“Cherry Season”, oil on canvas, 25 x 30 cms, June 2020
One saturday’s “harvest” from the market. It was June and cherry season had just begun. There was a sea of them, how could I not bring home a handful, at least?!?
Seeing this bright red, heart-shaped cherry made me smile. Isn’t it always a thrill when we see a symbol of love and joy in daily life? Love —- always in season, and in this time of COVID, ever more in style.
“Ever yours”, Oil on Canvas, 50 x 70 cms, July 2020
The blue scarf in this painting is the backside to a print of one of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Irises” paintings done at the Saint Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, in the last year before his death in 1890.
Today marks the 130th year since Vincent’s death. He is arguably the most beloved painter of the 20th century but ironically, he only sold one painting during his lifetime. He was both prolific in his painting and writing. Of his many inspiring quotes, my favorite is, “It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love, is well done.”
I cannot help wondering how Vincent would have felt about social media if he were alive today. Would he think it a boon or bane to his work? I think he would have been a star on social media if he allowed it and sell more of his work, if not all of them!
My path in art was forged after I experienced his “Starry Night On The Rhone”, and his writings have been a steady influence in my art, my life. Vincent’s dedication to his work, his passion for life, the way that he saw God’s handwriting in nature and how he transposed what he saw and felt on his canvases; how he allowed such beauty to pierce through his sadness and disappointments — all remain relevant and worthy wisdom to this day.
So today I celebrate his life and honor him with every like and every kind word on social media that others have offered for my work. Let it be my gift for the man who loved so greatly and much that his work and his words continue to inspire us all to this day. You have performed much and accomplished much, dear Vincent. Well done. Truly, well done.
“Summer Blues and Greens in Porta San Niccolò”, oil on panel, 35×50 cms, June 2020
A landscape work I did in June 2020. Spring was cusping into summer then and lockdown rules had just eased. For as long as I followed safety protocols, I was free to paint outside. At last!
Clear skies of blue and spectacular natural light on everything, all waiting to be savored since the beginning of Spring. This unassuming spot in the San Niccolo Quartiere in Florence, overgrown with grass and dotted with wild purple flowers was the banquet of beauty that so thrilled my eager painter’s heart! I painted faithfully everyday en plein air, and by noon of the 4th day I had only the overgrowth to paint on the foreground and the painting would be finished. I was excited to finish!
I stopped work and laid out essentials for a quick lunch when I heard the loud, strange whirring sound of a motor approaching my spot from the other end of the garden. It was the city gardener and his mower, aiming for my treasured, unpainted overgrowth! I was in shock as he smiled at me to say, I did not have to worry, I could go on and eat my lunch…..my heart sank in a silent scream, “yes, but my foreground!!!!!! You mowed down every tall blade and purple lovely in it!!!!” I was heartbroken but I also knew he was only doing his job. Moments of secret lamentation followed and then I realized, this is exactly why I choose to paint from life. This is life —- the gardener doing his job and so I, too, must do mine — by painting without the overgrowth and finding beauty in what remains of the garden.
So this is the finished work from those early days of summer. My wish is it makes you smile for at least one reason just as it always reminds me of that 4th day and its bit of tragedy, that today in hindsight, is this work’s added dose of unmistakable, unforgettable humor. Oh Life! ❤️
Lockdown rules have eased in Florence and we are now restarting lives once paused without warning by the pandemic. The days feel fresher and every moment spent outside to run errands, to work or reconnect with each other sparkles with gratitude. I found this feather on my way to the art supply store and was pleasantly surprised, it was my first feather sighting after the lockdown. I always believed that feathers are a sign of protection and guidance from Heaven. Perhaps this very one is a reminder that as life goes on and we have no choice but to live with this virus, we have a choice to trust in God who watches over us with mercy and providence, and trust also in ourselves, that our learnings over the last three months will carry us safely through to the end of this pandemic.
True, this virus shows us how fragile we are but it also pointed us to the things that truly matter. We are still here, ever capable of making a difference, ever able to ease each other’s suffering. Seen this way, we have not lost the means to keep this world and each other safe, despite this virus. As we move forward and restart our lives, let our trust in God and ourselves be our refuge and our strength. In this, our trust is well-placed.
May this feather painting inspire you to love and care as deeply as you are loved and cared for, today and always.
“Trust (A Feather for Ana)”, oil on canvas, 23 x 23 cms, 2020
A chorus of sunset paintings done from my balcony last week. It was first purposed as a diversion from the Still Lifes I have been painting indoors since the lockdown began in early March. Then it became a challenge to me, to try and capture the movement of light across the sky just before the sun turned over its reins to the moon and its nocturnal magic. I had about an hour to work every day and within that hour were many decisions to make along with mistakes, plenty of them! And yes, there were remedies to be dealt and lived with, as the sun descended and merged into the horizon each day. Thirty minutes into the first painting, I thought, “Whatever made me think this was the diversion I needed??!!” Humor in art is a must-have and just as important as persistence and a hopeful spirit. So, I soldiered on each day.
It was not so much about what I accomplished as much as what I learned from this week of chasing sunsets, that really made a difference. I learned that it is good to take what we are given for the day and make the most of it. Unlike Still Lifes that allow deliberate arrangements in composition, sunsets are spontaneous and unrehearsed. Painting them taught me to remain open and flexible to Mother Nature’s parade of light for the day. I learned to let things be, having faith that I had what I needed to finish each painting at day’s end. I learned that what work I had for the day was a gift and a grace and that will always be enough.
These paintings were a masterclass in humility and I am equally thankful for the sense of wonder and joy that I found along the way. Now I share them with you, with thoughts of all good things for you. Loads of love always! ♥️🙏🏻🌈👩🏻🎨
“The Sunsets of May”, oil on panel, 25×35 cms, May 2020
“There are places I remember, all my life, though some have changed…all these places have their moments…I loved them all.”, so the song goes. And so does my art. It is all hands on deck for me these days as I prepare 7 new canvases for a show this July. In this show, I am paying tribute to the beauty that my eyes have touched and my soul has sensed in my travels. Each painting takes me back to that unique moment when my subjects caught my eye and moved me to capture both life and light. As I travel back through time, all that had once been faded memories are alive again, each one clear and crisp, as though on them the dust of time or the mist of parting had never settled. The ritual of preparing pigments and studying subject photographs just before marrying pigment to canvas with my brush makes me realize how the seemingly ordinary gains meaning when our soul is engaged and our eyes perceive consciously, even if only for a moment. To be seen for our souls is to be valued for who we are in our hearts. Too often do we see, but we seldom see consciously. This is why they say the essential is invisible to the eye. As each canvas is finished, I hope to share the work and their respective backstories —- all that I saw and all that it has made me feel and understand, about life so far. It is impossible not to have a backstory. Backstories are the essence of my art, and my daily reality of joys and struggles are their basic rudiments. Here is one of them. The work below entitled, “Measure In Love”, was done in February 2013 as a memento for celebrating a decade of friendship with my closest friends. One chair for each friend who has taught me to measure my life in love. Indeed, there are many ways to measure our lives — too often we measure by what we have taken and acquired for ourselves. We forget too easily that deep down, our hearts long for the joy of giving, of giving freely and from the heart. This painting is for all of us whose lives have been enriched by the power of friendship and measured in love. Enjoy!