Blog of Sketches, Paintings, and Photos

This blog is the story behind what moves me to create and what I create… it includes inspiration by other artists as well.   

Koffi in California

Each time I travel to California, I make an effort to paint at my favorite coffee shop, Koffi. The quaint cafe is located in Palm Springs and attracts and array of unique patrons. 

Anywhere from students, to life-long friends catching up, to artists like myself, Koffi is a go-to stop for tea and coffee lovers alike. 

During my last visit to sunny California, I stopped by the cafe to have a quick cup of Joe and recreate the scene I saw before me. I used pen and ink to sketch out the two tables of friends catching up, and then proceeded to fill with watercolor. 

I painted with a rustic style, which paired well with the atmosphere of the shop. The prominence of sepia tones allowed the people to really pop from the background. 

Watercolor painting of Koffi in Palm Springs 

Watercolor painting of Koffi in Palm Springs 

"A Midsummer Night's Dream"

I have been quite busy over the past couple of weeks due to various projects; the most recent piece I completed was one of my most intricate endeavors yet. I was invited to a party to celebrate the expectance of a lovely woman’s first child, who turned out to actually be a set of twins! The joyous gathering was of life-long friends sharing memories and light-hearted anecdotes.

Initially, I attended the party with the intentions of painting the scene live, but the massive size of the venue and the randomized scatter of guests caused me to take a different plan of action. Instead, I positioned each woman around the fire pit in the corner of the yard, and decided to capture multiple photos. 

From the photographs, I was able to recreate the party and give the radiant new mother a one-of-a-kind piece that she can keep as an unforgettable memory. 

Watercolor piece of women celebrating the expectance of twins

Watercolor piece of women celebrating the expectance of twins

Sketches of Humans.... at the Public Hotel Chicago

I have to start my mornings with a cup of coffee.  So most mornings I load  up my sketch bag and sit at a coffee shop and sketch. The other day I ran down the street to the Public Hotel.  Great coffee,  a great staff and a stunning environment 

 These two young men were in Chicago for work from NYC.  I was able to sketch them quickly while they were getting ready to start their day by reading their email. 

Sketches of Humans.

photo - Version 2.jpg

Song of Style

Aimee Song’s popularity in the world of fashion blogging and interior designing has been on a steady rise. Her blog, cleverly named, “Song of Style”, is Los Angeles based and focuses on fashion forward outfits.

Aimee’s style is quite individualistic and she has a definite skill in paring different articles of clothing and accessories together. Personally, I was intrigued with her Tropical Palm Prints that were shot at Hotel El Ganzo, in Cabo San Lucas. In the shoot, she is wearing a palm print bustier, with matching shorts; the is pair adorned with an exotic pattern that is perfect for the Cabo heat. She also wears a light sun hat and a pair of lovely Isabel Marant Edris sandals. 

I was inspired by Aimee's fashion choices and decided to recreate her look with watercolors. I utilized splashes of color to bring out elements of her look, while I sought to capture her breezy aura. 

Photograph of Aimee of Song of Style

Photograph of Aimee of Song of Style

My watercolor interpretation of the fashion blogger

My watercolor interpretation of the fashion blogger

She is the Inspiration

Pansy Day

Pansy Day

This is Pansy Day.  The painting of her was a gift from Pansy's Granddaughter Lisa husband for her anniversary.  It was created from two photos of Pansy, one was a head shot of her from her High School days, the other with her husband in later years.  Pansy Day was a major influence on Lisa in many ways but especially fashion.   Lisa Hopson has a jewelry company named after her Grandmother PansyDay.com, take a look!

Pansy Day Original - Version 2.jpg
Pansy Day and William - Version 2.jpg

Brought Tears to Her Eyes

The sister of this beautiful bride contacted me… thru Twiter!  I am always surprised how people find me.  Most of the time it is word of mouth, this website, etc etc.  The most important part of the dress to her and her sister is this incredible veil.  Through past experience I have found that drawing the veil often distracts from the dress itself and basically looks like lines running thru the dress.  I have never painted on colored watercolor board or paper before, and it was incredibly difficult to find, I think I spent almost as much time researching this as I did painting the portrait.   During the process I always send the client quick iPhone photos to show them the direction I am going..and the sister loved this.  When she saw the final portrait she said it brought tears to her eyes.  This sister still hasn't seen it, but I can't wait to see hear her reaction.  This is a very, very rewarding career.  

The sister of this beautiful bride contacted me… thru Twiter!  I am always surprised how people find me.  Most of the time it is word of mouth, this website, etc etc.  The most important part of the dress to her and her sister is this incredible veil.  Through past experience I have found that drawing the veil often distracts from the dress itself and basically looks like lines running thru the dress.  I have never painted on colored watercolor board or paper before, and it was incredibly difficult to find, I think I spent almost as much time researching this as I did painting the portrait.   During the process I always send the client quick iPhone photos to show them the direction I am going..and the sister loved this.  When she saw the final portrait she said it brought tears to her eyes.  This sister still hasn't seen it, but I can't wait to see hear her reaction.  This is a very, very rewarding career.  

 

 

Lady In Red

The color says it all… and the best way to capture it is to be there live.

I love painting live… that means being at an event  or in a public place and painting people right then and there.  The lady in red was a guest  at the Joanna Krupa wedding celebration, a Real Housewives of Miami,  Monica Dixon PR  was the event planner and the venue was the stunning Public Hotel in Chicago.  

Tuesday Morning Teaching Watercolors

For the past few weeks I've been teaching a small group of students watercolor. This week and for the next few weeks we are meeting at the Starbucks in Nothbrook, Il. I was at a birthday party for my cousin, when someone started talking about watercolors. I told the group that I had been teaching watercolor in California and truly enjoyed it.... So now here we go again... And it is even more fun this time

Transient

Montana Ave Coffee Shop

Reading a real paper…..Coffee shop People Los Angeles.  Did you ever notice how valued those few real papers are at Coffee shops,  there are seldom any left to buy!

I spend time in Chicago and California.  They wear more colorful clothes in California, and in most warm places.  It seems like it should be the other way around.  In cold, gloomy climates bright colors would make people happier and look healthier.  While in sunny, warm climates a simple neutral palate would be perfect, it would make you stand out since there is so much color everywhere because of the bright sun and colorful surroundings.  

A Happy Mom

I like to  sketch people and hopefully they don't notice me and just go about their daily lives.  This Mom was sitting with her husband and her two grown kids enjoying coffee.   They were having a great time, you could tell they loved being with each other.   They made each other happy… is there anything better? Is there anything more rewarding to a Mom than to have a family that truly loved each other and loved spending time together.

They Say She Looks Like Yoko Ono

She did resemble Yoko but I assure you she was not her.  I liked the way her glasses slid down her nose as she read from her iPad.    I drew this and many others at one of my favorite coffee houses, although I don't remember its name.  It is tucked out of the way off the  main drag in Santa Barbara but close to a gallery…. with lots of chairs outside to sit and enjoy the fresh air.    I'll draw the coffee the outdoor seating area next time I am there .. hopefully soon.

The Hair

HAIR.jpg

I think one of my favorite things to do is to capture people just being themselves in a quick drawing.  I try to find one thing that separates the people I draw from the other people in the room. This one was the  hair… I love curly hair… obviously  I have straight hair.  Sometimes it is the way they stand, hold their head, wear their clothes or the expression on their face.

This lovely young lady was at wonder affair held by Debi Lily of A Perfect Event. I was lucky enough to attend and draw the party and all the people there.

Brides, Bubbles, and Bliss

I attended Brides, Bubbles, and Bliss (BBB), which just happened to be one of my favorite events of the year, thus far. The soiree was held to inspire ideas for couples-to-be and featured appearances by several key players in the fashion and bridal world.  Held at the Grand Ballroom at Union Station and decorated by Debi Lilly, the spread was undeniably stunning.

The venue: The Grand Ball Room at Union Station 

The venue: The Grand Ball Room at Union Station 

Debi Lilly’s flower arrangements were a personal highlight of the various ornate decorations, as they cascaded down each of the tables. 

Debi Lilly's cascading flower arrangement 

Debi Lilly's cascading flower arrangement 

An abundance of the pieces featured at the show are available at a local Chicago bridal Salon, Dimitra’s Bridal. Francesca Miranda, an incredible designer from Columbia, had her work featured at the runway show and her gowns are now displayed at Dimitra’s. 

Stunning gown designed by Francesca Miranda

Stunning gown designed by Francesca Miranda

Beautiful Francesca Miranda gown at the runway show

Beautiful Francesca Miranda gown at the runway show

A Perfect Event for the Chicago Public School System

I had the privilege of attending my second “A Perfect Event” hosted by one of Chicago’s most prolific event planners, Debi Lilly. This particular live painting event was a fundraiser for the Chicago Public School District, Kitchen Chicago, and City View loft.

The event itself was an unforgettable time, as the attendees were warm and supportive, the music was festive, and the food was absolutely divine.

I painted the entire scene as it was happening and was able to capture the dearest of moments between guests and the overall atmosphere of the occasion. Being at the event filled me with utter joy, and I was honored to be invited to paint in my favorite medium of watercolor.

Subsequent to completing my piece, it was auctioned off to raise funding for local schools; this was an extremely rewarding experience, as I am a strong advocate for the public school system.

My watercolor painting that was auctioned off to raise funding for Chicago Public Schools

My watercolor painting that was auctioned off to raise funding for Chicago Public Schools

This event truly turned about to be perfect and I enjoyed every moment of being a part of it. I can always count on Debi Lilly to host stunning, extraordinary events.  

Intelligentsia Coffee, Chicago

I frequent many local coffee shops in my Chicago neighborhood, as I find inspiration in watching people and their varying antics. About a year ago, Plum Market opened on Wells Street and it houses one of my favorite places to work: Intelligentsia coffee.

Along with the high quality coffee options, an array of people come in and out of the store, giving me the opportunity to quickly paint them.   

Over the course of a few winter visits, I was able to add several new paintings to my current collection of coffee shop portraits. 

Young woman waiting in line

Young woman waiting in line

Woman grabbing her coffee

Woman grabbing her coffee

Woman working on her computer

Woman working on her computer

Man standing in line, waiting for his latte

Man standing in line, waiting for his latte

Woman in a puffy coat waiting for her coffee

Woman in a puffy coat waiting for her coffee

Nico Osteria Restaurant, Chicago

I was able to quickly create a painting of a woman walking through the new Nico Osteria restaurant in Chicago. The restaurant is a great new addition to Rush Street, Chicago with a phenomenal atmosphere. 

As I have mentioned, I only have moments to lay down the majority of my composition, as my subject is only in my frame of vision for a matter of seconds. In this piece I really focused on simple colors and utilized different shades to capture the woman’s subtle features. Although I only used pink and brown, I believe I was able to capture her flow and movements rather well.

Woman walking through Nico Restaurant 

Woman walking through Nico Restaurant 

Palm Springs Art Fair Part II

The Palm Springs Art Fair showcased an immense amount of talent and I wanted to highlight a few more of my favorite pieces.

John Evans’ paintings of the outdoors are stylistically, unlike any I have seen before. He is able to take scenes from nature and put an abstract touch on each, which allows for open interpretation. I enjoyed Evans’ work because he puts a spin on landscapes that are familiar to us, and in turn, creates an enigmatic impression. 

Oil Painting by John Evans, represented by the J. Willott Gallery

Oil Painting by John Evans, represented by the J. Willott Gallery

The pieces by Cassandra Blackmore were remarkably unique and some of the most unforgettable. The art she exhibited was represented by The Duane Reed Gallery, located in Saint Louis, Missouri. Blackmore's portfolio consists of both abstract and figurative works, but her utilization of the canvases is what really caught my eye. This particular piece is spread across eight, thin canvases. The space between each canvas added an element that complemented the subject matter quite well.  

Painting by Cassandra Blackmore 

Painting by Cassandra Blackmore 

Lastly, I found the art of Myung Uk Heo to be wondrous, as it awakened a sense of youthfulness in me. His approach in capturing the different cars in his piece allowed them to appear as toy size. Immediately, I was reminded of my childhood and the tiny, collectible cars that were so popular. Heo is a great reminder of what art is here for: to make us feel something.  

Myung Uk Heo 

Myung Uk Heo 

Palm Springs Art Fair Part I

My time in California thus far has been fantastic, a needed relief from the weather. My family and I have been spending time in Palm Springs and had the chance to attend the opening of the Palm Springs Fine Art Fair.

The vibe of the fair was unlike any I have experienced before; the people were so hip and fashionable, I could not decide whether to look at the patrons or the art first! Upon first walking in, we spotted Jodie Foster, which was beyond exciting for my family and I.

Candid photo of Jodie Foster 

Candid photo of Jodie Foster 

Once we began to browse the art, we came upon several profound pieces and the story behind each. I spoke with many of the artists and learned of their muses and inspiration. In particular, a few works in the fair stood out to me. 

First, was the work of Jeffrey Palladini: a San Francisco painter that focuses on portraits of people in hotels and movie scene kisses. I could tell that his work was heavily influenced by the pop art movement, and found his pieces reminiscent of Lichtenstein. Although I saw influence from other artists, Palladini’s work is moving and quite original. 

Jeffrey Palladini with his work 

Jeffrey Palladini with his work 

Next, I came upon one of my favorite paintings of the entire fair, by Sarah Awad. Awad, a Los Angeles native, showcases her art in Diane Rostenstein’s Fine Art Gallery. This specific piece, “Seated Woman X” evoked deep emotions through the vivid oils she chose. I enjoyed her color choice and the raw beauty on the canvas. 

Seated Woman X, 2013  Oil on Canvas 66"x60"

Seated Woman X, 2013 

Oil on Canvas

66"x60"

India.Arie

I lived in Los Angeles for many years before I ventured off to Chicago, but I try to return and visit as much as possible. Southern California is where I picked up my yoga practice, which has been with me since.

Currently, I am in Los Angeles to escape the cold, work on art, and improve upon my yoga practice. While here, I came across a beautiful article on musician, India.Arie, in the February issue of LA Yoga Magazine; she has inspired me through her lyrics for as long as I can remember. She embraces yoga, meditation, and soul that you can feel wrapped around each of her words.

February issue of LA Yoga

February issue of LA Yoga

India.Arie is a Grammy-winning musician who inspires thousands and constantly advocates self-acceptance and embracing who you are. Across the world, yogis include songs by India.Arie in their practice because of the spiritual nature.

India.Arie’s music has been there for me through many stages of my life, and is always with me when I am practicing yoga. She has been an utter inspiration to me, and because of this, I decided to paint a watercolor portrait to commemorate her all-encompassing beauty. This piece was completed while in the lovely Southern California sun.  If you have yet to discover India.Arie's music, I highly recommend all five of her albums. Enjoy!

Watercolor portrait of India.Arie

Watercolor portrait of India.Arie

Valentine's Day

Men out there: are you prepared for Valentine’s Day this year? If you are struggling to find a meaningful gift for your valentine, look no further! For this special day, I am offering gift cards that are redeemable for a portrait of your wife in her wedding gown.

Once your wife receives her gift card on February 14th, she may then send me a favorite photograph of her in her wedding gown. I will then paint a one of a kind watercolor portrait of her.

This handcrafted gift is a romantic way to say “I love you” and you may even win the prize for “The Most Romantic Husband Ever!”

The perfect Valentine's Day gift!

The perfect Valentine's Day gift!

For inquiries contact me at: StopAndSmile@me.com