“Dixon Dining Room” 24″ x 18″ oil on canvas

I recently completed this oil painting and wondered, what made me choose this room to paint? Why did my heart respond to this image from a magazine, and not others? I believe it’s the personality of the designer shining through, combining his love of beautiful things with his decorating skills. The creator of this sumptuous room is Barry Darr Dixon. As Victorian era art critic John Ruskin wrote, “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”

Years ago the talented Mr. Dixon decorated a dining room for a showhouse in Washington, D.C., which was featured in a magazine. I liked the dining room so much I saved the photos so I could look at them again and again. I loved the walls, with seven coats of paint layered and blotted down, giving the appearance they’d been aging for years. The warm colors he chose gave me the feelings of happiness and optimism. And the iron mirrored screens reflecting all that beauty? Sublime! I had to paint it.

Now that the painting is hanging on my wall, I enjoy looking at it everyday.  It has an old soul, and is elegant without seeming to try. I haven’t met Mr. Dixon, but my intuition tells me this not only describes his room, but him as well!

I stained the canvas, then drew the room in pencil.

I applied silver leaf  to recreate the reflection of the gorgeous screens.

Starting a painting is so much fun because you see quick progress.

In the studio, work in progress.

The finished painting. Click here if you would like to purchase a fine art print.



I saw the little girl and her mother standing in front of Van Gogh’s, Portrait of a Peasant, at the Norton Simon Museum of Art. Looking up at her mom the girl flat out said, “I don’t like it.” Shocked, her mom proceeded to tell her what a famous painting it is, painted by a famous artist!, and that she “should” like it. Observing this scene I thought, If she doesn’t like it, she doesn’t like it! We are allowed to not like some art, even if told we should. I liked, and didn’t like, the new movie Loving Vincent, even though critics say I should love it.

What I liked: Loving Vincent is the first fully painted feature film, taking 6  years to make. Over 100 artists hand-painted more than 65,000 frames in Vincent Van Gogh’s “impasto” style. Being an artist, watching the film was a little exhausting, knowing the work each frame took. But once I let my childlike wonder take over, it was thrilling to enter Van Gogh’s world. When The Starry Night swirled onto the screen and we swoop down into the painting and onto the street in front of Café Terrace at Night, it was absolutely magical.

What I didn’t like: The movie takes many of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings and ties them together through a storyline. This is where it fell short. Loving Vincent is a whodunit and begins in 1891, a year after Van Gogh’s death. The gist is, did he die from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, or did someone else shoot him? Maybe it was partly due to the glass of red wine I drank in the theater, but 30 minutes into the 1 hour 35 minute movie I got very sleepy. (My fiancé started snoring!) I’ve read that at some theaters the movie received a standing ovation. (My fiancé says they were probably just happy it was over!) That said, I will definitely buy the movie when available. I will thoroughly enjoy playing it on my large-screen TV, with the sound off. As an art lover, the visuals of Van Gogh’s paintings coming to life and pulsating on the screen is more than enough entertainment!

Van Gogh only sold 1 painting in his life, but paintings from Loving Vincent are selling for several thousand dollars! (Check out LOVINGVINCENT.COM) There is also an exhibit of 119 paintings from the movie at Het Noordbrabants Museum in the Netherlands. While I selfishly wish the movie focused less on Van Gogh’s troubled life, and more on his obsession to express himself through painting, and his phenomenal legacy, Loving Vincent is definitely a groundbreaking movie worth seeing.

The Starry Night 1889

Café Terrace at Night 1888

Artists working on paintings for the movie.

Père Tanguy 1887 (My favorite painting featured in the movie.)


“ARTIST DIES PENNILESS AND A CENTURY LATER WORK SELLS FOR MILLIONS!” French post-impressionist Paul Gauguin (1848–1903) is in many ways an artist stereotype. While this oversimplified image is true, his fascinating creative process and finished work is anything but. “Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist” opens today at the Grand Palais in Paris, France and runs through January 22, 2018.

I saw this inspiring exhibit in July when it was at The Art Institute of Chicago. To be honest, I didn’t want to like Gauguin or his work. I knew he had been a stock broker in Paris, married with 5 children, and at some point left all that to paint nude women in Tahiti. It doesn’t sound good! I expected to see paintings of risqué and exotic Tahitian women (and did!) but found so much more. Walking through the exhibit room by room I felt immersed in his world, traveling from Paris to Tahiti, and was mesmerized by  the over 200 works of paintings, sculptures, graphic and decorative arts.

Gauguin is a role-model of someone who listened to his gut and acted on it. He experimented unafraid of failure, he played with materials not limiting himself to painting. He was curious and let creativity ooze out of him. Sadly Gaugin died alone, in poverty, at the age of 54 on an island in the South Pacific. After death his work began receiving acclaim and had influence on artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. In 2015 his painting, “When Will You Marry?” sold for $300 million! If you get a chance make an art date and visit the exhibit Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist.

“Tahitian Women”, or “On the Beach” 1891 Oil on canvas

“The Spirit of the Dead Keep Watch” 1892 Oil on canvas

“Portrait of the Artist with the Idol” About 1893 Oil on canvas

Some of Gauguin’s tools and materials used for painting, sketching, carving & printing wood blocks, ceramics, watercolors, monotypes & transfer drawings, and carving wood sculptures.


Me in J Crew “warm clover” pants.

When my daughter Isabella was little she went through a “green period.” For over two years she only wore green! I even painted her bedroom walls two tones of green in horizontal stripes. Back then I wasn’t a fan of green, but I’m becoming one now.

PANTONE, a color matching system, named “Greenery” the color of 2017. Green is popping up in fashion, interior design, and art. It’s easy to add green to your wardrobe. Being nature’s neutral, green coordinates with blue, white, and even tan. Bring the outdoors into your home with green paint, nature inspired fabrics, or a French Impressionist print. In the late 1800’s the artists moved their easels out of their dark studio and into the great (green) outdoors.

Green symbolizes growth, nature, and new beginnings. Take a page from Isabella and bring a little green into your life!

Isabella and Hazel in her green room.

PANTONE’s Greenery

TRADITIONAL HOME April 2017 cover. Design: Tobi Fairley Photo: Nancy Nolan

Claude Monet “Woman With a Green Parasol” 1875