Saturday, December 29, 2018

"Erik and Kyla" (watercolor on paper; 8" x 8") gift


Here is the double portrait of Erik and his wife, Kyla, that I painted for her as a Christmas gift, remembering happiness and wishing for healing. Miss you, Erik. 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

"Erik" (watercolor on paper; 10" x 7") gift


This past summer Erik Stenberg passed away at the age of 38, breaking the hearts of his family, friends, and students. His portrait is my gift to his parents, my brother and sister-in-law. It was not an easy painting to work on as my emotions got in the way.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

"Bentley" (oil on linen; 10" x 8") sold


"Bentley" was commissioned by Lisa who is going to gift the portrait to her stepson. Bentley loved swimming in the lake and going for walks. The reference photo had him with a golden halo around like an angel, which I accentuated. He passed away recently. He will be missed.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

"US Capitol from Pennsylvania Ave Night Scene" (oil on linen; 8" x 10") sold


The US Capitol with its glowing dome against the dark blue sky frames the Pennsylvania Ave with its street lights and busy traffic that cast blurry reflections on a rainy night.

Friday, December 14, 2018

"Bixby Creek Bridge, Big Sur" (watercolor on paper; 9" x 12") sold


I love Big Sur, California. Ocher and green hills, intense blues of the ocean, colorful wildflowers, the Bixby Creek Bridge, and so on. I visited it this summer, this time under sad circumstances. The coastal paradise was as beautiful as ever.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

"Sami" (oil on stretched linen; 9" x 12") sold


"Sami" was commissioned by Bridget and her siblings who are gifting the portrait to their parents for Christmas. Sami passed away in the fall at the age of 14. She loved people and attention. If you weren't petting her, she would whine and paw at you until you were. Sami also loved the lake more than anywhere else. Whenever she was outside at the family's cottage, she would sit on the dock (as in the painting) staring at people until someone came over to throw sticks into the water for her to fetch. Sitting at the dock like that came to be her signature pose and Bridget wanted her portrait to capture it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

"Amsterdam's Jordaan Neighborhood" (oil on linen; 6" x 8") sold


Admire the neat row of townhouses by a canal in the famous Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam. In the foreground, red geraniums bloom in planters hung over the bridge. A quintessential Amsterdam view in a miniature!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

"Beowulf" (oil on linen; 10" x 8") sold


"Beowulf" was commissioned by Michelle who wanted to gift his owner with his portrait. Beowulf, who recently passed away, was a grand champion Bernese Mountain dog. He sired hundreds of offspring. Michelle has two of his girls. He was a wonderful boy. He was obedient and the ruler of the pack.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

"Laurie and Mable the Boston Terrier" (oil on stretched linen; 14" x 11") sold


"Laurie and Mable the Boston Terrier" was commissioned by my favorite client Patricia. Laurie, her administrative assistant, is going to be thrilled to receive the double portrait with her beloved Boston Terrier!

Monday, November 26, 2018

"Georgetown Key Bridge Afternoon" (oil on linen; 8" x 10") sold


This is the view of Georgetown and the Key Bridge from the tiny Roosevelt Island in the Potomac River. The undersides of the bridge arches glow in the afternoon light. I used a modified pointillist method to simulate the shimmering light.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"Howard's Pals" (watercolor, 22" x 30") sold


Recently I received a request for an unusual commission from a client who wanted to present her husband, a hobby DJ, with a portrait painting in watercolor for their 24th wedding anniversary. Nothing unusual about that, but she wanted me to include squirrels, his favorite animal. And a robot from the TV show "Lost in Space", chocolate chip cookies, a Boston University mug, an IPhone, his favorite stuffed animals, David Letterman, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, and Frank Sinatra in a radio station recording booth. Let's not forget about a few portraits of the couple and his parents somewhere in the room!

It took about a month for me from conceptualization to the finish.  I can't say it's a great piece of art, but it is a whimsical fantasy and there isn't likely to be another piece like this anywhere in the world!

Design drawing

Color study in Copic markers

I started painting section by section from the top left.

Getting there!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

"Coral Roses" (oil on stretched linen; 20" x 16") sold


"Rose Posy" (oil, 8" x 10")

Recently I've received a rather odd commission request to repaint "Rose Posy" much larger in a vertical format with a glass vase against soft yellow/green background. The client also wanted the roses to be coral instead of pink. I said it would be very difficult, but she insisted that it should be done. The result several weeks later is "Coral Roses".

Many things have happened since I accepted the commission: the tragic death in the family, the trip to California to attend the memorial service, the recovery from my cataracts surgeries, and the Hurricane Florence with daily rains. I struggled with the commission in the middle of all the above.

I found the image of the "Fairy" rose, which I believe is what I had originally painted during Danni Dawson's workshop at her house a few years ago. They are tiny roses and I had to blow them up, shift colors to coral, and somehow rearrange individual flowers to make a pleasing composition. It was probably the hardest commission ever!

What did I learn from this project? Don't accept an unreasonable commission? Not sure. Because I am about to accept another totally-out-of-the-comfort-zone commission. I decided to turn it into a learning experience. I usually paint what's in front of me, or from a reference photo. But what if I don't have a good reference? I will have to make up, be creative. I am constantly evolving as an artist, embracing challenges, instead of doing same stuff all over again. So, bring it on!


"Hobbes" (oil on linen; 10" x 8") sold


"Hobbes" is for Robin. Hobbes, an American shorthair, had globe-like eyes with such an interesting mix of color. And he had age freckles in his nose. Robin has had many cats in her life. It's been four years since he passed, but none of them will ever be as cherished as Hobbes.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

"Binx" (oil on linen; 10" x 8") sold


"Binx" was commissioned by David. Binx is a 8-year-old Siamese and she loves outside (David and his wife have 7 cats and she is the only one that goes outdoors). She is a typical loving, cuddly Siamese. She loves to sleep under the covers when they go to bed and stays there the entire night.

In the reference photo, Binx was lolling under the Christmas tree with a scarlet tree skirt amidst gifts, as if she was inspecting them. I love the luxurious feel of the portrait!

Friday, August 17, 2018

"Summertime" (oil on stretched canvas; 20" x 16") nfs


This is my daughter when she was a kindergartner. I decided to paint the image in the style of Alice Neel (1900-84), the famous American portrait painter. The blue outlines and simple shapes seem to accentuate the happy feeling, which I needed desperately.

There has been a death in the family. My husband's first nephew, Erik Stenberg, died suddenly last week. He was only 38 years old, leaving behind his beautiful wife and three unbelievably blond children (aged 9, 6, and 1). No illness, no accident, just the fluke toxic shock syndrome. He was healthy and happy one day; the next day, he was gone. How do you deal with that kind of tragedy? We are all in disbelief, grief, rage, and regrets.

I forced myself to finish "Summertime", which I had started in a jubilant mood the day before the sad news. In work I sought solace, which didn't come easily. But a couple of pressing commissions are upon me and seem to help.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

"Strawberry Delight" (oil on linen; 4" x 5") sold


Somedays I feel like painting these little pastry things. I guess they cheer me up without increasing my waistline! This pastry stuffed with clotted cream and a strawberry is French. Oh la la!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

"Watercolor from Start to Finish": I Am Teaching Watercolor at The Art League School!

Week 1: Introduction and Painting Donuts!
"Donut Bliss" (watercolor, 7" x 10")
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My dear friend Alice Kale, who teaches watercolor, has been pestering me to do the same for some time, and I finally surrendered to her persuasion. I took over another teacher's slot at The Art League School in Alexandria, VA. It is a six-week-long intensive introduction to watercolor, called "Watercolor from Start to Finish". An enthusiastic class of 18 has been meeting every Saturday from 9:30 to 12:30 for watercolor fun. At this point, we have just one more class to go. And what fun has it been!. This is indeed the beginning of a new chapter in my art career, as I will continue to teach as a regular staff at The Art League School from now on!

The first week I brought donuts to the class, since I thought their simple shapes and fun associations would encourage the beginners (minus two who are experienced watercolorists) to dive into watercolor without fear. And I was right. Some students ate donuts first and painted them from photos!

Week 2: Fruits and Vegetables
"Carrot Bunch" (watercolor, 9" x 12")

Drawing and painting from life is an invaluable training whether the subject is humble everyday things, or a figure. So carrying on the theme of still life of donuts of the first week, the students were asked to bring some fruits and vegetables of their choice for the second class. Several brought a bagful of produce; I love this class! Shapes got a little more complicated, but we are not so worried about drawing for now. (To those who want to improve their drawing skills, I recommend Bert Dodson's Keys to Drawing.) Instead we are focusing on the importance of values, edges and color temperatures in a painting.

Week 3: Landscapes
"Bixby Creek Bridge, Big Sur" (9" x 12")

Week 4: More Landscapes
"Yaquina Head Lighthouse Sunset" (watercolor and gouache, 9" x 12")
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For the next two weeks, we painted landscapes. I did a demo of gradated/varigated washes and the students were let loose to work with the photos they brought, while getting accustomed to the watercolor terms such as washes, glazes, wet on wet/wet on dry, dry brush, etc. Landscape painting can get overwhelming with so many elements to deal with, so I emphasized that the class should look out for big shapes first. If one breaks down a picture into big shapes, there are usually only three to five. That's not so hard, is it? But landscapes often involve leaf/grass textures; boy, many went astray with them. It's been 23 years since I started painting watercolors and the memories of the excitement and frustrations are all coming back!

Week 5: Animals
"Emperor Penguin Love" (watercolor, 8" x 6")
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Changing gears, we painted animals this week. What fun it was! Several painted their dogs; many others painted colorful birds. It all comes down to this: paint what you know well and hold dear. And it showed. I am definitely keeping the subject of animals as part of my curriculum.

Week 6: Flowers
"Red, White and Blue" (watercolor, 7.5" x 10.5")
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One more week to go. Next week we will be painting flowers. We actually took a vote on this; between flowers, portraits, buildings, flowers won. But I let the class know they can paint whatever they choose for the final week. It's going to be fun and challenging no matter which!

Week 6: My awesome class intently painting flowers

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

"Lincoln Memorial Reflections" (oil on linen; 9" x 12") sold


The Lincoln Memorial glows against the violet twilight sky, casting jewel-like reflections in the reflecting pond. I have painted this same view several times and don't seem to get tired of its ethereal beauty.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

"Provence White Roses" (oil on linen; 10" x 10") sold


Linger in the corner of a Provencal farmhouse where fragrant white roses climb onto the ocher stone walls. Beyond the open wrought-iron gate, the sun-drenched courtyard beckons. Ah, I love Provence!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

"Lavender Girl" (oil on stretched canvas; 10" x 8") sold


A little girl in a white shift dress and hat is walking in the lavender field, with a straw basket in hand. The golden late afternoon rakes across the purple clouds of lavender. The online workshop I took with Dreama Perry last fall got me into lavender fields, so I have painted several paintings of the theme. As they get sold, I am posting my work. Negligent, am I not?

Friday, May 11, 2018

"Henry and Lucy" (oil on streched linen; 8" x 10") sold


"Henry and Lucy" is for Natalie who commissioned the double portrait for her husband. They are two adorable dogs with different personalities. I hope the portrait brings the family years of joy!

Henry is seven years old and is a Maltese. He is such a sweet gentle old soul. He is very mellow and loves to sleep on the couch and sit in the sun. He is good with their four children. If given a treat, he will wag his tail and give you lots of kisses.

Lucy, three years of age, is also a Maltese. She is very energetic; she thinks she is a child and always getting into trouble. She loves to be hugged all the time. She is loving and will jump on you and put her face in your neck and give you tons of kisses. She loves to run around, bark and play with all of her toys. She will get her dog kibble and throw it in the air.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

"Lavender Heaven" (mixed media on paper; 9" x 12") sold


A girl in a white dress and hat is picking flowers in a field of purple, scented lavender clouds. It is a lavender heaven! The painting is of the mixed media of watercolor and lightfast Caran d'Ache Luminance colored pencils. It was difficult to achieve the spiky, yet soft texture of lavenders, so I used colored pencils for them.

Monday, April 30, 2018

"Jefferson Memorial Twilight" (oil on linen; 8" x 10") sold


The Jefferson Memorial on the Tidal Basin in Washington DC is a beautiful neoclassical building. At twilight, it is breathtaking. I used the pointillist technique for the painting, pretending that my dots are stardust!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

"Blue Door" (oil on linen; 12" x 9") sold


Step into the blue door. Red climbing roses are blooming. The sun-drenched courtyard of this vineyard estate in Provence is scented with jasmine. Yes, those vines are covered with white jasmine flowers!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

"Washington Monument Sunset" (oil, 7" x 7") sold


The painting depicts the Washington Monument, viewed from the Lincoln Monument Reflecting Pond, against a spectacular sunset sky. It was fun to paint a big picture in a small size.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

"You Are Nothing But A Pack Of Cards" (watercolor on paper; 11" x 8") sold


Recently I reread Alice's stories and fell in love with her. After checking first the famous black-and-white illustrations by Sir John Tenniel are out of copyright, I decided to render in color some of my favorite illustrations. I drew with a watercolor pencil, then inked my drawing. The colors are my invention.

Alice has had enough with the Queen, who insists on sentence first and verdict afterwards at the trial. Honestly, the book is so full of nonsense that I don't even remember who was being tried on what crime! When the Queen cries "Off with the Head!", Alice responds with "Who cares for you? You're nothing but a pack of cards!" Hurrah for my brave girl!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

"Down the Rabbit Hole" (watercolor on paper; 12" x 9") sold


Recently I reread Alice's stories and fell in love with her. Somehow there is no original illustration for this famous scene of Alice falling down the rabbit hole that sets her off on her wild adventure. Here is my attempt. She is falling down slowly; she can even look around and think about things. That's why she doesn't look panicky. Doesn't she look graceful?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

"Detail from Piero della Francesca's Madonna del Parto" (oil on stretched linen; 10" x 8")

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The painting is the copy of a detail from "Madonna del Parto" (c. 1460) by the Italian Renaissance master Piero della Francesca. It is housed in the Museo della Madonna del Parto of Monterchi. The painting was actually the first one I did for the "Let's Face It 2018" online workshop. I got out of posting my recent work and am now getting back into the good habit. I apologize!

The figure of this Madonna, the protector of pregnant women, with her austere expression and natural stance of a woman heavy with child, stands out against the damask canopy, held open at the sides by two angels. The sacred and ritual nature of the image is further emphasized by the fact that the angels are drawn from the same cartoon, repeated in mirror image.

In just seven "working days" Piero della Francesca painted the extraordinary and touching image of the Madonna del Parto, distant as a heavenly vision and yet alive and real in her post-adolescent freshness. 

Piero della Francesca, "Madonna del Parto"

Thursday, February 8, 2018

"Detail from Sandro Botticelli's Venus" (oil on stretched linen; 10" x 8")

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The painting is the copy of a detail from "Venus" by the Italian Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli. The artist painted this solitary Venus in the 1480s, after "The Birth of Venus". The life-size painting shows her in a similar in pose, but her torso's strong contours and pale skin are covered with a sheer top. Her red hair is tightly braided, not blown by the breath of angels, making her more earthly than godlike.

When I painted the detail, I didn't yet see the entire painting and assumed that this version of Venus was more modest than the better known Venus. Not so!

By the way, the painting was done as the week 5 exercise for "Let's Face It 2018".

Sandro Botticelli, "Venus"

Monday, February 5, 2018

"Tidal Basin in Bloom" (oil on linen; 8" x 8") sold


These days I seem to be getting quite a few commissions to copy my sold paintings. I suppose it's a good thing as it keeps me busy! Here is another commission that made me revisit my old work. The reference photo was taken on a misty, overcast day, which created a mellow, romantic mood, which the client loved. She is going to give the painting as a belated wedding gift to her brother who got married at the Jefferson Memorial. I hope he loves it too.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

"Detail from Giovanni Bellini's Madonna di Brera" (oil on stretched linen; 10" x 8")

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The painting is the copy of a detail from "Madonna di Brera" (1510) by the Italian Renaissance master Giovanni Bellini. The original hangs in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, Italy. My painting shows the Virgina Mary. By the way, Belinni was the Week 4 lesson for "Let's Face It 2018".

When he painted it, Bellini was around eighty and one of the most prestigious figures of the Venetian Renaissance, a sort of charismatic patriarch who, at the end of his career, showed that he was able to take in and guide a new direction in style.

Giovanni Bellini, "Madonna di Brera"

The space of the picture is dominated by the monumental figure of the Virgin seated on a throne, wrapped in loose drapery that dilates the volume of her body in line with 15th-century schemes for construction of the image. But the harshness and incisiveness of line has vanished, and the entire composition is now built up out of color alone. Behind the Madonna stretches a landscape that is perhaps the true protagonist of the painting, pervaded by a warm luminosity that makes it look more like a magical evocation than a realistic description.

With this painting, Bellini perfected the pictorial representation of that special atmosphere and natural light which were to characterize the whole of Venetian production in the 16th century, achieving this stylistic effect through a precise change in the technique of execution: in fact examination under infrared light, carried out during the restoration of 1987, revealed the almost total absence of preparatory drawing, reduced to a summary sketch without hatching or shading on which the image was constructed solely by the spreading of paint.

I was charmed by the serious expression of the young Virgin Mary. Bellini painted many other Madonnas, but it was this Madonna that stole my heart.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

"Washington Monument Cherry Blossom Season" (oil on linen; 11" x 14")

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The sun sets over the Washington Monument and cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC. It is a breathtaking view. I used the pointillist technique for the cityscape, pretending that my dots are stardust. Aren't we all made of stardust after all?