washington DC art museum musings

When you only have an afternoon to fit in as many museums as you can in Washington DC,  it helps to stay in a hotel near the White House and have great walking shoes.  Even with the appropriate shoes,  a five mile walk  – a distance carefully calculated only after the fact (thank goodness)  –  was a challenge on cement.  Here’s what we were able to fit in:

Lunch at the Pavilion Café, National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden   A delightful glass enclosed art nouveau building on the National Mall.  Well worth a return visit during warmer months where sitting in the grass among  Oldenburg’s Typewriter Eraser,  Lichtenstein’s House,  and listening to a jazz concert would delight anyone.  This time of year,  a view of an active ice skating rink opposite the restaurant provided great dining entertainment.

The Hirshhorn Museum  Gravity’s Edge,  artworks from 1959-1978  showing shifts in color and abstraction.  Some of my favorite images were Lynda Benglis’ corner piece and some of Paul Jenkins’ transparency work.

The National Portrait Gallery  A real gem of a museum.   Dancing the Dream,  images of American choreographers and performers from Ginger Rogers to Beyonce was mesmerizing.  The Kogod Courtyard was a breathtaking light-filled space with an elegant glass canopy.   All I needed was more time to soak it all in.   Much more to see in this most amazing museum.   And free to the public as are all the Smithsonian museums.  (Yay!)

Le Pain Quotidien  An indirect art-related find was this charming restaurant.   Fresh,  seasonal,  organic food to nourish and restore our bodies.     So said their postcard,  and they really lived up to it.  Their breakfast was a fabulous start to the day.  How soon can we get one in Boston…?!

anatomy of a koi painting commission

It’s always a joy to work with a new client who has specific ideas about what they envision in a future painting  adorning their wall.  In this particular instance, it was the last piece of an elaborate puzzle in a complete renovation of a most charming beach home on Boston’s North Shore.  As a focal point in the living room/dining room area,  the painting would live right smack in the heart of the house.

Together we all arrived at a size  –  30×30 inches –  that would work best in the space.   A careful look at many details in my koi painting portfolio then led us to include a combination of  the following key elements:  craggy rock edge,  waterfall, background water lilies,  3-5 koi fish teeming in water.


It was a fun challenge to fit everything in.  I began with a simple sketch.  Once approved,  I had the green light to proceed with painting it.  I’m happy to say it was just completed on Friday.  All of us who have seen it – including me – are delighted with the results.


nourishing your art spirit

We’re all natural artists. That is, until some sort of authority, most likely an adult, tells us that we can’t draw, or we can’t paint — because we have no talent. That’s when we stop trusting our intuition and become influenced by outside sources. I think this drives many a natural artist underground. So far underground, that whatever creative spark was there becomes extinguished forever.

I’d like to share an amusing story about me. Freshman year in college,   I entered a beginning drawing class with great enthusiasm. After all, I was an art major. (It’s important to mention that this course was taught by my advisor because it made what happened all the more compelling.) We students had gone outside to draw for the majority of our 3 hour class. Near the end of the period,  we returned to mount all of our work on the wall for a critique. My advisor,  the professor, talked about everyone else’s work but mine. I was crestfallen. And too shy at that point to say anything about it.  So, the next time we went outside to draw, I decided to go to the cafeteria for lunch instead… Why bother?

Now comes the amusing part. I was uncomfortable with the drawing materials at first. It took awhile for me to regain my motivation, my passion and to develop facility with line. I then took advanced drawing,  followed by an independent study in drawing which I adored. After graduation,  while in graduate school, that same professor invited me back to his class as a guest speaker. How about that?   Finally he noticed me!

Take your natural talent and feed it.  Wonderful things can happen.