Cows, twilight and a moon



It is the first day of spring today with a forecast of snow tonight…climate is on my mind.  What better way to deal with it than to escape to the perfect English landscape on a summer’s day.

This is the Cotswolds in England a few summers ago, just south of the lovely village of Tetbury, and this scene was the view from our bedroom window at The Hare and Hounds Hotel.  The next morning we were going to tour Prince Charles’ Royal Gardens at Highgrove House which is nearby.

As I watched out the window, the sun began to set, the cows barely moved across the field and the moon rose giving everything a magical quality.

I added the traveler peering over the wall, decided to decrease the size of lamp and have the edge of the wall in the foreground disappear a bit into the rich grass.

I refined the sky with the ever-present British clouds skirting the horizon, and added details to the incredible farm buildings in the distance. I watched this scene from my window until just the moon lit the sky.  The cows didn’t stray far.

Working Title “Moonrise”  oil, 30 x 48″

Will the trees still be here tomorrow?


I think about the destiny of the natural world for the next generations. With the climate change prognosis so uncertain, I worry that we will miss the window of opportunity to protect such diversity and beauty. I hope it is not slipping away.

My two young grandnieces are the future. They love the outdoors and see it all with that new sense of wonder so common in the young.

I had visited Bath, in the UK, a few years ago in November, when the leaves were falling and everything had a muted, mysterious end of season look to it.

Walking through the botanical gardens, I came across these birch trees, hanging on to their last leaves, framing a gorgeous color palette of greens, rusts and gold.  I had noticed a woman pushing a baby carriage earlier and decided to place her moving in to the distance of this scene.  My nieces, Lilly and Abby, became my models from a photo their mom had taken in a different setting.  I placed them in to this park, put fall jackets on them and had them enter this special space.

This was a difficult one to get the sense of shadowed uncertainty I wanted, but still keep it fresh and hopeful.  I hope I succeeded.

Note my last, final changes in the small details.  There is always a moment when I am not sure I am finished and spend time, often days, just looking, thinking, looking again at other artists work (Doig, Wyeth, Wiesenfeld, Celaya) and making those final decisions that mean it is finished.

I added a leaf over the girls’ head, and a falling leaf between them and the viewer, changed the tone of the green lawn, some subtle rays of sunshine and edited Abby’s hat to be smaller and less “matched” to her jacket.  I was finally finished telling the story.

“Will The Trees Still Be Here Tomorrow”, oil on linen, 40 x 30″



Children at the Museum



A few years ago, I was in Cambridge and saw a museum scene in Cambridge of children relaxed and attentive on the floor of a gallery, contemplating and studying the art.

A patron asked if he could commission a new version with a similar vibe since the first one had sold this past summer. It was a familiar scene I have seen over and over again no matter where I go, a classic…students immersed in the art. So I took it on, trying to be original but capturing the fun and excitement of young students visiting the museum that had worked so well in the former painting.

I chose The National Gallery of Art this time, in Washington DC. I never have a total preconception  of what I will paint.  I always figure I’ll know it when I see it.  I knew I wanted young children in school uniforms visiting a museum. I found lots of school groups.  But not the age I wanted. So I kept looking.

When I walked up to the museum on an early weekday morning reconnaissance mission, I was pleased to see a group of children, in uniforms, sitting on the curb outside the museum.  I had my potential reference, at least for poses and styling details.

I  went in to the Museum, and walked through the galleries trying to decide on the art I wanted to showcase. When I walked in to the gallery with the vivid colors of Caillebotte, I made my choice, and shot several photographs of different angles.

Then for the school group.  I found the children again, and took enough photos of different poses from the back so as not to identify them, to get positions and poses.

I went home to sketch and realized I still wasn’t sure  about proportions in the space.  So back to the Museum for an hour or two of watching children come in and out of the room to determine height and proportion in relationship to the art and room. Perspective was tough.

Finally I had it.  I looked online for different uniform combinations, and decided on the blue, gray and black to compliment the colors in the art.  And only then was I ready for the weeks of sketching and painting and playing with colors and shadow.

Luckily, we were all pleased with results.  More often than not I try to capture models in an actual scene and then change them enough so they suit the scene.  Much easier than the cut and paste method, but with perseverance, this worked out well.

“Child’s Play”, oil on linen, 24 x 30″

Sunday Afternoon



I have always loved the intimate setting of the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC.  I have visited it for decades. I had an hour to kill when I was downtown near Dupont Circle recently, so I popped in.

It was hot and busy out on the surrounding streets, with people getting coffee, visiting the street markets…hustle and bustle.

When I entered the Phillips, it was cool and golden.  The art is purposely juxtaposed to present different styles and eras in close proximity.  It gives a richness to the experience of wandering through the rooms, just as this couple was doing.

The red chair, the bright stairwell, and the soft glow around the painting they have focused on is a magnificent play of light, shadow and color surrounding a superb collection.

“Sunday Afternoon at the Phillips”, 30 x 24″, oil on linen.



The Kreeger Museum is a hidden gem in Washington DC.  Hidden in plain sight on Foxhall Road NW, it is just a few minutes from Georgetown and Key Bridge. The private, non-profit museum is set on 5 acres of sculpture-filled, tranquil gardens.  The museum is the former residence of David & Carmen Kreeger, and focuses on 19th & 20th Century art, as well as prominent Washington artists.

It’s truly a lovely setting to view art. I’ve always particularly loved homes that have been turned in to museums. These rooms in the Kreeger are conducive to contemplation, as seen by these two women.

Separated by William Christenberry’s “Dream Building II” and surrounded by Clifford Still’s “Untitled”, Sam Gilliam’s “Cape”, and Josef Albers’ Homage to the Square:Wet and Dry” the two women are each lost in their personal worlds.

I especially loved the play of sculpted shadows set against the color of the paintings.  The women become part of that neutral palette, allowing the art to really define the space.

Divided, 24 x 36″, oil on linen

Hidden Away



My newest painting “Behind The Hedge” came about a few seasons after I visited a charming village near Bath, England, called Castle Comb. This often happens.  I will re-visit images from past travels.  Certain ones always seem to leap out again and again, and finally I find the time to paint them.

A special place stays amazingly fresh in my memory. This particular morning, after a stroll through the idyllic village, I walked past a hedge that was still changing color in early November.  The colors, the hidden cottage and the water rushing nearby all made for a very fairytale like scene. It was one of many hidden gems throughout the small historic village that seems to have escaped changing times.

It took me a few years, but I have re-visited the images of Castle Combe in the heat of a Washington DC summer, and can almost feel the cool, damp air and smell the fire smoke coming from chimneys.

I have been thinking more and more recently of re-visiting some of these English landscapes that I love.

They are so joyfully simple and beautiful. And the foliage and trees, especially for this late fall visit, offer an incredible palette of soothing color.

A magical escape.

“Behind the Hedge”, 14 x 11″, oil on linen

Seeing Red


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Sometimes an image will stay with me for quite a long time and pop out years later in a painting.  In the case of “Reds” (which I just finished this week) this image recalls a visit to MOMA in New York City in January of 2015. I had gone up to see the special Matisse Cut-Outs show. I was not allowed to photograph in the galleries for this particular show, but of course couldn’t resist a few photos of the happy art lovers waiting on line to get in.

But it certainly put me in the mood for the Matisse room of the regular MOMA collection, and “The Red Studio” has always been one of my favorites there.

The room was not as crowded as it sometimes is.  Maybe the Matisse lovers were in the special cut-outs exhibit.

But when I saw these three young girls, all in shades of pink…they just reinforced Matisse’s monochromatic palette filling his canvas and pushing out from the edges.

Whenever I would re-visit my favorite reference files of photos from museum visits, I would stop and linger with this one. It’s been tacked to the wall in my studio off and on for the past two years.

The figures seemed to mimic the happy floating objects in Matisse’s studio.

I wanted to keep the loose joy of the master work without directly falling into its style.  But, these three figures really are simply a perfect extension of the composition.

Reds are tough.  And Matisse’s red is such a specific shade, which I actually felt I could never quite capture, although I layered it many times trying.

But the sense of vibrancy and movement is there, and extends into the surrounding room.  How can anyone not be happy in the presence of a Matisse.

“Reds”, oil on linen, 30″ x 24″


Shared Impressions


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I have spent many mornings exploring the newly renovated East Wing of the National Gallery of Art since it re-opened last fall.  The old friend is still familiar, yet fresh and revitalized.

I almost always go alone to art museums.  It gives me the opportunity to really emerge myself in the art, and pick the little corner I want to explore that day.  But these three young women made it look like such fun to go with friends.

Tucked away to the left when you first come in the main entrance, there was a gorgeous exhibition from the museum’s French Impressionist collection.

These three women followed me through the collection, and exited to the main hall soon after I did.

Wedged between Andy Goldsworthy’s rock sculpture and the graphic detail of Madame Picasso next to the entrance (the original is inside!), the girls put their heads together and looked at their images on their phone.

I would love to think they had photographed images from the show, and were reliving the experience, but can’t know for sure.  But Madame Picasso, looking over their shoulders, probably has a pretty good idea what they’re talking about.

Whatever the conversation, I loved the camaraderie in a truly wonderful setting. “Shared Impressions”, oil on linen, 24 x 36




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The entire East Wing of the National Gallery of Art finally re-opened this past fall after undergoing a huge renovation. Even this part of the main atrium, which had been open throughout the renovation, seemed fresh and new.

With Alexander Calder’s massive (920 lb) aluminum and steel mobile gently rotating overhead, the calm movement creates the perfect counterbalance to the busy world of Washington DC just outside the door.

The lone figure hurries across the bridge seemingly oblivious to the red and black wings circling overhead.

Rushing back to her office from lunch?  Or just enjoying the spectacle of this panoramic open space.

“Counterbalance”, oil on linen, 24 x 36″

Life in Venice


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On our summer trip to Venice, we were overwhelmed by the crowds of tourists pouring through the narrow passageways and squares. The canals were no better.


We finally found peace in The Peggy Guggenheim Collection, an oasis in a wild world. I observed two visitors who also found this retreat magnetic.

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This museum was the art patron Peggy Guggenheim’s former residence.  Both the interior and exterior views were fascinating…therefore, Looking In and Looking Out, two small 10 x 10″ canvases that capture my experience in some small way.



The interior was room after room of exquisite paintings that this intriguing woman had collected over her lifetime, set in the quiet rooms she lived in. And yet when you went to any window, or stepped outside on the patio facing the canal with its boisterous traffic of gondolas and commercial boats, you saw the craziness of the Venice world through the most beautiful dark black grill work.

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These two small works are little oil sketches I did exploring the two sides of this fascinating museum.  If you get to Venice, put it at the top of your list.