Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Full Body Portraits

Many of the commissions I have had lately have been for full body portraits. In these pieces, I enjoyed the unity of the background and subject, with colorfully muted backgrounds and vividly detailed figures.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain
24x36 Soft Pastel

I have spent the past several months working away on many commissions...portraits, dogs, flowers, and even a fish. Since most will be Christmas gifts, I cannot share them until after the holidays, but the largest one can now be displayed. This large pastel of the Trevi Fountain in Rome was a very triumphant piece for me. When I normally create a piece of art, I have many moments of "completion," which bring a sense of accomplishment and energy: the sky is finished, the tree line complete, the grass is in place, etc. On the Trevi Fountain, where almost the entire piece is one unit, I worked for several days, layering colors, never completing any area. The whole 24x36 inch board was unfinished until I put on those last highlights...then "ta da!" it appeared. All that was left was the bright aqua water swirling beneath the impressive figures perched upon the rocks.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A New Contrast

These pictures began to take shape on the way home from a family vacation to the Gulf Coast, when my sister sent me a photo via her phone, taken in transit, of hay in a field. I found great interest in the quality of the picture, with dark edges, blurred grass full of movement, a quick and simple snapshot of a familiar rural Alabama scene.

When I began creating the pieces, drawn outside in the newly-cool Fall air, I once again unconsciously intermingled my current state of being into the art. The brightened, more vibrant colors mixed with the darkening edges mirror my mood this week; happy, hopeful and full of rich life, with a bit of darkness lingering in the edges. The intermingling of Joy and Woe revisit my thoughts. I see a great contrast in life...the good and bad, the happy and sad, the rage and peace, the love and hatred, the energy and fatigue.

This new moment in my artistic journey of greater contrast, heavier color and darkened edges was a surprise to unplanned development. The brightness darkening feels a bit ominous, like something is about to happen; like when you walk outside and know a storm is coming, when you can feel the pressure in the air. A heavy moment of stillness, a pause before the event begins.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Weaver

The Weaver, 16x20 Soft Pastel

Again, the poetry of William Blake has inspired my artwork...this time the theme of sewing and fabric weaves together several poems, a passage previously noted from "Auguries of Innocence," where "Joy and Woe are woven fine; a clothing for the soul divine," and also a passage from "The Gates of Paradise," which speaks of "Weaving to Dreams" and "weeping over the web of life."

The weaver is tucked away in a room lit only by the bright sun streaming in through a high window. She weaves a tapestry filled with figures, weaving the web of life, complete with joy and woe, experiences good and bad, journeys and the people met along the way. As I created this piece, I thought of the people and experiences in my own life, how we are all woven together, interconnected and tied to one another in complexities. Our lives are woven intricately and are full of depth, of various threads from our past, our present and future, which cannot be separated. Each small piece creates the whole, and must be present to hold it tightly together. This way of thinking helps me accept the hard or painful experiences in life, knowing they help to create my web of life. The patient and careful process of weaving echoes the long journey of our life; having a long view of our life process brings hope and patience as we discover and learn more about ourselves as each day passes, as the light fades and returns again each morning.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Daydreams, 18x24 Soft Pastel

This picture was drawn from a photo of my son taken last Spring in our neighbor's clover-covered front yard. The kids and I spent several evenings playing in the clover, making crowns, necklaces, bouquets...
I love the dreamy quality, the stillness, the peace of that moment...the way you can get lost in dreams and discover such beauty in the world. It inspires me toward a greater love, reminds me of a simple innocence, and urges me to enjoy life no matter what it holds.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Haitian Driftwood

Haitian Driftwood, 16x20 Soft Pastel

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Carousel, 11x14 Soft Pastel

The idea for this piece was sparked by Norah Jones' "Carnival Town":

"Carnival Town"

Round 'n round
Has got you under it's spell
Moving so fast...but
Going nowhere

I feel like that so often...all worked up, so much to do, the days begin and end and start again so quickly. My children grow, the routine repeats day in, day out. I feel so busy, but feel like I'm not going anywhere. Its easy to get transfixed, frozen by the patterns of color, lights, and music of my life's carousel. I have to remind myself to not get caught up in the spinning; to remember that we are moving forward; to live each day with enjoyment and awareness, and not to get caught in the blur.

Several years ago, my husband and I were in Paris for two days. We tried to cram in as much as we could in our short time, visiting the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, drinking cafe la creme. During our last few hours, we rushed at top speed to Montmartre...we came, we saw, we bought a painting, we left. On our sprint to the airport, we whizzed past a beautiful carousel. The constant, measured turning was imprinted in my mind and came back to me as I listened to the song. We took no pictures, we did not pause; we were unable to take in the scene as we hurried by.

This painting expresses my need to constantly remind myself to enjoy life, to experience and see and taste and hear and feel life. With the demands of work, family, and the necessities, we can still enjoy the ride and go somewhere. We can notice the carousel, with its slow pace, the beauty and goodness of life, without being caught in the cycle of days that disappear into insignificance.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sewing Lesson

Sewing Lesson, 24x36 Soft Pastel

I began imagining this piece several months ago...I wanted to try an Impressionist piece, stretching my techniques and experimenting with color combinations and textures outside of my comfort zone. I originally made sketches of a grown woman, elbows on a pillow, sewing torn fabric, her profile in view. When I decided to turn the face toward the light of the window, I asked my daughter to pose for me so I could get an idea of what the cheek would look like. When I saw her looking at the window, with her little arms and feet posed, the piece took a whole new direction. I loved her little hands and her long hair brushing the floor. The painting reminds me of daydreams in the midst of activity, of learning new things when you might rather be doing something else, of innocence and simplicity held in place, of the inevitable movement of growing up.

Before the change of subject, several poems led the way to the formation of this piece:

An excerpt from William Blake's "Auguries of Innocence"

"It is right, it should be so
Man was made for Joy and Woe
And when this we rightly know
Thro' the world we safely go.

Joy and Woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine;
Under every grief and pine
Runs a Joy with silken twine."

An excerpt from Ecclesiastes 3

"A time to tear and a time to sew"

I incorporate these words into the painting with the white fabric and the silken twine with which she sews. I think of her innocence as a young child, and how as she grows she will discover Joy and Woe, and their link in this life. It makes me a little sad, as I try to shield my children from any Woe, but I recognize that where there is Joy, somewhere there is Woe; when the unavoidable Woe comes into innocent lives, we can show the Joy that runs somewhere through it, like a silken twine. Within myself, I recognize this muddled relationship of Joy and Woe, how they are indeed woven together...that you can feel sadness and joy at the same time, and that sometimes you feel like life as you know it is being torn apart, but then it is finally time for the gentle work of repair.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Jason Tree

"The Jason Tree" 16x20 soft pastel

This commissioned portrait pulls together several significant aspects into one piece. The tree was planted when my friend Jason was young, and his mother always looked forward to swinging her grandchildren under its branches. Sadly, she and her husband passed away in a car accident, and the dream was never fulfilled. Jason's wife and kids took a secret trip to the tree, and photographed their 4 children near the mature tree. I had the privilege to bring the image together for these very dear friends.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summer Commissions

"Duchess" 11x14 Soft Pastel

For the past month, I have been consumed with commissions...a nice summer surprise. You use a different kind of creativity when you try to mirror a likeness, transforming a simple photo into a work of art. After all the portraits I have done, I still get nervous each time I begin a new one.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Clod and the Pebble

"The Clod and the Pebble" 18x24 Soft Pastel
The inspirations for this piece:

The Clod and the Pebble
by William Blake

"Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a heaven in hell's despair."

So sung a little Clod of Clay,
trodden with the cattle's feet,
But a Pebble of the brook
Warbled out these metres meet:

"Love seeketh only self to please,
to bind another to its delight,
Joys in another's loss of ease,
And builds a hell in heaven's despite."

Ecclesiastes 3:18 "I said in my heart with regard to human beings that God is testing them to show that they are but animals."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Time to Soak

Wading, 4x6 Soft Pastel

So, I haven't been so daily lately. I feel like this cow. Lazy, moving slowly, wading in the water. Ah, Spring! It makes me comatose. And I have so very much to do: the last week of preschool, new pastel classes and a workshop to teach at Forstall Art Center, art lessons at home, art shows, drop offs and pick ups and receptions, not to mention family matters that are ever present and ever moving. But I just want to close my eyes and sit; in fact, I'm having a hard time keeping them open. At the moment I am choosing to ramble on instead of get down to the newsletters and printing and drawing I have on my to do list. But, like my little cow, sometimes you just have to take a minute and soak.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Spring Farm

Spring Farm, 12x16 Soft Pastel

I was happy about the vibrance in this piece, which came unexpectedly. I also got to use one of my favorite, but not often used, techniques to get the yellow specks in the grass. My parents took the photo of the mule on one of their trips and I was glad to finally find him a home.

Screech Owl

Screech Owl, 5x7 Soft Pastel
This owl reminded me of those wooden carvings I remember from my childhood...I don't even know where I have seen them, but they are in my memory. I gave him a glow in the night, with a midnight blue behind him, using complimentary colors to enhance his presence.

Monday, April 19, 2010

King of the Mountain

King of the Mountain, 8x8 Soft Pastel SOLD

I have had the photograph of this sheep forever and he always made me laugh. I finally had the inspiration to use him in a picture, and he has already found a new home!

Bird Series

As part of my Southern Exposure series, I am drawing a series of birds. I have started with some of my favorites and am enjoying the change of wildlife subject.


"Soft Cotton" 3x5 Soft Pastel, $95 in matte and frame

I am working on new backgrounds for my cotton bolls. Instead of a flat color, I am trying faded cotton and earth.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Empty Tub

Empty Tub, 18x24 Soft Pastel
I finished this piece in a day, and then kept coming back to it adding colors and making adjustments. It shows a certain stiffness in the pose, but I intended it as a moment of frozen reflection, sort of like when you are reluctant to get out of the bathtub even after all the water has drained out.


Feather, 5x10 Soft Pastel
I like the odd simplicity of this piece, and the single bright red feather.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


18x24 Soft Pastel, Untitled
A larger addition to the Blue Series. The final addition of peeling paint in the corner added a whole different feel to this piece.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010


12x16 Soft Pastel
The latest addition to my new "Blue Series." It's funny how art minute you're painting bucolic fields, sheep and cotton and then one day you sit down and this comes out instead. It is surprising, but you have to let it flow. Art has a powerful ability to channel emotions and express them in unplanned ways.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


9x11 Soft Pastel
I am experimenting more with color and texture in this piece, one of a series.


9x12 Soft Pastel
I am branching out into the dog breeder world with pet portraits...this is a portrait of a prize-winning Boykin Spaniel, a treasured pet of one of my friends. They breed these spaniels and are located in Mountain Brook, Alabama.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


"Vigilance" 8x12 Soft Pastel

Everyone needs a release...a way to express how you feel, what you think...some outlet through which you can work out internal confusion. I find my release in art. As I drew this piece, I contemplated my life, my faith, my questions, my struggles and could feel my eyes looking into the light in hope that all will be well. It is hard to sacrifice, to search for authenticity, to love with a selfless love. In this picture, I sit for a moment in peace and breathe through my lingering thoughts...