Friday, January 29, 2010


oil pastel and colored pencils, 7 x 5 inches on canvas

There were two bangle bracelets in the grate. One had the similar etched detail found on many of the jewelry pieces. The other was plain. They had to be cut up to fit into the holes of the grate. Who methodically took these objects and stuffed them in? Why did they want to hide them, what significance did they have, what did they cover up? Every time I work on these images, I am thinking these thoughts and imagining the answers.

This is the last of the objects in the oil pastel and pencil series called Domino Mysteries. My next step is to outline the history with Peggy Coulombe so we can begin the story writing.

I have been reading call for entries descriptions and starting to plan on sending the series for review in a show as well. I am also interested in converting them into an artist's book with Mary and with Peggy a published short story. It seems this is just the beginning. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


someone got up and offered jim a seat on the bus
oil on canvas, 6 x 6 inches

Does the name of a painting make a difference in its marketability and sales? Does it affect the buyer, does it create a story? These are some questions I ask myself as I think about putting work on display. Today I renamed all the pieces in my portraits of ageism collection. In thinking about the new labels, I wanted to create a bit of interest in the story behind the person. Originally they just had the person's real name, but now I think they convey a sense of continuity with the movie, CUT BACK: facing ageism.

I have been trying to show this body of work but I think I have to really find the right niche market for them. Would a community college show them as part of an awareness campaign? Would an assisted living facility be interested? Would corporations, or ageism advocates find them appropriate for display?

the world isn't ready for tina
oil on canvas, 6 x 6 inches

Above are some samples of the new titles. But I just can't help wondering if Juliet was right.

Monday, January 25, 2010


oil pastel and colored pencils, 4 x 4 inches on canvas

A handful of straight pins were among the found objects hidden in the heating grate. They had a bit of corrosion and some green tint, as if they were made of copper. Being so thin I was worried that the variation of color would be difficult to convey, but by dipping the tips of the colored pencils in turpentine, the hard edge softened enough to apply color in small detail.

There is only one "painting" left to do. See all of the images so far on flickr.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


oil pastel and colored pencils, 6 x 6 inches on canvas

Could this be a vital piece of the puzzle? When your friend calls you up one day to tell you she has uncovered hidden objects that are over 100 years old in an antique grate she had sitting in her yard for over 30 years, that in itself is amazing. But as Mary recounts the pieces she uncovered she saves the best and most mysterious for last, "and then a bottle of chloroform and a piece of fabric, stained in red, old and tattered."

This is the piece of fabric. It looks like it could have been from a man's shirt by the little bits of stitching that are apparent, but why is it in the grate with a bottle of chloroform? Could it have been used as an applicator for the potent drops?

The series is almost complete, view the painted items here and the original images here and let me know if you have any feeling about the domino mysteries.


oil pastel and colored pencils, 4 x 4 inches on canvas

Some ordinary household items were also found in the grate. The first item that I sketched from the group was just a regular white button.

oil pastel and colored pencils, 4 x 4 inches on canvas

The other ordinary things include a safety pin, some straight pins, this hook and a worn piece of glass.

There is no order to my numbering system, I am labeling them as they are "painted". There are just a few more to go, then piecing together all the clues with my friend, Peggy Coulombe, a writer who is interested in the story behind the clues, is next.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


After looking at the jewelry found in the grate and closely studying the designs as I sketched them I began to see a similarity in the styles of the pieces. Most of the gold have deeply etched patterns and the two brooches both have a leaf motif. It's hard to know whether the owner liked this particular style, if it was a prevalent pattern of the mid 1800s or if the pieces were something created or put together by the same person. Some of them, like this one, have such an odd configuration of elements and almost seem to be remade from something else.

This oil pastel is 6 x 6 inches. See the whole series on flickr.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Every year around December 1st I start to get worried that Jake and I will never get our holiday cards finished in time to mail. (At that point we have no idea what the card will be, or any theme either) Then we procrastinate, putting off the creating until we realize we really won't make it, but then, somehow, we do.

This year we used the idea of Boxing Day, December 26th as a celebratory theme. I had these old pugilist poses collected and always thought they would make a funny "cartoon". Adding the wrapped box to the mix gave an authentic meaning.

Being Irish I struggled with only celebrating a really English holiday, especially because my roots are in Belfast, an area where there is still conflict. So I thought I would add the wren, as the reference to Ireland's St. Stephen's Day their traditional holiday on December 26th.

In my mind the boxers represented "the troubles" of Northern Ireland, unionists and nationalists duking it out, but then stopping to open a gift of acceptance.

I wanted music to be a part of the video, so I went to and searched for boxing music. What I found was a great "Popeye the Sailor" cartoon that I separated the song from. It was just a fun addition to the video to have Popeye singing about the art of self defense.

Originally we were going to print the prize fighter on water color paper... I wanted an admission ticket to accompany the image and could not think how it would be attached and did not want to just drop it into an envelope. Then we went to a local paper store and decided to by pre-made, paneled, blank card stock with matching envelopes. This allowed us to gocco print the fronts and cut slits on the inside to attach the ticket. My favorite part of the whole process was the ticket. To make it look real I needed some soft paper and thought of good old-fashioned construction paper (we now have a whole bundle of different colors, more creative ideas are brewing). I designed the sheet with 18 up and cut the tops and bottom with a straight edge, but to get the perforated edges I bought this wonderful embossing wheel (like a pizza roller) to make the cuts between the tickets, then hole punched out the edges.

Some people said they did not go to the website because they thought the event was for only one day. I am sorry that they did not, and sad that it was not clear on my part, but it is all still there, and there is a coloring contest, along with "prizes". Adding one more meaning to the prize element.

If you are so inclined please visit, the contest is open until January 12th.

Monday, January 4, 2010


15" x 12.5" x 3.25" IN THE TRENCHES, Hart Island, New York

Babies buried on September 29, 1881 Trench #68: Frank Roddy, Emil Luber, Ino Wagner, Joseph Keller, George Madigan, Herman Katz, child of CB Fletcher, Joseph Clifford, Francis Wildeman, William Rogers, Clarence Lanton, Sophia Ferram, Agnes Brown, Virginia Agnes, Harris Post, Matilda Billoka... April 20, 1896 Trench #210: Frederick Hill, m/c of Arthur and Mary Moueller, f/c of Charles and Anna Goldback, m/c of John and Mary Keebler, Arthur Henrick, m/c of Anna Collins, Emma Hoffman, f/c of Bridget Kenney, Wallace Douglas, John McCaffrey... December 6, 1898 Trench #232: Charles Dempson, m/c Raweschue, m/c Bruna, Arthur Smith, James Fellows, Annie Riokence, Joseph Smith, Robert Morgan, Rudolph Fig, m/c Reseheta, Daniel Garrigan, f/c Doherty, Lucy Davis, Joseph Kelm, Sheuyler Greggs, Domenico Shica, m/c Scott, Lucrizia Shica, m/c Jackson, f/c Shifilio, Mary Flemming...

"A man dies three times; once when he stops breathing, once when he is laid in the grave, and finally when he is forgotten."

~ Octavio Paz