Apples and oranges

French collection (10)

I am obviously going through a French period in my work, so I took advantage of a free guided tour of DC’s National Gallery’s newly opened French collection of 18th and 19th century masterpieces.

This is such a fascinating period of French history, so much turmoil and change occurred in those two hundred years. What is so clearly evident when you learn more about the background of any work of art, is to what extent the art produced was influenced by personal, social, political and global events.

The docent chose to begin with Chardin’s still life (above), and ended with a still life by Cezanne (below) completed over a hundred years after Chardin’s.

French collection (17)

Chardin had to contend with the most restrictive artistic parameters, largely dictated by the French Academy of Fine Arts which held a yearly Salon of what it deemed respectable, acceptable art worthy of being exhibited. Not only was the genre of still life considered to be at the bottom of the hierarchy of appreciated art, but a painter even had to conform with the style in which paint was applied.

By the time Cezanne came along, artists were going their own individual ways, though I found out on the tour that Cezanne actually submitted a painting a year for 40 years to the famed Paris Salon and was rejected each and every time!! Talk about persistence – I have to remember that next time I get rejected from a show!

French collection (16)

I personally adore the still life paintings of Cezanne (another example from the National Gallery’s collection above).  I could look at these gorgeous apples, plums and peaches all day long. A critic at the time was quoted as remarking that “Cezanne painted apples as others painted kings“. What a beautiful quote, and what a leap the lowly still life has made. Comparing my work with an icon like Cezanne is like comparing apples and oranges (couldn’t resist that one)….but I thought I would throw in this mixed media piece (painting and collage) I did about fifteen years ago, and a detail of a cherry painting :

Telephone still life (1) - Copy

cherries, detail

It’s a______(girl/boy/gallery opening)!!!!


After last Saturday’s opening of my new exhibition Summer in Paris, it struck me that giving birth and having an opening reception for a solo show have a lot in common. There’s at least a 9-month gestation period (in this case, make that 18 months), there is an enormous amount of mental and physical anguish, and when the opening night finally arrives, you are surrounded by well-wishers congratulating you and gawking at what you managed to produce, exposed to public scrutiny for the first time. Downright nerve racking!


All in all, mother and baby are doing well, thanks for asking. The evening went splendidly, with a nice turnout, some sales, and I gave a successful talk about Paris and portraiture to over 100 people. If you were able to join me, thank you, and if you were not able to make it, see you in the delivery room next time round 🙂

Seated audience waiting for my artist's talk
Seated audience waiting for my artist’s talk
Beret-clad staff member at Goodwin House serving French delicacies
Beret-clad staff member at Goodwin House serving French delicacies
Decisions, decisions
Decisions, decisions


Artist (left) and gallery director Lynda Smith-Bugge at Crossroads Gallery
Artist (left) and gallery director Lynda Smith-Bugge at Crossroads Gallery

Photos courtesy of Alan Merbaum.


More exciting news hot off the press today: I have been interviewed by the charming Francophile online magazine A Woman’s Paris.

Where’s the boob?

Where's the boob

The boob will steal the show every time, guaranteed. Yesterday, I hung my show ‘Summer in Paris’ – some 30 Parisian portrait paintings at Crossroads Gallery in Goodwin House, Falls Church, VA. The series represents over a year’s concentrated work painting the people I came across in my extended stays in Paris over the last few years. One – and only one – of the contemporary portraits is partially unclothed. Yet, for the residents of Goodwin House, the buzz was all about “The Boob”!!!! Faces are fascinating, but they just can’t compete with a naked breast!

Summer in Paris at Crossroads Gallery
Summer in Paris at Crossroads Gallery

The gallery is a real find – tucked away in a very art-minded, well-appointed elderly community development called Goodwin House. The gallery space is open, well-trafficked and the staff could not have been more accommodating. Opening reception will feature French sweets and wine served by beret-clad staff, and a wandering accordionist playing French music. You have to come see it for yourselves: July 13th, 2013 at 6:45 pm!


You can watch a short video (

about the inspiration for the show or read more details in the press release here.