Monday, January 6, 2014

Roots

Roots, 15"x22", pen and ink, watercolor and metallic foil
This is a watercolor, pen and ink drawing (with highlights of metallic foils) of a huge live oak tree root system, found in Audubon Park here in New Orleans. This tree, estimated to be over 500 years old, is named the Etienne de Boré Live Oak and has a circumference of 35 feet and a crown of limbs more than 160 feet wide. Monsieur Boré was a local eighteenth century French planter, credited with discovering the process of granulating sugar. (And was the first mayor of New Orleans in 1803!)
I have drawn the entire tree several times but never done just the root system itself. Here's my fantasy interpretation. This piece is part of a group invitational show opening this weekend at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art.

Trunks

Trunks, 22"x15", graphite on paper
I have always imagined that our live oak trees here in New Orleans look like huge elephants, with their twisted trunks and weathered, patterned bark. This drawing captures my fantasy - an elephant sniffing out one of the huge trees, asking: "Are you one of us?!" I visited City Park, where many of the trees are over 600 years old, and searched for the tree that had "elephant legs" and the Audubon Zoo to find a willing model. I love the way the elephant's trunk seems to be looking shyly but inquiringly at the tree. This drawing is a part of an invitational show at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art, opening this weekend.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Live Oak

Live Oak, 5x7", watercolor, pen & ink
This small watercolor is a part of our new show at the Garden District Gallery, "The Calligraphy of Trees". Live oak trees in south Louisiana are truly marvels of nature. I so enjoy drawing them -  following the calligraphic routes of their trunks and branches. This study is of a live oak found in City Park, home to many oaks that are over 600 years old. Quite a humbling experience to stand in their midst.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Insect Music Miniatures

Insect Music I: Madame Butterfly, 4"x4", oil on copper (music by Giacomo Puccini)

Insect Music II: Flight of the Bumblebee, 4"x4", oil on copper (music by Rimsky-Korsakov)

Insect Music III: Papillons, 4"x4", oil on copper (music by Robert Schumann)

Insect Music IV: El Grillo, 4"x4", oil on copper (music by Josquin de Prez)
These painting are part of the current Miniature Show at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art (through December 6). Each of my four miniatures for this show were painted on 4" square pieces of copper. It was a fascinating process, taking several months of planning and preparation. The copper was initially "cured" with garlic juice, then sanded, cleaned and glued to hardboard. Then followed many glazes of oil for a shimmering background for the music. Copying the music from the scores took another week, followed by days and days of more glazing and drying - then the fun part: finally getting to paint all the insects!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Annie's Cello

Getting ready for the start of orchestra season....and missing my friend Annie. She and I have performed together in our orchestra here in New Orleans for over thirty years and this season, she has retired. This oil painting of her cello was given to her in remembrance of our many wonderful concerts together!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chambord

Chambord, 30x22", watercolor
This watercolor is part of a new exhibition at the Garden District Gallery - New Orleans Spirits: Iconic Bars and Libations. I chose to illustrate a libation. The elements of my still life were borrowed from friends - the beautiful bottles of cordials and the tiny crystal glasses - which made it all the more fun to paint. The stone pedestal is mine. The amber colors were captivating to capture - but, all that label lettering, not so much!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Front Page: Fire, Earth, Air and Water

The Front Page: Fire, Earth, Air and Water, oil on canvas with mixed media, 12x36"
This painting is part of a group invitational now showing at the Garden District Gallery in New Orleans, An Iconic Presence: The Times-Picayune. I wanted to come up with a way to focus on the front page and decided the elements to be a perfect metaphor. Fire:explosions; Earth:levees; Air: polution; and Water:flooding - all nearly daily components of our local front page. 
This group exhibition explores the myriad ways our local newspaper, which recently went to a three-day a week publication schedule, has been an integral part of our daily lives and is a tribute to the talented men and women who have contributed their extraordinary skills and dedication to a daily newspaper that was without peer in the southern United States. The exhibit features photography, paintings in oil, watercolor and mixed media. To see more images from the show, you can visit www.gardendistrictgallery.com.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Professor Neil Iris

Commission for Longue Vue House and Gardens in New Orleans, in honor of Dr. Neil Odenwald.
This week I completed this watercolor painting of the Professor Neil Iris, a beautiful bi-colored iris named in honor of Dr. Neil Odenwald in 2000. It was done as a commission for the venerable Longue Vue House and Gardens in New Orleans, on the occasion of Dr. Odenwald receiving the Edith Stern Legacy Award, celebrating his contributions to the horticultural arts. The hand-lettered calligraphy was also done in watercolor.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Bearnaise Sauce

Bearnaise Sauce, 15x30", oil on canvas

A part of the Summer Showcase at the Garden District Gallery here in New Orleans, Bearnaise Sauce is an homage to all my great foodie friends. So many wonderful cooks. I find the scene on their kitchen counters quite compelling - all the meal's ingredients sitting out, waiting for their director. But eating the meals is the best part!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

In Vino Veritas

In Vino Veritas, watercolor, 20x14"
In Vino Veritas (In Wine There is Truth) is a watercolor painting for a group show at New Orleans GlassWorks. Peinture et Verre opens this Saturday, August 4th. It's a show that pairs painters with glass artists. We were invited to choose from a huge array of GlassWork's vessels and sculptures to use in our still life paintings. For the show, the actual glass pieces will be on display in front of our paintings. The pieces I chose were challenging but interesting and great fun to paint. The grapes? I added those - the artist gets hungry after all that work...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Life In Music

Wally Kujala, A Life in Music, watercolor, 22x30"

This is a commissioned portrait of the wonderful musician Walfrid Kujala, longtime flutist and solo piccoloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It was commissioned from the music faculty of Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music in Chicago. I surrounded Wally with many meaningful things from his life (a portrait of him as a boy with his bassoonist Dad, his beloved cat Arvo, a specially designed crossword puzzle, etc.) and fifty years! of teaching at the University...the multitude of etude books he has written and published, his longtime studio - room 258, music of Vivaldi and Shostakovich...a joyful tribute to a master teacher and performer.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Madewood Plantation Swing

This is my latest project - just completed for a group invitational show at the Garden District Gallery, "In the Garden". This piece, entitled "Madewood Plantation Swing", is a large graphite, ink and colored pencil drawing, 30" x 22". I first saw this wonderful live oak and its swing when I was at the beautiful Madewood Plantation playing a concert. Wandering the grounds at intermission, I stumbled on this haunting scene. Couldn't wait to draw it!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Marble Shake

This oil painting - 12" x 12", Marble Shake, oil on canvas - is part of a March group show at the Garden District Gallery in New Orleans. The old-fashioned sundae glass was given to me by the owner of Creole Creamery, our favorite ice cream parlor in New Orleans. I have a collection of glass marbles and love painting them. It's a perfect melding of two passions - painting glass and eating ice cream! For information on purchasing this painting, contact the gallery at info@gardendistrictgallery.com.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2012 Rex Ball Invitation

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - not only is it a great party for hundreds of thousands of folks but it also provides wonderful opportunities throughout the year for innumerable local artists. For example, designing, painting and building all those parade floats, creating amazing costumes for Mardi Gras Day and the formal gowns worn at the many balls that occur throughout the weeks of festivities. For me, as a calligrapher I spend weeks creating "royal scrolls" honoring kings, queens, maids, debutantes, dukes and pages; and as a painter, creating the ball invitations. These take many months of painstaking research before beginning the drawing process. Then begin the months of actual painting, all done in gouache. This is the ball invitation I created for this year's Rex Ball, the theme: The Lore of the Ancient Americas. All the panels fold in and out to create a compelling journey through iconic scenes of ancient North and South America. Hope you enjoy seeing it.


Monday, March 12, 2012

A Christmas Commission - or, why my daily paintings have been on hold!

Back in September, I was given a wonderful commission - To create sixteen banners illustrating the story of Christmas to hang in the sanctuary of one of the most beautiful churches in uptown New Orleans, St. Charles Presbyterian Church. I began sketching and photographing inspirational elements of this beautiful building and finally began painting in earnest by the end of September. The paintings shown below are two-sided 8 foot banners - the painting faces the congregation and the illumination side (featuring the title of an appropriately titled Carol) toward the pulpit. The banners were hung in the sanctuary by Thanksgiving weekend! I've included captions to share the meaning and inspiration behind each banner.
The Prophecy of Isaiah is represented by the Tree of Jesse and the wolf lying down wth the lamb. Many images from the sanctuary inspired the illumination, including the stained glass window from the narthex, the quatrefoil found beneath the baptismal font in front of the altar and the carved acorn branch arched above the side entrance of the church.

 The Angel Gabriel appearing to Mary was inspired by the colors of the sanctuary: deep blues, russets and golds, along with the luminous stained glass windows teaming with understated elegance and beauty.....


































































































































The stained-glass window in the sanctuary’s narthex is found in this illumination. The window is lined with acanthus leaves, found frequently in the borders of ornamented initial letters of Medieval illuminated manuscripts. The sacred geometry of the window’s patterns speak to the eternal cycle of life. The inspiration for this scene was taken from a Raphael drawing of an angel I saw in the New York's Morgan Library.
The color and shapes of the leaded glass window at the State Street side entrance of the church became a perfect frame for the journey of Mary and Joseph. The textures provided contrasts: for the earth tones & the isolation of their journey.


Another State Street side entrance window is the background for this illumination. The patterns and symmetry of the shapes represent the Holy Trinity and eternal life.
The background texture of this illumination is inspired by the shimmering limestone of the sanctuary. The vesicas piscis of the painting’s frame symbolizes the sacred life that is being born in Bethlehem.
The inspiration for this illumination was taken from the shapes found in the front of the pulpit. A third truncated quatrefoil was added to represent the three Wise Men. The coloring in the background is inspired by the beautiful tile flooring of the sanctuary.
Using the tenants of sacred geometry, Silent Night features as its border the vesica piscis, a shape that is the intersection of two circles, intersecting in such a way that it is the circumference of the other.  This shape is one of the most profound religious and geometric symbols and is found throughout the history of art, architecture and this sanctuary.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Tribute to Mr. Sargent

Lily, Lily, Rose: A Tribute to Mr. Sargent, oil on canvas, 24x18"
This 24"x18" oil painting I did in tribute to John Singer Sargent's painting Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose. (I'm not a fan of carnations so I left those out of my painting!) It was done for a flower themed invitational at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art. Here is Mr. Sargent's luminous painting, a virtuostic masterpiece that has always inspired me:
Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose      John Singer Sargent

Saturday, September 3, 2011

One Last Sunset

Sunset, Pal's Peak, 2011
Back to reality in New Orleans....and just in time for the Great Deluge! I guess it's just that time of year... tropical storms, new students, the orchestra and art gallery season opening...but at least now we're reinvigorated after our time in the mountains.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Two more days...

Rattlesnake Rock
Today I painted a Daily Paintworks Challenge - using only adjacent rectangles of color to define the painting. It was way out of my comfort zone but I enjoyed painting this so loose. I'm calling this Rattlesnake Rock because over our twenty-two years on our mountain we have encountered twelve...yes twelve...rattlesnakes, that all seem to come from somewhere beyond these huge boulders. So, instead of hiking in these rocks, I paint them!

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Perfect Day

Our front yard on the mountain

A Perfect Day
Today was a perfect day - painting the mountains, listening to Mozart, enjoying the serenity of it all.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mountain Bluebird Box

Our Mountain Bluebird Box

Home Sweet Home
Here is this year's grand opening of the Bluebird Box. As always, the nest offers an amazing collection of materials - twigs, leaves, a few flowers and lots of feathers this year! The soft down in the center of the nest must have made a comfy spot to raise those babies last spring. 
We cleaned out the box and look forward to seeing what creation they will have for us next summer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Painting Mountains

This is a value painting in gouache of our mountains - using black and white paint only. It can sometimes be intimidating for me - surrounded by all this magnificence - to attempt a full color mountain landscape. Colors change constantly with the shifting clouds and afternoon storms, plus evening sunsets bring a depth of color to land and sky that could take me a lifetime to capture - but I keep trying! The mist that can often cover the mountains after a storm has passed on a hot day, is represented by the lighter hues in this gouache painting.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Breakfast on the Mountain

Honey Butter
During breakfast this morning, our little honey bear, sitting on the table in the sun next to the butter, looked so yummy I had to paint it.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pages from a Mountain Sketchbook

Here are a few pages from my mountain sketchbook, attempting to capture the magic of this place, in watercolor....
Colorado Black Bear
Kinnikinnick

Buck on the mountain
Mountain Bluebird Nest
Chipmunk
Brown squirrel
This summer our mountain black bear has been getting into everyone's hummingbird feeders. They love the sweet syrup!  We're always careful to put away the bird feeders at night too, just in case.









Every summer, we have the ritual opening of the Mountain Bluebird Box that's hanging on one of our pine trees. The new nest we always find is so beautifully crafted and filled with the most amazing things - feathers, wisps of paper, string, leaves, even newspaper! Inside, the nest is lined with the softest down. We clean out the box and lay the old nest at the foot of the tree, anticipating that some other critter is going to use the materials for their winter abode. We like to think that the birdbirds, when they return next spring, appreciate the fact that we've spruced up their apartment every summer.







Squirrels and chipmunks are the worker bees of our mountain. Long about now, they're running around like crazy, carrying off all the birdseed, cheeks stuffed full to bursting, looking just like cartoon characters. They're getting ready for the long winter ahead. Good fiscal role models.