PENS AND NAILS….I like pens!

PENS AND NAILS….I like pens!


Now what is more fantastic…the pens….or the nails?   Well, I happen to be a pen freak.  Any pen I see I have to reckon with myself not to steal it!  I usually inhale and exhale and let it be. When I saw this pen collection I was blown away.  IMG_4868The owner of the collection is Nerline, a server at a lovely Sunday brunch that we were invited to by friends.  She also happens to be one of my models. (Well, yes, I “picked her up” the last time I had brunch there with the same friends!) Nerline is fabulously exotic.  My students loved her.  I have not painted her because I am not painting figures at this time.  Well, back to the pens.  When I saw those pens, being a pen freak, I got very excited…so I pulled out my camera. (Was it the pens or the unexpected hit of color on her black apron?)  But then…I saw the NAILS.  This girls has it all together, eh?   I never asked her why on earth she had ALL of those pens in her apron.  I think they only use them for people to sign their checks.  Maybe Nerline is a pen freak too!

Nerline and I have become Facebook friends.  I have learned through Facebook that she also does high fashion modeling.  I usually run from any model who has anything to do with fashion….Simply because a painting model is so totally different from a fashion model. (see Blog: “Interesting? Spiritual? what the….?”)But, Nerline’s bottom lip captured me so, that nothing else mattered.  And yes, she is very soulful!  IMG_3878

Back to the pens…..Yesterday, while visiting my optician, I asked to borrow his pen to jot down some information.  I flipped for his pen.  My fingers got itchy!  Couldn’t steal it…He is too nice.  He saw me coveting it (I wasn’t too subtle!), but he didn’t offer it to me.  No one has ever NOT offered me a pen that I have drooled for…so I figured this must be a special pen.  I actually asked him if he could GET ONE FOR ME!  It had the company name Crizal on it, so I figured it was a promotional, free, and easy to obtain….like maybe he had 15 in the back!    It had a fabulous tip…kind of indescribable….He said that it is special because it is for marking lenses.  He also said it dries out quickly…but I think he was just trying to make me feel better….like I shouldn’t really want it.  I am still hoping he will get one for me!  I never seem to have enough pens…in fact, I never seem to have enough art supplies in general.IMG_3853

My passion for art supplies reminds me of when my son was an art student in college.  As an entering freshman, in order to help him out a bit,  I set him up with supplies through my mail order house.  He arrived at his first class totally “fit.” About a week after school started he called to say that someone had broken into his locker and stolen all of his supplies.  I guess someone noticed that he was well stocked.  He was quick to add that it was wasn’t really a problem.  He said that other students loaned him a few brushes and a few tubes of paints….and “Guess what,” he said, “It was a great challenge….and I could mix whatever I wanted from those few primary colors!”  Now, couldn’t you just love it?  Attitude is everything!IMG_2828

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WHEN DID SOMEONE LAST SEND YOU A RAINBOW?….a little something sweet for desert!

WHEN DID SOMEONE LAST SEND YOU A RAINBOW?…a little something sweet for dessert!

The other night we were out to dinner with friends and I felt my phone buzz/vibrate.  I looked down and saw it was an email from my son.  Well, our children always come first, so I peeked……It was a photo of a RAINBOW.  IMG_0596When did someone last send you a rainbow?  Probably never!  This is the son that my friend once told me, “Just face it, he isn’t a hallmark person.”  I was somewhat offended when my friend told me that…..”HE IS A HALLMARK PERSON,” I thought….It took me some time to realize that she meant a “Hallmark” person.  Oh, and was she correct! No cards for Birthdays, Valentines Day, Anniversaries, Mothers’ Day……and so on and so forth.  Ever since my friend enlightened me about 25 years ago, when these occasions come and went, and I never got cards, I stopped looking and hoping, always hearing my inner voice say, “He’s not a Hallmark person…and that’s OK.”  That explanation worked.  So last night I got a rainbow. Out of thin air, my son sent me a RAINBOW.  What did that say?  “I love you.”  “Im thinking of you.”  “This is so beautiful, I wish you could see it.”  “I wish you and Dad were here too.”  “You are a great Mom. Happy Mothers’ Day.”  “Happy Birthday.”  “Happy Valentines Day.”  “You are an important person in my life.” He sent no words….  just the Rainbow.  I sent him an email back right away.  It was a sunset!IMG_4866

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I love to watch Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood on CBS.Image  Sometimes, after I see the “Table of Contents.” I think nah nah…not interested in that… but then, I am always shocked at how interested I am in just about anything they cover.  This week, among many interesting subjects, they discussed a young rock band who apparently has a unique twist.  The young men met at Columbia University as fellow students… they are rock stars…at the top of the charts!  These kinds of stories are always fascinating.  The band is called Vampire Weekend.  While the young musicians, who write their own music and lyrics, were being interviewed, I heard one fellow say something like, “I’m always chasing the Rightness.”   “There is the other layer of rightness”  “I get a chill when it is right.” Image

A little bell rang when I heard these comments.  In the creative process we are always looking for the “moment of rightness.”  People often ask me “How do you know when a painting is done?”  These young musicians said it all.  The answer is WHEN YOU CATCH THE RIGHTNESS!.  Typically, when I think I am nearing the moment, I peruse my painting…right to left, left to right, up and down, down and up…back an forth….and look for something to change.  When there is nothing to change, then it is done….and it is RIGHT.  I would have to add that every artist’s Rightness, and every artists search, is a unique one of course. My rightness would have to include elements of surprise and quirkiness to be right.  My work just has to be wrong enough to be right.

Below you will se the progression of a recent piece in my studio…”Hive with Windows”Image

Very very very very NOT RIGHT (translation….BAD!) Image

Very very very very NOT RIGHT (translation….BAD again!)Image

Very very very very NOT RIGHT (translation….BAD yet again!)Image

Very very very very NOT RIGHT (translation….BAD yet yet again!)  By this time I’m getting moody. 😦  and desperate….


Ahh….Something is feeling naughty and right.


And I’m finally feeling RIGHTNESS!

And my P.S…… Always remember, if you are a painter, or any creative artist….If a work isn’t completely RIGHT, it is ALL WRONG!

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IGUANA SNAKE HOSE….and new art supplies!

IGUANA SNAKE HOSE…and new art supplies!

Our new green snake hose is the color of an IGUANA!  It gives me a charge just it see it amid the landscape.  How outrageous!  You all have seen these ads on TV about the shrinking hose…. but who expected this “mean green?!”  It’s so unexpected that you could almost fight over who gets to go out and water the flowers.  Love it love it love it….Hope you love it too.  BTW…I really can’t tell you how good it is…we’ve only had it for a few days.  So far so good! (maybe used once!) Image

But more importantly, this hose reminds me of when I was a student at Syracuse University School of Fine Arts.  I didn’t have very much spending money. When I would go to the art supply store, I went with a concise list of exactly what I “needed.”  Really, no money for extras.  But, that being said, after I collected what was on my list, I would hang around the paint section and long for new, different, and unexpected colors.  On a particular day I promised myself, that, when buying art supplies, I would always buy one new and outrageous color.  So on this wintery day in NY State, I elected to buy a chartreuse green…very much like the new hose….it was, for sure, an over-the-top color (you might say obnoxious color)……and I just had to have it!!  Now, my challenge was to figure out ways to use it….and indeed, I used it everywhere.  My paintings changed.  All possibility changed!  That chartreuse green not only affected my paintings….but it affected how I thought about my paintings and my approach my paintings.  IMG_1675To this very day, I find that I look for colors that won’t work…that are ridiculous ideas….that make no sense….And then I push until I can bring these discordant things together. I once read a quote from the actor, Christopher Walken: “First I figure out what I am supposed to do….and then I do the opposite!”  That describes exactly how I approach my paintings…consciously and unconsciously.  I continue to challenge myself with new, different, and unexpected possibilities!


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For the last two days I have reached out in an effort to find a collector to acquire my monotype titled “Tornado.”  As you may recall, I am donating the entire sale price of this piece to the victims of the Oklahoma tornado.  (please see blog “Oklahoma Not OK” ) Image I have been feeling disappointed, not that I haven’t found the home for the piece yet…hey, I understand what goes into that…but that I have only received a handful (if that) of “likes” on Facebook.  Making things worse is the fact that the Facebook posts just below mine, showing a someone’s  Mexican dinner, get 38 “likes.”  HELP! Image

Yesterday, I lamented to my husband that the responses to my blog, Facebook, and private email blast seemed lame.  As I am groaning, I heard my husband say, “your expectations are too great!”  OMG…I heard that word!

Well,  Hello There Little Miss Perfect!  Have I not JUST written a blog about “Expectations?” see “Orb-Triteful Truisms” ) Did I not just state that I practice having “no expectations?”  Ah-ha…well didn’t that sound grand!  It looks like today made a liar out of me!  Trying to play by my own rules, I failed. Of course I had expectations …expectations for an enthusiastic response of generous supporters who, at the very least, wanted to take action and forward my mission to their chain of followers. Well, as far as I can tell, only very few have. Image So what have I learned, other than the fact that, despite my own efforts, I continue to have expectations? I suppose I could surmise that nobody likes me?…Well I can’t really go there!  And so, I learn that Little Miss Perfect (ideals) ain’t so perfect!….and that I need to continue to live my life as I choose and work harder on having no expectations. Practice makes perfect!

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IMG_4846I’ve been wanting to write about Oklahoma and the tragedy of the tornado….and when I start to write, there are just no words.  We can barely even allow ourselves to imagine the terror of this kind of event. Hurricanes, storms, tsunamis, floods….. these horrors are becoming all too familiar in recent years.  All we can do is pray and send love.  I wanted to send clothes….just finishing up some spring closet cleaning today, but I learned that money is better than clothes.  These poor people, if they are lucky enough to be alive, have nothing.  Thinking about it today, I recalled a very special monotype that I created several years ago (2004) when I was working on a weather series.  This particular piece is titled “Tornado.”

ImageThe image itself is 17″ x16″ with approximately a 6″ white boarder all around making the finished sized approximately 34” x 32.”  The piece is inventoried at $2500. Yesterday I posted on Facebook that  I would like to sell this piece to an interested buyer and contribute 1/2 ($1250) of the sale price to the victims of Oklahoma.  I am very serious….it’s really a great piece for anyone who knows and enjoys my work.  I have decided that the entire sale will go to Oklahoma.  The target price is #2500… may start bidding by posting on my Blog site.  Or contact me by facebook or privately.  Imagine what meaningful way to help, to remember and be humbled by these times, and have a wonderful addition to your collection.  This is not a second tier piece…so you will really be acquiring  something of artistic value.  I ask you to please share this notice by sending the link or sharing on facebook so that other folks out there who might be interested in this opportunity can find out about it.  Lets all join together and give Oklahoma our best.

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One of the highlights of my teaching painting in Naples has been Taylor Dutcher.  Taylor is graduating this month from high school and the NaplesBallet School.   She is a very gifted dancer…rather exceptional, in fact, and, beautiful and sweet as well…. a gentle and graceful soul. Image Taylor has modeled for my painting classes regularly.  Aside from her beauty and grace…she is such a good sport!  On some occasions she has danced for almost three hours straight so that my students could do action painting.

(Painting below by Syliva Pazolt)Image Her pristine pink toe shoes became grey after dancing on the art-studio floor… Other than the fact that Taylor is an exquisite and graceful dancer…WHAT MAKES FOR A GOOD MODEL?  It surely isn’t a beautiful face…or even a “perfect” body.  (In fact, quite the opposite.  Too much beauty and perfection can detract for the “real” power of the “person.”)  First, I need to use the word  “interesting.”  I know many people are afraid of the word “interesting”…but quite frankly, it works for me.  Things really are often “interesting” …enough to create some curiosity and “interest”….for me…“interesting” is not the “safe” word to use when you don’t know what else to say.  Often, it is simply just the right word.  The second quality I look for in a model is something “spiritual.” Image Now that’s a word that causes some discomfort!  People love the word “spiritual.”  Oh, people say, “I am a very spiritual person.”  UGH…. A spiritual person doesn’t need to announce it!  But, the spiritual model has something deep in their eyes… or, you might say, some depth…. something deep in their soul.IMG_1533 My best models have a certain warmth and kindness.  I sense their pleasure in being there and sharing in the moment… a generosity of spirit.  This does not mean a specific interest in what the painter is actually painting.  In fact, that is usually counter productive.                  (Painting below by Martha Fine)


IMG_4505 (2)

But the good models’ main interest is making it work for you, the painter, which means, whatever they have to do to make this painting session work.  It’s pretty amazing when the chemistry is right!

Screen Shot 2012-10-07 at 8.30.40 PMThe reason that I am writing about Taylor today, is that I attended her final performance as a student in Naples this past Sunday.  The NaplesBallet performed Swan Lake at the Sugden Theater and they did a magnificent job.  Quite an ambitious undertaking and I congratulate the School, the Troop, and, of course Taylor Dutcher.  By the way, I am happy to share that Taylor is off to train with The Joffrey Ballet in Chicago later this summer.  Not bad!!!    Please take a bow, Taylor!Image

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I love horses.  I love horse racing.  I am from Baltimore and today was the big day!  I was all set to watch Orb take the Preakness this afternoon.  I had my seat in front of the TV with a glass of wine and sweet potato chips….ready to watch this miraculous horse take Imagethe second race of the Triple Crown…and be on his way to the Belmont shooting for #3.  It didn’t happen. It fell flat. AND I was convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, after watching Orb run in The Kentucky Derby, that it was a no brainer.  (not to mention that we personally know and like Orb’s owner,  Stuart Janney!)Image I had no money loss to Orb….just the huge disappointment of expectation. How expectation can distort reality!  It made me revisit my thoughts regarding  expectations.  Expectations from loved ones, from a career, or from a good friend. A number of years ago I learned that if I had expectations, I set myself up for disappointment.  I’ve tried to adopt an attitude of expecting nothing and being grateful for what I “get.”  Ideally, when I really want something it’s best if I request it and make my needs clear….even though I might think that the other person should “know.”  And trust me, it is NOT EASY!

Another perspective would be the devotees of “The Secret.” …that skinny little book that was the rage about ten or fifteen years ago. I think one of my students gave it to me.

ImageIt proposes that if you visualize what you want to happen for you, it will happen.  The art of attraction or positive thinking.  I can’t exactly buy that point of view…as much as I would like to.  I sure did visualize Orb way in front crossing the finish line!  If I imagine or “visualize” myself winning a prize at an art exhibit it doesn’t happen.  If I don’t even give it a thought, I have glanced up to see a first prize ribbon!  I do, however, believe that we need to be open to the good things that we want…that somehow our openness brings, or “attracts”, or invites what we are missing or in search of.

But, back to the magnificent Orb.  With the Belmont coming up quickly, please forgive me for indulging in my TRITEFUL TRUISMS:

“For the loser now

Will be later to win

For the times they are a-changin’ ”  Bob Dylan

“All’s well that ends well.”    William Shakespeare

“Put your money where your mouth is.”  Unknown

“Hope springs eternal.”  Alexander Pope

and finally….”What goes around comes around”  (unknown) …..I tip my hat to you Orb!


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I got an email from a former artist-friend with whom I have lost contact. I always enjoyed Susanne’s work. She is thinking of relocating…to a place more responsive to her contemporary, painterly work. Image   by Susanne Carmack

How did I enjoy Naples, she wondered. I visited her website and her work has only gotten better!

I really didn’t know Susanne that well.  We didnt live or work near each other and only saw each other typically once a year when both of our work was represented at an annual invitational Show.  Whenever we did see each other we were both struck by a mutual sensibility.  Many of the same matters concerned us both.  I think we both enjoyed knowing that….kind of like SHARING A SECRET. Imageby Susanne Carmack

Susanne Carmack….Check her out.  She is a special person and a magnificent painter. I was so happy to hear from her!

Susanne has a blog.  I came upon this clip below.  I, too, am very taken by Cy Twombly and the essence and importance of “the mark.” All of us have our own mark…our own signature. As an artist, the hope is to find it, trust, and nurture it.  Below are Susanne’s comments about Twombly.  The book pictured below is always on a bench in my living room.

The Cy Twombly Influence

My work has been influenced by the painting of Cy Twombly. My teacher in graduate school, Anne Truitt, used to say that all the artists throughout time stand shoulder to shoulder. I came to understand that an influence allows you to build on your own work without having to view everything as new terrain. Twombly forged the path for painters who use mark making and writing to express their ideas. My work is often episodic, each mark being a separate action that is punctuating a field. Marks are strewn across a ground which is sometimes atmospheric, and the marks are separate events that register changes in “feeling”. Twombly described his work as deriving from the nervous system and I believe that is so. He was a rogue and he stuck to his vision.Image And let me go a bit further in my analysis. Though Twombly spent many years in Rome, and spoke of ancient subject matter, I think his vision is utterly American. The wide open spaces speak of an American sensibility rooted in land, he forged new territory, and I am reminded of the music of Aaron Copeland. There are ancient references, but new frontiers. So American.” IMG_4799

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Do you ever think about how much energy goes into a day? … Just standing up and going about your business….driving, doing chores and errands ….(not to mention painting and teaching) just the daily routine.  It’s like our bodies have a certain automatic tension that holds us together…keeping everything wired.  I don’t really think about it…..UNTIL I sit down!  …. that is,  if I HAVE to sit down.  Yesterday I went to my doctor for my “annual” checkup. Image Happily I am well from last week’s ordeal, so he got to see me as my best self!  After all, who wants to see a doctor if they are sick?!  The technician asked me to lie down so that she could do a routine Electra-cardiogram.  As soon as I laid down I felt all of my energy evaporate into the air.  I closed my eyes, shielding from the fluorescents above, and felt my bones and muscles all go whissssshhhhh… limp. Just imagine cutting the strings from a puppet! Image I thought to myself, ‘I didnt know I was so tired,’….and it was only 11:00 a.m.  I have felt this before.  When I sit in the chair to get my hair cut.  Whisssshhhh….and everything relaxes.  And the dentist chair, just for a cleaning of course, otherwise I would surely not go whissshhhhh.  My dental hygienist loves to talk….I always want to just be whissshhhhh.  And sadly, often IF I sit down and try to read a book during the day (or night) whisssshhhhhh….out I go. Lectures are also a problem….and evening lectures…forget it! That dramatic contrast to my go-go nature was quite stunning…..and it really made me conscious of all of the energy it takes to be up and active and zippy….Energy that I don’t think about until I sit still for a minute.  I even wondered, at one point, if I had narcolepsy!   That brings me to naps!  I hate to nap.  I hate to wake up in the morning….so why would I make myself go though that twice?  I know lots of people who love love love their naps.  Even their power naps. Image Not for me.  I suppose Im afraid that if I hold still for two minutes I will go WHISSSHHH  and then have to deal with getting my energy flow back and reconnecting my twisted strings!  Each to his/her own I suppose!

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