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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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The mind and the brain are amazing and mysterious; separate yet intertwined. The mind is expansive and independent and much like our dreams it takes us places we may not comprehend. The brain is charged with managing the functions of the body, the engine of our being that keeps us going. Where does one stop and the other begin?  I have no answers, only questions that in some small way I do not wish to resolve, but only to ponder during quiet meditations. These meditations are not guided or forced, but a release of the constraints I impose on my focus and thoughts, the constraints that help me manage the ongoing to-do list that I’m sure you also know only too well. 


It was a meditation while working in the studio that brought this piece to fruition. I was taking a break from another piece and just wanted to relax and get my hands dirty with no particular vision or purpose in mind.  The figure in profile suggests a story that only she knows, and prefers to protect….from what I wonder? This I do not know…it is the mystery that inspires me to continue, to see what comes next with gratitude and anticipation. I hope this piece inspires you to seek mysteries, wherever they may lead.

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O'Shea Enterprises, LLC, Lyndhurst, NJ

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