
And so I thought it would make an interesting painting. I love darkness that ends only where light exposes curves and corners of physical matter, leading the viewer to note the subject consciously while also perhaps contemplating the dark, subconsciously. The light evolves out of the dark, which seems a fitting analogy to the human condition, itself. Or 2018, at least.
I’ve been in somewhat of a state of simmering, sniveling discontent since about Nov 2016. It’s not that injustice didn’t exist before then; it’s more that it wasn’t waved so freely and incitefully in the faces of those with a moral conscience.
So, going to the studio, there has been a certain inadequacy to the paintings of happy dogs. There was guilt in making happy paintings. I should be making angry political statements, exposing the greed and corruption.
Thing is, the greed and corruption isn’t exactly new, and I wasn’t making angry statement pieces before. Maybe painting dogs that make me smile is my antidote.
So, here is Barney and a daffodil.
Sometimes, I spend way too much time on a painting. Brody (36 x 36″) is almost done, but I still need to add a ton of white muzzle hairs and then the black whiskers. I’m letting it dry for a bit while I start Barney…