Thursday, January 27, 2011

SECOND KISS! Toni Czechorosky

I was lucky enough this week to have a second kiss! In life, one can never count on that. And when it is good, ahhh....then more kisses shall surely follow. Right?

Toni Czechorosky came back for a second sitting in my teaching class. Toni is a super soul and gorgeous. I have always felt we had a connection. I have painted her often, although not as well as I would have liked.

She speaks it as it is around the art day, art life, as do I. We are both a bit zanny. We are both nurturing of each other around the art day that we found ourselves in . I can count on Toni for that. The bathroom breaks are priceless. And socially, if we find ourselves at the same gathering, it is so lovely. WE just kinda know our groove.

I feel bad when I don't paint her well, even though she doesn't mind at all. AND has only gracious words to say around a bomb. That is the kinda gal she is. Classy. Not to mention, bringing in cookies to enhance the art mood.

TONI has been painted by every well known artist in Los Angeles and then some, over quite a few years. I asked her the other day: "How many paintings/sketches do you think have been done of you?" She did that cute up-curl of her lip, raise of her ever-so arched brow, and said in the most honest, humble way, that she had no idea.

WOW. Darlings...I wish I could be so modest in her shoes.

I decided to paint her again from the exact same spot, on a much smaller panel, choosing not to go further with the study the week before, trying to get, fresh from life, what I thought was lacking previously to my own art eye. Daring around a teaching class. Telling your students, I need a second kiss. The first didn't quite work out. Bad breath.

This was about an hour or so of painting. I felt in THE ZONE, around a teaching a class. I like what I got. Dare I go for a third kiss?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A New Day... A New Breeze

My FACE OF VENTURA PROJECT continues, our third sitter hitting the newstands today. I am finding this portrait series painted from life in conjunction with The Ventura Breeze so incredibly rewarding.

Click here to read the current Ventura Breeze. Page Seven features the two year project so far:

A total of 52 people from the town will be painted, chosen by Breeze publisher Sheldon Brown, myself and the readership of this much loved town newspaper to reflect the modern face of this very old Californian historic mission town.

I wish to thank Sheldon for making this series a reality, his time and his support for it; and also each of my sitters, extraordinary folk who have a story to tell and honor me by letting me paint them - and sharing their life story with me. Our fifth sitter was painted today so I think we are official now!

Rachel, a dedicated environmentalist, and I had a lovely time together. She is a super smart lady and has much to teach people like me, my head usually buried in art. I learned from her. There was just so much to discuss as I am finding with EACH of my sitters. Gosh, and then I have to paint as well. Can't we just talk? NO, because the point of this project is the direct interaction between the sitter and myself. We get what we get around painting a portrait while we chat. The portrait becomes almost secondary to that interaction and bond. It is very powerful and rewarding.

Rachel Morris

Portrait by Johanna Spinks

Rachel Morris believes talking is fine, as long it leads to action. She’s worked on issues that range from af- fordable health care, to fair elections. From freedom of radio airwaves, to Native American rights. From gro- cery strikes to international peace. From natural childbirth, to natural building. Her passion now is climate change. She is the executive director and cofounder of VCCool, a non- profit organization that takes on global warming by promoting green living and green business in Ventura. Some friends think that she lives at #350 because of the big, sunny mural painted across her garage. Smil- ing she says – “Ac- tually it’s a re- minder of the safe upper limit of CO2 in our atmo- sphere, measured by parts per mil- lion. But you can find me by that. ”

Rachel is also a musician and song-writer. She is a retired dancer, farmer, and software designer. She has lived on the Avenue for six years. She has two daughters and two granddaughters. Rachel grows much of her own food, bicycles, and uses an African designed non- electric “refrigerator” to keep her food cool. She is also learning to take a day off now and then. One day she hopes to help start, and live in, an intention- al eco-community within Ventura. What do you like most about living in Ventura?

of potential. The people are involved and passionate. The City seems en- gaged and available. We have fantas- tic surf, with a freeway cutting us off. The Avenue Neighborhood is full of culture and history and great food, yet it doesn’t even have a lighted crosswalk on its busiest street in front of an elementary school. The weather is fantastic, the town is fairly level for the most part, yet streets haven’t been designed for safe bicycling. So much

to do, so much opportunity, and so many fantastic and gifted people working to polish the jewel in their own way.

And how was the ex- perience of having your portrait paint- ed by Johanna?:

I come from a family of artists, so being in a studio un- der an artist’s eye, the quick brush work, the blending of colors; really brought me back to my childhood. Johanna’s idea of a community portrait is such a beautiful one. It gave me a warm feeling be part of that, and to have my essence brought out in tones of orange and turquoise. Being surrounded by her other beautiful works, with the an- tique easel and oil smell, I felt like I had stepped into another world for a moment. It was also nice to see the camaraderie and support be- tween Sheldon and Johanna. I look forward to seeing her emerging cast

of paintings.

...being in a studio under an artist’s eye, the quick brush work, the blend- ing of colors; really brought me back to my childhood.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Juicy Fruits of Labor...

A horror teaching class demo is never a good thing. I left this one to dry as I raced out the door for a trip, wondering if I should first put a fist through it? Glad I didn't on my return today. Here's why.

I have been trying to get more transparency and fresh juicy 'clean' color in my life-painting work. I tend to work fast and thick which I enjoy. Easy when you make a mistake as you can just repaint over with more paint just like slapping layers of Max Factor pancake on an old movie star.

To do sheer well, using a dried ground for maximum effect, as well as keeping color really fresh, NOT GREYED DOWN, I find I am challenged to have to work with much more accuracy from the get go and a plan has to be more in place. The drawing also has to be there. No mishaps. Ha!

I seemed to be having every single mishap possible on the day of my teaching class including a mild sinus infection - just not feeling in the zone. The distractions of teaching. But I battled on, furiously muttering to myself. I just wanted to wipe it off.

I have studied old master Philip De Laszlo for quite a while now and have been very lucky to have been shown some 'up, close and personal' royal portraits of his, not on public display. One outing was a very special day for me I will never forget. To be in a Scottish Royal Castle's private quarters, over morning coffee with the "Lady" of the House, gazing at the De Laszlos in the living room, the reason for our visit. Ahhhh...I had to pinch myself. The royal coffee wasn't bad either but Brits. do tea better.

In my humble opinion, De Laszlo painted very fresh luminous skin tones with great vibrancy, portrait painting of skin as juicy as it gets. I think he got more luminosity in his skin than his famous portrait predecessor, John Singer Sargent. But, sssshhh. Don't quote me on that. Unlike some artists, de Laszlo has left quite a detailed interview and film footage of his approach/technique, along with an actual painting demo, all available here...

The De Laszlo Archive Trust has been working hard to preserve his legacy and this site is a real treat.

I realized that while this study of mine has problems with the drawing and lack of any real 'feel', the skin looked really juicy and somehow transparent when I saw it again today with a fresh eye. Progress was labor not in vain. Now to improve...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Krispy Creme Donuts Anyone?

What makes some artists hotter than a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts fresh from the oven, spread all over the magazines, New York shows, 150 comments on their Facebook or Blog posts about what they had for dinner, yet alone on their artwork, and others, not quite getting the huge kudos they so deserve?

You will be relieved to hear I am not being personally bitter.

I was blown away yesterday by the work of artist Meredith Brooks Abbott and her sizzling show Nature's Palette at the fabulous new Museum of Ventura County.

Abbott and I speak the same art language, value painters, painters who like to observe from life, record what we see directy - we both even studied at The Arts Students' League of New York. Abbott in my humble opinion is a LIVING MASTER.

I know she has been in the magazines, is well-known and highly respected as an artist for sure with a well-deserved museum show but I would like to see her name SPLASHED far louder in BRIGHT RED around and abouts the world.

She deserves it. Don't mean to be sexist here, but as a female artist, I look for role models like her. They are few and far between. Living female Master Artist. Living masters of both sexes have always been in short supply. Shame about that.

Abbott paints everything extremely well, her focus mainly the countryside that surrounds her home in Santa Barbara be it a dappled field, rusty truck in it, or fruit on the tree. On rainy days a glorious still life off her home table.

BUT I was particularly taken with the paintings of her daughter which spanned many years. They kept me transfixed. THEY were amazing in technique and feel. They gave me a swift kick in the Krispy Kreme derriere.

I thought to myself, now the mother of two grown-up daughters, Jess and Rosie, what a good idea. Why the hell didn't I do that? YES, there was that one of Rosie that was featured in The New York Times, WAHOO, but not much else surely?

Then I realized at 3 a.m. this morning that I had done just that. But not really realized I was doing it. Thought my art wasn't that good of them, so stuffed it away in storage, kinda forgetting about it, not really caring if they ever saw the light of day or got damaged.

Fast 9 a.m. this morning I was tearing up my garage finding everything in storage that I have either drawn or painted of my two girls. Unfortunately, I had a few stabs at my heart knowing in my recent home move, I threw a few away thinking them below the art par. However, it was truly a wonderful moment stacking them up, especially seeing how far I had come in my own art through painting them. My girls were among my VERY first portraits. Those portraits helped me get real commissions. At the time I thought I had done an o.k. job on them. But now I know different, my skill set having improved. I still have a soft spot for them tho' faults aside. The wonder of even a bad "honest" portrait is that it does record a moment in time. Abbott's, however, were good from the get-go of her daughter. DRATS.

Regardless, what a treasure to look back and see your kids young once again, your art journey through their eyes and yours. I emailed both my daughters today, telling them to get ready for MORE. They won't know what hit them.

I post my garage stash for you and my two favorite paintings and drawing of each child. Thanks GIRLS! You really have been with me every step of the art way. I will now STORE this collection with due care.

So special thanks to Meredith Brooks Abbott for reminding me to do that and more. To re-connect with the scattered stash in the garage, knowing it has value despite the place you were at on the early art journey. And KNOW to consciously paint then more.

All you artists out there, record the daily life around you now as Abbott reminded me to do. Paint your kids, grandkids, parents, pets, goldfish, fruit on the tree...

Heck..even .a KRISPY CREME! Why not?

To read more about Meredith Brooks Abbott...go here...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Heard today a painting of Manchester City famous footballer Emmanuel Adebayor had a very strange odor to it, especially within the frame!

Hard to believe, but according to a UK Border Agency which sniffs around these kind of things, drug smugglers tried to transport a kilo of cannabis within a wooden frame around a painting of him. Wonder who painted it? It was sent from Togo, supposedly to Tottenham, North London but ended up somehow in a postal depot in Coventry. I used to live near Coventry! That's about where my connection with this story begins and ends.

Painters are famous for spending elaborate time and money on their portrait frames, gilding the lily so to speak.

My favorite crush Phillip de Laszlo was so obsessed about his frames that he painted the portraits actually in the frames to see the overall effect. See the picture here of his bald spot painting in front of a frame. Smart man. That mahlstick of his looks pretty peachy too.

Anyho, I might be looking at frames a bit more carefully from now on. This drug seize was revealed as one of the more unusual places Border Agency officers found drugs in 2010. No kid!

I will stick to getting my frames from Graphix Dimensions for now.

To read about other whacky concealment hauls go here:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

WHAT KATY DID?...The Daily Kate Blog

The Daily Kate blog featured my portrait of Kate Middleton . How cool is that, the avid royal watcher that I am?

Seems like she had good week including a 28th birthday. Should I send her this as a gift? Think I have her address in somewhere.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Some like it hot...Philip De Laszlo

Who doesn't like to paint a sassy red-head? I sure do. This was my class demo yesterday at TheCalifornia Art Institute.

I like wot I got. Tried to make as much use as I could of the red hot dried toned canvas leaving things as transparent as chiffon in places. I have recently been painting a lot on this warmer ground. For years I painted on a cool greenish or blue greyed ground and my eye got very used to it.

Some like it hot? Master portraitist Philip De Laszlo did and used this technique to great effect through most of his illustrious career. He is one of my to-die-for favorite portrait painters of all time.

The current Queen of England described him recently as a somewhat irritating little man recalling her memories of being painted by him from life at around seven years old. How I would have liked to be irritated by him. His portrait skintones were LUSH!!!

Now you can be irritated by me. LISTEN TO MY RADIO INTERVIEW this week WIH RON TUNICK'S THE BUSINESS OF LIFE SHOW HERE. Thanks Ron!

Monday, January 3, 2011

CHITTER CHATTER, with Ron Tunick, KKZZ 1400AM

THANKS TO radio host Ron Tunick, KKZZ 1400AM, and his BUSINESS OF LIFE radio show letting me chit chat about my FACE OF VENTURA project. What a gracious guy.

you can hear it hear

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A New Year "Thank You' DARLINGS!

THANK YOU darlings all so much for supporting my intense drawing challenge to draw daily through 2010. I could not have done it without your support. The frequent public posts, private emails, the phone calls (really from all corners of the world) meant, well, the world and most certainly helped me complete 365 Days of Drawing. Congratulatory flowers were even sent to me yesterday in a darling english china tea cup (gosh, I am itching to draw it) by a lovely artist who followed the challenge from afar. Wow.

An overview of what I learned from the challenge is coming First I need to decide how darn honest I want to be!

For now, here is my next challenge which I am excited about. AND I DON'T HAVE TO DRAW TODAY!! But maybe I want to? Ha.

Read about The Face of Ventura Project, 2011 here:

It was a year in my art like no other, never to be repeated. Special thanks to my husband Paddy who put up with it all, deserving perhaps not a medal but a day without me drawing. Here we celebrate the last night of the year at a very swish glamorous Malibu party, as only deal pals Nick and Mary can throw. A hot ticket in town, complete with Mary's show-stopper Nancy Sinatra-esque boots, made for more than walking let me tell you!

More Verve Cliquot champers flowed than the Hudson has water - I held back of course with only one more drawing to go. And yes, I did wear those shoes, above. Forget about drawing challenges. Who knew I could do THAT? Unlike my drawing challenge, I quit them after an hour of agony. Some things just aren't worth sticking with.

Happy New Year to you all.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


I did! 365 days of unbroken line. So happy it is done. HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all and many kisses.

The FIRST post
January 2nd, 2010...

I got this idea following on from my previous blog entry, and the great response I got from the drawing I posted, long distance phone calls even, that I should follow through on my New Year's resolution to draw more. I say this every year.

I also just saw the wonderful movie "Julie and Julia" about a young female chef-fan of Julia Childs, Julie Powell,who, looking to spice up her fairly ho-hum life, committed to 365 days of re-creating a recipe, one each day, from Child's famous bible cookbook about The Art of French Cooking.

It got me thinking yesterday, the first day of the year when I was feeling really lazy after a late night party and the inevitable New Year 'toasting-in' champagne. I didn't draw. I broke my resolution on the very first day. I did eat cake though.

What would happen I pondered in severe couch potato mode, what would I learn if I committed to a year of drawing EACH day, using the same medium, no matter what just like the girl in the movie did with her cooking? She cooked after a long day at work come hell or high boiling point water.

So I have decided to set myself a challenge. I will draw, no matter what. Even if I have to get up with the birds. And post it each day. The good, the bad and the ugly. And there will be ugly, especially if I try birds! For 365 days starting today. Even if I have painted all day (drawing and painting are separate disciplines to my mind that hugely compliment each other), even if I have taught a long class, even if I have...

I don't think it is going to be easy.

Here is my first drawing done this afternoon of a favorite model of mine, Holly Rose. I have set my self no rules apart from it has to be at least 30 minutes a day, no less, whether it be an apple or airport sketch. It can be a copy of a Master, it can be from life or it can be from a photo. So long as I draw. If I get serious flu, I will just sketch the Kleenex.

Want to do it with me?