Saturday, May 31, 2014

Renovating a Studio

In September of 2012, now nearly two years ago, we decided to buy a quaint little house (that needed some de-80'sification) in a beautiful neighborhood in a small town of North Carolina.  There were two things that sold the house for me.  The first was the incredible, large, wooded yard that featured many 30+ year established plants, including a lovely fig tree, and the second reason was an unfinished space above the garage that could (seemingly) easily be turned into a wonderful studio.  Over the last nearly two years, we have slowly but surely been chipping away at the to-do list to turn this house into our home.  Both my husband and I are very handy and compliment each other's DIY skills quite well.  We have managed to completely update and beautify one of the ugliest and most malfunctioning kitchens that there has ever been, along side working on completing the studio space.  This once storage space turned out to be a much bigger project than we could have ever foreseen.


All of the insulation and partial drywall had to be taken out.  The previous owner had chosen too inefficient an insulation to condition the space, and also curiously, they decided to use deer netting to keep the insulation in place.  This meant that we had to spend countless hours removing staple after staple from each and every stud and joist.  We also started to notice how the acrylic bubble skylights began to leak.  Though they were south facing, we had not planned to replace them, which significantly impacted our budget and in turn impacted our timeline.

We knew the 3/8 inch plywood subflooring would have to be replaced, so we took that opportunity to also correctly insulate under the floor as well.

Below you will see how we had to remove the old leaky skylights which we splurged by replacing them with really nice north-facing ones on the opposite side of the roof.

 To re-do the subflooring correctly, we had to remove the knee-walls, which turns out, where not properly installed in the first place.  Surprise, surprise.  So in re-building the knee-walls, we got our design approved by the city, which was to utilize the space for extra storage, with some open shelving and pre-built cabinets as well as slots to fit my flat files on the south side of the studio.

We also decided to give my easels a bit more head room and raised the ceiling joists.

Now at this point, we realized that we would need to fix the stairs to bring them up to code.  Ironically, I do not have any pictures of this step.  It is likely due to the fact that it was one of the most contentious parts of the project.  I am happy to say our marriage was strong enough to survive the disagreements.

The last bit of fun left to us by the previous owner was some very "iffy" looking, obviously home grown electrical work.  We decided to hire a professional for this aspect of the job, especially since it required installing a special plug for the heat/ AC unit we will be installing.


 I am so happy to say that on Wednesday, all of the rough work passed the city's building inspection.  It was a huge relief and now means we can move forward with insulation and drywall.  Though the list is still long, I think we have turned the corner and are much, much closer to me being able to use this amazing and inspiring space (more comfortably) soon.  Below you will see two panoramic shots that kind of stretched the wall lenghts just a wee bit, but it's fun to see the whole space in one picture.

I will leave you with a painting which was in progress in the midst of this renovation. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Loved & Observed

I Will by Kristy Gordon, Taste by Julie Elizabeth Brady and To Wash the Spot To Burn the Snare by Holly Ann Scoggins

I am honored to have a work included in an exhibition titled "Loved and Observed" at Hersh Fine Art in Glen Cove, NY which was curated by artists Manu Saluja and Diana Corvelle.  This exhibition, which features portraits by 23 artists, runs June 21 - August 12, 2014.  I hope you will join me on Long Island for the Opening Reception June 28th from 6-9pm.

Cary Ann, oil on panel, 18" x 14"

You may read a bit more about this exhibition on Diana Corvelle's website and while there make sure to peruse her beautiful and unique works, by clicking here.  

Hersh Fine Art
14A Glen Street
Glen Cove, NY

Monday, May 12, 2014

Intro to Oils Class

Dark Cherries, oil on panel, 5" x 7" - currently available at Haynes Galleries

Are you interested in learning the basics of oil painting and safe studio practices? Intro to Oils is an introductory course which will cover the basic topics of oil painting while also reviewing drawing fundamentals. We will explore painting materials and techniques, basic color theory and color mixing, as well as the interaction of visual elements and various approaches to painting. Using simple still life set-ups, we will explore concepts of value and tone and color relationships. Join me at Artspace Monday nights starting June 2nd!

Intro to Oils
Mondays, June 2, 9, 16, 23 & 30
Tuition: $180 members/$200 non-members

More information and registration at: 
201 East Davie Street, 
Raleigh, NC


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Celebrating the Portrait as Art

I am honored to have two works included in Haynes Galleries "Celebrating the Portrait as Art" exhibit which is a diverse, well-curated collection of works by some of today’s most exciting contemporary Realists. The exhibit will be on view from April 18 - May 24 at Haynes Galleries, on the Music Row Roundabout. An opening reception will take place (tomorrow!) on Friday, April 18 from 5 -7:30 p.m.  This is shaping up to be a 'must see' exhibition of the year!  To read more on the exhibition click here.  The following are the two paintings that I have included.  Thank you Haynes Galleries!

Allison at Mirror, oil on panel, 26" x 16"

 Kitchen Window, oil on panel, 48" x 36"

Haynes Galleries
1600 Division Street. Suite 140
Nashville, Tennessee 37203

Face Off Update

Wow!  What a fun weekend in Charleston I had.  Thank you to Principle Gallery Charleston for hosting such a great event and giving me an excuse to play in your fair city.  Here are a few images from the event and then a quick timelapse video of my painting from that night.

Face Off Artists: me, Terry Strickland, & Rachel Constantine

My finished painting of Nicole, 3 hours later.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Face Off - Principle Gallery Charleston

I am so excited to have been invited to participate in this year's "Face Off" event at Principle Gallery, Charleston.  I will paint the portrait of a live model along side fellow artists Rachel Constantine and Terry Strickland.  The fun begins from 5-8pm on Friday April 4th.  It should be a fun event.  I hope you can join us.

In the meantime, I've been trying to warm up my alla prima muscles.  Here are a few examples of recent 3 hour portrait sessions. 

Jenny, oil on panel, 20" x 16"

As He Worked, oil on panel, 12" x 9"

125 Meeting Street
Charleston SC 29401

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sienna As Archer

Sienna as Archer, oil on panel, 48" x 36", 2014

Life and art are inseparable for artists.  Everything we do in our daily lives has the potential to become fodder for our work.  And the work in turn, feeds our life with rich appreciation for the simple acts and moments that could otherwise be overlooked.  Lately, I've noticed my children are growing like weeds right before my eyes.  I can feel their youth slipping towards responsibility and seriousness.  This has become particularly poignant for me with my daughter as she approaches her next birthday, which will place her firmly in the double digits club.  There is a risk in painting children, maybe especially for women artists; artists who are mothers.  So much of history has told us that this is a 'sentimental' act, and that that word itself is a dirty word which you wouldn't want associated with our serious work.  But there is a bounty to explore in that moment of a child's life which is fixed between the abundance of imaginative play of youth and the growing pressures of age; right before the storm of adulthood.  I am compelled to capture that mix of tides that I am living with, that I am responsible for raising well.   

 While my daughter posed for this painting over several sessions, I noticed a shift in her.  When I first asked her to hold the bow, she pulled the string and it was... almost right - but there was an apologetic tone to her stance.  Her feet were planted awkwardly near each other, her grip light and unsteady.  I was asking my pink loving, pacifist daughter to hold a weapon - and this was not natural for her.  It took much coaching, and honestly I think I had to make her mad at me, before she really took the pose with any believability.  I think by then she wished I had loaded the bow with more than a suction cup toy arrow, because now she was happy to aim directly at me.  The next time she took the pose, her elbow straightened a bit more, her wrist more naturally aligned with greater strength.  And then as the painting developed and she got to see herself as this strong and cunning girl, I noticed she began to stand taller too.  What I suddenly realized one day while standing infront of this life size painting of my daughter, is that this painting was helping me parent better.  I was showing my daughter how to be empowered.  How to embrace her inner strength and not be apologetic to share that with the world.  

Life and art are inseparable.    

And here is a picture and a related post of this same girl, just several years younger.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Artist's Magazine - April 2014

As you may know I am one of the co-founders of the blog Women Painting Women.  We have been working since March of 2009 to create an online resource that highlights the incredible work of some of today's best figurative painters (that just happen to be women).  We have also worked tirelessly to organize multiple exhibitions to further gain exposure for these artists.  Women Painting Women begs us to question whether women see and therefore paint the female figure differently than has been been traditionally represented through out history.  Can women be represented as more than mere passive subjects, icons of beauty?  There has been a wonderful article written by Louise Hafesh in the April 2014 edition of The Artist's Magazine on the history and development of Women Painting Women.  I am honored to have both my efforts towards WPW's goals, as well as my own work featured in this eight page article.  Make sure you pick up your copy at a newsstand or bookstore near you.  I've also heard digital copies are also available thru an online subscription.  More info on The Artist's Magazine can be found at    

Paintings by Alexandra Tyng, Zoey Frank and Ellen Eagle are but a few of the great works shared in this expansive article.  I am honored that the editors chose to share my painting Rising Tide as well.  More on the thoughts that went into that painting can be read on this blog just a few posts down, or by clicking here.  Many thanks to writer Louise Hafesh and also to all the fine folks at The Artist's Magazine.  Thank you for the great support!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Upcoming Class - Focus on Figure Drawing

ink and white chalk, 10" x 8"

I am looking forward to teaching again at Artspace this Spring.  We will start with a "Focus on Figure Drawing".    

Working from a live model, you will develop an understanding of proper proportions, structure and basic anatomy of the human figure. We will use a variety of short gesture poses and work toward longer sustained poses using a variety of drawing mediums. Basic principles of drawing will be discussed to explore the use of line variation, and methods of blocking in volumetric forms to represent the expressive qualities of the human figure. This class will strengthen your drawing ability whether you are an absolute beginner or advanced student. Supply list provided upon registration.

Thursdays, March 20, 27, April 3, 10 & 17 
Tuition: $180 members/$200

charcoal on grey paper, 24" x 18"

conte on watercolor toned paper, 17.5 x 11.5

pastel on paper, 24" x 18"

I hope to see you in the class.  It should be a fun and informative five classes.  Please sign up early by either calling or using the link above.  Happy drawing!

201 E. Davie St
Raleigh, NC  

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Throughout my career there have been a few subjects that I continually am drawn to paint.  Of course the figure is my main love, but then too I am nearly equally drawn to nature.  I've had an on going series of paintings of dead birds that was started while still in college, though my fascination with birds likely started at a much younger age.  My childhood best friend's father was the director of the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Nearly every weekend was spent on some bird count our nature hunt.  But right now, I seem to have reconnected with insects.  Here are a few small, recent, little buggers for your viewing pleasure.

Cicada Killer, oil on panel, 5" x 5"
Progress Shots of Bumblebee:

Bumblebee, oil on panel, 5" x 5"

I have one more insect related painting that I just completed.  The paint has dried dull in some areas and needs varnish to even it out.  So until I can get a good final image, here are just a few progress snapshots of my painting titled Orchestrate Change which features a cocoon, likely of a Polyphemus Moth .

Orchestrate Change, oil on panel, 6" x 18"