Annie at Liz Christy Garden painting.
photo: self portrait
In this issue:
Covid 19 Lockdown
Fabric Donation
The Pandemic Portfolio
Pandemic-Related Non-Event

An Actual Exhibition
Gift Certificate
Archives - Newsletters
Everyone has a story. Mine is benign, compared with what many have endured, are going through or can anticipate soon. 

Friends and many, many others unknown to me personally have either died or become so ill that their constitutions are undermined for the foreseeable future. Our health care system and economy will require years to recover, as will this country's reputation for anything like probity or honesty. The list of those in positions of political power in the nation's capital whom I'd like to strangle because of their viciousness or incompetence grows daily. I grieve for my many fellow-humans who have lost loved ones, financial security, health -- both physical and mental -- and who may become homeless in the very near future because of so much other loss. 

 I'll just say I've been lucky, so far.  My personal losses are minor, in the great scheme of things. I am tired of my own cooking, though the Union Square Greenmarket has been a godsend --safest and most interesting source of food for me. I miss casual human contact, though I do have a pod of people whom I can spend time with, socially distanced or masked, or both. I miss having a studio full of other painters, restaurant meals, bars, yoga classes, and of course -- the worst for me, on every level -- social tango, which is normally in summer in New York City taking full advantage of outdoor venues. Oh, and the possibility of traveling would be welcome. 

In the plus-column, there is much, and there are many, for which and for whom I am extremely grateful. Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone. Anyone quarantining with a crowd and a dishwasher can thank Josephine Cochrane, inventor (in 1886) of the first commercially successful automatic dishwasher. Many others whose names I do not know who have created radio, television, computers, books on CDs, and smartphones. Medical professionals -- these days, Dr. Anthony Fauci in particular. I want also to appreciate my own GP, Dr. Gabriela Rodriguez-Caprio, who said to me enthusiastically a month ago, "I was born for this!" Musicians, dancers, writers. Fellow visual artists. Anyone who makes me laugh. Being able to reconnect with old friends -- priceless.
A couple of personal highlights from the these last five months:

Early in March I was put in touch via Facebook with Katie Roño, who lives in Elmhurst, Queens -- the epicenter at the time of the Covid outbreak, who was doing grassroots organizing of mask-making for non-medical use. Through Katie, I was able to donate about 75% of what was my quilt-making fabric stash and a sewing machine I was not using. A jolt to my system to part with much of 40-plus years of collecting, but at the time, almost all the fabric stores were closed -- deemed non-essential businesses -- and the need for good, pre-washed cotton was glaringly obvious. I was glad to be able to help. And I kept enough fabric for studio backdrops.
Masks for civilian use, March 2020
photo: Katie Roño

Painting has helped.  I decided early in the lock-down that I could not risk working in media other than water-based ones because of the possibility of respiratory complications, were I to contract the virus. All's well so far, but I continue in watercolor and gouache -- nothing requiring solvents. Many people have reported deep-level housecleaning during quarantine. Full disclosure: I'm not one of them, but the loft is marginally cleaner than it was. There are still grit-bunnies, in addition to their more common dust-bunny cousins, awaiting removal. But I took advantage of many quiet days to go through all of my unframed watercolors. I keep a top flat-file drawer for abandoned pieces, but also went through other work that shouldn't have been preserved as it was. 

Some of the rejects got washed down in my bathtub to remove relatively loose pigment. Ghostly substrates remained. I was not suffering from lack of paper. I was more interested in burying mistakes and taking advantage of surprising colors peeking up through freshly laid layers. What I did run low on were paints and the artist's tape I use to attach watercolor paper to boards. Art stores were closed, as non-essential businesses (though, fortunately, our hardware stores were allowed to do business]. On-line purchases from Blick, Cheap Joe's Art Stuff and Jerry's Artrama kept me going.  

 Fortunately for a painter, the local Greenmarket and grocery stores brought flowers into the city. For weeks I amused myself by burying mistakes under new coats of paint, often with colors quite different from the under-layers. Mostly the new works could be finished with watercolor alone, but some required being covered by gouache, watercolor's more opaque variation.  The other resource that saved me as a painter from insanity was the opportunity to paint in the Liz Christy Bowery Houston Garden, for which I have held a key for about 20 years. This was the one outdoor venue I could go to during much of the Spring where I could set aside my mask and be safe from casual human contact.  

My Pandemic Portfolio (first five months) is being inventoried as I write this by my new office assistant Alexandra Kamins, currently making my life easier by handling all kinds of computer-related tasks. 
Here's a selection of things from the PP: First is a sequence of the transformation of one piece from its original composition to the 2020 version.
1. Set up
2. Watercolor to be painted over
3. Intermediate stage
Peonies and Bachelor's Buttons, Southworth Vase,
watercolor and gouache, 13 ¾" x 13 ¾,” May 13, 2020

Liz Christy Community Garden
Established in 1974, during a period in which New York City landowners were torching buildings for insurance money and creating empty lots behind cyclone fencing, this garden and others like it began with the late Liz Christy tossing water balloons filled with seeds over fences on the Lower East Side. Maintained since by a coterie of volunteer gardeners, this garden, now expanded from its original dimensions, occupies a verdant strip along Houston Street between the Bowery and Second Avenue. I don't garden, but I've been lucky enough to be the unofficial artist-in-residence for several decades. This Spring was an unusually beautiful one.
Irises, Liz Christy Garden, watercolor on aquaboard, 8" x 8," May 1, 2020
Roses, Liz Christy Garden, watercolor on aquaboard, 8" x 8," June 2, 2020
Flowers, watercolor on aquaboard, 8" x 8," June 12, 2020
Roses and Large Leaves, Liz Christy Garden, watercolor, 7 ⅜" x 7 ⅜," June 4, 2020
Roses, Liz Christy Garden, watercolor, 7 ⅝" x 7 ⅝," June 10, 2020
Hydrangeas, Liz Christy Garden, watercolor on aquaboard, 8" x 8," June 21, 2020
Social Distancing
As we have learned during this time to maintain social distancing of 6 feet from others, I've slightly varied my compositional penchant for depicting things in pairs by deliberately spacing elements in still life.
Socially-Distanced Bachelor's Buttons watercolor, 11 ¼” x 17,” May 24, 2020
Socially Distanced Snapdragons and Bachelor's Buttons,
watercolor and gouache, 11" x 17," June 24, 2020
Socially-Distanced Onions, watercolor and gouache, 11" x 17," June 27, 2020

Same container, different contents
I've written elsewhere of my meditations on the permanent and the transient aspects of painting floral still-life. The flowers fade but the containers remain behind; they just need to be washed and made ready for another batch of flowers. This feels particularly timely now, as the time-sense of many of us seems to be askew, if not completely warped. As in, "What day is this?'" And, because many of us currently have more unstructured time than we've been accustomed to, self-reflection, memory, speculation on the future can take up more of our waking consciousness. 

Here are paintings in which two different vases -- each a gift, I'm grateful to say -- show off their contents rather differently.
Peonies in Frankoma Vase,
watercolor, 10 ¾" x 14 ¾," May 2020
Bachelor's Buttons, Peonies, Ranunculus,
Frankoma Vase,
watercolor and gouache, 17 ⅛" x 11," May 29, 2020
Bachelors Buttons, Peonies, Apple Wine Pitcher,
watercolor, 15" x 11," June 13, 2020
Peonies, Bachelor's Buttons, Apple Wine Pitcher,
watercolor, 13 ¾" x 6 ⅝," June 7, 2020

Same set-up, different compositions

And finally, here are two different versions of the same subject, blue delphiniums in their short season of availability.  

Note to the impatient: One of the plagues of a watercolor painter is the wait for paint to dry. If we are too impatient, and keep painting into areas that remain damp, especially on a day of high humidity, we can make incredible messes and mistakes. One strategy, which I highly recommend, is to start two paintings during the same session, and to attach each to a different support. Some effects in watercolor are achieved by tilting a board while paint is wet, so it's best not to involve another painting simultaneously. 
Delphiniums I, watercolor,
15" x 5 ⅛," July 16, 2020
Delphiniums II, watercolor,
15" x 5 ⅛," July 16, 2020 15" x 5 ⅛," July 16, 2020
Hydrangeas and Salvia, Frankoma Vase II,
watercolor, 15" x 10 ⅞," August 3, 2020
Hydrangeas and Salvia, Frankoma Vase I,
watercolor, 14" x 10," August 3, 2020

Fifteen of my oil and oil-stick canvases were installed on March 2 at the Mulberry Street Branch of the New York Public Library, for a planned three-month exhibition. The NYPL -- quite correctly -- shut down on March 13. Though the system is now beginning to open gradually for return of library materials and to collect pre-ordered items, I've no idea when the show at Mulberry Street will be released from quarantine. I just hope the works are having a good time together. 
Bye, Bye, Blues, oil on linen canvas,
30" x 20,” 2018
Yellow on Yellow on Yellow,
oil on linen canvas, 30" x 20,” 2018
Cantilevered Tulips: Yellow Vase,
 oil stick on canvas, 18 " x 18,” 2017
Red Tulips, oil stick, 16” x 20,” 2017
Lilacs in the Southworth Vase,
oil stick on canvas, 18” x 18,” 2017

I'll be showing a monotype, Rattitude, 1/2in the Salmagundi Club Summer Exhibition, 10-28 August 2020. This show will certainly be available on-line, and, it is hoped, also actually in the club's Main Gallery. 

Rattitude, monotype, 1/2, 2020
The Salmagundi Club is located at 47 Fifth Avenue, at 12th Street,
New York, NY 10003; 212-255-7740.  

Please check club website ( to
confirm hours and terms of access to the physical exhibition.


My teaching studio is, in fact, open for business, with social distancing observed, lots of good ventilation, and, for now, no solvents in use. Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:30-5:30; please feel free to get in touch if interested. 212-464-7519 or

Current schedule:
Wednesday 2:30pm - 5:30 pm
Thursday 2:30pm - 5:30 pm
A typical studio workstation
Stay safe, everyone!


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