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A slightly different painting

Last week I posted about how happy I was to be back painting at Wave Hill and included two of my resulting watercolors. I took the general idea of one of them and then did a slightly different painting back in my studio.

First, the original painting done outside at Wave Hill:

Wave Hill Complements

Wave Hill Complements      7×5      $300

And here is the somewhat larger painting I did back in my studio:

Wave Hill Complements 3

Wave Hill Complements 3      11×8      $550

I’m going back to Wave Hill tomorrow so we’ll see whether I do another version of this, or something completely different.  To be continued…

Couldn’t figure out how to finish

I started this painting at the Art Students League the middle of August and couldn’t figure out how to finish it.


Dinner Is Served      24 x 18      $1400

It’s a quiet, subdued painting and I kept thinking it needed something, some pizzaz, some additional color. Since nothing was coming to me, I took it home. Elapsed time and the change of venue helped.

I was right about the something and the color, but not the pizzaz. All it needed were a few small changes. I added the rusty red colors in a few places. I added different greens to the three circles to intensify and differentiate them a little. I added more of the bright green in the upper right and made it come over one of the dark green circles (apples) and the open blue green circle (basket handle), thus making it come forward.

It’s still subtle, but now it’s done.

Update: turns out the painting was done, but the title wasn’t. Two friends had their own interpretation of this painting (on facebook) and one suggested that Dinner Is Served  would be a better title than Greens (my rather unimaginative original title). Thank you Diane and Dorreene.

Why did it take me so long?

Why did it take me so long to get back to Wave Hill? It’s a wonderful place: the Toscanini estate with flowers, plants, trees galore and a constantly changing color palette. Absolutely beautiful. No explanation.  No excuse.

But there I was today with another artist friend, painting away.  And then lunch with a third artist friend.  I’ve missed this kind of interaction so much.

So here’s the result.  First:

Wave Hill Complements

Wave Hill Complements      7×5      $300

Technically, blue and orange are complements, but I’m not going to be picky.

And second:

Wave Hill Complements 2

Wave Hill Complements 2     9×6     $350

For this one, I decided to try defining the flowers and foliage around them using my LePen water-soluble ink pens.

I’d forgotten how much fun this whole process is.  It’s good to be back.


Relearning is hard

When you don’t practice something, you tend to forget what you once knew well.  Use it or lose it. Learning something for the first time isn’t easy, but sometimes relearning is hard, too.

So here’s the first thing I used to know well, but somehow managed to forget when I went from watercolor to acrylic last year, and then back to watercolor this summer. Watercolor is transparent (doh) so you can see through one color to the color underneath, or to the paper under that.  So if you put red on top of green, you see both which yields a kind of dull red, or mud.

In this original version of Falling, you can see the difference between the magenta on the left painted on white paper (it glows) and the same magenta on the right, painted on top of the green (ugh! dull!)

Falling Original

Falling, Original

No way to fix it … or was there?  Normally, I would have painted over the red and yellow on the right with white gouache (essentially opaque watercolor). But I didn’t have any so I used acrylic…

So here’s the second version of Falling and the second thing I used to know well but somehow managed to forget. Painting watercolor on white acrylic is like painting on Yupo:  the paint swims around and it is almost impossible to get a smooth color. It’s true you can now see that it is the same magenta color, and yellows as well, but the colors didn’t run and move the way they do on the left side. And I couldn’t seem to get that vibrant magenta color.

Falling, still dead

Falling, still dead

At this stage, I think it’s hopeless. I’d have to just paint yet another new painting, and actually leave the space for the red and yellow blocks white in the middle of the green wash.  Or paint the red and yellow blocks first and then paint the green around them. Maybe there needs to be a third version of Falling. Then again…

Next month I go back to the League and probably back to acrylic … and probably a whole new set of lessons once learned, and again forgotten.  Aargh. I keep telling myself, if it were easy, everyone could do it.

My paintings in Gifts of Art Fundraiser for MSK Cancer Research at the National Arts Club on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016

Twenty-two artists (of which I am one) from the Art Students League are joining together for a Gifts of Art fundraiser for Memorial Sloan Kettering cancer research at the National Arts Club on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016.  Each of us will be selling 2 paintings and 50% of the sale price will go to cancer research. In addition to the good art, there will be good food, raffles and goodie bags.

This fundraiser means a lot to me since I am a  two-time cancer survivor. The two watercolors I am selling were both painted when I was recovering from cancer treatment. Both paintings signal to me the period when I went from being a victim of cancer to a survivor with a future.  I was in Florida, trying to grow my hair back and hoping it would be curly (it was, but not for long) and hoping I would stay skinny (again, not for long). (You know, there are worse things to worry about than straight hair and not so skinny.)  Both paintings are supremely positive, hopeful reminders of how fragile but wonderful life can be.

Here’s one of my paintings:

Elephant Ears

Elephant Ears

This plant, with its strangely appropriate but funny name, made me smile. And painting it kept me smiling. Worth its weight in gold.

I’ve reduced the price of each of my two paintings because I really want them to sell.  50% of the sales price goes to MSK Cancer Center, an organization I wholeheartedly support.

Please come to the National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South (20th Street, west of Park) on Friday, Sept. 9th at  for a fun evening with good art, good food and drink, raffles, goodie bags.  I really really hope I see you there.

Nothing said: “paint me”

My last painting of the summer session at the Art Students League.  I didn’t like the set up, nothing said “paint me.”  What to do?

Well, I did what Frank (O’Cain) always tells us to do: you have to pick and choose what to paint.

So I pick a green vase, alter its shape somewhat, pick a few flowers, alter their shape and color somewhat, add some stems in different positions, and, well, it’s my last real painting of the summer session.

The good news: nothing is really what it seems. The bad news: nothing is really what it seems (but I DO remember what it really was).  Memory is a funny thing. All it takes is a trigger, however altered.


Circle        9×12        $600

My paintings help me remember. No matter how altered the image, composition, color … each painting contains a trigger that brings back the memory of what was. My body remembers painting it, and that brings it all back.

My painting in St. Agnes Library Exhibit

My painting, Quilt, will be in the St. Agnes Library exhibit from Sept. 2-28, 2016. The reception will be Wednesday, Sept. 7 from 5:00-6:45 pm. The Library is at 444 Amsterdam Avenue, near 81st. Street.  Hope to see you there.


Quilt           15×12            $800

I was taken with the quilt pattern and imagined the colored squares rising up and moving around.  Of course, there were also flowers and fruit and a stool and… Well the setup at the League in the summer is always chaotic. I just used the quilt to try and make sense of it all.

What is the matter with the art world?

The Salmagundi Club, one of the most prestigious art organizations in New York City just had the Closing Awards Reception for its Non-Member Exhibit and only one piece sold.  How is that possible?  What is the matter with the art world?

There were 140 paintings and sculptures, juried out of over 500 submissions.  So the quality was high. There were oils, watercolors, acrylics, pastels, marble, bronze, alabaster … so lots to choose from. Prices ranged from $300 to $20,000 … and everything in between.  True, there were only 3 abstracts (one of them mine), but the representational work included portraits, landscapes, still lifes, animals, and even a dragon (sculpture).

In other words, there was something for everyone.  But, only one piece sold!  It’s not just that my abstract didn’t sell.  The only thing that did sell was one small portrait. Nothing against that portrait, but how is that possible?!?

The reception was packed, tons of people.  And I happen to know that a fair number of people saw the exhibit during the two weeks preceding the Awards Reception. So it’s not that nobody knew about it or that nobody saw the art.

What is the matter with the art world?  NYC is full of people with lots of disposable income.  I read in the paper that megabucks are being spent on art from established artists at Southeby’s auctions, etc.  People bought Picassos and Rothkos when they were still unknown, why isn’t that happening today?

Why don’t people with money want to buy art that speaks to them from artists that are as yet unknown?  Put it on your wall or on a stand and enjoy it.  Look at it every day.  Pat yourself on the back for having bought it and smile.  You’re enjoying it now and, hey, maybe someday it will be worth megabucks.  In the meantime, you’re enjoying it.

What is the matter with the art world?

But maybe I’m asking the wrong question… or at least the right question of the wrong people.  Maybe it’s not the moneyed class I should be challenging, maybe I should be asking other artists and run-of-the mill others (middle class people).  I know times are tough for many people, but there ARE others with some disposable income.  Why aren’t middle income people buying original art, original affordable art?  Art is not something that should be restricted to the super-rich.

And everyone knows what he or she likes. So why aren’t they going to exhibits and buying what they like? The same arguments apply. Put it on your wall or on a stand and enjoy it.  Look at it every day.  Pat yourself on the back for having bought it and smile.  You’re enjoying it now and, hey, maybe someday it will be worth megabucks.  In the meantime, you’re enjoying it.

So what IS the matter with the art world?

Although I hesitate to include this image, just for the record, here’s my painting:

Running the Rapids

Running the Rapids        18×24         $1400

I know it’s not for everyone.  I understand the price may be high for some (low for others). But we’re not talking about just my painting. We’re talking about 140 works of art with only one sale.