June by Violet Oakley / oil, charcoal, graphite on board

This was the cover of

This was the cover of “Everybody’s Magazine” in 1902.

It’s at The Chrysler Museum in Norfolk VA. They have a really great show of American Impressionists. It’s worth the drive from Richmond!  The show is titled “The Artist’s Garden”.

One thing I love about the Chrysler Museum besides the great art exhibits is that it’s FREE! Free parking! Free entry to the art! YEA!!

The show is a real inspiration! Now I want to paint like an Impressionist! But not a contemporary Impressionist, because these old dead artists beat out the live ones!  It’s too much writing for me to go into all the painting technique I observed in this show, but I think I can do it! I’ll post more pix from the show soon.

Today was a good day to go to Norfolk. The show ends Sept. 4. If you’re interested, you should probably go this week, because traffic will be worse next week. (end of Summer and Labor Day traffic jams coming to your tunnel soon!)

I’m giving you this one 1st because I want Shelby to see it. She’s a fan of Violet Oakley.

What Do You Censor…Even To Yourself?


“What We Censor, What We Don’t” – Collage

With numerous magazine spread out before me, I searched the pages fruitlessly for the sentiment expressed in the words of Edgar Allan Poe: “There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion.”

I have searched through quite a few vintage magazines lately. Seventy-seven years have yellowed the pages, but the ads have a message that today still ring out loud and clear. As women so much of our worth is tied to our appearance. The ads confirm this, marketing one product or another to make us thinner, younger, beautiful, and ultimately happier. And over seven decades, nothing has changed.

While I have no qualms with anyone trying to look their best, where does the obsession for unattainable perfection become just that…an obsession…splitting us into fragments of ourselves.

As artists, we are visual beings. Do you find yourself contemplating these ads? Do they influence your work, or your life? Is the search for beauty and perfection tempered with self censorship?

The substrate for the collage is a stretched canvas. It is covered in metallic gold acrylic paint. I built the collage from a fashion photo from the 1950’s, vintage magazine ads, excerpts from a 1938 diary, and handmade paper.

What do you censor…even to yourself?

Japanese Garden at Maymont / charcoal

This is my 2nd try sketching the pagoda and pond.

This is my 2nd try sketching the pagoda and pond.

I love the Japanese garden at Maymont and wanted to paint there for a few years. The thing that stopped me is the long hill to climb in and out of there. I guess the exercise won’t hurt me. I’m going to get a workout lugging my gear.

When I was down there drawing today, I met a few other artists drawing. It wasn’t a class, they are friends out casually drawing. One lady told me, “They tell you to draw without erasing.” That sounds funny to me because I erase all the time. They looked like VCU students., so I thought, maybe their teacher doesn’t know how to draw. hahahhahahah Drawing without erasing wasn’t on our list of drawing exercises from York Academy of Art. YAA was a school that pushed the students to try to draw and paint in the classical tradition. They don’t follow that path in art school these days.

Wait a minute. Is that a pagoda or a gazebo?

Chicken Coop, Wheat, Crepe Myrtles / oil

chicken coop wheat crepe myrtlesIt was over a month ago when I went out to Cold Harbor and saw the wheat looked beautiful. I wanted to hurry and paint it before it got mowed.  I thought, this will be easy, then I had to go over it 3 times to get it to come out ok. The texture across the top looks velvety and soft. The 1st time I tried to paint the wheat, it was too spotty. So I tried again. The 2nd time I tried to paint it, The texture looked better but the color was off. Finally on my 3rd try, I liked the color and texture. I was a little concerned about finishing the wheat before it got mowed, but Barbara told me the man mowing the wheat was working his way down Cold Harbor Rd. mowing fields on the other side. She said her field would get mowed last when he came back mowing fields on her side of the road. So, even though I had some difficulty with painting the wheat, I got it in before it was mowed.

Then this painting was on hold for a month because I wanted to put the Crepe Myrtles in but they were late blooming. The Crepe Myrtles started blooming in Richmond about a month ago and these are still opening up.

I’m happy to finally see this painting finished.

Where You Should Be…


Coney Island – Wish You Were Here

A bloodshot sun is hanging heavy in the sultry sky.  There is no better time to draw seasonal inspiration than during these lazy, crazy days of Summer.

With perfect timing our current Lunagirl Moonbeam Design Team Challenge is Retro Summertime. Although it’s been cool and rainy here in Central Pennsylvania, we are now experiencing the heat and humidity of a typical Mid-July.

All the Lunagirl images are so tempting, but as soon as I saw the group of lovely ladies enjoying a day at the beach I knew I found my inspiration. The life savior with the words “Wish You Were Here” said it all.

I was lucky to spend my childhood growing up in the Boro Park section of Brooklyn, New York. Even though we spent our family vacations at Montauk, nothing says Summer to me more than Coney Island.  With just a subway ride away, it was the perfect place to find a bit respite from the city heat and humidity.

I couldn’t wait to get started. I recently visited a local flea market and discovered a Coney Island souvenir postcard booklet. Printed in the late 1950’s I knew it would be perfect for my mid-century inspired art. The digital collage came together quickly, as I easily pulled images from my collection of ephemera. But the finishing touch was from another Lunagirl image. The handwritten message was to the point: “This is where you should be for that rest you need. It’s grand down here.”

And for me, reminiscing about Coney Island is where I should be. The memories are more than the subway rides, or peppers and egg sandwiches, or the cooling Atlantic renewing me with each wave. It is as much now as it was then, a time of sharing the joy of spontaneity with my family. It is reviving the gift of a magical childhood.

Where should you be?

Virtuous, Corrupt, or Something In-Between…

Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette – Digital Collage

Is anything ever entirely virtuous or corrupt?

I viewed the Lunagirl Moonbeam Upcoming Challenge List with  a bit of apprehension. We were to take inspiration from Marie Antoinette. Oh no…Marie Antoinette! As I am anything but a royalist, I feared this would truly be a “challenge” for me.

I knew of the clichés attached to her legacy: she was the teen-age Queen with a penchant for extravagant fashion and entertainment; of her flippant “Let them eat cake!” comment which according to sources she never did say; and the belief that she single-handedly caused the French Revolution culminating in her execution by her own subjects at the guillotine. Although she represented everything I found loathsome, I wanted to keep an open mind and began my investigation.

As I research her life, the caricature fell away and slowly I saw her as a flawed ruler cloistered in her world of wealth and privilege.  She saw her subjects simply as fictional characters in a performance.

The digital collage began with Lunagirl’s portrait of Marie. My heart was inspired by the October 1789 Women’s March on Versailles, and I knew I had to give them equal prominence in my work. The balance of the collage drew from digital ephemera in my collection.

As I completed the work I gained a new understanding of Marie. Looking at her life allowed me to view my own with a measure of objectively. How often do clichés replace facts making it easy to view a person or situation as wholly one thing or the other? As artists isn’t it our duty to search for the truth? And more often than not, isn’t the truth shades of both sides?


Greenhouse With Wildflowers / oil

greenhouse with wildflowers

This painting was on hold for months. I painted it in the spring and wanted to wait for the Wildflowers to bloom. All that time, I had it against the wall where I can see it, along with the other paintings in progress. And I wasn’t sure if this one was working out or not.

The thing I wasn’t sure about was those Evergreen trees in the foreground. I painted them a little too big. They covered too much of the hill and path. So today I decided to work on the hill again and put in the Wildflowers. Now I like it more because the viewer can see the way between the trees to the paved path. Also, now I have more space for flowers.

That’s one thing I like about oil paint. If there’s something you want to change, you can easily paint over the bad part, and no one knows, unless you tell them.

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