Greetings from Block Island!

Late last night I said I’d blog this morning and I didn’t and now somehow it’s late at night again.   I’m sorry about that.  I have learned not to make any promises, since I barely seem to have any control over my circumstances these days.  I’ve just gotta go with the flow or suffer the consequences!

I did finish last night’s painting though:


It’s a view from Mansion Beach.

I’ve taken a whole bunch of photos of our journey around the island the past two days.  I’m trying to download them as we speak, but I’m having difficulty with the really bad internet connection here.  I keep blogging and downloading and the system keeps failing.  So I’m learning to hit the “save” button a lot and I’m figuring out I need to make things quick!

I’ve  also figured out that I am most likely going to do pen and ink contour drawings and quick studies while on this trip.  I am taking tons of photographs that I plan on using for more serious pieces when I get home.  I can’t hold my family captive while I paint all day, nor do I have the right materials to do so anyhoo.

So from here on out, I’ll share some gorgeous photos of one of our favorite locations in the world, but don’t tell anyone about it, it will ruin what’s great about this place!

Here’s my posse heading out on the Block Island Ferry!


A view from my cottage:


Views from my friend’s cottage:

IMG_9801 IMG_9796


Views from Snake Beach:

IMG_9828 IMG_9791 IMG_9836

If you can’t tell, what’s great about Block Island is that it’s quiet and filled with nature.  High season isn’t very quiet, this is why we either go very early in the summer or in the fall. But if you catch it right, you feel like you’ve been transported to a simpler time in this country.  One of farms and rolling countryside.

Taking in all this beauty replenishes my soul.

I’m already looking forward to tomorrow!


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#140- Gaining Perspective (2)

Ahh, perspective drawing.  Is there anything in this world I find more frustrating?

Without a proper foundation all else is lost.   Meaning: It doesn’t matter how great a painter you are if your ellipses are off!

Most people can’t put their finger on it, but they know something about a painting is just sorta well -OFF!

It’s usually the perspective.

The question is are you viewing something from above, below or directly in front of you?  With most paintings, it’s all three and if any are off, it will be the first thing people notice.

A really good rendering takes me hours.  I find it so difficult.  Ya know it’s probably like starting a new exercise routine.  You simply can’t do it at first because your muscles aren’t strong enough.  Well pretty much the same thing with drawing.  Your muscles are week and the more you practice the better you get. I think I sprained my muscles today!  I had to take out my vacuum because I had so many eraser shreds!  Some days I’d like to just cheat.  There are many ways to get around drawing, but I know the only person I’d be cheating is myself, so, I suffered through it today and I am sure I am now a little bit better than I was 4 hours ago!  I once read a book on Van Gogh that said he would sometimes do 20-50 sketches a day….over and over and over again…strengthening those muscles. Of course he was also most likely suffering from a bi-polar disorder and obsessive compulsiveness….there is always that  :)

So I did my perspective drawing and then I added the necessary details:

#140- Gaining Perspective (3)

I had about 30 minutes left from that point, so I decided to try something different:

#140- Gaining Perspective (1)

I usually create one shadow at a time.  For instance, I would only do the lemon.  I would start with a medium tone yellow and water it down for the light areas and add a dark purple for the shaded areas. Then I would start and finish the lime, then maybe move to the pitcher and work on it start to finish…one area at a time until I completed the painting..

So applying shadows to the entire painting is a different approach for me.  I think in one way it helps to establish lights and darks throughout the whole painting, but I usually use different colors for every single shadow in a painting.  I’m not sure if uniformity (meaning all blue in this case) is good or bad…I will soon learn tomorrow.

The rest of the painting should move fairly quickly from here, it’s  just the foundation drawing which sucks up a lot of my time.  When I was doing a painting a day, I wasn’t spending enough time on composition.  We shall see by the finished product if one can tell a difference in my work.

Wish me luck! I hope this experiment of technique works!


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I’m late I’m late I know!  I didn’t finish the painting by the end of the school day, so I had to finish after the kids were in bed.

 I picked lemons as a theme this week and while looking around creating a composition, I thought it might be fun to take a few steps back and incorporate a little more into the background.

 I took a quilt, some pillows, a favorite chair and of course lemons and created a contour drawing.  Contour drawings give you a semblance of the objects, but they are a little more quirky than trying to get every line and ellipse exact.  I’m not a perfectionist in the rest of my life, so I think this style suits me.

Next was the fun part.  As the artist, I don’t have to paint what I see, I can pretty much do what ever I want. So I changed all the colors of the objects from real life.  The basket is really green.  I made it black.  The front pillow is mustard and black, I made it red and the quilt is actually a rainbow patchwork in real life, I made it a little more monochromatic.  I would have loved to paint a different fabric for every patch of the quilt, but seeing as how I ran out of time before even attempting to do so, I had to let go of that pipe dream!

So there was only one dilemma.

I photographed the painting earlier in the day before I had painted the quilt dark brown.  When I look at it now I wonder if I should have kept it white?  It’s a little more light and airy.


Of course there is nothing I can do about it now, but I guess I can learn for next time.

Hey public what do you think?  You forget I’m alone all day and don’t have anyone to bounce this stuff off of or to get feedback from!

Ahh, There’s just so much to learn…so little time…well I have 365 days of time…or a lifetime if I put it in greater context….but for a daily challenge where one part of the day is set aside for painting and the rest for my kids, time does seem to run out pretty darn quick.

I just have to keep remembering, I’m strengthening my art muscles…I’m strengthening my art muscles…Keep going…if you do, just imagine what Day 150 will bring…..imagine what I will know by Day 225….How will I feel on Day 365?

I don’t know all the answers, so I better keep plugging along so I can find out!


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#68 - Jeanine's wonderful woodland adventure#68 - Jeanine's wonderful woodland adventure 2#68 - Jeanine's wonderful woodland adventure 3

I am surprised I am still standing!  I woke up this morning and started my art project for the day; dropped it, brought my daughter to pottery class, held my son up while roller skating for 3 hours, dropped off son, turned around and went beach glass hunting with daughter and then finally came back home to finish what I started at 7 am!

Whew. I will sleep well tonight let me tell you!

You are looking at the first concept drawings for my friend Jeanine’s family hiking guide.  She is writing this wonderful book for all of us Rhode Islanders to be able to take our kids on hikes throughout the state. OK. I’m sure visitors to Rhode Island can read it too ;)

Before I start drawing all different images for this book, I told Jeanine to 1: make sure my artwork and style fit her expectations and 2: let’s get a better idea of what it is you want,  if you do indeed choose me  as your illustrator.

Jeanine had a vision of a backpack that she wrote about,  filled with all the necessities for hiking.  I thought that would be a great place to start.

So first I did a pencil sketch of a full back pack, that is the one in blue.  Next  I illustrated a very simple almost cartoon version.  This is the red back pack.

The final back pack , the tan backpack, is the most classic.  It’s a traditional watercolor with a bit more detail.

I have no idea what Jeanine is expecting, but we have to start somewhere.

I’ll let you know what she decides!


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FLY ON MY WALL  is a series, for reference, please check out the first post


You are looking at all the quintessential little boy gear, Pikachu, Angry Bird, Om Nom, Puff-Ball skeleton and Darth Vader.  What’s that?  What’s that you say?  You want to know why there’s a pink pillow smack dab in the middle of my boys bed?

Heh heh, funny you should ask.

It all began a year ago while we were in the throes of moving to our current home.  I made the mistake of saying “C’mon kids why don’t you pick out something and we will base your new rooms around it.”

My preschool son chose the pink pillow.

Now I am that mom that will be damned if I am going to tell my boy he can’t like pink when there is absolutely no gosh darn reason why he shouldn’t.  I think socializing stinks period, not that I wasn’t aware that there are social repercussions for not going along with the herd.

We bought the pillow.

O’Dogs room is awesome.  I put up surf/skim boards, a disco ball, spin art, cool brown walls. Dare I say, it’s the coolest room in the house….but then kindergarten came.

Needless to say, my boys favorite color is now red…black….and he likes spiders….snakes….skulls….and anything else he can come up with to prove his six-year-old manhood!

To tell you the truth, I don’t think he even notices that the pillow is even in his room anymore. But I do, I remember it was one of those days where as a parent I had 30 seconds to decide what I was going to teach my kid about colors and masculinity and I wasn’t going to pass on that B.S.

No boy, you don’t have to have a glove in your hand to be masculine. You don’t have to wear blue every day of your childhood to prove you are a boy.  You can love music, art and the color pink and it doesn’t mean you are effeminate.  It turns out the world has a little more say than mom. However, in my home, they will not be learning what it means to be boy or girl, they will learn what it means to be human.

Enough said.  What it boils down to is I don’t really care what my son is into at the moment.  It will change like his underwear which I’m pretty sure he doesn’t wear every day!

What I am thankful for is at the end of each day, he still begs me to come in and snuggle him up.  Which to me, means whatever I’ve done as a mom, can’t be too bad!


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I’m having so much fun getting to spend all of this time with my family.  I am with my cousins, sister, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, second cousins and sooo many very close family friends. Sad circumstances yet such a wonderful experience.

So I’ve had no idea what I was going to be able to do art-wise while on this trip honoring my grandmother. Our schedule has been crazy and we are out and about from dawn to well past dusk!

This morning I asked the kids what I should do and this was the still life we came up with.


My seven-year old niece Caleigh is very interested in art and was wondering what this “contour drawing” is all about.  Contour drawing is where you focus on the contour/outline of objects with your pen to paper. The catch is that you are not allowed to look at your paper. You can only keep your eyes on the objects.  This strengthens your hand-eye coordination and creates wonderful, free and quite loopy drawings.

I asked everyone at breakfast to create a contour drawing so I could show you how different each person’s perspective and personal drawing techniques can be.

Here are some of their results.IMG_5564 IMG_5566 IMG_5568 IMG_5571

I think they are all fabulous! It’s amazing how different the same subject can be.  This is why artists will never run out of ideas for work. We could all have the same ideas yet not one ever execute it the same. So cool!


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Yesterday on my car ride down to New York I took a little “artist time” to reflect on my grandmother.  She died at age 92 so we couldn’t really ask for much more.  She had a very long wonderful life.

Above I started with a photo of grandma and I then worked my way out with little memories of my time with her.

My Grandmother was born in 1921 in British Guiana South America.  They were very well off living on a plantation when her mother met a Scottish Doctor and they married and moved to NYC.  They lived in a mansion over looking the Hudson River.  Of course we know the Great Depression hit and I’m pretty sure their fortune was decimated.

She lost the love of her life, her oldest brother a pilot, in World War II.  Many say she never recovered.  After the war she married my grandfather and the most peaceful, creative and nourishing part of her life began. They were married well over 50 years.

My grandmother was drop dead gorgeous. The number one word attributed to her, was class.  She was the classiest.

Yesterday the priest came into the wake.  His first remark was “This sounds more like a wedding reception than a funeral.”  He was right.  That is how my family rolls!  We laugh, hug, catch up, kids are welcome to run around, customers from our family art & framing business came.  Even a woman who was a student of my grandmother in kindergarten over 40 years ago felt the need to share how important my grandmother was.  It was a wonderful evening.  I have an hour to get out of the house for the funeral.  This event will start at 10am and will go until we are ready for bed.  There will be lot’s more laughter, lots more friends and lots more family.  You never fear a funeral in our family. They are always a wonderful celebration of life.


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For those of you new to my blog, check back to POST # 6, the original FLY ON MY WALL (hint there is a fly to find in the pictures with this title).

So As a fly on my wall, you gain access to my bedroom.

 I only moved to my current home one year ago.  In my last home, every room was painted a wild color.  This time around I painted every room white.  I especially love my all white bedroom.  It is like a blank slate.  Whenever, I get bored with the room I simply change my pillows and duvet and I have a whole new look.

 This was my Christmas bedding.  Up close the print is actually snowflakes.  It is calm and tranquil which was what I needed around the holidays, but now, I think I’m ready for a pop of color.  Hmm, I sense the opportunity for another creative challenge!

 This is a contour drawing which is very freeing.  You just let the pen flow.  No worries about measurements, perspective, composition. You just look and draw. I also added my kitty cat Pina to the drawing.  We lost her in the last hurricane.  She never returned home.  I didn’t think I’d miss her, seeing as how she hated people, but after 10 years of having her, I do.

Well, today was a relaxing day.  I needed that after pushing myself to try to finish acrylic paintings all week.  They do take longer than the time allotted.  I need to make at least two more of those 10×10 canvasses though.  They look awesome lined up along my dining room:)


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Or should I say fly on my window!

This is my view every morning from my kitchen sink. I started collecting wooden dancing toys for their bright happy colors and now one by one my girlfriend Maria sends me these little wooden surprises. Thanks Maria! They make me smile every morning.

What is also funny is when people come to visit they change the figure’s poses. Right now the robot is doing an awesome 80’s dance (or is it the pee-pee dance?).  Pop-Pop the pirate had a whole week of adventures on Block Island where he battled crabs and fought off scurvy. You just never know where they’ll wind up and what funny poses they will be in.

Another funny tidbit is when kids come over to visit they are quickly educated on which toys are kid toys and which toys are “Ms. Mary’s” toys! I have a bright toy car collection, a Pee-Wee Herman toy collection and random odd ball toys I find at the Salvation Army like a giant green robotic frog and a Kung-Fu Panda.

This week I treated myself to a new Sakura black ink pen. It’s awesomely smooth. I just love it. This image is a contour drawing (focusing on the outlines of images). However I did create a pencil grid before I started so that I could keep the figures relative to my sink.

There is a fly in the drawing…check back to post #6 for it’s relevance.

In summary, I think toys are great at every age. Everyone needs a touch of whimsy or down right silliness in their lives.  Try slipping some little figures in hidden places in your house and see if they don’t make you smile once in a while. You may even find them difficult to share with the kids!


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#10 -Ode to The Orange

#10 -Ode to The Orange

Well for any one who knows me, they can tell you.  I consider “orange” one of the major food groups!  I can’t resist Doritos.  They are like a drug.  It must be the MSG or something!  I’ve been hooked since I was 4 years old.

Needless to say, I started this painting at 9 am and let’s just say my fingers were orange by 9:15.  In my defense, I had to open the bag to crinkle it for interest. Then I had to lay a few out to create a composition.  The rest is history… By 10 am I wasn’t feeling very well and my tongue was swollen.  Hee Hee hee.

From a technical standpoint.  This painting could have used some more time.  I definitely should have darkened some shadows and added more detail, but that is what is great about a painting every day. At some point you have to put the brush down and move on.  Lessons learned….start again tomorrow!

Off to get the kids. I better wash the orange off my fingers before they ask me what I was doing today ;)

Bye. Bye!


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