Archives for posts with tag: boston

Wish You Were Here

My old-fashioned ways of writing letters and sending thank you notes have led me to a pretty awesome collection of stationary and postcards.

In this electronic age, it is safe to say that some may never pick up an ink pen again.  But I don’t care how in love you are with your cell phones and laptops.  A handwritten card will forever produce a thrill.  (That is, until some idiot succeeds in nixing snail mail.)

For those of you who still write letters, you might appreciate my latest batch of outgoing mail – thank you notes to all the people I saw on my recent visit back home.  My favorite element of this primitive art?  Choosing the right card for the right person.

Baja Birds

My first trip outside…..

Baja Cactus

To Dad, who likes the desert.

Bob Marley

Bob – to my favorite hair dresser.

Boston Massacre

Sent the Boston Massacre postcard to the sister with whom I may never stop fighting.


I see you down there Jim and Joni!


Newport Beach has mermaids.

Simpleton Pass, Reading The Bridge of SighsBedouins

John Singer Sargent, a favorite artist.  Jim took me to his exhibit in Boston.

Todos Santos

Todos Santos, home of the original Hotel California.  Still have to make it there.


Convinced a bookstore owner to sell this off the wall of his hippie section.  Thanks, bud.


We’ve just returned to the brownstone apartment on Beacon Hill, my home away from home.  Dinner in the South End left us full and content – duck prosciutto, Margherita pizza, pasta Bolognese, and sparkling Rosé – with dessert still to come!

Boston Skyline from Jim & Joni's
Rooftop Sunset in Boston Beacon Hill Brownstone

I’m feeling inspired, as always, after a good meal in Boston.  I begin fussing around with pencils and notebooks while Jim pulls Coffee Heath Bar Crunch Ben and Jerry’s from the freezer to thaw and banters on with Kiersten and Nick about tonight’s movie choice.

Dinner at Coppa - South End Boston

“Let’s watch El Dorado!” I chime in, because I’ve had ‘El Canción del Mariachi’ stuck in my head all day (and since I’m not pitching Moulin Rouge, I actually have a chance).

I win.  “But only because it’s a thrilling action film,” Jim jokes exclaims seriously, “not because of Antonio Banderas.”  He says not to press play yet.  Joni wants us to go outside on the deck first because she has been waiting for the perfect moment for something and this is exactly it.

I step up and through the little screen door onto my favorite rooftop, a patio the size of the whole apartment.  Waiting in the late summer night is Joni sparking a candle-lighter over the small glass table, its flicker glimmering back onto her still wine glass.  She stands back up and shows a pleased grin.  The colorful votive holders I painted for them for Christmas are glowing for the first time in a triangle before me.



  • Glass Candle Holders
  • Cheap Paint
  • Brushes
  • Candles

Making a Mess

Mix water and paint with a medium brush and slosh in around the inside of glass candle holders.  Focus on your color choices.  Create dimension and texture by dribbling the paint down the outsides.  There’s hardly the chance to make mistakes, even if the color turns brown.  Just make them look good.

You will be satisfied by the colorful flicker and the simplicity of this project.  These make thoughtful gifts for many people.

Sloshy Paint Painted VotivesTea LightsPainted Light

I found the idea for painted votive holders from the blog, Once Wed.

The first time realized I loved the work of John Singer Sargent was just one month ago, on a trip to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  It was a gray-tinted day with leaking skies.  I took the red line with Uncle Jim and landed on the steps of the entrance with just a few wet droplets on my coat and braid.  We waited impatiently for a highly distracted ticket checker before rebelliously slipping past him unchecked, and Jim led me into the new wing.  It smelled like art and rain in the hallways.

Through Alex Katz we wandered and up multiple floors.  By the time we reached the final section, we were tired and on Art Overload, but Jim said we couldn’t leave yet.  “I want you to see the Sargents…if they’re still here.”

As is my custom to first choose a path through a gallery, I entered and looked to either side of the room.  Immediately, one painting in particular drew me toward it.  The third one in on the right, bordered with an ornately carved golden wood frame, and the foreground to a silver-blue damask wallpaper with velvety texture – A Capriote by John Singer Sargent.

The wall description read:

In 1878 Sargent traveled to the Italian island of Capri, in search of exotic scenery.  Many of the works he produced there featured local model Rosina Ferrara, who was admired for her blue-black hair and olive skin.  Here, Ferrara stands in an olive grove.  Her arms are twined around a tree, echoing its twisted shape.  By using this contrived pose and depicting his model’s striking features in profile, Sargent made her seem an integral and sensual part of the landscape.

Sargent was born to American parents in 1856 Florence, Italy, and lived most of his life and successful artistic career among European aristocracy.  He is said to be one of the greatest portrait artists in the world.

When he was still living in Paris, Sargent wanted to paint Madame Pierre Gautreau despite not having been commissioned.  He was able to convince her upon gaining an introduction and completed Madame X in 1884.  Apparently, a dress strap slipped over the shoulder was too erotic for the times and the painting succeeded in stirring up scandal among conservative critics.  Sargent moved to London shortly afterward and would live there for the rest of his life.  More than twenty years later the Metropolitan Museum of Art purchased Madame X.  Sargent wrote to Director Edward Robinson, “I suppose it is the best thing I have done.”

I fell in love with the luminance of A Capriote, with the softness of its strokes, the twinkle in her eye.  If I could paint like John Singer Sargent…

His techniques as an artist allowed him to reach greatness.  He always sketched his subjects with pencil or watercolor first, over and over, learning the light, perfecting the composition, before beginning with oils.  He painted almost purely from life.  He would constantly step away from his easel to view subject and canvas simultaneously in the same light, the same line of sight, and the same distance.  He depicted the structure of an image first, acurately arranging “big masses, angles, and prominent planes” before focusing on small details.  He used plenty of paint and thick, confident strokes.  He painted middle-tones first and the highest lights and darkest darks last.  He was a tough self-critic and objective observer.  He learned from old Masters.


Connie Nelson

Art Renewal

The morning began misty gray with a chilly breeze through the window. When I finally roll out of bed, Joni tells me, “I’m making scones!” I blink and the dough is rolled and in the oven.
It’s been at least two years since I’ve walked the Museum of Fine Arts and when we arrive, Jim and I head right into the newest wing. The modern and colorful portraits and landscapes of Alex Katz are on display. Another new artist to grow fond of.

My uncle attempts to explain Katz’s method but it is hard to visualize until I come upon a display of his process and some tools involved in this type of art. He paints from life so the original images naturally have hundreds of tones. Katz’s job is reducing the information down to three or four colors while still maintaining the energy. Layers of a drawing are carved into plates made out of materials like wood as mirror images, the plates are painted and stamped onto paper. One layer might be clouds and tree trunks while the next is leaves and grass. It’s quite amazing, really, given the grandiose size of some of his works.

I grow light and happy admiring this little girl and her drawing book. I hope she never quits.
After Katz, the rest of the American art awaits our viewing.






Jim is ready to leave but he says I need to see the John Singer Sargent work first. It must be fate because in under four seconds upon entering the room, I am drawn toward my new favorite work, A Capriote. Notice it’s the same girl in the next painting.




And on the walk home, a stop at whole foods to find vegetables for our rib dinner…and funny faces.



(I should warn you…there is a bit of nudity in this post, and if it makes you uncomfortable, you should close your eyes and scroll down for 10 seconds or so. For you brave, artful souls, power on.)

I’m well connected here in Boston without really having to try. When in doubt, just keep walking. There are plenty of strangers and things to keep you entertained at all hours of the day and night. Today’s stroll downtown has led me to Trident Booksellers on Newbury Street. In search of a used book store, my memory served me incorrectly as this one here is maximum price (it is Newbury after all) but I picked up a magazine anyway and am discovering what a great choice it was. Thought I’d share some beautiful pages from Treats! Magazine with you.
There’s a café right behind me…I should order tea.

Mmmm. Blueflower Earl Grey was the final decision. I’ve added milk for the first time. And honey. I like it.

Using a sugar packet as a bookmark…in case you were wondering.

I’m learning the vivid history of Big Sur in this article. It’s quite excellent writing by Rob Hill. Here he speaks of Hunter S. Thompson, an “enamored” visitor of Big Sur:

On a typewriter that was carefully balanced atop a rocky cliff, with his shirt off, rum poured, and dog by his side – while his girlfriend sunbathed naked down below – the good doctor wrote…






Q&A’s of Harri Peccinotti

While I haven’t known him by name until now, I am familiar with some of his more famous work. This interview is nice. I’m learning that Peccinotti is like the well-rounded artist I aspire to be: a graphic designer, photographer, musician, painter, his life is fueled by creativity…and, like strolling happily in Boston, it is a natural progression. The life of an artist, a true artist like Harri Peccinotti, inspires me. There is always something to do. When asked about his depiction of nudity and eroticism, he answered:

I consider it just like Picasso, drawing nudes in my head. I wasn’t doing pornography at all, but my son says, ‘Youre known as a pornographer. All you do is take pictures of nude girls,’ which is not actually true. If someone has an idea to do some nude pictures, they often ask me, which I don’t mind. I like nude girls. I like them with clothes, without clothes, however they come. I don’t even think of my pictures as erotic. Sensual perhaps, but I’m not looking for absolute crudity. I don’t like it, even. Really crude pictures I don’t think I could do.



Cover model Emily Ratajkowski, Photographs by Steve Shaw