About my painting processes
I worked over 35 yrs as a home economist, a food scientist, food and nutrition journalist, food stylist, and a food and agriculture regulatory affairs specialist. I still do those things, so painting food fresh and prepared really holds my heart.
I paint the most important things in life – people, food and the land that sustains us.
With my food paintings, I paint about family and life through the foods we prepare and enjoy. I do not see my food paintings as 'still life'. I see them as dinner - about the importance of preparing and eating a meal with family and friends, about the swirl of a lively kitchen and the goodness of wholesome ingredients. Food in the kitchen moves from hand to chopping board to table and the foods in my paintings might, bounce, fly or take a magic carpet ride over the fields. I figure out what I am going to cook, buy it, set it out, photograph it, paint it and then eat it. Sometimes my family of great cooks send me photos of their food and I paint that too. The foods people cook are an element of who they are. Some food paintings tell stories of where I am or who I am with. Some of my food paintings are surreal or amusing; but really, isn’t life surreal and amusing at times?
The landscapes I paint are usually reality with extraneous detail removed. I paint landscapes infrequently but mostly in plein-air or from my own photographs (if the weather is bad). I am not very interested in detail. I look at agricultural spaces from above or as they move, and dramatic landscapes that capture light, movement and color. The flowers I have painted are grown in my garden, or my family’s gardens or during walks, often from the Niagara regions in Ontario and New York State (people have great gardens here). I take photos of flowers wherever I see them, then use the photos in my own compositions.
About my use of photos for reference: if see that a friend or family member has taken a compelling photo, I ask them if I can use their photo as a reference for a painting. If I use it, I put their name on the information about that painting.
The portraits I paint are from my own photographs or the photographs of the person who has commissioned me, or from their photos. But, I need several photographs to really understand the person and their coloring. I paint people in defining spaces and moments: the 70-yr old man cutting a birthday cake, the girl in her prom dress, the boy on the cusp of manhood about to embark on a canoe trip, the eight year old who has just figured out who she is, the kid who will only make funny faces for the camera.
I use professional-quality oil paints, canvases, brushes and other materials. Afterwards, the painting is dried and cured for 5-7 months and then varnished. With care, my paintings will last for generations.
I teach painting to beginners and intermediate painters, in Lewiston NY, in the spring, summer and autumn. In the winter, I paint in Gainesville Florida.