Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Study - Follow Me. And Why I Paint...

Study, Follow Me

Study, Follow Me
8 x 12 inch oil on panel

My outdoor art show season didn't get rolling until this past August because of the disruptions from the pandemic. After sitting on the sidelines for over a year, I was thrilled just to be back on the road, sharing my artwork, and meeting interested patrons. 

Although it's already the end of the year, it's also the beginning of a whole new collection of artwork as I participate in 25 Days of Minis. For my first painting in this year's collection, I offer this new landscape painting from central Pennsylvania's Black Moshannon State Park called "Study, Follow Me," 8 x 12 inch oil on panel.

As I look back on this condensed year, I am incredibly grateful for your support and for the privilege of being able to create artwork for a living. With this in mind, the overall theme to my collection of minis is a renewed focus on why I paint. Now through the series conclusion on December 25, I'll introduce an original oil painting each day that offers a prism into what I love about my profession. 

With Study, Follow Me

That's me, in my studio, with
the first landscape in this year's 25 Days of Minis

I chose "Study, Follow Me" as my introduction this year because whenever I make a painting, I endeavor to place you directly in my subject, as if you could walk along with me and share the beauty of the moment. This composition invites you into one of central Pennsylvania's true jewels among its state parks during peak fall foliage. Black Moshannon State Park is one of my favorite places on earth, and after a prolonged absence following the pandemic shutdown, I was elated to return there this past October and walk along the Star Mill Trail. The morning light transformed this moment along the trail into something magical.

Join me this month as I unveil a new painting each day. I'll alternate between a landscape and cityscape and you can return here for more insight about each new painting. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Stick a Foot In It


Ugh. I'm back on crutches again, for the second time in less than two years.

Late last week, I learned that I have a couple of stress fractures in my left foot. There's never a good time for an injury like this and although I'm glad it didn't occur during my peak summer / fall art show season, I still had to cancel a couple of end-of-year events. The spiffy walking boot that I was given only does so much to mitigate the discomfort, and climbing in and out of my art cargo van right now would be pretty challenging.

So, I'm going to do what does not come naturally to me at all and try to "take it easy" for the next six weeks as my doctor advised. I'm hoping that this setback will be only for the short term and that the longer term ahead in the new year will be better. But, hey, at least my painting hand is not in a walking boot, so that's something, right?

Our dog, Maple, gives me a quizzical look as she 
watches me wobble around in my new walking boot

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Small and Big Things in the Works

A small study and a big work in progress
A mini 8 x 8 inch original oil on canvas serves as a study
for 30 x 30 inch "Splashdown" in progress on my easel behind it.
I'm on the precipice of my last outdoor, out-of-state art show this weekend: the Bethesda Row Fine Arts Festival in Bethesda, Maryland. The weather forecast looks a little rainy, but I'm not complaining. I am just so grateful to have my in-person art shows back after the pandemic lockdown of 2020. Hooray for vaccines!

I didn't resume exhibiting in art shows until this past August, so it's been a compressed season and a crazy busy one at that. As I wrap up my interstate travels, I am very grateful for everyone who has come out in force over these recent months to support my artwork. I missed seeing you in 2020, but your online support allowed me to continue creating during a difficult time. Thank you!

Even though my abbreviated interstate art show season will conclude this weekend, I'm excited about the months ahead. I'm tentatively planning a trip to my old home state of Pennsylvania to visit family and to gather inspiration from the beautiful landscape there. I'm also looking forward to focusing on some overdue commission work for a few clients and I'm already at work on this year's "25 Days of Minis" original oil paintings that I will debut beginning on December 1. And I'll have a couple of local events in my hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee in December

Stay tuned for more updates!

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Back on the Road - Yay!


Plein air painting in Prime Hook, a National Wildlife Refuge
for migratory birds in Delaware.

This past weekend, I exhibited my latest oil paintings in my first outdoor art show in nearly two years due to the pandemic.

I recognize that things are not back to a pre-pandemic "normal" (whatever that was) and they probably never will be. But I'm just very grateful for the opportunity to get out and travel while sharing my artwork with others. As the old saying goes, "You don't realize what you've got until it's gone," and I certainly felt that sentiment keenly last year as my art shows were cancelled and the best thing to do was to hunker down for a while.

All of that time at home gave me lots of time to reflect on my art and identity. Apparently, there's nothing like a grave pandemic to encourage some navel gazing. Nonetheless, one thing that surprised me is just how much I enjoy taking in new artistic inspiration from my travels. I'm an introvert and I consider myself a pretty resolute home body. I love to spend time in my garden. But over this past year-and-a-half, I realized that I thrive on experiencing new destinations, too. 

So as I visit the state of Delaware and participate in the Rehoboth Art League Outdoor Fine Art and Craft Show over consecutive weekends, I've made it a point to swim in the ocean, paint outdoors at some new locations, and indulge in a few milkshakes, too. I'm extremely grateful for these opportunities and I look forward to taking home some new artistic inspiration and energy. 

Thursday, June 03, 2021

It Just Got Real

Family at an Art Show

 My Dad, Mom, and husband, Tim, at an art show a few years ago.

I saw an old friend yesterday and he asked how things are going. I answered by paraphrasing Charles Dickens, "It's the best of times, and the worst of times."

After over a year of sitting on the sidelines and doing virtual events, I'm ecstatic to have my in-person outdoor art shows make a return later this summer. I can't wait to see all of you again! In addition, I've been commissioned to paint some large pieces by several clients, and I'm busy in my studio working on ideas to come up with just the right mix of subjects and colors. It's always an honor to help people realize their artistic vision for their homes.

But.... You knew there was a "but" coming, right? In addition to dealing with an ongoing health issue from a surgery that I had back in February, a few weeks ago my Dad tripped and fell in his backyard garden in Georgia. 

He broke his neck.  

When my Mom called and told me that he was being med-flighted to a trauma center in Georgia, I immediately went to help them. In fact, my whole family pitched in because it was definitely an "all hands on deck" situation. Following spinal fusion surgery to repair the C2 vertebra, my Dad is back home and recovering now. It will be a long road ahead and I remain concerned. 

Nonetheless, I'm trying to focus on my artwork and prepare for hitting the road again later this summer. A year ago at this time, I really wasn't sure when this opportunity would return, and I'm very grateful to see things re-open and get back on track. During these "best of times, worst of times," a sense of gratitude helps to sustain me and I look forward to seeing you again at a future event. 

Until then, please be well and be sure to tell your loved ones that you love them.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Flower Color

 With my Mom at the Philadelphia Flower Show a few years ago

As we approach Mother's Day next month, I've been thinking a lot about the role of my Mom in my life. During her working years she owned and managed a floral shop. She is an extremely talented floral designer who made beautiful arrangements for all occasions - including my wedding. In retirement she still enjoys creating wonderful bouquets with the fresh flowers grown in her backyard garden. 

In honor of my Mom, and just in time for Mother's Day, I'll offer a new series of small landscape and cityscape paintings inspired by the colors of flowers called Flower Color.


 Buttercup, 11 x 14 oil on panel

A little (ancient) history: Back in 1973, my Mom started her own floral business based out of our home in southern Wisconsin. She took the entrepreneurial plunge based on her love for flowers and a desire to supplement our household income by $50 each month. She quickly vaulted past that benchmark and went on to run a successful business for over two decades as her Floral Design Shop became a well-known presence in our small farming community. 

As a kid growing up during the long winters of Wisconsin, I was surrounded by shipments of exotic tropical flowers, festive bouquets, and a world of vivid color, courtesy of her profession. Although I did not become a florist myself, I learned a lot by watching how she ran her business. 

 Marigold, 20 x 30 oil on panel

My Mom never let anything out of her shop without first ensuring that it was the best quality that it could be and that it was well-presented. I remember her fussing over the pleats in cellophane wrappings around fresh bouquets or carefully stacking clear clam shell containers of corsages and boutonnieres in our refrigerator for high school students to pick up on their prom night. No detail was too small. 

Since starting my own art studio business in 2005, I've aspired to these same high standards in my own work. I like to create one-of-a-kind original paintings because they allow me the opportunity to take a deep, thoughtful dive into each subject and to highlight the details about each subject that I think make them special and worthy. 

This is the first Flower Color installment of artwork and I plan to continue adding to it during subsequent years / Mother's Day holidays.  
Shown here are a few recent examples of my Mom's floral designs. Whenever she visits, she likes to bring a fresh bouquet from her backyard garden. How cool is that?
Bouquet 2
Bouquet 3



Monday, March 15, 2021

Plein Air Painting as Therapy

The start of a new landscape on my field easel in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Over this past year, retreating into nature has helped me deal with
world events and life changes.

Yesterday, I talked on the phone to a fellow artist and dear friend of mine. Because we live in different parts of the country, we don't connect all that often. But it's the kind of friendship that's easy to rekindle. We just "get" each other, and despite long intervals between our conversations, we can reconnect easily and it's always fun to catch up on what we're doing with our painting. 

As our nation and the world recently marked the one-year anniversaries of the declaration of a pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns, I've been reflecting a lot on how much my art business and my painting have changed over this past year. Last year, all of my outdoor art shows were canceled and I pivoted entirely to online selling through my portfolio site. Thankfully, my clients have been very supportive and with new Internet technologies, it's easier than ever before to sell original artwork while "socially distanced." 

Still, it's been a challenging time. I miss the personal connection of meeting patrons at art shows. On a lighter note, I do hereby pledge to never again whine about rain during an outdoor art show (at this point, I'd be very happy to just exhibit at one). But on a more serious note, as we mark this one-year anniversary, my head is awash in different thoughts. I've been deeply saddened by the profound suffering and loss of this past year. For example, my friend told me yesterday that her father-in-law passed away from Covid-19 just last month, highlighting again how all of the grim statistics are not just numbers, they are beloved people in our lives. 

At the same time, I am deeply grateful for my ability to work as an artist. Throughout this last year, I explored the beauty of the everyday in my immediate surroundings of Knoxville, the Great Smoky Mountains, and Tennessee state parks. Sharing these places in my artwork is my way of trying to contribute something positive during difficult times. Even in the darkest of times, there's beauty out there for us. 

With the rollout of vaccines, I'm cautiously optimistic that I can take these new works on the road later this year and begin to reconnect with interested patrons at art shows and exhibitions. Until then, I'll keep chugging along in my studio and in my "outdoor office" of plein air painting whenever I need a little therapy to deal with all that's happening. I look forward to seeing you in-person at an event (hopefully!) later this year.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Mix and Match

Twilight Skyline
 The Philadelphia Skyline at twilight

Winter is the time of year when I concentrate on client commissions. When I first began working as a full-time artist, I accepted painting commissions for many different subjects including dog portraits. I am a dog person, after all. 

As time went on, I became more selective about what I would paint for clients because I realized a couple of things. First, there were just some subjects for which I was not well suited, such as portraiture (alas, I don't know how to magically take ten years and fifteen pounds off of someone). Secondly, although I like to believe that I can paint pretty much any subject, I recognized that I could do much better work for someone if the subject naturally resonated with me and fell within my usual interest of either a landscape or a cityscape painting.

Daylight Skyline
  The Philadelphia Skyline in summer daylight

This winter, one of the commission ideas I'm most excited about is a skyline view of the city of Philadelphia as seen from my client's rooftop garden. When he and I initially spoke about his idea for this painting, we bonded over a shared history and continuing interest in flowers and gardening. A subject like this is fun for me because it combines a cityscape subject with hints of the natural landscape, including the beautiful sky and the foreground flowers. 

Shown here are two of my initial studies for my client based on the reference material he provided to me. When I work with clients on custom paintings, I like to give them initial studies to review so that we have a good starting point when considering what we want to emphasize in their painting. There's no substitute for the old adage that, "A picture is worth a thousand words." I've found that initial studies help to show the client what I'm thinking. They represent a visual starting point and help my client to discuss desired adjustments and changes before I dive into the final painting. 

In this instance, upon review of these two studies, my client and I decided to go with the more dramatic "twilight" study, but to incorporate a couple of compositional details from the daylight study. Sometimes this selective "mix and match" is what it takes to arrive at the best presentation for my client, and I'm happy when we can draw traits from both studies to make the best possible artwork. 

If you'd like to commission me for a custom oil painting, please contact me!

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

When Your Day Goes Boom

 My sweet studio mascot, Maple.

I recently joined The Artist Initiative, a group of artists who are working together to improve their businesses and reach individual professional goals. We did many virtual workshops together in mid-January to plan out the months ahead and to take charge of our schedules for 2021. When you're self-employed, there's a beautiful freedom to each day. But it can come with the pitfalls of procrastination and poor time management if one is not careful. 

With the pandemic still a major damper on my plans for outdoor art shows, I found the planning sessions to be really valuable. While I've generally managed to accomplish what I need to do for the past 15+ years of being in business for myself, there's always room for improvement and greater focus on my career goals. 

Yet even the best laid plans for a schedule can go "kablooey," such as today when our elderly dog slipped and fell down the small trio of steps that we have from our bed (yes, our 70lb dog sleeps with us). When she couldn't bear weight on her front leg where she has dysplasia, we immediately took her to the University of Tennessee Veterinary Hospital and then anxiously awaited the results of her exam and X-rays.

Luckily, she did not fracture the area where she has dysplasia and she is back home with us as I write this in the mid-afternoon. But my husband and I are now both pretty emotionally exhausted, especially since we're still haunted by the loss of our other dog almost exactly one year ago. I love my studio mascot and I'm happy to have her back home and on the mend. I'll get back on the beam tomorrow with my meticulously planned schedule, but for today I'm just breathing a big sigh of relief.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Back to Black (and white)

The Center City skyline of downtown Philadelphia
as viewed from a spectacular urban rooftop garden


I'm listening to AC / DC’s hit "Back in Black" as I write this because it's the perfect theme song for what I’m working on right now. During these winter months when I'm not exhibiting at outdoor art shows (and especially during a time of pandemic), I use this quieter time to work on custom painting commissions for clients.


Among a few projects that I have in process right now is a custom cityscape painting that will feature the Center City skyline of downtown Philadelphia. There are many factors to consider in a subject so complex, everything from light and atmosphere to the details of the architecture. To keep an idea like this from becoming overwhelming, I go back to basics and go "back to black." Gosh, it's almost a perfect title to pair with AC / DC, right? 


An alternative perspective of the subject  
What I mean by this is that I strip down the idea to graphite renderings in my sketchbook to work out the composition and approach. This is just a first building block. In the coming weeks, I’ll do a couple of small scale color studies for my client to review. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and these first practice runs at an idea allow me to communicate what I’m thinking to my client and also help him offer his thoughts and ideas during the process. 


There’s nothing wrong with going "back to black" to create a full-color painting!

Friday, January 08, 2021

Real Artists Ship


Plein air painting in progress

My plein air field easel with a Pennsylvania landscape in progress

"Real artists ship."

This quote, attributed to the founder of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs, is one of my guiding principles in my art studio practice. Real artists don't tinker, they deliver. Real artists don't nibble around the edges, they get things done.

This new year of 2021 has me reflecting a lot on what values and goals I want to emphasize in my art. In normal, non-pandemic times, I embraced this mantra of "shipping" while juggling the demands of outdoor art shows, commissions, and regional exhibition opportunities. Whether it was dealing with long distance travel, inclement weather, or unpredictable socioeconomic events (I distinctly recall doing an art show in New York State right after the venerable Lehman Brothers brokerage house shuttered), this principle of "just get it done" has guided me through a lot of static during my artistic career. 

During the peak demands of my summer and fall art show seasons, a beautiful, sunny day was not an occasion to knock back and relax. No, it was an opportunity to go to a nearby park and do some plein air landscape painting. And although I sometimes wanted nothing more than to launch an uncooperative cityscape painting out of my studio window in a fit of pique, I persevered until the late hours and then got back up again at 3am the next morning to finish it to my satisfaction so that it could be dry and ready to display for my next art show that month. 

"Real artists ship."

But as we enter 2021, I'm waiting on the sidelines for a vaccine before I believe I can safely travel to my favorite outdoor art shows. For a variety of reasons, it may be a while before I can receive this masterpiece of modern science.

So, my plan to start 2021 and for the foreseeable future will be to continue to share my new paintings with you online through virtual events and private Zoom showings. I'm also going to temporarily set aside this mantra of "shipping" and take a deep dive into some bigger paintings. While the hamster wheel of my usual schedule is still, I now have the time to explore some ideas that I've had sitting around for years because I was so busy "shipping." This downtime can be a blessing, and I'll do my best to share some different ideas with you in 2021.

I look forward to the opportunity to share these larger scale paintings with you. In the meantime, I wish all of you good health, safety, and happiness in this New Year.