Inspiration for a Painting Commission: Cinque Terre

The rooftops on this painting reminded my clients of living in Cinque Terre!

Oh my! Over the holidays I took on a painting commission. The painting the couple loved best was too small for the place they envisioned hanging it. So we decided to create another painting to fit the space.

abstract landscape painting
Lavender Sunset, 36″ x 24″, oil, See more info>     Prints starting at $35>

Painting commissions are a wonderful collaboration of ideas, inspiration, memories

Once we agreed on the size, creative energy filled us with ideas. My client emailed me three watercolors she’d painted years ago that reminded her of the painting. I am so excited, colors and ideas are spilling out onto other paintings in my studio.

My client’s conversation about the turquoise sea opened by eyes about how to finish an unfinished painting called “Tapestry.”  And when I’d finished it, I could hear it’s new name, “The Watchtower! ”

inspirational art
The Watchtower, Purchase Info>

When I returned from my client’s home, I could see beyond the woven layers of paint. As I painted in the turquoise sea between the massive edifice ~ I saw the watchtower, a stairway to the heavens, a narrow frame of mind as each prayer relays communications heaven and earth.

I like that there is more to this painting than the struggle I was caught in. I had started it when I returned from France four years ago. It feels really nice to know the painting has a good message and is finished. Now it’s ready for a good home.

Prints of both Lavender Sunset, and The Watchtower start at $35. Shop Now>

Call me if you have a place for it in yours!

Supermoon Dream ~ Is it My Place in the Sun? Or just a Dream?

Dream: “something blue, covering the whole thing, light blue…”

blue dream
something blue,

Journal in my lap I glance up, coffee cup in hand. Sweet creamy date bread, the taste of home, mom’s recipe fills my mouth. Crunching a piece of walnut between my teeth ~ I recognize the same lavender blue in the painting across the room.

Radiant Beauty

abstract expressionist painting
Radiant Beauty, oil painting, 48″ x 36″ Purchase Info>

I’d just written about her yesterday, how a fusion of abstract landscape melded with realistic rendering on this painting called, “Radiant Beauty.”

I’d noted that the pond represented home to me, the safe place where I can be myself. And how my paintings beckon viewers to see the Creative Spirit above their own pond.

abstract expressionist painting
detail shows the symbols of pond and home, heaven and earth. Purchase Info>

My Place in the Sun?

Two images flash to mind: tiny paintings from yesterday afternoon’s meditation exercise. The first an old one called, “My Place in the Sun,” repainted on  New Year’s Eve with a violet mountain, vermilion cottages and turquoise green fields.

small landscape oil painting
My Place in the Sun, oil on cradled wood panel, 5″ x 7″ x .75″ , $100.


Supermoon Rising

The second, a new painting, inspired by momentum from the first. A similar landscape with cottages and distant hills. This one with deep violet night shadows, opening to those blue fields and pond.

Celestial orbs in both paintings, low to the horizon, burn deeply vermilion, warming cottages, hearts and home. A setting sun in the first is transformed to “Supermoon Rising” in the next breath. It is amazing to me still ~ how a color meditation can reveal such a tale.

supermoon painting
Supermoon Rising, oil on cradled wood panel, 5″ x 7″ x .75″, $100


In an instant ~ I realize I have wandered into my own painting. Standing beside the pond (literally, as there is a pond outside my studio windows), I painted my way home.

Returning to the studio feels strangely new this morning. Switching on the lights, I turn up the heat and survey the paintings. Not just that today is the first day of a new year ~ something else is new.

Two unfinished paintings on the easels speak now, when yesterday were silent. The tall one with a moon behind the cloud, now answers my question about whether or not she is finished.

She’s not at all finished. Indeed her supermoon is rising, illuminating the blue landscape with colorful shadows. Her true work is just begun.

supermoon painting
Supermoon on the Mountain, oil on gallery wrapped canvas, 40″ x 30″
“Paint the moon a bit larger.
“Let it light the landscape.
“And fill those long shadows with hope and dreams.”

Awakened by her light shining through my bedroom window, I’d felt bathed by something Divine. Instead of covering my head with the pillow ~ I let the celestial moment comfort me as I drifted back to sleep.

The Castle

The other big painting, a wide one with a castle atop a vineyard on a hill ~ appears light against vibrant evergreen woodlands and a star-filled, Provence blue sky. Cottages coming together form the castle, supported and unified by the expansive vineyard rising from the valley.

abstract expressionist landscape painting
Castle in the Vineyard, oil on gallery wrapped canvas, 30″ x 40″,

Supermoon Dream ~ Is it My Place in the Sun? Or just a Dream?

In a moment all the symbols embedded in the paintings fuse seamlessly as my story. Spirited palette knife strokes ~ like my signature ~ are mine alone to own.

abstract expressionist landscape painting
detail, Castle in the Vineyard, oil on gallery wrapped canvas, 30″ x 40″

I was that freshman in art history class, who sat in the back muttering ~ “the professor is nuts, the painting is just a landscape ~ how could he think the artist stopped to make up all these ridiculous symbols?”

I own this garden, it’s time to eat my words. I don’t know what artists in the Renaissance did. I do know it’s taken me a lifetime to accept and own the Creator’s gifts as my own.

Welcome to Joy’s Garden!



Why is it I’ve never seen THIS WOMAN before?

Tuscany was wonderful . . . and

I can still hear my sister’s question reverberating in my head.

“Are you going to come home a new woman again?”

Niki de Saint Phalle’s sculpture at Capabilo

I took her picture without a second thought.

Then returning home, I discovered a big beautiful colored woman had been in my studio.

Visiting Capabilo (on the southern coast of Tuscany), I photographed Niki de Saint Phalle’s sculpture of the woman towering above the city wall. Then returning home, I discovered a big beautiful colored woman had been in my studio.

Paintings left unfinished on my easels appeared more colorful than I remembered. I felt as though I had come home into someone else’s world. Better than I remembered; more vivid, peaceful, focused ~ yet unequivocally recognizable as me!

How could I have known who this woman would look like? Or that I was even looking for her?

This ‘new’ person is recognizable, yet why is it I’ve never seen her before?

Now I’m painting two new series that synthesize 45 years.

1. Clouds, Skies, Sunsets & Dreams

It happened quite unexpectedly one day while I was having lunch. I’d taken my sandwich and drink out onto the veranda. I looked up at the brilliant turquoise sky and saw a single cloud.

The important part here is that I wasn’t doing anything. I wasn’t looking for anything. I was simply being there enjoying the warm sun, resting.

cloud paintings
On a Clear Day, oil on gessoed panel, Purchase Info>

In a flash I saw the painting. I finished my lunch and brought my drink back to the easel and started painting.

Couds, Skies, Sunsets & Dreams series
Couds, Skies, Sunsets & Dreams series in process. Each painting requires many layers of thin glazes, so waiting time to dry before the next can be applied.

The colors mixed on the gesso like pastels. So excited, I painted two more. Returning to Virginia, I am painting five at once! The series will be my winter studio show January ~ March.


These colorful abstract paintings synthesize my passion for fiber, texture, and vibrant color. While rooted in pastels from my early years, and even more recent oil paintings ~ something indescribable in words is happening in this series.

abstract paintings
The Yellow Door, oil on linen, Purchase Info>

The first shifts started on small linen canvases while in Italy. Street scenes and landscapes became more abstract. No longer feeling constrained to painting one or the other, organic and man-made subjects fused in compositions woven together with color and texture.

abstract paintings
The Olive Branch, oil on linen, Purchase Info>

Somehow all those things that filled my life and kept me ‘busy’are gone. Permission to do only those things I am most passionate about, granted. I didn’t even know what they were ~ until my retreat in Tuscany.

Learn more about the Tuscany Retreat

Paint in Tuscany with me