Little did I know when this series began how painful it could be. We’re not quite doing parties yet, so when my son turned five, one third of the cake-eating responsibility fell on my shoulders. It hurt, but you do what you have to do for art and family. This newest monthly miniature, a carrot cake still life celebrates my son’s March birthday and the first blossoms of spring. Isaac has had a carrot cake for all five of his birthdays. This year’s cake started out as rendered here, but once photographed, all evidence of nuts was removed and replaced by dinosaurs and a volcano.
The daffodils come from our garden. The happy sign of warming weather was more welcome than ever this year. This is my third year of still life miniatures and each March has brought a new daffodil painting. I’ve shared my favorite poem by Wordsworth, which is about daffodils, for the past two years. You can find it again this year it at the bottom of this newsletter, and I hope you enjoy it.
When designing the composition, I first just had the cake and flowers and even more insects. For the theme of creature comforts, though, less insects and more wine seemed appropriate. It has been a long year and a short year. It has been a strange year, but brighter days are coming. So for today, let your heart fill with pleasure and dance with the daffodils. And maybe even induldge in some cake.
Nothing says creature comforts to me like chocolate. After my son and I play out in the cold, it’s our custom to pull a bench up to the fireplace, drink hot chocolate and sing songs together. We don’t drink from gilded porcelains, but it is luxurious just the same.
I wanted to capture the mood that such joyful moments bring me, so this month’s painting is all about luxury, intimacy, and having the sense of peace to enjoy it all. The gilded chocolate cup and pot are about the richness of the feeling of “having it all!”. Chocolate is all about comfort, and the bonsai speaks to harmony and peace with the world.
The chocolate cup is modeled after one from the Seattle Art Museum collection, and I’ve found a matching chocolate pot in the collection of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. (The Smithsonian Magazine has a great online article about the history of Chocolate pots if you’d like to learn more about them.) Though they’re thousands of miles apart, both porcelains are attributed to the Messian Manufactory in Germany and date from the early to mid 1700’s.
Adding a bonsai with its feeling of tranquility was the last piece of the puzzle for my composition. The one in my painting is inspired by “More friends the better”, a Chinese Juniper “forest” originally created in 1972 under the care of T. Kawamoto. You can visit this bonsai at the Pacific Bonsai Museum just south of Seattle, and if you would like to show your support, you can even befriend a bonsai. The title, “More friends the better”, says it all as we eagerly look towards a future of sunshine, vaccinations, and most of all visits with friends and family.
The creator can write their own story in the objects of a still life, but more incredibly, we can all write our own stories there. Part of the beauty of a still life painting, or any art, is that meaning is so personal to the viewer. I hope you can find something in this month’s painting that sparks some happy memory or a feeling of comfort for you.
In addition to my rabbit greeting cards, I’m now offering a new still life greeting card set. This set includes all 12 monthly miniatures from the Flights of Fancy series. Each painting in that series features birds, something from the Seattle Art Museum collection, and fruits, vegetables or flowers that were in season in the month in which it was painted.
Despite the bumpy start to 2021, I still have high hopes for where this new year will take us. I’m looking forward to saying goodbye to the “new normal.” Meanwhile I thought we could all use some warmth and comfort to cheer us along the way. Each painting of this year’s monthly miniature series will have the theme of “creature comforts”, such as food and drink that makes us feel warm and cozy.
Let’s start this year with a toast. I made you a pomegranate champagne cocktail. Pomegranates are a symbol of plenty, youthfulness, fertility and good luck. Combine that with champagne, overflowing with abundance and joy, and you have the perfect drink to welcome the new year.
Here’s my toast:
The last year has been both terrible and wonderful. Despite a calamitous year, I’ve had the rare privilege to begin painting as a full-time artist without also working a second full-time job. I could not have done it without you, so I propose a toast of thanks.
Your subscription to my newsletter cheers me along. Every time you share my work, you help me grow my audience. Every time you buy a painting, a print or a greeting card, you support me doing something I love for a living. So cheers, and thank you for your continued support. I wish you a new year that overflows with good luck, plenty, and joy!
Years ago, I created a pet portrait painting of a cat named Lucy as a gift from mother to daughter. And now, the daughter has commissioned a portrait for her mother and father of their beloved furry companion, Lily, as a Christmas gift.
I often think about how much I love making pet portraits because I get to experience the bond animals have with their human companions. When the portraits are gifts it’s especially exciting, because there’s another loved one thrown into the mix. I’m a more the merrier type! These two commissions in particular, were very special to me. I remember meeting Taylor and her mother when I had just recently become a mother myself. They were so close and loving. It made me feel extra privileged to have a child of my own and I strive to make such a loving bond with him.
Thank you! My parents loved the painting!!
From Drindy: I should have told you how profound it was to receive your piece for Xmas. I weeped when I opened this. It is her essence and reminds us so much of how much we still and will always love her. Thank you for your amazing talent – what a gift it is to us.
I find a healthy dose of silly shenanigans is good for me. And after a long difficult year, we all deserve some. 🙂
I usually know what kind of mood I’m going for when I plan a painting, and I seek objects that work together to tell a story that fits. For my final painting of the series, I wanted to make something lighthearted and playful. This one makes me smile every time I look at it, and I hope you enjoy it!
Since I started making still life paintings last year, I am always on the lookout for subjects. Anything that catches my fancy is studied, posed, photographed, then added to my growing reference library. The parts of this painting fell into place by scrolling through those images and intuiting which pieces of this puzzle would fit together.
Meyer lemons are an annual treat for the exhibition crew at SAM. Each year the head Exhibit Designer, Paul Martinez, would visit his family in California and pick lemons from their abundant orchard. Last year I took dozens of photos of them, just in case I wanted to use them in a painting. The squirrel visited us during one of our lunch breaks on a park bench in Volunteer Park while reinstalling the Seattle Asian Art Museum last summer-another batch of “just in case” images. And the dish was too hard to pass up when I noticed it in the conservation studio – more photographs. As I collected each of those images, I had no idea what they would become together.
Because I’m using pieces from the Seattle Art Museum collection as my models, I can’t actually place fruit inside bowls or plates. Instead I use something of my own that’s a similar size, shape and color for my mock ups. That helps me get a good idea of the shadows and light sources. Then I merge everything together, first in my imagination, with sketches, and then digital compositions. It’s still pretty rough at this stage, but finally through the process of making the painting, the scene starts to come to life.
It’s been such a privilege have a “day job” that has put me into direct contact with so much beautiful art. The museum has been closed for almost all of 2020, and it feels so fitting that I’ve made this series of paintings as a tribute to its collection, and to my experiences with the people there who have become very dear to me.
This body of work is my “thank you” to all of the past artists that worked to perfect their craft and push the limits of their artistic pursuits, to all of the countless people that have cared for these objects for hundreds of years after they were created; and to those that continue to care for these objects, ensuring that they will be treasured and viewed by countless people to come. I found the passion museum workers have for the preservation of objects for all of us to enjoy is contagious. I hope I’ve been able to pass a little of it on to you.
DISH WITH PHOENIX AND FLOWER MOTIFS, Collection of the Seattle Art Museum
Chinese, early 14th century Porcelain with underglaze cobalt-blue decoration , Diameter: 18 3/4 in. (47.6cm), Purchased in memory of Elizabeth M. Fuller with funds from the Elizabeth M. Fuller Memorial Fund and from the Edwin W. and Catherine M. Davis Foundation, St. Paul, Minnesota, 76.7 Provenance:Purchased for Seattle Art Museum with funds from the Elizabeth M. Fuller Memorial Fund and from the Edwin W. and Catherine M. Davis Foundation, St. Paul, Minnesota, January 6, 1976 Photo: Paul Macapia
From the Seattle Art Museum website:
“Brilliant cobalt pigment and a refined porcelain body are essential to the striking beauty of blue-and-white wares, which rose in Chinese ceramic production in the fourteenth century largely as a result of huge demand in the central and western Asian markets. This large dish manifests the taste for elaborate designs derived from Islamic art, and its massive size was intended to accommodate communal meals customary among Muslims.”
I’m very excited to share a detail of my first commissioned painting of a lion head rabbit named Leroy, posing with his friend, a shih tzu named Scout.
If you’re new to my work, you may know I paint still lifes and animals, but you may not know that I specialize in rabbit paintings. My ongoing series of Monthly Miniatures started with paitnings of rabbits and there were 18 paitnings in that series. Every year I begin a new series and more bunny paintings are always contenders on the list. I do plan on making more paintings of rabbits for 2021, but not for the monthly miniature series. Perhaps next year. 🙂 Until then, a commissioned portrait of this very loved little guy was an absolute treat for me to make.
This adorable pair, Leroy and Scout, bring happiness not just to each other, but to their human family as well. Laura commissioned this portrait as a birthday gift for her brother. “Both of them bring out the best most lovable side of my brother”. I can see how! I hope their portrait brings out the best most lovable side of you too. ?
In 2018, the Portrait Society of America added a new category to its annual Members Only competition: “Animals as Subject”. Since then I’ve entered every year and have been incredibly fortunate to have my work selected either as one of the winners, or as a finalist (top twenty).
My painting of Harrison was selected as a finalists in this years competition. Thanks so much to the Jurors for selecting my work and thank you to the Portrait Society of America for their dedication to furthering the traditions of fine art portraiture. Congratulations to all of the winners and finalists in the competition!
Lots of people had been asking if I would release prints from recent paitnings. I found a local printer I love and am now offering some for sale in my store. I just received several beautiful images from my lovely client Theresa, showing how she framed hers. The backdrop of her beautiful farmhouse in Indiana decorated for the holidays is just magical. I loved seeing these images and I hope you do to!
She very kindly offered to share where she purchased her frames and mats. Contact me if you’d like information on where they came from and I will pass it on! Everything was ordered online and she was able to easily fit them together herself.
What do these two paintings have in common? They’re both finalists in the Richeson75 Animals, Brids & Wildlife 2020 Competition! Visit the online exhibit to see all of the work included in the show.
Jack Richeson & Co. is a fine art materials manufacturing company and part of their mission is to directly support the visual arts community. They operate the Richeson School of Art & Gallery and have created a series Richeson75 International Art Competitions.
“The Richeson75 competitions are meant to offer a venue in which established and emerging artists may show their latest, best work to a wide and appreciative audience. The 75 finalists for each regular contest will exhibit their work in our beautiful Richeson Gallery and in the online exhibit. The Richeson75 online competitions also reach a wide audience with online exhibits of the 75 finalists’ work.”
All Richeson75 competitions are accompanied with the publication of a collectible, limited-edition, full-color, hardcover exhibit book which includes the artwork of the finalists and other meritorious entries from the competition.
The competitions showcase artwork made in the realist tradition. I’m honored to have two pieces among such a technically well-crafted mix of styles and subjects. Congratulations to everyone in the show!!