Category Archives: Uncategorized

From the Archive: Birds and Rainforests

Newly digitized transparencies from some earlier oil paintings.

Both are 44×64 inches.

The one on the left was first in this series of six bird paintings.

I showed it to Wellington Management in their garage when I was making

a delivery. They purchased it right on the spot out of the back of my

GM Suburban – a fun surprise.

I often wish I still had that car/truck. It was a hauler’s dream for

paintings as large as 4 x 8 feet.

The one on the right was purchased by one of the partners at Wellington

for his private collection in Boston.

From the sketchbook

I loved drawing this model. My preference up to this point had been for

more “Rubenesque” or voluptuous body types, and usually nude women

because that’s all we were exposed to during my college years. Any male

models would have been required to wear jock straps. Well, it was the 60’s

and I was enrolled in a ‘proper’ women’s college after all. When we did

have an ‘erotic art’ exhibition, it was held in the basement. Only senior

year art majors were allowed to view it. Very funny in retrospect.

So then this particular model is either from my days at Skowhegan, or at

one of the live drawing sessions I used to attend during my early years

after moving to Boston.

Abstractions collection


NUMBERS 1, 136, 144, 131, 157





My favorite kind of

phone call from Beth Urdang Gallery:

A young couple just purchased 6 of my abstractions series.

So exciting to view the grouping together.

As I paint them, never can I imagine how or where they’ll end up.

But when I learn about multiple purchases like this one, it is so gratifying

to have someone this captivated by what I’m doing, or trying to do.

And of all the hundreds of 8×8 abstractions, my first (#1) just sold.



How cute is this little Doxie dog?!

8×10 inches

oil on board

I’ve had this commission for awhile. Finally got down to finishing it.

It’s so much better in person.

Colors were a challenge to duplicate digitally.

I’ll take it with me on our trip to Colorado in April.

The owner lives in Steamboat Springs but I think she wanted it as a gift for her friend.

Had my second Covid vaccine jab yesterday.

Arm sore despite icing, and a little fatigued today.

Otherwise all okay.

Ready to travel and eat in restaurants again!

New and older koi art

New and old koi in progress.

I’m revisiting the one on the far left.

Painted in 2002!

wow. hard to believe I’ve been painting koi

that long.

The two on the right – 12×12 each – are new.

Complex images with hyper pigmentation.

I’m leaning more towards the simplicity and

narrower palette on the left one – 16×16 inches,

entitled “ Red, White and Blue.”

I love it when juxtaposed with my art pal Ana’s

lovely mostly red painting above.

Tarot Cards

Designing a Set of Tarot Cards

This project has been in the works for quite some time.

It was a challenge to figure out how to even begin it.

Time now to get it done.

The image above shows a few of the cards in various stages of design.

It’s been an ambitious undertaking to say the least.

Some 34 cards all drawn to scale.

Little paintings.

Francine has been an amazing ‘seer’ for me.

When she asked if I would design a set for her, I was delighted.

So. Here we are.

Forbes pigment collection at Harvard

June 21, 2019 — Harvard Art Museums’ Pigment Lab. Photo by Caitlin Cunningham.
June 28, 2019 — Harvard Art Museums’ Pigment Lab. Photo by Caitlin Cunningham.


Those glass vials contain some of the more than 2,700 samples of pigments — colored particles mixed with material that binds them together — linseed or walnut or safflower oil, or eggs. Tada! Colored paint. 

The Forbes Pigment Collection gives conservators, preservationists, artists, art historians and serious art fans a chance to see, analyze, imitate the precise colors used by various painters. Collection curator Narayan Khandekar says it’s a chance to “have a conversation with the artist” even though he or she has been dead for centuries.

Van Gogh’s 1888 Self-Portrait Dedicated to Paul Gauguin (left) and Emerald Green in the Forbes Pigment Collection.

Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum; Harvard Art Museums/Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies

Van Gogh used emerald green for this self-portrait. Bright, great to look at. “The trouble is that it’s toxic,” says conservation scientist Khandekar. “It’s made from arsenic.” Mixed with copper, it produces this gorgeous color. 

Khandekar says there’s speculation that when the British exiled Napoleon to Saint Helena, they covered the walls with emerald green wallpaper, perhaps to slowly poison him when humidity released particles into the island air. Nobody knows for sure. But as we say in journalism, never let facts get in the way of a good story.

It’s remarkable how many nasty ingredients go into making some of the most beautiful colors: bugs, urine, manure. 

Bugs first. The cochineal insect. Lives on cacti in Mexico and South America. Ground up, its shell makes an incredible bright red color. Your lipstick, your makeup, your Caravaggio has cochineal dye in it.

The deep red color carmine is derived from an acid that cochineal insects produce to fend off predators.

Desiree Martin/AFP via Getty Images

According to Khandekar, “it was the second largest source of wealth (after silver) for the Spanish empire.” 

Urine from Indian cows (yes, you read it right) was pay dirt for painters like J.M.W. Turner, Thomas Gainsborough and Georges Seurat.

Harvard Art Museums/Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies

They and so many others used Indian Yellow — thanks to Asian cows that were only given mango leaves to eat. The color’s not made this way these days. Mercifully. 

Which brings us to manure. Again from cows. “They do pigments a great service, don’t they?” observes Khandekar. There wouldn’t be Lead White without them. Again, toxic. Again, used in cosmetics. Again, not made this way now. You’ll have to listen to this link on the Forbes’ new audio tour, to hear where the manure comes in. 

Look (as Joe Biden would say), we can’t just end with unpleasantries. So here’s a perfectly proper blue in a Botticelli from the Harvard Art Museums’ collection.

Botticelli’s The Virgin and Child (left) and Ultramarine #4 (Lapis Lazuli; Genuine) in the Forbes Pigment Collection.

Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum; Harvard Art Museums/Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies

That Ultramarine Blue was made with crushed lapis lazuli, probably mined in Afghanistan. Botticelli used it six centuries ago. Old, but not that ancient as pigments go. The cavemen used charcoal and ochre pigments. Which shows how important creating art has always been to who we are as humans.

“These guys were out there hunting, gathering, trying to stay alive,” Khandekar says. “And yet they still found time to make art.” 

  • As reported by NPR’s Susan Stamberg, October 29, 2020

Two dogs in situ

I always love it when I can see where my work lands, in this case

a smaller gliclee reproduced from the very large original oil painting

“Two Dogs”.

(29×72 inches if I recall correctly.)

Thanks for sharing, Deb! 🙂