Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Figure, The Face, The Body: Part 1

Being at The Jewish Museum in New York two weeks ago to see the "Chagall: Love, War, and Exile" show brought back memories of the last time I was at the museum. And that led to memories of another show. A powerful show will do that. The Chagall show is incredible--moving and haunting-- and I will write about it on another day. If you are in New York between now and February 2nd, be sure to see the show.

Meanwhile, back to the shows that I have been revisiting in my mind after being at The Jewish Museum........

The experience of seeing "Picasso: The Cubist Portraits of Fernande Olivier" at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, was everlasting. Ten years later and I wish I could stand before those pieces and have that feeling again, the moment of exhalation in front of a piece after recovering from the first glance which had taken my breath away. 

book from the National Academy exhibition-available via  Barnes & Noble  here

About the show, the National Academy published:

"Between spring and fall 1909, Picasso produced more than 60 portraits of his companion, Fernande Olivier, in a variety of formats and mediums. In its intense devotion to a single subject, the series is virtually unprecedented in the history of portraiture. Powerful and melancholic, these portraits are among the most compelling in the history of modern art. This exhibition brings together some 50 of the related works, revealing Picasso's exploration of cubism and his radical reformulation of human physiognomy."

KEY WORDS: "radical reformulation of human physiognomy". Experiencing the beauty of another human, a woman loved by the artist, presented in this style was new to me and a bit uncomfortable at first. Breathtaking yet uncomfortable and then mesmerizing, beguiling, wonderful.

Pablo Picasso
Portrait of Fernande, Horta de Ebro
OIl on Canvas

Pablo Picasso
Standing Female Nude
Watercolor on Paper

Pablo Picasso
Bust of a Woman
portrait of Fernande Olivier 

I remember where I was, who I was with, and what I said when I saw this piece:

"WHOA! She's so beautiful. Is it Jackie Kennedy?" Completely taken, I listened as it was explained that this was by Alex Katz and the woman is his wife, Ada. The sight of "Ada in Hat" was shortly after the National Academy Picasso exhibition visit. 

In 2006, The Jewish Museum in New York mounted an unbelievable show, "Alex Katz Paints Ada". Again, just as in recollection of the Picasso show, my memory is so clear as I recall spending a couple of hours in the museum taking in each piece.  Standing back, moving closer, focusing on a small portion of a painting, then all of it. 

exhibition catalog of "Alex Katz Paints Ada" available from The Jewish Museum here

About the show, The Jewish Museum's statement said:

"For almost fifty years, the American painter Alex Katz has painted a series of portraits of his wife, Ada. These paintings have attained an iconic status and are unprecedented in their focus on a single figure over so many decades. Katz's portraits of Ada also raise fascinating questions about his methods and intentions: How much do these paintings reveal and how much do they conceal about their subject? How does the artist convey such vitality on his canvases? And how does Katz's work fit into the history of portraiture and the art movements of the 1960s and beyond? 

This fall The Jewish Museum will present Alex Katz Paints Ada, an exhibition of 40 paintings dating from 1957 to 2005. As the art historian Irving Sandler wrote in 1998, Ada "is woman, wife, mother, muse, model, sociable hostess, myth, icon, and New York goddess." The exhibition includes formal portraits, group scenes, and small paintings depicting Ada with husband Alex and son Vincent, and Ada in social and outdoor settings. To view this enthralling body of work is to understand the cycles of daily life and and the continual self-examination and reinvention of the relationship between a great artist and and his lifelong muse."

Alex Katz
Ada and Vincent, 1967

Alex Katz
Blue Umbrella #2, 1972

Alex Katz
Black Scarf, 1996

Whether cubism or realism, the love of figurative work and portraiture was born. And it continues.

Sometime soon after experiencing the Katz show, I saw this image in Elle Decor:

Steven Stolman's Palm Beach condo with Sally Michel painting over the sofa-image via Elle Decor
The room is well designed, interesting, pretty. But it's the painting to which my eye is immediately drawn. I learned that the artist is Sally Michel, the wife of Milton Avery. Neither cubism nor realism, this piece of a woman lounging with her bushy tailed cat is whimsical. Colorful, bold, abstract with the face left unfinished. 

Here is an example of another Sally Michel piece:

Sally Michel
John at Tea Time
Oil on Panel
24" x 18"
via Loucks Gallery, Glencoe, IL
And somewhere along the way, Elizabeth Peyton's work was introduced to me. LOVE. Major love. 
A piece from the permanent collection of MOMA:

Elizabeth Peyton
John & Jackie
from permanent collection of MOMA, New York
image via

and an image that I know nothing about except it is fantastic:

Elizabeth Peyton painting--image via Habitually Chic blog

In July of 2010, I visited the studio of Provincetown painter Cynthia Packard and saw these figurative pieces. HELLO! Moody. Deep. Dark. Seductive. And by an artist whose work I can specify for a client. And I did. "My Room" lives in the study of a Lafayette, LA, client.

"My Room" by Cynthia Packard. Mixed Media Figurative Collage. Now in collection in Lafayette, LA.

More on Cynthia in part 2 of this post.

That same Summer in Provincetown, I met Laurence Young. I loved his work and selected a piece for the same Lafayette client who has Cynthia Packard's piece. I met with Laurence at his studio and was immediately blown away by this piece:

Back Stitch
Oil/ Wax on Canvas, framed
24" x 18"
$ 2,000.00
available from Laurence Young

The colors, that back, the detail. Wow. And this:

Lady With Fan
Oil/Wax on Canvas, framed
24" x 18"
$ 2,200.00
available from Laurence Young

Again, colors, texture, depth, composition. AND, Laurence Young studied with Cynthia Packard. I knew I had to do something with this artist. I knew his work would have an audience outside of Provincetown and the Northeast. And now both VIEW GALLERY in Ridgeland, MS, and GREGG IRBY FINE ART in Atlanta, GA, have figurative pieces by Laurence Young.

Leave Me Alone
Mixed Media on Paper
18" x 24" matted
$ 275.00
available from VIEW GALLERY-Ridgeland, MS

Take My Hand
Oil/Wax on panel, framed
12" x 12"
$ 900.00
available from VIEW GALLERY-Ridgeland, MS

Strike A Pose
Mixed Media on Paper
18" x 24" Matted
$ 325.00
available from GREGG IRBY FINE ART-Atlanta, GA

Seated Woman Suite
Mixed Media on Paper
18" x 24" Matted
$ 325.00
available from GREGG IRBY FINE ART-Atlanta, GA
Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) currently has Laurence Young's "Veiled Portrait" on display in the annual members juried show which is hanging at PAAM through January.

Veiled Portrait
Oil/Wax on Canvas
30" x 30"
$ 2,900.00
available from Laurence Young,

Known for her landscapes, Kelli Kaufman created a series of nude figurative pieces after studying with Laurence Young in 2010 and Cynthia Packard this past Summer. About painting nudes, Kelli wrote:
"I enjoy painting them because they are new to me.  It’s been a process of exploring new territory, out of my usual comfort zone, and that’s exciting to me."

For Kelli there is a release, a freedom, from painting landscapes. And an entire show was devoted to figurative work.
"Silhouette" opened at Kelli Kaufman Studio and Gallery in Lafayette, LA, in September of this year and received great praise. 

Four of the galleries that represent Kelli Kaufman have figurative pieces in inventory:

Blue Solitude I
Oil/Wax on Panel, framed
16" x 20"
$ 750.00
available from VIEW GALLERY-Ridgeland, MS

No Man is an Island
Oil and Wax on Canvas, framed
18" x 24"
$ 750.00
available from PERCH-New Orleans, LA

Wade in the Water
Oil/Wax/Pastel on Panel, framed
9" x 12"
$ 225.00
available from OASIS-Destin, FL

Oil and Wax on Canvas, framed
16" x 20"
$ 750.00
available from OASIS-Destin, FL

And then there is Jacob Broussard, a 20 year old art major at University of Louisiana at Lafayette. When a gallerist saw Jacob's work earlier this year, she said, "this isn't learned. It is innate in him." Phyllis Geary of VIEW GALLERY in Mississippi was talking about Jacob Broussard's incredible command of the human figure and flesh and facial expressions and capturing life in a painting.

Often working from archival photographs from his family's stash of 1940s and 50s photos, Jacob brings a familiar moment in time to today. So much so that the viewer feels connected to the figure, the man, the woman, who has been elevated to receiving full attention and focus in Jacob's paintings.

"Elmo Jun" captured Best in Show at the 2013 Big Easel Art Show in Lafayette. About this piece, Jacob Broussard wrote:

"it's a 1947 image of my grandfather with his biker gang as a child. It's been part of an investigation I've developed this past semester, I was looking for different ways towards approaching flesh with paint; as I was researching different artists, I was thinking of a spiritual sense of flesh, family lineage, reincarnation, different flesh, but same spirit sort of work. Since looking at old photographs and reproducing many copies, I wanted that to become incorporated within the painting, so I duplicated the faces and hands, almost a literal interpretation of reproducing yourself from your ancestors. My grandfather is a paraplegic now, he lost his right leg 7 years ago on my 13th birthday. I wanted his leg to be a focus, exposed area of the painting, being that he lost flesh on a day of significance, a day of reproducing of his own flesh (my birthday). This commemorative painting addresses boyhood, domestic life, the age of lost innocence."

Elmo Jun
Mixed Media on Canvas
24" x 48"

For a recent fundraiser for CODOFIL (Council for the Development of French in Louisiana), Jacob created "Couche Couche" based off of a photograph of the artists great grandfather and his relatives sitting at the kitchen table eating the classic Cajun dish called Couche Couche.

Couche Couche
Oil on Canvas
24" x 36"

Galleries representing Jacob Broussard currently have some great piece in inventory including:

STUDY ON BICYCLE which is based off of "an original 1940s photograph from Scott, Louisiana, including the artist's grandfather and some of his childhood friends. Duplicated handlebars and arms suggest the process of recreating an image, old with time and creating 'flesh' in a sense, making it real, rebirthing the memory of these children."
Study on Bicycle
Acrylic on Canvas
24" x 48"
$ 1,350.00
available from VIEW GALLERY-Ridgeland, MS
Have an image of family members or ancestors that you would like to see brought to life in a painting? Consider Jacob Broussard for a commissioned piece.

Figure with Blue EyeOil on Canvas, framed
16" x 20"
$ 200.00
available from EDWARD DARE GALLERY-Charleston, SC

Finally, from a series that Jacob did last year, Orpheus: Doubt Comes In.

About this piece:
"The Orpheus painting is an interpretation of the Grecian mythology of Orpheus and Eurydice; I wanted to have the Underworld and the river Styx almost as this rundown, pull apart junk yard, very southern slums. I have Orpheus walking forward, leading Eurydice out of the Underworld, trying not to look back at her; Eurydice is out of the picture frame, making the focus Orpheus. I wanted to capture the shift in glances as he becomes doubtful of her presence and turns to see if she even exists, and ultimately, leading to her downfall.”
Orpheus: Doubt Comes In
36" x 36"
Acrylic on Canvas
$ 750.00
available from PERCH-New Orleans, LA

If you didn't already, I suggest clicking on each image to see the detail in the pieces. Who are your favorite figurative artists past or present, attainable (i.e.-affordable) or not? Leave a comment or shoot me an email. I would love to know about more incredible artists.

For more information or photos of any of the pieces by Laurence Young, Kelli Kaufman, or Jacob Broussard, please email me at

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Bear with me on this one. I promise you will see some of the chicest rooms if you hang in for the ride!

I am working on the Master Bedroom of clients in New York. I did the Foyer and Living Room of this Chelsea apartment years and years ago, around 2006, and was recently called back to do the Study and Bedroom. The clients wanted navy walls so I selected my favorite Benjamin Moore navy colors to be tested. For the record, those colors are "Newbury Port Blue", "Van Deusen Blue", and "Phillipsburg Blue". You can look those up later and put them in your file for the best navys. You're welcome.

The walls are painted and after rounds and rounds of fabric schemes, it seems we are in go mode with these selections:


A fabulous Sister Parish Design pattern called "Bolero" in Indigo.


Trina Turk "Santorini" Duvet Cover and Shams in Turquoise with Jonathan Adler "Fish Scales" sheets in Navy and Turquoise:

And my 1st choice for a big rectangular pillow to go in front of the shams is this fabulous Martyn Lawrence Bullard for F. Schumacher fabric called "Adras Ikat Print" in color way (that's designer speak) Sky. 

I received an email from the Mrs. of the house asking if I would speak to the Mr. to "explain to him how all the different blues will work". 

I know how my end of the conversation would go: "It's fantastic. It's classic. IT JUST WORKS!" 
Nothing else to be said.

The query got my mind rolling. I started thinking about the masters, the designers whose work I admire, and how they use blue and white. Anyone can take a bunch of blue and white fabrics and throw them all in a room and say they work because they are all blue and white. But can we say BOOOORING if the tones are all the same?? It's when another color is thrown into the mix that rooms come to life. The balance that is necessary happens with the mixing of tones. Period. It has to be done.

Take note of...

...the ever chic Carolyne Roehm, a Southern gal at the top of the New York social swirl, who has written an entire book on the subject. And note the color of the Ampersand sign. Aqua, Turquoise, whatever you want to call it. Try to see the cover of the book if the & was in the same blue as the words. It just wouldn't work. No pop. No focus.

In an article in Veranda in 2008 when the book came out, about the classic color combination, Roehm says:

"blue and white form nature's quintessential color combination. Blue and white are, she explains, the look of pristine snow against deep blue Aspen skies; spires of blue and white delphinium in a garden; Connecticut's spring mornings where the apple blossoms and nodding heads of white narcissus are in contrast to soft blue skies and vibrant green grass." it does take another color to make this really work? YES. The pop of the "vibrant green grass" is what makes the blue sky and narcissus so beautiful. 

And in the NYC Master Bedroom, the turquoise and aqua in the Navy walled room with crisp white trim and ceilings work like the green grass with the apple blossoms and white narcissus and blue sky as described by Ms. Roehm.

But how do the masters of design create brilliance in the blue and white world? It only takes a look at rooms by BILLY BALDWIN, MARIO BUATTA, TODD ALEXANDER ROMANO, a Herrera (of the Carolina Herrera family), ASHLEY WHITTAKER, MEG BRAFF, and LINDSEY HARPER to see that it just works. Those names in all caps are some of the best of the best designers from the past to the present and here is what they have done... Living Rooms:


In what is quite possibly the chicest room of all time, the late great Billy Baldwin, showed why he is considered "the most influential American designer of this century", quote from House Beautiful, November 1999 issue, with what he created at Villa La Fiorentina, the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Harding Lawrence (he being the founder and CEO of Dallas-based Braniff Airlines), in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France. FAB-U-LOUS! While all of the sofas and lounge chairs are upholstered in the same medium hued blue, the rug is navy and white and the ebony coffee table, basalt ware urns, and gilded ebony desk give visual weight and balance, the way the indigo background curtains will in NYC bedroom, to the otherwise all blue and white room. In the October 2012 issue of House Beautiful, Alexa Hampton said, "This could have been done last week." In other words, it's timeless and still oh so chic. And it was designed in the late 1960's!


Oh, Mario. The "Prince of Chintz". The Prince of everything! In design school in the 90's, it wasn't possible to talk about good design without referencing this hysterically funny man who has been lauded over and over, and deservedly so, as creating some of America's best rooms. In a recent Architectural Digest, an article titled, "Master of Ceremonies", looked at the homes of Hilary Geary and Wilbur Ross, long-time clients of Mr. Buatta. This is the living room of the Ross's Southampton, NY, home which sings, sings, sings swathed in a liberal amount of Brunschwig & Fils' "Verrieres" fabric which has about every tone of blue there is. And small doses of pink and green cut the blue and provide visual breaks from the print flowing around the room.

A new, it is about dang time, book on Mario Buatta..and look at the color scheme of the cover! Blue, in multiple tones, cut with yellow. Perfect.


Texas native Todd Romano has caught the design world's eye as of late with his most recent personal NYC living room design. This room has appeared on every bloggers screen since Architectural Digest published it last year. All blue except for small pops of color in the pillows and "a Ward Bennett wicker Sled chair and prints by Robert Goodnough and Josef Albers provide lively counterpoints." Look at the photo and then scroll back up to the images of the scheme for the NYC bedroom. Thanks, Todd, for the inspiration! 


When this project was published in Elle Decor a couple/few years ago, I thought it was so daggum good. The house is the Locust Valley (Long Island) weekend home of Patricia Herrera Lansing, fashion consultant and daughter of Carolina Herrera. Everything about this house works since it is, as the magazine titled the article, "All About Ease". In the library, various shades of blue and aqua are cut by the presence of a white sofa and solid neutral rug. 


Basically, Ashley Whittaker can do no wrong! Since starting her own firm in New York after training with Markham Roberts, this Florida native has done project after project after project and just gets better and better and better. Ashley is truly coming into her own now and the pages of all of the top magazines are coming to life with the design successes created by Whittaker. 

One of the most recent hits of design ecstasy came while I was on a plane a couple of months ago catching up on all I had missed in the design world. When I came across this Greenwich, CT, dream house in House Beautiful Magazine, I couldn't get enough! From the living room...... a bedroom..... is just all fantastic! Brava, Ashley, for taking a classic color story and making it sing, sing, sing a 2013 tune!

Continuing with bedrooms, where this post began with the project at hand...

 MEG BRAFF, Mississippi native New York based designer created "Classic Island Style" (Coastal Living Magazine) in an "open-air villa in Round Hill, Jamaica". The small doses of aqua in the bolster pillows and lamp shades make this room work.

another rising star and belle of the design ball is Georgia native LINDSEY CORAL HARPER whose New York office creates interiors all over the country including this Charlotte, NC, house that House Beautiful put on the cover in February 2012. 

In two blue and white bedrooms, Lindsey chose a contrasting color to maximize the style and substance. 

from the magazine,

"This large guest room needed graphic punch. She started with the Stark carpet, and ended with the Greek Key pendant light from C. Bell. Walls are painted Benjamin Moore's Van Deusen Blue. Vintage nightstands are from Liza Sherman. Julia B. bedding."

What did I say was one of my three favorite Benjamin Moore navy's? Yes, Van Deusen Blue.

And another bedroom is all blue and white and then intensified with green walls and pillows.

Back to BUATTA....and those same clients, the Geary-Ross's...this time, "thirty stories above Fifth Avenue, A World of Glamour and Romance". That's what Architectural Digest said when they published this apartment in 2005. Could it get any more blue and white?? Yes, it would have if Mario had not unexpectedly and expertly brought in lavender and yellow. Every shade of blue possible is in this room and...


Back to nature and outside, where Carolyne Roehm said this color combo is formed, on three very chic porches, we have:

BUATTA again in the same Architectural Digest article, this time on the Ross's Southampton loggia where every shade of blue comes alive with the pops of aqua on the ceiling and in three pillows....

...and in Brazil where SIG BERGAMIN popped some aqua into the scheme by painting a classic wicker table a great tone. How boring would it have been if the table where white? I went mad over this project when Elle Decor published it.

and back to Jamaica, where MEG BRAFF continued the color scheme of the before shown project's interior out to the open-air living room where Meg was clearly inspired by BALDWIN to upholster all furniture in the same fabric but add the great Quadrille print as pillows which has a couple shades of blue in the print as well as aqua/turquoise.

And what are the poppy colors in this project? Braff took her cues from nature...The vibrant greens of the trees, the turquoise water of the ocean, and pink. PINK? Yes, pink, and it is fabulous in the umbrella and the flowers and the bikini-ed and saronged Lauren Phillips Blair, project manager of this large scale project and model for the day! She is beautiful and it, the design, is all beautiful....

....and IT JUST WORKS!!