Sunday, August 24, 2014

Elm Tree's Margeaux Vixen

"Cavalier derives from the same Latin root as the French word chevalier (as well as the Spanish word caballero), the Vulgar Latin word caballarius, meaning "horseman". Shakespeare used the word cavaleros to describe an overbearing swashbuckler or swaggering gallant in Henry IV, in which Shallow says "I'll drink to Master Bardolph, and to all the cavaleros about London."  '... this from Wikepedia, that endless fount of knowledge.  And though Cavalier took on political connotations in English history, it is the original meaning that I like here- the rider of horses, and so of course our lady wears a traditional riding habit, because she is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  Her formal name is Elm Tree's Margeaux Vixen- her family calls her Maggie- and here she poses under the overcast English skies of her origin.  

Sunday, May 4, 2014


It was perhaps the first actual warm day of spring, and I was walking through Central Park with my camera.  I hoped to capture the sunny riot of early forsythia, and the enchantingly gloomy drooping heads of the hellebore flowers in the shadows beneath the brambles.  The trees were all still bare and austere, but the sun dazzled and lightened my heart.  Between the trees and across a lawn, a brilliant copper darting thing caught my attention; I tracked it down and met Jasper, and his owner, who was clearly filled with a quiet pride over his dog's extraordinary beauty. Jasper is a Hungarian Vizsla; this extraordinary breed is a thousand years old, and was the hunting dog of Magyar tribal warlords and centuries of Hungarian aristocrats.

Jasper's owner kindly let me take quite a few photographs of Jasper, and these became the visual references for the painting you see here.  I have taken Jasper out of his NewYork home, and placed him in my own childhood, in my memories of summers spent in England, and the broad gentle lands and poetic brooding skies of my family's home.  For this placement, the Romantic English artist Thomas Gainsborough provides an appropriate reference.  I hope you enjoy the painting- I certainly enjoyed creating it.

Pip and Neela

A friend of a friend approached me regarding these portraits, a paired set showing the client's miniature Schnauzer (Pip) and her father's beloved Russian blue cat (Neela).  She and I had wonderful conversations about the costumes, thinking about the beauty of lace and the marvelous intricacies of period embroidery.  Through this project, I had the opportunity to do extensive research into historical aristocratic costumes- thinking of the origin of Pip and Neela's breeds, I looked at the uniforms of Russian officers and the court dress of German aristocrats from three hundred years ago.  But we agreed that for two animals of such sweetness (Pip was the most trusting and well-mannered dog I have ever met) a soft and etherial look was called for- and so we turned to the French.  Here we see Pip and Neela as a French gentleman and his lady, surrounded by the plants and herbs of their gracious life.  I hope you enjoy them.