Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Ascension

A musician colleague in my orchestra invited me to participate in a wonderful event this week: a multi-sensory meditation on the Holy Rosary featuring artwork by fifteen local artists and a performance of Heinrich I.F. Biber's complete Mystery Sonatas for scordatura violin, harpsichord and cello. Each artist was invited to choose a movement for inspiration. Each piece of artwork was then illuminated while that movement was beautifully performed by the trio at the evocative Marigny Opera House here in New Orleans.
I chose movement 12 of the Mystery Sonatas: The Ascension. [For additional inspiration, I used the music of Edward Elgar's The Apostles. Part 7 is titled The Ascension.]
The Ascension, 48"x48", acrylic on canvas, gold leaf and mixed media
I began with a brilliant, red/orange/violet underpainting and covered the 48" canvas with 5" patent gold leaf squares. After preparing the gold leaf, what followed were many, many layers of glazes in acrylic paint. molding paste, handmade papers and texturing techniques. The libretto for The Ascension is Christ's final words to the disciples. These are captured in calligraphy in the beams surrounding the imagery of the Holy Spirit, found at the top center of the painting. The additional calligraphy at the center, Alleluia, is the refrain sung throughout the movement and is done in gold leaf.
I hope you enjoy seeing these photos of my process...
The underpainting in acrylic

Ready to begin painting after applying the gold leaf

Layering begins

Adding the music and handmade papers

Glazing the canvas

Beginning to add color layers

More details

Adding handmade papers in layers for additional texture...

Work on definition

Adding gold leaf to Alleluia

The Ascension - FINAL piece with calligraphy

Friday, August 28, 2015

Grief: A Tribute to New Orleans

Grief: A Tribute to New Orleans, watercolor, 30x22"

The Sentinel

The Sentinel, watercolor, 17x13"
I painted this watercolor in the months following the devastation of the storm in New Orleans, ten years ago today. This is a scene from one of the many hundreds of thousands of homes that were destroyed by the federal levee failures in the city. Amidst the rubble, there were often many such "Sentinels" placed in front of people's houses...a teddy bear, a doll, a family photo, a religious statue, a sign...keeping guard over the remains of a family's destroyed properties and lives. Painted in tribute to my city of New Orleans.

Monday, April 13, 2015


Resurrection, 36x48", watercolor and sepia ink
This live oak tree is right down the street from my house here in New Orleans. It is a massive tree and has an enormous growth of ferns in the middle of its limbs - known as Resurrection Ferns. This epiphyte attaches to deep cracks of the tree's bark where a firm hold is easily obtained and moisture is readily available during rainy spells. The most dramatic quality of a Resurrection Fern is its ability to dry down to a gray, brown, gnarled crispy appearance during hot weather. This defense against heat and drought is actually a means of survival. However, within hours of a rainfall, the Resurrection Fern springs back to life with its green color and beautiful foliage: truly a remarkable thing to see...and paint!

To The Beach

To The Beach, 17x13", watercolor
This watercolor is of my friend Karen on a trip we made to Seaside, Florida. She's gazing out to the water while waiting for me to walk with her down to the beach. When I looked down the sandy path where she was standing, I loved how the light was framing her. Fun to paint all the various greens, cool and warm shadows and dark and light values.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

While The Morning Stars Sang

While The Morning Stars Sang, gouache and watercolor


Oak, 2x2", gouache and gold leaf
Sic Parvis Magna, 3x5", gouache and gold leaf
Here are my tiny illuminations for the 2014 New Orleans Academy of Fine Art's Annual Miniature Show. Done with gouache and gold leaf and a very, very tiny brush!

130th Veiled Prophet Ball Invitation

I was honored to be asked to design the invitation for the 130th Veiled Prophet Ball, an historic civic organization in St. Louis. In addition, this year's Ball coincides with the 250th anniversary of the founding of St. Louis. I decided to use the history of the city as my inspiration. All the different panels tell a story...
130th Veiled Prophet Ball Invitation - INSIDE
130th Veiled Prophet Ball Invitation - OUTSIDE

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Harp Carnivale!

Logo for the 41st national conference of the American Harp Society
The harpists are coming to town! When a dear friend, harpist Cathy Anderson, asked me to design a logo for the upcoming national conference she was organizing and hosting here in New Orleans, I couldn't resist! Putting a Mardi Gras twist on the visuals for the American Harp Society was great fun to do....fleur de lis embedded in the masked and feathered harp column, and beading in the spot where strings should be! During Mardi Gras parades, we bead trees along the parade route - why not a harp, too?! Next week starts all the festivities. I'm looking forward to playing flute in the orchestra for concerto night...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Glass Marbles & Jacks

Glass Marbles & Jacks, 12x17", graphite on paper

Another of mine from the drawing invitational. It features two marbles from a big and always growing array of glass marbles I collect during my travels. Jacks are great to draw because of their bold values. For my still life setup I tried using a piece of mirror for the reflections but it was too stark. I used glossy photo paper instead - that captured just the right amount of reflection, which were drawn in with a very well used paper stump.

Strike Up The Band

Strike Up The Band, 12x17", graphite on paper
This drawing is part of a group invitational exhibition currently showing at the Garden District Gallery in New Orleans: "DRAWN - Exploring The Line". My timpanist husband has a large collection of these windup or battery-operated drummers, assembled over many years. I chose four of my favorites and decided to make a little still life. What I didn't count on were all the ellipsis I had to draw! Yikes!

Monday, January 6, 2014


This is a watercolor, pen and ink drawing (with highlights of metallic foils) of a huge live oak tree root system, found in Audubon Park here in New Orleans. This tree, estimated to be over 500 years old, is named the Etienne de Boré Live Oak and has a circumference of 35 feet and a crown of limbs more than 160 feet wide. Monsieur Boré was a local eighteenth century French planter, credited with discovering the process of granulating sugar. (And was the first mayor of New Orleans in 1803!)
I have drawn the entire tree several times but never done just the root system itself. Here's my fantasy interpretation. This piece is part of a group invitational show opening this weekend at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art.


Trunks, 22"x15", graphite on paper
I have always imagined that our live oak trees here in New Orleans look like huge elephants, with their twisted trunks and weathered, patterned bark. This drawing captures my fantasy - an elephant sniffing out one of the huge trees, asking: "Are you one of us?!" I visited City Park, where many of the trees are over 600 years old, and searched for the tree that had "elephant legs" and the Audubon Zoo to find a willing model. I love the way the elephant's trunk seems to be looking shyly but inquiringly at the tree. This drawing is a part of an invitational show at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art, opening this weekend.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Live Oak

Live Oak, 5x7", watercolor, pen & ink
This small watercolor is a part of our new show at the Garden District Gallery, "The Calligraphy of Trees". Live oak trees in south Louisiana are truly marvels of nature. I so enjoy drawing them -  following the calligraphic routes of their trunks and branches. This study is of a live oak found in City Park, home to many oaks that are over 600 years old. Quite a humbling experience to stand in their midst.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Insect Music Miniatures

Insect Music I: Madame Butterfly, 4"x4", oil on copper (music by Giacomo Puccini)

Insect Music II: Flight of the Bumblebee, 4"x4", oil on copper (music by Rimsky-Korsakov)

Insect Music III: Papillons, 4"x4", oil on copper (music by Robert Schumann)

Insect Music IV: El Grillo, 4"x4", oil on copper (music by Josquin de Prez)
These painting are part of the current Miniature Show at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art (through December 6). Each of my four miniatures for this show were painted on 4" square pieces of copper. It was a fascinating process, taking several months of planning and preparation. The copper was initially "cured" with garlic juice, then sanded, cleaned and glued to hardboard. Then followed many glazes of oil for a shimmering background for the music. Copying the music from the scores took another week, followed by days and days of more glazing and drying - then the fun part: finally getting to paint all the insects!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Annie's Cello

Getting ready for the start of orchestra season....and missing my friend Annie. She and I have performed together in our orchestra here in New Orleans for over thirty years and this season, she has retired. This oil painting of her cello was given to her in remembrance of our many wonderful concerts together!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Chambord, 30x22", watercolor
This watercolor is part of a new exhibition at the Garden District Gallery - New Orleans Spirits: Iconic Bars and Libations. I chose to illustrate a libation. The elements of my still life were borrowed from friends - the beautiful bottles of cordials and the tiny crystal glasses - which made it all the more fun to paint. The stone pedestal is mine. The amber colors were captivating to capture - but, all that label lettering, not so much!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Front Page: Fire, Earth, Air and Water

The Front Page: Fire, Earth, Air and Water, oil on canvas with mixed media, 12x36"
This painting is part of a group invitational now showing at the Garden District Gallery in New Orleans, An Iconic Presence: The Times-Picayune. I wanted to come up with a way to focus on the front page and decided the elements to be a perfect metaphor. Fire:explosions; Earth:levees; Air: polution; and Water:flooding - all nearly daily components of our local front page. 
This group exhibition explores the myriad ways our local newspaper, which recently went to a three-day a week publication schedule, has been an integral part of our daily lives and is a tribute to the talented men and women who have contributed their extraordinary skills and dedication to a daily newspaper that was without peer in the southern United States. The exhibit features photography, paintings in oil, watercolor and mixed media. To see more images from the show, you can visit

Friday, October 5, 2012

Professor Neil Iris

Commission for Longue Vue House and Gardens in New Orleans, in honor of Dr. Neil Odenwald.
This week I completed this watercolor painting of the Professor Neil Iris, a beautiful bi-colored iris named in honor of Dr. Neil Odenwald in 2000. It was done as a commission for the venerable Longue Vue House and Gardens in New Orleans, on the occasion of Dr. Odenwald receiving the Edith Stern Legacy Award, celebrating his contributions to the horticultural arts. The hand-lettered calligraphy was also done in watercolor.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Bearnaise Sauce

Bearnaise Sauce, 15x30", oil on canvas

A part of the Summer Showcase at the Garden District Gallery here in New Orleans, Bearnaise Sauce is an homage to all my great foodie friends. So many wonderful cooks. I find the scene on their kitchen counters quite compelling - all the meal's ingredients sitting out, waiting for their director. But eating the meals is the best part!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

In Vino Veritas

In Vino Veritas, watercolor, 20x14"
In Vino Veritas (In Wine There is Truth) is a watercolor painting for a group show at New Orleans GlassWorks. Peinture et Verre opens this Saturday, August 4th. It's a show that pairs painters with glass artists. We were invited to choose from a huge array of GlassWork's vessels and sculptures to use in our still life paintings. For the show, the actual glass pieces will be on display in front of our paintings. The pieces I chose were challenging but interesting and great fun to paint. The grapes? I added those - the artist gets hungry after all that work...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Life In Music

Wally Kujala, A Life in Music, watercolor, 22x30"

This is a commissioned portrait of the wonderful musician Walfrid Kujala, longtime flutist and solo piccoloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It was commissioned from the music faculty of Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music in Chicago. I surrounded Wally with many meaningful things from his life (a portrait of him as a boy with his bassoonist Dad, his beloved cat Arvo, a specially designed crossword puzzle, etc.) and fifty years! of teaching at the University...the multitude of etude books he has written and published, his longtime studio - room 258, music of Vivaldi and Shostakovich...a joyful tribute to a master teacher and performer.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Madewood Plantation Swing

This is my latest project - just completed for a group invitational show at the Garden District Gallery, "In the Garden". This piece, entitled "Madewood Plantation Swing", is a large graphite, ink and colored pencil drawing, 30" x 22". I first saw this wonderful live oak and its swing when I was at the beautiful Madewood Plantation playing a concert. Wandering the grounds at intermission, I stumbled on this haunting scene. Couldn't wait to draw it!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Marble Shake

This oil painting - 12" x 12", Marble Shake, oil on canvas - is part of a March group show at the Garden District Gallery in New Orleans. The old-fashioned sundae glass was given to me by the owner of Creole Creamery, our favorite ice cream parlor in New Orleans. I have a collection of glass marbles and love painting them. It's a perfect melding of two passions - painting glass and eating ice cream! For information on purchasing this painting, contact the gallery at

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2012 Rex Ball Invitation

Mardi Gras in New Orleans - not only is it a great party for hundreds of thousands of folks but it also provides wonderful opportunities throughout the year for innumerable local artists. For example, designing, painting and building all those parade floats, creating amazing costumes for Mardi Gras Day and the formal gowns worn at the many balls that occur throughout the weeks of festivities. For me, as a calligrapher I spend weeks creating "royal scrolls" honoring kings, queens, maids, debutantes, dukes and pages; and as a painter, creating the ball invitations. These take many months of painstaking research before beginning the drawing process. Then begin the months of actual painting, all done in gouache. This is the ball invitation I created for this year's Rex Ball, the theme: The Lore of the Ancient Americas. All the panels fold in and out to create a compelling journey through iconic scenes of ancient North and South America. Hope you enjoy seeing it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Christmas Commission - or, why my daily paintings have been on hold!

Back in September, I was given a wonderful commission - To create sixteen banners illustrating the story of Christmas to hang in the sanctuary of one of the most beautiful churches in uptown New Orleans, St. Charles Presbyterian Church. I began sketching and photographing inspirational elements of this beautiful building and finally began painting in earnest by the end of September. The paintings shown below are two-sided 8 foot banners - the painting faces the congregation and the illumination side (featuring the title of an appropriately titled Carol) toward the pulpit. The banners were hung in the sanctuary by Thanksgiving weekend! I've included captions to share the meaning and inspiration behind each banner.
The Prophecy of Isaiah is represented by the Tree of Jesse and the wolf lying down wth the lamb. Many images from the sanctuary inspired the illumination, including the stained glass window from the narthex, the quatrefoil found beneath the baptismal font in front of the altar and the carved acorn branch arched above the side entrance of the church.

 The Angel Gabriel appearing to Mary was inspired by the colors of the sanctuary: deep blues, russets and golds, along with the luminous stained glass windows teaming with understated elegance and beauty.....

The stained-glass window in the sanctuary’s narthex is found in this illumination. The window is lined with acanthus leaves, found frequently in the borders of ornamented initial letters of Medieval illuminated manuscripts. The sacred geometry of the window’s patterns speak to the eternal cycle of life. The inspiration for this scene was taken from a Raphael drawing of an angel I saw in the New York's Morgan Library.
The color and shapes of the leaded glass window at the State Street side entrance of the church became a perfect frame for the journey of Mary and Joseph. The textures provided contrasts: for the earth tones & the isolation of their journey.

Another State Street side entrance window is the background for this illumination. The patterns and symmetry of the shapes represent the Holy Trinity and eternal life.
The background texture of this illumination is inspired by the shimmering limestone of the sanctuary. The vesicas piscis of the painting’s frame symbolizes the sacred life that is being born in Bethlehem.
The inspiration for this illumination was taken from the shapes found in the front of the pulpit. A third truncated quatrefoil was added to represent the three Wise Men. The coloring in the background is inspired by the beautiful tile flooring of the sanctuary.
Using the tenants of sacred geometry, Silent Night features as its border the vesica piscis, a shape that is the intersection of two circles, intersecting in such a way that it is the circumference of the other.  This shape is one of the most profound religious and geometric symbols and is found throughout the history of art, architecture and this sanctuary.