Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cosmos II

Cosmos II, acrylic on canvas, 10x10" (25x25cm.) This is the second "Cosmos" from the series.

When I was studying art in Paris, there was a special Kandinsky exhibit at the Centre Pompidou. I spent hours studying Kandinsky. I bought the book: KANDINSKY, LE PEINTRE DE L'INVISIBLE (K., the painter of the invisible) by Olga Medvedkova. Some excerpts:
"The real object of art is the internal truth. Only the artist gifted with intuition is capable of seeing the Invisible. The artist is a prophet, a clairvoyant, a chamane, responsible of the relations of humanity with the kingdom of the spiritual."

Cuando yo estaba estudiando arte en Paris, hubo una exhibicion especial de Kandinsky en el Centro Pompidou. Me pase horas estudiando a Kandinsky. Compre el libro: KANDINSKY, EL PINTOR DE LO INVISIBLE, por Olga Medvedkova. Ella dice: "El verdadero objeto del arte es la verdad interior. Solo el/la artista dotado de intuicion es capaz de ver lo Invisible. El/la artista es un profeta, un clarividente, un chaman, responsable de las relaciones de la humanidad con el reino de lo espiritual."

Cosmos I

Cosmos I, acrylic on canvas, 10x10" (25x25 cm.) part of a series of four "Cosmos".

Today is Goya's birthday, March 30th. I tried to find a monster in my paintings to celebrate Goya, but I haven't made monsters yet. It must be a good sign. Goya started painting sweet children and portraits of real people, like majas and musicians, it wasn't until his later years that he did a series of war paintings, and near the end of his life, his monsters. For the best collection of Goya paintings, you must visit El Prado, in Madrid.

Hoy es el cumpleanos de Goya, 30 de marzo. Trate de encontrar un monstruo en mis pinturas para celebrar su cumpleanos, pero no he pintado monstruos todavia. Debe ser buena senal. Goya comenzo su carrera pintando dulces ninos y retratos de gente, como majas y musicos, no fue hasta mas tarde en su vida que hizo una serie de pinturas de guerra, y casi al final de su vida, sus monstruos. Para ver la mejor colecction de pinturas de Goya, debes visitar El Prado, en Madrid.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Meditation on the Dordogne

Meditation on the Dordogne, watercolor and pastel on paper, 7x9" (18x23 cm.) has been juried in at the San Diego Watercolor Society for their April exhibition. Come join us at the reception Friday, April 2nd, 5:00-8:00 pm.

ELIXIR DE LONGUE VIE, de Honore de Balzac. "La debauche et la religion s'accouplaient alors si bien, que la religion y etait une debauche et la debauche une religion." Balzac se refiere souvant a la peinture hollandaise, et a Rembrandt en particulier a cause de sa technique du clair-obscur. Balzac recherche l'oxymore, du paradoxe, suceptible de faire fusion les valeurs antithetiques dans un equilibre de contraires.

THE ELIXIR OF LONG LIFE, by Honore de Balzac. "Scandal and religion go so well together, that religion now is a scandal, and scandals are a religion." Balzac often refers to Dutch painting, and particularly to Rembrandt, due to his technic of chiaroscuro. Balzac was always searching for the oximoron, the paradox, susceptible of the fusion of antithetical values in a balance of contraries.

Health Care

Health Care, watercolor, 11x14" (28x35cm.) has been juried in at the San Diego Watercolor Society April 2010 exhibition: Come to the reception on Friday, April 2, 5:00-8:00 pm.

THE LOST PAINTING, by Jonathan Harr, 2005. J.Harr has taught non-fiction at Smith College and is the winner of several national awards. From the book: "The past held many secrets, and gave them up grudgindly. Sometimes, when you go looking for one thing, you find another. And every now and then, your reward for persisting is that the other is better." Great story about the finding of Caravaggio's "The Taking of Christ", in Ireland, after having been lost for over 200 years.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

La Danse des Toits

La Danse des Toits, oil, 18x22" (45x55cm.)

This is my view of the rooftoops in Cauterets, France. Cauterets is a small mountain town in the Pyrenees, crossed by a torrentous river, "gave de Cauterets". This river receives tributary streams, and it grows as it goes down, being much wider and slow moving when it reaches the town of Lourdes, 30 km. (20 miles) downhill. Lourdes, of course, is famous for its miracles.

Robert Henri said: "We are not here to do what has already been done".

Esta es mi vista de los techos de Cauterets, Francia. Cauterets is una pequena ciudad de los Pirineos franceses, cruzada por un rio torrentoso, el "gave de Cauterets". Este recibe arroyos tributarios a lo largo de su camino, creciendo y llegando a ser mucho mas ancho y lento cuando llega a la cuidad de Lourdes, 30km. (20 millas) mas abajo. Lourdes, por supuesto, es famosa por sus milagros.

Robert Henri dijo: "No estamos aqui para hacer lo que ya ha sido hecho."

Friday, March 26, 2010


Drummer, pastel, 20x16" (50x40 cm.) exhibited in France in 2008, now in Hollywood, California, home of D.J. DeLeon.

A few days ago I finished BASQUIAT, by Phoebe Hoban. When Jean-Michel Basquiat was writing "SAMO" all over New York, the idea was that everything is the same old thing, that society repeats itself, and that we're stuck in the same loop. At the same time that he had problems with his father, he realized that even though kids feel they don't want to repeat their parents' roles, in fact they actually go about things in the same old way. Basquiat's driving force, according to P.Hoban, was his love-hate relationship with his father. His word-play was appearing on the walls of N.Y. at the same time than Jenny Holzer's slogan filled plaques. Basquiat painted and drew constantly, and his most magical time was 1981. He died shortly after of a drug overdose. He was a marvelous artist.

La Bergere

La Bergere, pastel, 20x16" (50x40cm.) (La pastora, The shepherdess)
"La Bergere" is the nickname the locals have in the French Pyrenees for Jacqueline Peyrot. Jacqueline lives in Argeles-Gazost and has a bookstore/art gallery/conference room in Saint-Savin, France. On the event of her turning 80 years old this year, a book of poems and writings about the Pyrenees is being published this month, and my pastel painting:"La Bergere" has been selected for the cover: VOYAGE A SAINT-SAVIN. Jacqueline welcomes with a smile and a hug artists in search for inspiration, exhibition, friendship, love, acceptance, or lunch. She's a strong woman, she's a loving soul, she's the spirit of the Pyrenees.
"La Bergere" es el apodo que los habitantes de los Pirineos franceses usan para Jacqueline Peyrot. Jacqueline vive en Argeles-Gazost y tiene una libreria/galeria de arte/salon de conferencias en Saint-Savin, Francia. En celebracion de su cumpleanos de 80 anos, un libro de poemas y ensayos esta siendo publicado este mes en Francia, y han seleccionado mi pintura "La Bergere" para la cubierta del libro: VIAJE A SAINT-SAVIN.
Jacqueline recibe con una sonrisa y un abrazo a todos los artistas en busqueda de inspiracion, exibicion, amistad, amor, aceptacion, o almuerzo. Ella es una mujer muy fuerte, un alma caritativa y generosa, ella es el espiritu de los Pirineos.


Olubunmi , pastel, 30x20" (75x50 cm.) - That's her real name, she's from the African desert, married to a friend's nephew, in France. When I saw her picture, I gasped. I immediately needed to paint her.

Today's book: A PERFECT RED, Empire, Espionage and the Quest for the Color of Desire, by Amy Butler Greenfield. A wonderful story of the color red, its mystery, intrigue, the discovery of the cochineal insects feeding on the fruit of the nopal in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. For 400 centuries (1500 - 1900) cochineal red was the best red, "a perfect red", till the synthetic dyes of all colors were produced in large quantities. A fascinating story told with enthusiasm, passion and knowledge.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sandpiper Nostalgia

Sandpiper Nostalgia, watercolor, 14x22" (35x55 cm.)

The book I'm recommending today is Michel's Pastoureau's BLUE, HISTOIRE D'UNE COULEUR. "L'espectre et l'ordre spectral des couleurs sont inconnus avant le XVIIe siecle. L'histoire de bleu pose un probleme historique:"
1. Pour le people de l'antiquite bleu compte peu.
2. Pour les Romains elle est desagreable.
3. Pois Moyen Age montee progressive et valorisation considerable a partir XIIe siecle.
4. Triumphe de bleu `a l'epoque contemporaine.

The spectrum and its colors were unknown before the XVIIth C. The history of blue states a historical problem:
1. For the people of antiquity blue didn't count for much.
2. For the Romans it was a definitely ugly color.
3. After the Middle Ages it progressively acquires more value, particularly after the XIIth C.
4. The triumph of blue in our times.

That's a short summary of a very interesting book. Michel Pastereau is a French specialist in medieval history, professor at the Sorbonne. He has published widely, including works on the history of animals, symbols, and other colors. It is available in English, too: BLUE: THE HISTORY OF A COLOR (Princeton, 2001)


Solitude, watercolor, 2007

Today I'd like to recommend the book: Le Jardin, by Daniele Estebe-Hoursiangou. Daniele is a French writer/journalist. This book is very poetic and has a sense of longuing that seems appropriate for my painting "Solitude".

A quote from "Le Jardin": "Porquoi revenir quand il faut partir? pourrait-on dire, mais Lucie est tetue, decidee, digne de son projet. Femme forte enfin, elle sait qu'ell ne le sera pas longtemps... Elle revient: le village est son refuge." (Why return when it's necessary to leave? one could say, but Lucie is hard-headed, decided, and proud of her project. A strong woman, she knows she won't be for she returns: the town is her refuge.)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What's America?

What's America? watercolor on Yupo, 20x26" (50x65cm.) Winner: 1st Place Award, at San Clemente Art Gallery, 2008.

This painting is fitting for today's blog. Here I honored the poor immigrants coming to America hoping for a better future. As of today, the entire country has health care. As Jean Dubuffet said: "Art is a language, instrument of knowledge, instrument of communication." And also quoting Maya Angelou: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Happy March 21st, 2010, Americans!

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Sunset Tales, oil, 10x10 (25x25 cm.) WINNER! Today it won Honorable Mention at the North County Society of Fine Arts, Poway, California.

Today I'll highlight a book I read last year: "Degas by Himself", edited by Richard Kendall. Apparently, Degas loved to talk about art, but could not stand others talking about it. He had developed a violent dictate for art critics. He also had a great reputation as a wit and conversationalist, exchanging an interesting dialogue with Oscar Wilde. Degas once wrote: "How moving friendship is, in its mystery and diversity!"

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cabo Verde Woman

Cabo Verde Woman, watercolor, 7x5" (17x12 cm.)
Our cruise left the coast of Senegal for the islands of Cabo Verde, a few hundred miles away. These islands were owned by the Portuguese, several African languages are also spoken. People sell vegetables, fish, and other products sitting on the sidewalk. People were friendly, and Mindelo, the capital, was clean.
The other day I was reading "A Painterly Approach", by Mary Beth McKenzie. "Painterly" usually means "in a loose manner", but she means to approach painting in a broader, more abstract way, and dealing with the entire canvas. She suggests we make the form happen with color as opposed to line, whether we are working in oil, pastel, or watercolor. She also suggests that much can be learned by looking and studying paintings by masters we admire. But she also recommends that although we never stop learning, there is a point when formal study should end and we must explore our own thoughts, develop our own ideas and sense of style.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Free Lunch in Senegal

Free Lunch in Senegal, watercolor, 5x7" (12x17cm.)

Thinking about the poverty of Senegal, and how hard women work to make ends meet, reminded me of an extraordinary woman's story, Rita Golden Gelman, who wrote: Tales of a Female Nomad, Living at Large in the World. This is a true story, Rita says: "There has to be more than one way to do life". She was living as a Hollywood socialite, then she proceeded to totally change the way she lived, disposing of most of her things and travelling around the world with very little money. She lived with families, exchanging work for food, she trusted her instincts and trusted people. "I'm becoming the person inside me." "All I have to go on is trust." "Connection requires participation." These are some of her phrases. She's living an extraordinary life. I'm trying to do the same.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Senegalese Workers

When we took the cruise in November-December 2009, we stopped in Dakar, Senegal. The poverty of the city struck me. Dakar is the most westernly point in Africa. The most important ethnic groups are the Wolof, the Fulani, and the Seret peoples, who account for about 70% of today's population. I took many pictures, and painted some. Here it is from my journal: Senegalese Workers, watercolor, 4x6" (10x15cm.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Old Town Cantina

Old Town Cantina, oil, 10x10" (25x25 cm.)

I recently read David Pyle's What Every Artist Needs to Know About Paints and Colors. He quotes Josef Albers, who using music as a metaphor for the visual arts, said: "Music depends on the recognition of the in-between of the tones, of their placing and their spacing." I think this principle is true in any discipline: music, visual arts, language and literature. The most important element is not the things themselves (words, colors, sounds) but their relationships. Even in life....the most important element is the relationships we have.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Smooth Sailing (Navegando Suavemente )

Here in San Diego, California, we are blessed with good weather most of the year. So you can go to the beach, or sailing, almost any time. One afternoon I went sketching to Mission Bay, then came home and painted a few oils from my sketches. This is one of them: Smooth Sailing, oil on canvas, 10x10" (25x25cm.)

Aqui en San Diego, California, estamos benditos con buen tiempo casi todo el ano. Asi que uno puede ir a la playa, o navegar en velero casi en cualquier momento. Una tarde me fui a dibujar a Mission Bay, luego vine a casa y pinte algunos oleos de mis bosquejos. Este es uno de ellos: Smooth Sailing (Navegando Suavemente), 10x10" (25x25 cm.)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Barefoot and Painting in the Kitchen

I decided to do a quick self-portrait the other day, just as I was working in the kitchen, so here it is: Barefoot and Painting in the Kitchen, pastel on Canson paper, 25x19" (63x49cm) . I started with pastel pencils, CarbOthello. I learned to paint with them last year, when I took portrait in pastels classes at the Societe de Pastellistes de France, in Paris. I finished the final touches of this painting with Smincke pastel sticks for brightness. It was fun to do.

Berber Nomad

Berber is one of the ethnic groups in Morocco and Tunisia. Berber Nomad, watercolor, 6x4" (15x10cm.) was done from pictures taken in Tunis, Tunisia. There had been three camels with their owners waiting for the ship at the port. Some people had their picture taken with the camels.

It was as surprising to see a camel rider with a cellular phone as it had been to see a gondolier in Venice using a cellular phone. Somehow we like to think we are the only ones who "progress".

Tea in Casablanca

We went into this lovely garden restaurant in Casablanca. There were water fountains, trellisses with flowering ivy, and a staff of smiling young men and women. We had been warned at the cruise lectures to be careful what we ate or drank when we were on port, since all countries don't have the same degree of cleanliness that they have on the ship. So we asked for tea. Our server brought the teapot with hot water and poured it from close lifting the teapot all the way above his head while continuing to pour the hot water. It was a great show. We took pictures while he was pouring, and I painted this later aboard the ship, from the pictures I had taken.

Tea in Casablanca, watercolor, 6x4"(15x10cm.)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Faces of Morocco

Morocco has approximately the same size and number of inhabitants as California. Arabic is the official language, although French and Berber are also spoken. The capital is Rabat, but we visited Casablanca... ah.... Casablanca. It is the best known city thanks to stories of intrigue and the movies. The famous Casablanca of Bogart and Bacall was NOT filmed here.

We spent an entire day walking in Casablanca, the most recent landmark is the stunning, high-tech King Hassan Mosque, opened in 1993. It is the second largest mosque in the world, and the most modern, with a retractable roof, the world tallest minaret, and a laser beam pointing the way to Mecca.

In Morocco, some women cover themselves fully, from head to toe, some women dress in jeans and in a totally occidental style, but the majority at least cover their heads and/or faces with a scarf. Stores sell a wide variety and quantity of scarves, there seems to be one for every occassion. This is a watercolor from my journal, Faces of Morocco, 6x4" (15x10 cm.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Royal Princess Library

The Royal Princess library was cozy, had comfortable chairs, a great view of the pool and the ocean, and a very good selection of books, considering it was a floating library! I've spent some time there almost daily, so I had to paint it, too. Here it is: Royal Princess Library, watercolor, 4x6" (10x15 cm.)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Eyes and Eggs

Continuing with my journal/sketchbook of last November's cruise, this is Srijith, who made omelets every morning, always with a smile. I'm calling this painting "Eyes and Eggs", borrowing a title from Jean Michel Basquiat. (watercolor, 6x4", 15x10cm)

Sketchbooks/journals are a very personal form of artistic expression. Pablo Picasso said: "Je suis le cahier", I am the sketchbook. An artist's sketchbook is a record of her life, not usually intended for public display. For some artists, art and life cannot be separated. Some artists who kept sketchbooks are: Elizabeth Vigee Le Brun, Sara Rosenbluth, Susan Abbott, Renee Stout, William Turner, Eugene Delacroix, to name only a few. And me, of course!

Laurel in Paris

Laurel Milne just turned 13 last Saturday, March 6. She's a good student, plans to be a medical doctor, and dreams about visiting Paris. Laurel has been diagnosed with Glioblastoma, the most aggresive type of brain cancer. We are organizing a concert and art auction on April 18th at Tango del Rey, in San Diego. To read more about Laurel, visit Please come to the event, it will be fun, a celebration of her courage, and a fund raiser to help Laurel.

Laurel Milne acaba de cumplir 13 anos el sabado pasado, 6 de marzo. Laurel es buena alumna, piensa ser medica, y suena con visitar Paris algun dia. Ella ha sido diagnosticada con Glioblastoma, el cancer de cerebro mas agresivo. Estamos organizando un concierto y subasta de arte el 18 de abril en Tango del Rey, San Diego. Para leer mas sobre Laurel, visite Por favor, vengan al evento, sera divertido, una celebracion de su valor, y contribucion al fondo para ayudar a Laurel.

Laurel in Paris, watercolor and pastel, 14x11" (35x27cm.) In the home of Laurel Milne, San Diego, California.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

MontRoyal, Palermo, Sicilia

The four of us waited for a bus to take us to the hilltop called MontRoyal. A few people were waiting, too. When the bus arrived, suddenly there were lots more people surrounding us. I got up in the front of the bus, and Nick was following me. As I walked into the bus I hear Nick screaming and I see him grabbing a man's hand. Nick was yelling "This is my money, you're a thief!" to a nice, well dressed older gentleman. Nick was shaking in anger as he was taking money away from the man's hand. The man quietly got off the bus. Nick told us he had felt the man's hand into his pocket, so he took away the bills the man was holding. When we arrived to MontRoyal, and got off the bus, Nick counted his money to see how much was missing. Surprise! He had a few Euros more than before, apparently when he recuperated his money from the thief, he had taken more than his own money. Enough for a beer for all of us! MontRoyal, watercolor, 4x6"(10x15cm)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cathedral in Palermo

The second stop in our cruise was Palermo, Sicilia. We took a tourist bus tour of the city, where this beautiful Sicilian girl was explaining in an English with a heavy Italian accent, the history of her town. My friend Regina and I paid attention to the explanations, but I'm not sure that my husband and my friend Nick were listening much. I think they were quite distracted by the girl's dress. It was so small, that two big parts of her body were coming out at you. Anyway, one of our stops was the famous Cathedral of Palermo, built over several hundred years in totally different architectural styles, depending who was in power at the moment. Again, this is a small watercolor from my journal: Cathedral, Palermo. 4x6" (10x15cm)

Friday, March 5, 2010


First cruise stop: Napoli (Naples). We were two couples walking the streets of Napoli, without much idea of where we were going, sometimes we looked at the map, and sometimes we just let our instincts, or the smell of food, or a bar with beer, or a beautiful church, guide us. The discoveries were very exciting! The streets were crowded, noisy, and dirty, but everybody seemed happy. The churches and statues were really lovely. This small painting from my journal, shows a courtyard that caught my eye, with the statue of a reclining man, resting in front of apartment buildings with balconies full of flowers. Napoli Statue, watercolor, 4x6" (10x16cm.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010


After two weeks in Rome visiting museums, art galleries, and painting everywhere, at the Vatican, the Borghese gallery, the Campidoglio, the Spanish Steps, even in bookstores and waiting for the bus, I left Rome on a cruise ship. On the right is a small watercolor from my journal of the Princess Cruise ship we took in Rome in November 2009. On the left is another watercolor from my journal, with the itinerary we did starting in Rome, then Naples, Palermo in Sicily. We crossed the Mediterranean to Tunis, Tunisia, then along the African coast through the Straight of Gibraltar, down the Atlantic to Casablanca, Morocco, then Dakar, Senegal, and the Islands of Cabo Verde. Five days at sea crossing the Atlantic, and we reached Brazil. The ship entered the Amazon, going up into the river for about 1000 miles (1500 km.) to the city of Manaus. In the next blogs I will share some of my watercolors from my journal of this exciting three week cruise.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

La Bergere

"La Bergere", (the shepperdess), is the nickname used for Jacqueline in the French Pyrenees. She's always helping others, connecting people together, communicating with everybody. She owns a small gallery/bookstore/gift shop in Saint Savin, next to the church, where she holds conferences, art shows, book and poetry readings, inviting new and old alike. She greets everybody with a hug and a smile. I met her in 2007, when I barely spoke French, but we managed to communicate. She saw a few of my paintings and offered me to have a solo show in her gallery. That was my first exhibition in France.

I did this pastel portrait of her, from the back, with her typical "chignon", looking toward the ancient church of Saint Savin, as a present for her in 2007. Jacqueline will be 80 years old in a few days; they are doing a book about the Pyrenees celebrating her birthday, and this painting has been selected to be on the cover. La Bergere, pastel, 20x16" (50x40 cm.) She's bringing people together again.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Raphael's La Fornarina

Rome, November 2009. At Palazzo Barberni, you can see the original La Fornarina, (baker's daughter), oil, by Raphael. I did this small watercolor "Raphael's La Fornarina", (6x4", 15x10cm.) in my travelling journal, right there in front of the original painting. I wonder if her father, the baker, knew what she and Raphael were up to, in 1518. She's very expressive, and sexually inviting. This image has inspired many artists, including Goya and Ingres, who even imitated the style of her headgear. Like an odalisque, the artist's mistress is wearing a bracelet on her upper arm, inscribed with his name: "Raphael Urbinas".

Monday, March 1, 2010

Falling Stones

Falling Stones has just won the Juror's Commendation Award at the San Diego Watercolor Society. It is an acrylic painting, 24x19" (60x48cm). I started with an abstract background, inspired by a recent, quite painful, kidney stone episode. Then I painted a partial self-portrait.

Like Georgia O'Keefe said: "It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest." The transformation of silence and pain into language, action and color.