Do I Look at Them, or Paint Them?

An avid gardener, I don't know whether to weed the flowers beds, admire the flowers or paint them. Then, of course, there are the vases of flowers brought inside for daily pleasure as well as the wildflowers brought back from a trip afield which provide constant, though fleeting, inspiration.

I've made a number of these into notecards and other gift items, such as gift bags, and sell them as sets.

Click on any image to see an enlarged version.

Veronica's Tulips

MEDIUM: Watercolor; IMAGE SIZE: 16" x 22"; 2008, commissioned and sold

Just as soon as I had sold "Tea for Tulips", below, another customer was interested. When she discovered it was no longer available, she commissioned me to do one "just for her", but not too different from the first. One thing she requested was that a Schnauzer be worked into the painting somewhere, one who hadn't had his ears cropped. I had the dog on a chair next to the flowers, out in the garden, and other possibilities, but in the end the emphasis was the tulips and the Schnauzer ended up in the frame on the tabletop. The tulips are a composite from one of the many gardening catalogs I get each year.

Tea for Tulips

MEDIUM: Watercolor; IMAGE SIZE: 12" x 16"; 1998, sold

These tulips graced the front cover of one of the many seed catalogs I receive each spring, and the longer it laid on the table waiting for attention, the more I realized I was studying that photograph and planning just what brushes and colors I would use in the watercolor I would create. I intentionally kept the background vague and loose in shades of green and neutral tones to complement the brilliant reds, oranges and yellows and extreme detail in each of the tulips. The frothy white curtain, minimally worked, rests atop the flowers as if a spring breeze from the open window has whipped it up and gracefully placed it there. I had a great time with the rusty old teapot, completely unsure how to render it in watercolor without overworking it, but, as often happens while I'm working, I looked and it was done.

Green Apples and Squashes

Oil Pastel; IMAGE SIZE EACH: 12" x 12"; 2000; Commissioned, Sold

I am new to oil pastel--before the "Green Apples" they felt like crayons and I never thought I'd get used to them, being so accustomed to chalk pastels. But it was the very differences that kept drawing me back--the brilliance of the colors, the quickness of a sketch, the ability to create "impasto", or an actual thickness of the medium on the paper seen most often in oil paintings. The Granny Smiths were politely piled in their bowl, unaware that they were providing a great inspiration for me to do my first still life, and to do it in oil pastel as an experiment. And so that work came to be. It was purchased, and the woman who purchased it decided that she would like two paintings for the spot, identical in size, matting and framing and perhaps style. See below for the rest of the story.

We discussed several subjects, but as the summer waned and she mentioned golds and earth tones, I knew it had to be squashes. One of my favorite vegetables to grow and to eat, they were just about ready to harvest, and their colors were perfect to create a piece to complement the Green Apples. She had incorporated a Jacquard pattern into some of the fabrics in her dining room, so I incorporated it into the background of the painting.

Small Roses

Pastel; IMAGE SIZE: 8" x 6"; 2001, Sold

Just one little sliver of sunlight crept in to touch the vase and the roses were illuminated and irrestistible.

Wildflower Harvest

MEDIUM: Pastel; IMAGE SIZE: 12" x 10"; 1996, $400.00

It was one of those moments that completely overtakes me--the ordinary in the extraordinary again. I had gathered these wildflowers on the way home from work during one of those too-brief, clear September evenings, warm, but with a creeping chill in the shadows. Goldenrod and fall asters will always make me stop and pull over, so I brought some home and placed them in the vase on the table on my deck. I can see this vase every time I pass my back door, but it was the one brief period of about ten minutes when the evening sun angles down onto the deck that I passed the door and was overwhelmed by the flowers, completely illuminated, the goldenrod shimmering, the purple asters rich and regal, a perfect complement to each other, all placed before the deep shadows of trees. It only lasted a few minutes, and then was gone, and I am glad to have taken the opportunity to render all the detail and feeling I could photograph and remember.

Interior with Cat

MEDIUM: Watercolor; IMAGE SIZE: 11" x 16"; 2000, $350.00 matted and framed

Those calendulas, which had braved a pretty hard frost, opened fully when the sun shone in the windows the next day, and that was the first inspiration for this piece. I photographed the calendula, intending to paint only them, but when I looked over the photographs in preparation for painting, I noticed the cloth, the paperwhites in the pot, the light glare on the table, and of course, the cat. It developed into a much larger work than I had wanted, but it was a real challenge to create something from a different perspective than I usually have. And since I create so many other works involving my cats, I really tried hard to keep the cat out of it, but it just wasn't complete until I painted her in.

Other Still Lifes


Red Climbers

MEDIUM: Watercolor; IMAGE SIZE: 15" x 10"; 1995, Sold

This photo reminded me of my mother's climbing red roses which grew up a trellis on the side of the house. These roses have always fascinated me because they just keep going--up the fence, over the fence, down the other side. As a watercolor it was pure pleasure, with enough color, light and shadow and shape for it to be interesting. The reflected light near the bottom, especially, was a joy to study and discover.

The Garden Gate

MEDIUM: Watercolor; IMAGE SIZE: 5" x 6"; 1994, $100

For someone who is a gardener and spends a lot of time in her yard--what a special place! If I can't have it in my yard, at least I can paint it. The arbor sporting ivy, the old azalea crowning the entrance and the gate, mysteriously left ajar and leading to a stone path to another part of the garden...I believe this came from a magazine.


MEDIUM: Watercolor; IMAGE SIZE: 5" x 6"; 1994; NFS

Another piece borne of January inspiration in my seed and flower catalogs, this little bunch of columbines was so joyful that it stayed with me. One of my favorite flowers, it is also a favorite of my mother, and I gave it to her as a birthday present one year. She lives in a personal care home now and I've sold her home. She has one piece of artwork in her room, so I took this one back. I'd love to keep it, but I'd also love for someone else to enjoy it as much as my mother did.

The Perfect Place

Pastel; IMAGE SIZE: 12" x 10"; 1998, $200 matted and framed

Just one little careful study of sun on the bench and flowers, this also came from a garden catalog image, but it's just a portion of it. My own garden bench should be so well landscaped.