While I was shoveling snow, I wanted to be planting spring flowers. While I was trying to decide between the black turtleneck or the white, I wanted to be selecting between short sleeves or sleeveless tops. When I was making another crockpot of soup, I wanted to be making some adventurous flavors of ice cream. Somewhere along the line I romanticized the coming Spring and neglected to consider how many leaves had collected in the garden, how well I managed to stack the lawn furniture in the shed before winter set in, and how fast weeds sprout once the temperature begins to rise.

Reality set in this weekend when I racked and collected more leaves than I think I have trees, managed to unearth the lawn furniture without having the whole works collapse on top of me, and pulled some of the more obnoxious weeds before calling it a day….I could have kept going, but on gorgeous days like this I also enjoy being in the studio.

I opened all of the windows to let the fresh air and natural light flood the space, cranked up the smart speaker, and went to work. The new painting I’ve been telling you about is coming along – I’ve started filling in the background and fine tuning some of the details. This stage of a painting takes the most time partly because I let my mind’s eye rest for a few days between sessions (as opposed to working every day for several days at a time on a single piece) and partly because I become hyper critical and need a rest. But that’s not to say that I’ve been idle. I’ve resumed work on another painting of a solitary figure and have put a third painting that needs some attention on another easel – at the moment, the figure has no head (she had a head, but I decided I didn’t like it…I think I’ve created and removed her head three times so far…hyper critical? Who me?)

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I’ve was recently asked whether I use models for my pieces and thought you may be wondering the same thing. The short answer is sometimes, but perhaps not as you may expect. I do not ask someone to sit still for hours on end while I attempt to capture every nuance as if I were crafting a portrait. Instead, I have a few very good friends who have allowed me to drape them in yards of fabric and photograph them in various poses that I later use for reference as needed. Some have been good enough to sit for me in the nude, which is very helpful when I’m having trouble with a gesture or a character’s movement; in those cases I have done sketches one after another in rapid succession. Like the photographs, I save the sketches for reference. I also have a multitude of sculpture, anatomy, and body building books that help me as well. Short of a cadaver, a shredded body builder can help me sort out a variety of skeletal and muscular questions, especially when they pose. Last, but not least, I also press myself into service using mirrors of various sizes that I have collected over the years – one of the largest is an old medicine cabinet door and it weighs a ton!

I can look at my pieces and recall which model helped inform which element of a piece – the position of a hand, the lines of the neck and jaw, or the slope of a shoulder and tilt of a head are all important gestures that help tell the character’s story. Some of those details are not always present in the final image that you see, but they exist beneath the surface. In fact, there are often 4 to 6 layers of elements of the character beneath the final image. So far on the new painting I’ve been working on, there are 3 layers beneath each character. I’m not quite Dr. Frankenstein, but I can appreciate using a bit of this and a bit of that to help a character come to life….

I first visited Paris in April of 2009 – the city was bathed in the aroma of flowers like I have never experienced before or since. I shot this image while doing what I enjoy the most in this city of light – appreciating the splendor. I had the good fortune to visit while dear friends were on assignment there. I offer this because I had an insider’s view of the city – an opportunity to experience the beauty of the architecture, the lifestyle, and the people. If I could, I would happily make Paris a second home and I have visited often since this first experience. When I heard today of the tragic fire at Notre Dame I was deeply saddened. The loss of an historical landmark of this magnitude is crushing and my heart goes out to all who are suffering. If there is a silver lining to this tragedy, it is the swift responses of love and support. Loss is universal and

mourning is part of healing, but so is keeping alive hope and faith in the future and each other… Love conquers all and Notre Dame lives on in our hearts – I look forward to watching this grand beauty rise again!

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