Monthly Archives: May 2008

The Old Trysting Tree I

The Old Trysting Tree I

The Old Trysting Tree I

It’s spring, the beginning of a long riding season!

I’ve been working again on the idea of an out-of-the-way trysting place, where lovers met on horseback or on foot and in secret. I was inspired by a print I bought in an antique store I was passing in Minnesota — it must have been on a calendar or the illustration for a literary magazine — and bought because I loved the idea.

This painting is my first effort, perhaps I should say “installment”. The model for the girl is my daughter’s friend, Katie, on her horse, Dillon. (For Portrait of Katie, see Polishing Her Boots in my Gallery at

This past weekend I tried another pose, with my daughter, Iphigeneia, on her horse, Pelee. I imagine her finding the place and touching it’s barely discernible initials carved into the bark of an old oak. I’ll post it as soon as I’m finished. In the meantime, I’m still working on the Bust of the Girl on the Red Chair.

Here’s a lyric of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s:

The Betrothal

Oh, come, my lad, or go, my lad,
And love me if you like.
I shall not hear the door shut
Nor the knocker strike.

Oh, bring me gifts or beg me gifts,
And wed me if you will.
I’d make a man a good wife,
Sensible and still.

And why should I be cold, my lad,
And why should you repine,
Because I love a dark head
That never will be mine?

I might as well be easing you
As lie alone in bed
And waste the night in wanting
A cruel dark head.

You might as well be calling yours
What never will be his,
And one of be happy.
There’s few enough as is.

The Old Trysting Tree I, 8×10 on canvas, $160.00 USD

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Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

The more I looked at my Pug and Bust, the more it seemed as if the pug’s butt was glued to the base of the statue. I had to change it! So here is the new version. The Chinese Characters on the wall actually read, “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder,” and the pug seems to be begging the question…..Who is the Beholder in this relationship, you or me?

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder, 6×8 on canvas, Sold

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Pug with Glamorous Legs

I had great fun doing this painting of my pug, Pippin, appearing with my friend Stacy’s lovely legs and her satin and lace shoes. (HER legs have appeared in catalogs, so she is a pro. Not so my Pippin. You can see him raising first one paw, then another. He didn’t quite know how to pose, but I can assure you that this posture is characteristic, if nothing else.)

As I promised myself last week, I painted at our North Woods cabin, enjoying the new greens of the spring forest through the window, listening to Josh Grobin and Enya as my husband, Matt, froze his buns off fishing for walleyes in a 39 degree wind.
I tried hard to keep the brush strokes painterly and textured. There is violet peeping through in the carpet and black visible through scraping on the green of the wall. The legs and hand are painted rather loosely, for all that the canvas is only 8×10 and rather complex. I haven’t gotten back to the Victorian Bust and the Red Chair, since I have to set the still life up in my studio again and take advantage of natural light to finish it. I have a large painting underway, the one I was frustrated with when I painted the Lemon Cake. I will work on that this weekend again in the North Woods.

I hadn’t been to our cabin since last July and when I’m up there, my eye is niggled by all the potential subjects. The beauty of spring is so fleeting before Wisconsin settles into the heavy greenness of summer. Our yard at Rosewind is currently resplendant with flowering apple trees and lilacs. Meanwhile, I come and go about my tasks instead of setting my easle up and painting the apple blossoms. They only last only a few days.

If we’re up north longer than just the three day weekend, I’ll hope to paint a very tasty looking Chocolate Croissant I have reserved.

Pug with Glamorous Legs, 8×10 on canvas board, Sold

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Marble Girl on Red Chair in Progress

I enjoyed painting this marble bust of a Victorian Girl in miniature, so I decided to do it again on a larger canvas. I chose the red chair and blue drapery to set off the pearly brightness of the marble. (It’s one of my favorite color combinations for decorating.) When I return to the stilllife, I will have to warm up my whites; it’s easy to see in this photo that the tones of the bust I’ve brushed in so far are too cool.

I’m going away for the weekend and won’t be able to work on the Marble Girl until next week. However, I am taking a small painting with me and plan to work on it as I enjoy looking out of our cabin at the lacy, budding branches of Wisconsin’s Northwoods in May, and in between hikes in the woods and lazy hours (?) spent reading a novel. (I’m just finishing Ian McEwan’s “Atonement”, which is so wonderfully written. Wow!) It’s another Pug painting….I feel a rash of Pug paintings coming on. If all goes well, I will be able to post the completed “Pug With Glamorous Legs” next week.

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The Contemplation of Antique Beauty

This photo doesn’t really do the painting justice, so I will try to redo it and hopefully achieve a wider nuance of colors. However, I wanted to blog today, so here goes: I began this painting as a study for a larger one, but realized that there really wasn’t enough room for the other element in the planned picture, my friend Stacy’s glamorous legs and shoes. So, I changed gears, painted out the background, drove downtown to a wonderful Antique Shop in Mineral Point, Gundry and Gray, looking for another subject. I found this Victorian (?) bust of a young woman. It was just the thing to go with the carpet, I thought. My other model is my pug, Pippin, who will no doubt figure prominently in future paintings.

Blue Pug and Bust, 6×8, Oil on Canvas

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Vincent and the Chocolate Brownie

I completed this painting a few days ago, but couldn’t take a picture as my camera was on loan. The Brownie is from Panera Bread, and believe me, it was difficult not to pluck it off the plate and eat it, instead of painting it.

I’ve already written how much I love the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Originally I was going to paint one of poems, written on parchment and laid over one of the books, but in the end I inscribed the sonnet onto the journal. I have many such journals. I keep them, writing down the details of each day, so that I will have a testimonial in future years — not that they’ll make spectacular reading — that I acted as a protagonist in my life and not a spectator. I think we all feel at times that the obligations and distractions of life are engulfing the self that matters most to us.

Here’s the Sonnet:

That Love at length should find me out and bring
This fierce and trivial brow unto the dust,
Is, after all, I must confess, but just;
There is a subtle beauty in this thing.
A wry perfection; wherefore now let sing
All voices how into my throat is thrust,
Unwelcome as Death’s own, Love’s bitter crust,
All criers proclaim it, and all steeples ring.
This being done, there let the matter rest.
What more remains is neither here nor there.
That you requite me not is plain to see;
Myself your slave herein have I confessed:
Thus far, indeed, the world may mock at me;
But if I suffer, it is my own affair.
— Edna St. Vincent Millay

Vincent and the Chocolate Brownie, Oil on Canvas, 10×10, Sold

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