A few months ago I reached out to my Instagram and Facebook community to help me choose which chicken painting to enter in the annual Portrait Society of America’s member’s only competition. I was having trouble picking and thought there would be a clear favorite. After almost a hundred votes though, it was almost exactly a tie! Even so, it still helped me choose. People were very passionate on either side, but people typically liked the hen because the painting was more unique. For right or wrong, I liked that rational and went with it. I’m happy to share that she was a finalist in the animals category. Perhaps the rooster would have done even better in the competition, but you never know!
Both of these paintings have backgrounds that reference Rembrandt self-portrait’s. I’ve always been a huge fan of his work and wanted to portray the chickens in a formal Dutch Portrait style. I helped install an exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum of artwork from the Kenwood House Collection from London several years ago. One of my favorite pieces in the exhibit was his Self-Portrait with Two Circles. This was the painting that inspired the background of my hen. She’s one of four girls that lives in Seattle in my friend Paige’s backyard. As the henpecked bird, she was making a grand show of bring larger and fluffing out. I was very fortunate to actually get a shot of the demonstration during my photo shoot for reference images.
You can find her on display along with the rooster at Winfield Gallery. Go to my Available Works page to see all my paintings currently available in galleries and from the studio.
As the flowers and trees fade and die back, fall is the perfect time for a miniature vanitas painting. Vanitas paintings were created long before and after they became a common genre in Netherlandish art of the 16th and 17th centuries. They are symbolic and are meant to remind us of the inevitability of death or change.
My grand show of color and life punctuates the shift toward winter, one last “Hurrah!” from the warmer seasons. The hint of the coming winter is found in the tiny, almost hidden hummingbird skeleton. But if you dig into the meaning of the items in the painting, you’ll find that both the cut flowers and skeleton symbolize the same things – death or transience. The cut flowers are preserved my painting in full bloom glory, but they began to fade even before I’d finished the paintings. But don’t worry, the butterflies are a symbol of regeneration, resurrection and the cycle of life. Everything’s going to be fine.
Hope you enjoy my newest miniature vanitas and I hope you’re keeping warm and healthy. Thanks to the flowers of my garden, to the dahlia garden at Volunteer Park, and to my sister-in-law for the hummingbird skeleton and the biggest dahlia I’ve ever seen. And a big thank you to you for your continued support.
In art school I was known as the “bug girl” because almost all of my painting had insects in them. Insects were a huge inspiration, and though they are no longer the primary focus on my work, they have continued to appear in my paintings throughout the years. I find that the closer that I look at the insect I’m painting, the more I feel a sense of empathy for it. I imagine a personality in there, and wonder about the history of it’s life.
My insect collection has been with me since my art school days. Some of my insects were gifts from Cincinnati Zoo entomologists, while others I sought out myself. I learned to pin insects from a friend I met at the frame shop where I used to work.
The insect specimens in this painting are from a very special part of my collection. These creatures came from three prized boxes put together by photographer Anita Douthat when she was a girl in Northern Kentucky. I knew Anita through her husband Cal Kowal, who was my photography teacher at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.
Still life paintings can tell a secret story through the symbolism of their elements. These pale raspberries grow in my garden and are symbols of kindness. The shell came from my husband’s pocket (he’s always collecting shells and rocks on his adventures) and are a symbol of birth and fortune. Insects are all around us, yet their forms, life cycles, and social structures couldn’t be more different than our own. Dragonflies symbolize change, and grasshoppers luck. Bees have had close ties with humanity and throughout the ages have variously stood for power, love, and industry. All of these types of insects can be found in the Northern Kentucky region where my models were originally collected over forty years ago (I exaggerated the blue in the dragonfly which was quite faded).
This painting is 5″ x 5″, oil on copper. Go to the Monthly Miniature page to see more of the paintings from the series, In Season.
Jan van Kessel the Elder, Flemish still life master that inspired this months painting
Jan van Kessel the Elder had big shoes to fit into. He was the great-grandson of Pieter Bruegel, who is cited as the most significant artist of Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting. His grandfather Jan Brueghel the Elder, was a close friend and collaborator with Peter Paul Rubens and the two artists were the leading Flemish painters in the first three decades of the 17th century. Not to mention his uncles and great uncles… Let’s just say, he came from a family that made a big and lasting impact on the art scene.
Starting his training at the age of nine, he was particularly influenced by the work of his grandfather and was quite versatile. He worked in many genres including studies of insects, floral still lifes, marines, river landscapes, paradise landscapes, allegorical compositions, scenes with animals and genre scenes.
I was drawn to his insect still life paintings by his playful compositions that fill every section of the page, while carefully balancing color and shape in a seemingly effortless manner. The results of his carefully painted tiny subjects do not come across as cold scientific illustrations, but instead are warm and lively portraits. And if that weren’t enough, he also painted these miniature still lifes on copper (my hero!).
My Self portrait painting has been selected as a finalist for the ARC Salon 2019 Competition!
I was fortunate to have my painting, “Admiral Vox” travel for last years exhibition and I couldn’t have been happier with how the Art Renewal Center (ARC) handled everything. It was such an incredible experience to have my artwork hanging alongside so many extraordinary pieces. I traveled to Barcelona to see the final installation of the exhibit at the MEAM which is a beautiful space. It’s inspiring to see so many contemporary artists pick up the tradition and make interesting work that’s relevant today. I couldn’t be happier to have another painting selected as a finalist.
Learn more about “Self Portrait – Expecting” in my previous blog post.
This year they received over 4,300 entries from 73 countries. The number of entries grew by more than 1,000 from last year! Winners will be posted July 1– please wish me luck!
“Leading the revival of realism in the visual arts, the Art Renewal Center (ARC), a 501(c)(3), non-profit, educational foundation, hosts the largest online museum dedicated to representational art and includes works by the old masters, 19th century, and 21st Century Artists as well as articles, letters and other online resources. The ARC is the foremost and only vetting service for representational art schools ensuring that the teaching curricula and quality of teacher and student work meet our strict standards to become ARC Approved™. The ARC Salon Competition, which is the largest and most prestigious competition in the world for realist artists painting, sculpting and drawing today with eleven categories and thousands of works competing, culminating in a traveling live exhibition of many of the winning works. The ARC works with other ARC Allied Organizations™, artist groups, museums, and publications to become a central news hub for the 21st Century Representational Art Movement. Read the ARC Philosophy written by ARC Chairman, Frederick C. Ross, to learn why ARC is so passionately dedicated to representational art.
When I was starting my Monthly Miniature still life paintings last January, I got a serendipitous invitation from curator Jeremy Buben. He operates The FoodArt Collection and was putting together a show of still life’s and tuliperies inspired by still life’s of the Dutch tradition and tuliperies made in the 1600’s. I happily accepted the invitation to be one of the artists.
The show hosts a great mix of styles and mediums, each artist creating lush, elegant pieces. And you don’t often get to see tulipieres! A tuliperie or tulip-holder is an ornate vessel made specifically to display tulips. They were common during the 17th c and were often designed to grow the bulbs right in the vase. I hope you’ll get the chance to stop by the gallery to see all of the pieces in person. If you can’t make it, you can go to the gallery website and see all of the pieces from the exhibit online.
Flowers, Bird’s Nest and Insects, oil on copper 5″ x 5″
Opening Reception: Sunday April 28, 2-5pm
Shows up through the month of May, with Sunday hours and by appointment.
From the gallery:
“The FoodArt Collection is thrilled to present a group art show of tulipieres (tulip vases) and Dutch Golden Age inspired still lifes from seven local artists.
A brief explanation: upon returning from a holiday in Holland I became obsessed with the tulipiere, a strange and fantastical vase designed specifically for tulips. To my delight I learned that local ceramic artist Carol Gouthro shared the same interest and had even curated a tulipiere show just a few years earlier at the Museum of Northwest Art (MoNA) in La Conner. When the chance to put together this show came about I reached back out to Carol and asked her if she’d like to make her first tulipiere and show it alongside art inspired by the Dutch Golden Age. A few more invites went out and thus Going Dutch was created.
I’m excited to share my passion for tulipieres, a very useful vase in my opinion, and gorgeous classical inspired art from some extremely talented local artists! Please join us for the opening this Sunday and see these tulipieres for yourself. There will also be a healthy amount of Samish Bay cheese to eat.”
Visual Art from:
The inspiration for my March Monthly Miniature is artist, Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder (18 January 1573 – 1621) who was a still life painter of the Dutch Golden Age. He was among the founders of the tradition, the height of which dates to around 1600-1800. I’ve long admired paintings from this era and this series is giving me the opportunity to luxuriate the detailed little worlds created by so many different artists. Each of my twelve paintings will pay tribute to a different artist form this era and Ambrosius Bosschaert is definately one of my favorites. I’m drawn to his symmetrical and simple compositions and tried to compose my daffodil painting with some of the grace and elegance he so carefully crafts into each small painting. Go to my Monthly Miniatures gallery to see all of the paintings in this series. Learn more about this painting in my previous post.
Oil on Copper
Ambrosius Bosschaert is also a fellow painter on copper. If you look at the image below, you’ll notice that this three hundred year old painting is free of cracks or paint loss. Aside form the luminous and smooth surface, meal is an ideal painting surface because it is such a stable surface. It doesn’t tear or suffer from expanding or contracting with humidity like canvas or wood.
Ambrosius Bosschaert (1573–1621), Still Life with Bouquet of Tulips, a Rose, Clover, and Cyclamen in a Green Glass Bottle, oil on copper
Daffodils are a symbol of the beginning of spring and the subject of my favorite poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, by William Wordsworth (scroll down for the poem). Though not as varied as tulips, the typically yellow flowers have been cultivated to bloom in many other shapes, sizes and colors. I wanted to show the wide variety available today and choose seven distinctive types for this miniature oil painting of daffodils.
Another herald of spring is the ladybug, which are just coming out of hibernation. I added three in this painting for good luck.
If you live in the Northwest, may have also recently seen the Northwest Salamander in your neighborhood! These sweet little creatures breed this time of year and I’m very lucky to live in an area where they are thriving. I live near a small lake and find them in my yard and out on the sidewalks when I go for walks. They’re amazingly still and gentle. They don’t hurry away, but just sit and smile up at me!
This one has quite a bit of tiny details and if you ever see it in person, you might want to have a magnifying glass handy so you don’t miss anything.
See all of the paintings in the series so far on the monthly miniature page and sign up for my monthly newsletter for a Monthly Miniature Preview & for updates from the studio.
Wishing you a very Happy Spring!
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
by William Wordsworth
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
in such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
what wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Every year Seattle’s last surviving newspaper, The Stranger, does a feature issue all about pets. Art critic Jasmyne Keimig interviewed four different artists who immortalize animal friends and I was delighted to be among them. Read the full interview on the Strangers website.
Thank you to the folks at The Stranger that continue to produce such a well loved local paper and for the yearly focus on animals. And a big thank you to Jasmyne for putting so much into writing a lovely article. I’m honored to be included!
They used an image of my portrait of Shiloh, oil on aluminum, 18″ x 12.5″ for the article. Go to my Pet Portraits gallery to see more examples of my work and go to the commissions page to learn about having your very own painting made.
The idea for the painting “Self Portrait – Expecting” came back when I was six months pregnant with my son and most of my reference images were gathered at that time. Rabbits were a big part of my childhood and I had two rabbits that lived in my painting studio. My rabbit Eleanor, was a natural addition to the painting. Not only did she sit at my feet while I painted, her species has been seen as a symbol of fertility for more than seven-hundred years.
I didn’t start painting “Self Portrait – Expecting” until my son was two and a half and after a series of miscarriages, I had recently learned that I was pregnant again. Eleanor had passed away since the photos were taken and right in the middle of working the painting, I lost yet another pregnancy, the fourth since my son was born. The act of making this painting was such a bitter sweet experience. The painting is about fertility, yet while making it, I was experiencing so much loss. I think that some of my resolve, the strength that I had to keep up for the sake of my two-year old made its way into my expression which changed throughout the painting process. In the end, the painting has become a reminder for me to be grateful and never give up hope.
This painting is on view at Arcadia Contemporary in the group show “ARC Visions 2019“ through March 2nd 2019.