Sunday, August 2, 2015

Another from the series...

When I hire a model for a one-hour photo shoot, I may get 200-400 shots, maybe 10 of which I find worth painting from. I'm not a good photographer; my photos may even be out of focus. But they will give me the information I need: gesture, lighting, the subject's relationship to her environment, suggestions of color.

What I don't necessarily see in the photo, but which becomes evident as I finish the painting, are things like the repetitious pattern of the windows and the foreground on the chair--a pleasant surprise to me. I like skimming off the tips of elements in a painting...the top of her head, the back of the chair, the lower portion of her skirt and flowered fabric. By doing so, I've created an overall abstract effect.

This 8x10 photo is available on Daily Paintworks. Click here to view auction.

I used to be a purist: only work from life. In the art world – at schools and among artists – there was a definite bias against using any sort of photography reference; it was considered cheating. So I, like most artists, used to smugly say, "I only work from life."

One day, many many years ago, my then-brother-in-law, a therapist, visited our home. I invited him to my basement to see my work. My framed and labored-over pastels of models posed in studios were propped against the walls all around the room. He was very quiet, studying them, rubbing his chin. I waited for the compliments. "They are all very sad," he said.

"NO!" I objected in vain, "They're just bored! The models had been sitting motionless for hours as I worked from life." I decided then and there that I going to change the way I did things. I wanted movement, candid slices of life, maybe sometimes a little drama. I was going to use my camera. And for the next few years I justified myself to the omnipresent and silently smug purists.

I was in New York a few years later, passing by the Museum of Modern Art (don't ask me why I was passing it by), when I noticed the banner "Degas Photography Exhibit." Huh, I thought. This must be his son or nephew or something. This should be interesting. Imagine my dumfoundedness to see my hero, Edgar Degas', black and white photos – the references he used for his paintings and sculptures of bathers and dancers and polo ponies. Well damn, if Degas can do it, I can. I left that museum feeling liberated, vindicated, thrilled.



See more on Degas and photographty:

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A BUCKET OF SAND, click to view auction on Daily Paintworks.

These are my two daughters and there's little Victor, my grandson. He's not little any more. Now he's an 11 year old rock star. In my eyes anyway. You should hear this kid play the guitar. Takes after his Daddy and his Grandfather, my first ex. Oy.

This is an 8x10 pastel on Ampersand Pastelbord, available at auction on Daily Paintworks.

Friday, July 31, 2015

CUMBERLAND ISLAND RESIDENTS, click to view auction

This 8x10 pastel is available on Daily Paintworks. Click on the link below to view auction.

Monday, July 27, 2015

LEONARDO ON THE FRIDGE WITH ONIONS, click here to go to auction

 I am told by Kippy that there is room for one other person in my workshop in France next month (August 21-September 5, Kathryn Nichols, who was to assist Kippy during the class, has decided to get married instead. Congratulations, Kathryn! 

But that opens up space for one more person in the class. I know this is late notice, as the workshop begins August 21, but some, who may have frequent flyer miles, might be able to swing it. If you want to hear more about it, contact Kippy at kristina@labonneetoile.comYou can also check out my blog posts from my workshop during previous years in France by going to June posts. You can go back as far as 5 years to see what we've been doing every summer. If you're able to do this, we would love to have you join us.

About the pastel here, ​Leonardo was always above me. He was on the rafters in my loft. He was on the top of the kitchen cabinets. When he was on top of the refrigerator with the onions and bag of cat food, he made a perfect still-life. He is an 8x10 pastel up for auction on Daily Paintworks. You can go here to watch the auction:

Saturday, July 25, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE MODEL, click to view auction

A few years ago I had the honor of teaching a workshop and doing a demonstration at IAPS, The International Association of Pastel Societies, in Albuquerque, NM. For my workshop I hired a model and told all my students to bring their cameras. We spent a little less than an hour following this model around as she sat in different conversation pits throughout the hotel lobby, folding the colorful fabric I brought to the class. This is from that photo shoot. I've been going though my older photos and doing some quick sketches.

I have discovered that when I go to older photos in my files, I'm inspired by the ones that didn't interest me originally, the ones I almost threw away. What happens in the months or years that pass that causes me to see things differently? It's always a source of surprise to go back to old photos. I'm so glad I've  held on to them.

Albuquerque Model is an 8x10 pastel on Ampersand Pastelbord, available at auction on Daily Paintworks.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Pastel Society of Eastern Canada International Anniversary Exhibition, Montreal

If you've been following my blog for any length of time, you've probably already seen this pastel several times. I'm posting it again because it is on its way to the Pastel Society of Eastern Canada in Montreal (PSEC) for its International Juried Exhibition in honor of PSEC's 20th Anniversary.

Reine Goodrow, who recently stepped down after four years as PSEC President, sent me this lovely email:
I would like to have you be part of our celebrations. Our show will contain 100 pastel works, as usual, but a dream of mine is for that show to have one work from each of the American Masters who has honored our Society in the past by coming to Montreal to give a workshop; to have a wall of American Masters for all of our members to be inspired by and by which to remember you all. It would be a thrill for our Society to be able to show-case the excellence of the medium in that way... Our show receives as many as 2000 visitors, and seeing a collection of American Masters’ works in person would be the greatest inspiration for our artists and the best source of education on pastel for the public at large."

Reine, I'm honored. And I hope it arrives safely. 

International Anniversary ExhibitionGalerie Z5409, boul. St-Laurent, MontréalOctober 30 - November 8, 2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015

LEONARDO, click here to view auction on Daily Paintworks.

This is Leonardo about to investigate the interior of a bag. Leonardo is a beautiful cat but I'm glad he lives with my daughter. I kept him and his brother for a year and could have made a living selling stuffed pillows with all the hair they shed. I had to travel with a lint brush. Cat hair was omnipresent. Never again. Only short-haired cats for me.

"Leonardo" is an 10x8 pastel up for auction on Daily Paintworks. Bidding begins at $200. Go here to view auction:

Monday, July 13, 2015


When I moved into this house in the southwest section of metropolitan Atlanta a little over 2 years ago, it wasn't the house that grabbed me. The house was old – and I love old – but it lacked the character I was hoping for. I was hoping for the built-in cabinetry and 3 over 1 windows of a Craftsmen bungalow; this one was more of a farm house. The floors were painted a depressing dark brown, the walls a depressing dark tan, the layout of the house was confusing, there had been no modernization for what looked to me like at least 50 years. But when I made my way to the back door and looked out onto the generous, sunlit back yard with fig trees and a pear tree, all I could say was, "I could have chickens here." That was probably 80% of the reason I said, "I'll take it."

I haven't given up on the chicken dream; I just travel too much right now. But this past weekend I joined 20 something neighbors, meeting most of them for the first time, on the East Point Chicken Coop Tour. We spent about 20 minutes at each of 7 participating houses. We were escorted through charming and productive urban gardens, where I lusted after huge piles of mulch, beautifully groomed grapevines, healthy lush vegetable gardens, thriving beehives and chicken coops of every size and style. All within a 5 mile radius of my house.

So totally cool.

And so totally cool to meet my neighbors, one of which (I hope you don't mind, Ruth) has been reading my blog for 2 years. When she realized this week that I live only blocks away from her, she said it was kinda' creepy. I have to agree. I got to see Ruth's beautiful watercolor today when I bought a used lawnmower from her and her husband. I am so thrilled to have met another artist so close by. And I am thrilled with my new lawnmower. And I'm even more thrilled with my neighborhood.

One of these days I'm going to have chickens.

ROSARIA, click to view auction.

Rosaria posed for my class this past May in Florence, Italy. She didn't speak a word of English; we didn't speak a word of Italian. But we understood each other nevertheless. Most of the time. She was so lovely. I hope to have her pose for us again in my class next year.

Florence, anybody? If you're interested in hearing more when dates are definite, contact Debra Zamperla ( and tell her you want to be on her mailing list for my class. If you're not following my blog, check out my May 2015 posts ( to read about my Florence workshop and excursions.

I drew "Rosaria" during class. It is a 12.5x15.5 pastel on Sennelier LaCarte paper,  up for auction on Daily

Sunday, July 12, 2015

ANN FOLDING RED FABRIC, click to go to auction

Ann poses for my classes sometimes. During this particular class I had her fold fabric as my students and I photographed her. I love working with Ann; she is naturally graceful, and everything she does can make a beautiful painting. This is an 11x14 pastel on Pastelbord, available for auction on

Friday, July 10, 2015


A quick sketch during class in Florence this past spring. Available at auction on DailyPaintworks.

Monday, July 6, 2015


This is a model from my workshop for the Pastel Society of the Southwest, in Grapevine, TX, November, 2014. The workshop studio was a large room above a fancy furniture store. We were given permission to set up a photo shoot in the furniture store below. We broke up into several groups and took turns going downstairs with our cameras to photograph this lovely model. I set up the lighting and had the model move continually so we could have natural rather than stiff formal poses. There were countless beautiful photos to work from in the studio the next day. This is one of my resulting oil sketches.
This is a 12x16 oil on unstretched canvas. It will need to be mounted and framed. It is up for auction on Bidding begins at @200. Click on the title above or cut and paste:

Sunday, July 5, 2015


This is Kathleen, a beautiful young lady who assisted during my workshop at La Bonne Etoile in Fontaine-Fourches, France, summer, 2014. She posed for my class (and folded laundry at the same time) on a warm sunny day. It's an 11x14 pastel on Ampersand Pastelbord, ready for framing. Bidding at DailyPaintworks begins at $200. To view auction, click here:

Saturday, June 27, 2015

BELLA, sold

This was a quick sketch of Bella, who posed for my workshop in Greenville, NY, in the Hudson Valley this past spring.
"Bella," 11x14 pastel on Pastelbord, beginning auction price $200. Go here to bid or watch auction:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Demonstration during recent Dakota Workshop, Mt. Vernon, WA, SOLD

It's 97º in Atlanta today. I think I'll work on my computer in my air-conditioned house, even though the weeds are taking over out back. And out front.

This is a quick demonstration of mine from my recent workshop at Dakota Art Center in Mt. Vernon, WA. It was a great group of artists in my class (16 students) and it was wonderful meeting Craig Lemley and Lisa of the Dakota Art Center. Thank you, Craig and Lisa for a flawless workshop.

This 11x14 demonstration pastel is available by auction on ebay. Click the title above to watch the auction or copy and paste this: Bidding begins at $200.00.

Friday, June 12, 2015


I have just begun putting my work up on the Daily Paintworks web site; linking to my blog and ebay if the piece is up for auction. Just testing the waters on the site basically.

MODEL WITH STRIPED TOWEL is an 8x10 pastel, a bit larger than my usual small pieces, so bidding begins at $200.00. You can click on the title of this post to go to ebay, or you can click here to go to Daily Paintworks.

This doesn't mean I'll be posting something every day. But if things quiet down a bit, I'll be posting more often.

Speaking of is not quiet here. My prolific roses were completely spent when I got home from Italy. The weeds had taken over my garden again. But it's good to be home.

I leave Wednesday to teach a 3 day class in the Seattle area, at Dakota Art Center (, where I will also be hanging out with my dear friend Christine Awad, artist and art school friend from way back in 1970. She'll be assisting me in the class.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Last night in Florence.

It’s my last day in Florence. I fly out tomorrow at 7:30 a.m.

I’m hoping my climbing pink roses are still in bloom; they were budding furiously when I left home and promised to be spectacular after my spring pruning. I planted tender baby heirloom tomato plants, grown from seeds Anna gave me for Mother’s Day; I wonder if they’ve survived my neglect. My cat, Molly, might give me the silent treatment for a while. I have a stack of bills waiting to be attended to. And my 11 year old grandson, Victor, comes to stay with me next week while he’s in science camp in Atlanta. It’s time to go home.

I also want to catch up on the news in the USA. I have an artist friend, Robin Hix, who lost everything in the Texas floods this week: her home and art studio. A lifetime of work gone. If anybody cares to contribute something to help her begin again, however small a contribution, it would be a significant help to Robin.  There's a link on her web site to contribute. Please do:

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Monday, Tuesday...only one day left for me.

Yesterday morning Roza left to visit her sister in Poland before heading home to the US. The rest of us walked to the oltrarno, the other side of the Arno River, where the medieval streets are a maze of artisans' workshops. Here we discovered a quieter Florence, away from the throngs of tourists and gelato shops. We fantasized about our own little studios (mine would have to be un an upper floor-- I would need a garden of some sort) overlooking the narrow streets, meeting artist friends in the evenings for wine.

We spent time in Luigi's workshop. Luigi is the restorer I had the opportunity to visit with Debra and Ivano when I first arrived in Florence 2 weeks ago (was it only 2 weeks ago??? It seems like a lifetime). He repairs centuries old sculpture, frames and furniture. He showed us photos of some of the work he has done through the years and demonstrated his carving and gold leafing process for us (all in Italian with our guide translating). Luigi's restorations are in museums throughout Italy. His craft is a dying one; younger people are not interested or can't afford to support themselves by it.

We visited the studio of Giuliano Ricchi, who creates Florentine-style metal works from his wax carvings. His beautiful pill boxes, business card holders, photo frames and intricately detailed jewelry are sold by Dior, Nina Ricci, Neiman Marcus and Santa Maria Novella's exclusive stores. He has a little room where he sells these things waaaay below the exclusive stores' retail prices.
(Ditta Carlo Cecchi di Giuliano Ricchi, Piazza Santo Spirito, 12, 50125 Firenze)

We then visited L'Ippogrifo: stampe d'arte, a beautiful studio and retail space with racks of Gianni Raffaelli's highly detailed etchings. He took us to the back room where he explained (all in Italian with our guide translating) and demonstrated the process of etching, showing us the copper plates, the wax, acid, inking and printing process.
(L'Ippogrifo, Via Santo Spirito 5/rm 50125 Firenze,

Then on to Ali Firenze, a leathercraft and bead embroidery workshop, to observe the artist (sorry, didn't catch her name) in her studio, surrounded by heaps of dyed leather, semi-finished ladies' bags, belts and beaded jewelry. She explained (all in Italian with our guide translating) how purses are constructed using cardboard templates.
(Ali Firenze, Via Toscanella 9/r, 50125 Firenze,

On our last stop of the day Laura Thompson and Frank Rekrut, painter and sculptor, opened their studio to us. Laura and Frank are a husband and wife team from Canada and the US, who have lived here for 5 years. From the open windowed studio overlooking terra cotta tiled roofs, we sipped prosecco and probed their minds about the feasibility of living as an artist in Florence: cost of living? Taxes? Relations with the locals? The ability to make a living? Hmmm...all very doable.

Check out this web site for more artisans who welcome visitors:

Tuesday afternoon--I'm listening to the rain beating on the roof and the sirens out in the street, a common sound here in this busy city. I'm sitting in my room in the empty villa. Debra and Ivano have just delivered the last of the ladies to the airport. It is going to be a quiet dinner tonight.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sunday-free day

Sunday was our free day. Our last day together before people start heading home. Katie and Kim went to a High Mass at the Duomo, the rest of us went to the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, the oldest public building in Florence. The museum is a fortified palace built in the 1200's. In the 1500's it was used as a prison where executions took place until they were abolished in 1786. In 1859 it was converted to a national museum displaying Italy's largest collection of Gothic and Renaissance sculptures.

Afterwards, while we were sipping our cappuccino at an outdoor cafe, we noticed Katie and Kim strolling by. We waved them down from across the street and then we all spent the rest of our long day leisurely stepping in and out of shops in the leather district, picking up souvenirs. Along our way we ran into Alexandra, our brilliant tour guide from earlier in the week, leading a herd of college students from San Diego. Later we passed Beata and her cousin and family, and still later Rosa passed us by. How funny to bump into so many people you know in Florence!

We ended our day crossing the Ponte Vecchio again to have dinner at the trattoria around the corner from our villa, where we were served a glass of Prosecco (Italian champagne) upon arrival. Another fun but bittersweet evening; it's one of our last. Lots of toasts to each other, to a wonderful 10 days, to camaraderie, to art, to Debra and Ivano, to Italy, to art, to meeting again next year, to art, to Italy, to art...


Saturday morning a private bus took us to Siena, about an hour southwest, to meet our tour guide, Stella. We also met up with an artist friend of mine, Lisa, who used to live in Atlanta but now in Scottsdale, AZ, and who just happened to be in Italy while we were there. Lisa joined us for the day as Stella led us in the rain through Siena--to the Piazza del Campo, where the Palio, their traditional medieval horse race takes place; through the fantastic 12th century Romanesque-Gothic Siena Cathedral, the Duomo, where we viewed ornate inlaid marble mosaic floors, sculptures and paintings by Donatello, Bernini and Michelangelo, illuminated choir books and frescoes.
We had lunch in a restaurant on the piazza, and Ivano and Rosa entertained us with a duet, "Oh Solo Mio."