Lemons25 x 7 oil on board.  Click here to bid.  Go here to see all auctions.

This was one of the fun, quick paintings that I did while I was in New Mexico. I just needed to use up the boards I’d bought and the paint that was on my palette, so I ran around the house looking for subjects that matched the paint I’d already squeezed out of the tube.  I had lots of extra yellow, so…lemons!

“Garden Roses”

Roses_yellow_vase5 x 7, oil on board.  Click here to bid.  See all auctions here.

OK, this is the first time I’ve ever had fun painting roses.  Maybe I just needed to loosen up.  In fact, this was so much fun to paint that I’m thinking about doing a series of them, all based on this still life.  Stay tuned.

Oh, and by the way, I have no idea what kind of roses these are.  They were all growing in my garden when I moved in.  I do know that the peachy yellow rose is ‘Lady Hillingdon.’


Rudbeckia8 x 10, oil on clayboard panel.  Click here to bid.

The first of the New Mexico paintings.  These were all quick, simple paintings–they had to be, as I was painting outdoors and the light changed quickly!  This is my friend’s Nambe vase and the yellow rudbeckia wildflowers that grew in her backyard.  This was my first time to paint on this black clayboard–I love letting that black come through the background.  I’ll definitely experiment with that again!


Spring_daffodils8 x 10 oil on gessoed board.  SOLD. Go here to see all my auctions.

You know I’m working from a photo when I’m painting daffodils in July.  What can I say–I ran across the picture and couldn’t resist.  The real advantage for me of working from photos is that I have fallen into the habit of painting late at night, after all the good natural light is gone.  I could do an elaborate set-up in the studio for still life paintings, but there’s really nothing quite like sunlight.

Speaking of light–I’m off to New Mexico for a short vacation, and I’m packing my paints.  I hope I get a chance to set up outside somewhere and enjoy that glorious Southwestern light!

“Manhattan in Spring”

Manhattan_in_spring8 x 10, oil on gessoed art board.  SOLD.  Go here to see all my auctions.

It’s a little dangerous for me to spend time late at night, up in my attic, focusing on the tiny beautiful details of Manhattan real estate.  Pretty soon I’m on craigslist, trolling the listings.  Who wouldn’t want to live in this apartment?

But then it occurs to me that the chickens need to be locked up for the night, and I run downstairs and across the garden in the chilly night air, and I remember that there are advantages to not living in a big city.  Besides, it’s more fun to rent Manhattan for a few weeks a year.  I never get tired of the sight of a doorway and a tree in bloom.

Bowl of Cherries

Cherries5 x 7 oil on gessoed art board.  SOLD. A couple other auctions are ending soon–check those out here.

Painting in the evening has been so much damn fun.  I usually get started around 8 and go to 10 or 11.  I’m never too tired to paint–in fact, I get my second wind for the day when I start fiddling around with the easel.  A little jazz on the radio, a glass of wine, and I’m happy.

I’m totally in love with these cherries.  There will probably be more cherry paintings this summer, if I can keep from eating them all.

“Today’s Eggs”

Four_eggs5 x 7, oil on gessoed art board.  SOLD.  Click here to see all my paintings.

When we’re lucky, we get four eggs a day.  As hens get older their egg production declines–and in the chicken world, a two year-old hen is "old" and is usually headed for the stew pot.  Not our girls!  They’re two years old and still going strong.  They’ll get to live into their dotage in our backyard–and I’ve heard that chickens can live 10 years or longer. 

The color of a chicken’s eggs depend on her breed.  From left to right, we have:  Bess, an Araucana, with a greenish egg, Eleanor (in back) with a medium brown egg, Abigail (in front) with a light brown egg, and Dolley, also an Araucana, with a light blue egg.  The color of an Araucana’s eggs can vary a little from bird to bird, and ours are really a kind of mixed breed called an Americauna or an easter egg chicken.

Somebody posted a comment and asked me about style.  I’ve been painting for about five years, and my painting teacher does encourage us to figure out our own style.  I’m not sure I have what you would call a style, but I have learned how to do certain things well, and I’ve given up on some other things that just seemed beyond me.  I’ve figured out how to pick subjects that interest me and that I can actually pull off.  I like to use slick boards because I like the way the paint slides around, and I like to use palette knives and rubber scrapers to push the paint around.  I also like to get a painting done all at once, or in two sessions at the most.  I admire people who work for months on large paintings, but I have to save that kind of patience and tenacity for writing books.  When it comes to painting, I want some short-term gratification.

A couple of fancy art terms for styles I use:  impasto, which is a technique that involves laying the paint on thickly so that brushstrokes and palette knife marks are visible, and alla prima, which means "all at once"–it’s a technique that involves finishing a painting in one sitting, while all the paint is still wet.

Calla Lily

Calla_lily6 x 8, oil on canvas board.  Bidding starts at $9.95.  Click here to bid.

When I was working on Flower Confidential, I developed a habit of going into flower shops anywhere I went.  Sometimes I’d ask a few questions in hopes of finding a good interview subject for the book, but usually I’d just browse, maybe buy a few flowers if I was on my way to meet somebody, then leave.

One of my favorite shops was at Flowers of the World, a florist that did end up in the book.  They own a few flower shops in Manhattan, including one at Takashimaya department store on Fifth Avenue.  This is a very expensive piece of real estate, and the flowers aren’t cheap, either.  They are all on display on a table in the middle of the store, like jewelry. 

A white calla lily at Takashimaya can cost $25 or more, depending on the season and the quality.  These flowers grow like weeds in my garden.  On the other hand, I can’t grow a peony to save my life, and I know people who think of them as being almost weeds.  Well, the trick is to appreciate what you have, yes?

Eleanor–by popular demand!

Eleanor_8_x_108 x 10, oil on gessoed board.  Click to bid.

The other day I was thinking about blogs, and how difficult it would have been to start a blog without digital photography.  In other words, what if all this internet stuff had happened, but somehow no one had thought to invent digital photography along the way and we were all still using film cameras, getting pictures developed, scanning them, etc?  It would be impossible for me to run outside and take a picture of the garden and post it online a few minutes later.

So here I am, illustrating my blog with oil paintings. Is that a step backward?  Of course, the oil paintings do have to be photographed… with a digital camera.

Anyway, this is Eleanor, our Rhode Island Red.  And this is the posture I most often find her in, with her head down, digging for worms.  She’s my favorite chicken to paint because I love those orange and red feathers.  Of our four chickens, she is really the quintessential barnyard hen.  She doesn’t go in for silly little tricks or the other kinds of antics that our other chickens get into.  What she wants to do is get up in the morning, scratch around for food, and lay an egg. She lays lovely, dark brown eggs, and she acts like she rules the roost, although Dolley, one of our Araucanas, is also under the impression that she’s in charge of the flock.

Thanks to whoever posted the suggestion about chicken paintings. I’ll do a few more.

“Three Daisies”

Three_daisies_vase6 x 8, oil on canvas panel.  SOLD.

This vase is so much fun to paint.  I use it a lot in still lifes.  It was made by Eva Zeisel for Nambe (uh-oh, I see she’s got another design out, and I’m headed to New Mexico soon.  I have a feeling I’m coming home with a new vase.)  We have a few of Zeisel’s dishes from back in the 50’s, and they’re all curvy and gorgeous and hard to resist. I’m not much of a collector, but I’m always tempted to pick up her stuff when I see it–and I find it so inspiring that she’s still working into her 90s.  (She also designs for Crate & Barrel.)

And Shasta daisies? My mother’s favorite flower.  I’ve always grown them, along with my grandmother’s favorite flower, tiger lilies.