Addie, finished

 Swiping the fine line of a whisker over a cheek already finished with many oily colors, carefully chosen and blended, instills fear in my heart. If I was working in smaller sizes, no big deal. But whiskers on faces of this size can be six inches or more, and that’s a lot of distance to cover for a perfect arch in a consistently fine line. So, I like to let the paintings dry before I add the whiskers, if I can.  Addie lives locally, and her mom is an agreeable sort, so I was happy that was an option.  I adore Addie. She has a young spirit of fun and I think this expression is a good capture of her personality. The thing is, I really wasn’t pleased with my work, on this. I sent it home to dry with a bit of a wince and a promise that I’d pick it up in several months, to complete.  But, you know, now that the whiskers are on (and I added a few freckles and darkened the left muzzle shadow a smidgen), I like it. I actually retouched a lot of different areas (is it possible for an artist to receive a painting back and, being up close and personal with it once again, not see areas that require fussing?), but not enough to really be noticeable on their own; just enough that it seemed to add a certain dimension to the overall painting that I didn’t see, before. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s just time. But I’m glad that Addie is finally done.

Captain Derp


100_8016Jasper is a friend’s Swissy, and she has a knack for capturing his funniest expressions.  As the painting becomes more defined, his eyes will become more buggy and the tooth caught in his lip will be more visible. As it is now, there’s a lot of black on his muzzle and chin, which is the darker pigment of his skin — much of which will become covered with white hair.

Kimbo, some progress

100_7935I have made some progress on this, in the spaces around commissions.  There is actually more depth to this in person than my camera has managed to capture.  Perhaps one day I’ll learn to properly photograph my work.


I think the anger and the pride are starting to come through.  On this day, the wake of the verdict that there will be no trial for a white cop in Ferguson who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, I think pride in anger is most appropriate.

Kimbo underpainting

36 x 36"OK, so I haven’t really been completely unproductive.  After doing a few dogs, I always need to go back to a human face.  So, when a friend posted this selfie on facebook and said that she was feeling angry, I was intrigued.  It didn’t look angry.  Where is the anger?

Anyway, I have a couple of dog commissions to do, so this is going to sit on the sidelines for a couple of months, but at least the colors and lines are mapped out.  I’m eager to paint it.

Molly Undone

…or, unfinished. But undone sounds so much more interesting, like a 40-something woman sitting in the kitchen with disheveled hair, one leg up on the table, with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other.


No, this Molly is just back behind the door, removed from the easel where she has sat for the past month, waiting patiently to be completed.  Just the muzzle and tags, really.  Surely that wouldn’t take long.

In talking with other Somerville artists, I found that I am not alone in this practice of stepping away from the easel after Open Studios weekend.  I suppose it’s like allowing yourself to exhale.

For me, the other part of my life kicks in just as SOS ends.  Meetings are held, data collected, artwork is retrieved from the various exhibits, and then class notes for Herbstalk need to be completed and submitted.  Herbstalk, which happens a month after SOS every year, is to the canine herbalist in me what SOS is to the artist in me.

And so I thought that my little reprieve from the easel was due to my herbalist self stepping up.  But no; I am not alone in this practice of stepping away from the easel after SOS.

And if others do it, it must be OK.

Thanks for coming by!

SOS 2014

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who stopped by during Somerville Open Studios this past weekend.

This was my third year participating, and it was a much different experience for me than my first year.  This year (and last), I was located in the community space at Arts at the Armory and, because there were multiple artists exhibiting there, I was really looking forward to experiencing SOS within the community of other artists, and I knew that there would be a pretty good flow of visitors.  I’m an introvert, and I know that sometimes it can be somewhat uncomfortable for either the artist who doesn’t know what to say beyond a meek “How are you, today?” or the visitor who may prefer to view the work without being glanced at frequently by an artist unsure of when to say something, or what to say.  I brought a small painting to work on, thinking that would provide either a distraction or a focal point, and I could be productive during the lulls in foot traffic.  It turned out that it prompted a lot of conversation, so thanks for approaching me to ask about the subject or my process or if I always paint upside-down, or any of the other great questions.  One of the great things about visitors asking questions is that it prompts us to rethink aspects of our work in new ways, and sometimes we’re surprised.

SOS 2013

Thanks to the ones who burst out laughing upon seeing Catch or Oops! or Imp.  Thanks to the woman who asked if they were paintings or photos. Thanks for suggesting that I submit my work to a particular gallery or television personality.  Thanks for showing me pictures of your pets.  Thanks to friends, family, and clients who stopped by just to support me. Thanks to the man who recognized Dennie, even though it’s not a detailed painting! Thanks to those who told me that my work is worth more than I’m asking.  Thanks for Irish whispers to each other while pointing at paintings.  Thanks for sending your friends in.  Thank you so much to those who told me that I captured a certain essence of the person or animal. Thanks to those who viewed shyly but then came up and quietly told me how much you enjoyed my work.

Because my area was loaded with big dog faces, it seemed to attract visitors of the tiny variety!  Parents would be reaching out to grab a runaway child running toward a big tongue or wet nose, and it was all good.  I heard so many parents saying “Don’t touch!” and I appreciate your respect and the respect for the work which you are instilling in your children; but it was fine, really.  Thank you for bringing children to look at Somerville’s art.

And dogs!  Quite a few dogs stopped by my setup, and of course I was happy to see moist noses navigating the space.

I am not much of a self-promoter, so I wasn’t out there flagging people down and handing out business cards and booking photo shoots.  Still, I was surprised at the number of visitors I had, the amount of interest in commissioning work, and the number of business cards taken.  Feel free to share them!  And, if you have any questions at all, please just ask.

I am looking forward to SOS again next year, but I will be here in the time between now and then, making tea and painting away.  Please stop by again.