Monday, December 31, 2012

Something Cheery

Cache Pot with Pansies, 16" x 12"

 Dear Imaginary Friends,

I don't know about you, but winter makes me feel sluggish, tired and blah. I find that it helps me to surround myself with bright colors, in warm hues. The painting above is just what Dr. Happy ordered! Something that reminds us of Spring. Art therapy has real value. You don't have to paint the art in question; you can just hang it. :)  

Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Most Recent Sale, from my Sedona Series

Bell and Courthouse Rock, Oil, 8 x 10", Oil
This painting sold last week at River Farm. I have two pieces left from this series.

This one is called Coffeepot Rock, and is a tiny 5" x 7", Oil.

Never a Dull Moment

Dear imaginary friends,
Here is how our trip to Egypt began-
There was a slight scary moment when the ticket agent at Dulles
said you must show us proof of your yellow fever shot. What 
yellow fever shot?? First we heard of that.  Then the lady
said have you been to Zambia?
Luckily no. Cuz that is when you need the shot!
(Now why did she assume we just came from Zambia??) 
As much as we love a major adventure, we planned to
nonetheless avoid Tahrir Square. 
You only need so much excitement!
Pinching Ourselves
Everyone Wore This Garb Outside of Cairo

Such Balance!
 We feel extremely safe here in Cairo. The only 
violence we have seen is two women arguing. Today I rode a camel, 
saw the pyramids, climbed up inside the tallest pyramid, Cheops, saw 
the sphinx, was accosted by a zillion vendors, and ate lunch
at a yummy country inn. Tonight is dinner here at the hotel. 
We are sore and exhausted, not to mention sleep deprived. It was
the equivalent of climbing beaucoup flights of stairs
to go up inside the pyramid. 
And we were bent over like trolls some of the time, hanging on to 
dubious handrails, climbing rung ladders, etc. 
It was about 100 degrees inside at the top. Outside, 
it is in the seventies during the day, with a lot 
of smoggy haze in the morning and evening. There is such bad air 
pollution here.

We are in room 2120 of the Sofitel Elgezirah on the Nile on a little island. We have a tiny balcony, with great panoramic views of the city and the river. It is a large, beautiful hotel. We were originally supposed to stay in the InterContinental Semiramis, but it's off Tahrir Square, and the last tour groups complained of tear gas getting in their eyes when they went outside. Not fun. The protests are killing the tourist economy here.

Only seven people were brave enough to show up for this tour, as the news makes things sound far worse than they really are. Just Carlo and I are doing the Jordan extension. Can you imagine seven people on a 75 cabin Nile boat? Crazy. But not as crazy as a tour group of two people in Jordan. We have every meal at the same table with the other five people and the tour guide.

Egypt is less Westernized than I expected. Many men are walking around in turbans and galibiyahs (long gowns) The ones from southern Egypt, also know as Upper Egypt, are  more fundamentalist. Modes of transportation include donkeys, carts, bicycles and tiny mini cars called tut-tuts, because they sputter. There are no front doors on them and no seat belts. Also, this country is not handicap friendly nor OSHA compliant!
There are really long lines at all the gas stations in Upper Egypt. The supply line is terrible outside of Cairo.

There is much litter along the roads, and no shortage of car exhaust. 15 million people live in Cairo,  the largest city in Africa, sited on the longest river in the world. The Nile floods, making agriculture possible. Today we drove past farms growing gigantic cabbage, farms with buffaloes, goats and sheep, none of which looked well-fed.

Tomorrow is the Egyptian Museum, a market, a view of Cairo's medieval quarter, and Muhammed Ali mosque and citadel. I am required to wear a head scarf, long sleeves, and no shoes in the mosque, just like when we went to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.

I really am glad that I came. It is a fascinating country and older and a better history lesson than any class I have ever taken.
We are very well taken care of by Viking. Our guide is an encyclopedia of Egyptian history. He does free lance tours for all the good tour companies, including Uniworld and Abercrombie and Kent. His English is great. His name is Ehab.

All of the camels have names. The one I rode was Michael Douglas (!) I could not see the resemblance. It was very scary when he stood up and laid down, and his gait lurched from one side to the other. I was hoping to survive and did. He was pretty cute. For a camel. (Don't want my cat to be jealous!)

This is not a clean country! Many people keep covers over their cars and air conditioners to keep the sand and dust out. Maybe that is the true reason for wearing the long gowns?
An enigma: why do the people walk in the roads, even freeways, even at night, eschewing the sidewalks? Tradition! 

Your Imaginary Friend,


I Love Camels and Camels Love Me

I Ride "Michael Douglas" in Giza, in front of the Pyramids

Camel Taxi Stand

I Think They Are Flirting with Me!
Dear Imaginary Friends,

Carlo and I recently went to Egypt and Jordan, and we absolutely loved our trip! To stand in front of the Great Pyramids, outside Cairo, ride camels, walk the Sahara Desert, is nothing short of amazing, when you are a couple of regular old peeps. We had a cool opportunity and grabbed it, to climb inside the Great Pyramid, where Ramses II was once buried. It was like walking up eight flights of stairs, sometimes while hunched over, and sometimes on a rung ladder, straight up. All I can say is, we did it, and can hardly believe we had such an experience.
You should really consider visiting Egypt. We loved it. And the camels are pretty cute.

Your Imaginary Friend,

Monday, November 26, 2012

What Did I Sell Yesterday?

I am so glad that you asked. Well, I sold Earnest the Seal at A Show of Hands on Mt. Vernon Avenue, in Alexandria's fabulously funky Del Ray neighborhood.
a show of hands
They have one remaining animal painting of mine for sale, and yes, it is crazy and fabulous.
Mrs. William Wegman

She is one sexy b****!

An animal lover,

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sweet Tooth

Who said that I had a sweet tooth? Surely, you are incorrect!! My art is a manifestation of an obsession with desserts?? huh?

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Phildelphia Museum of Art

One of my favorite Monet Paintings

Turkish Cradle

The Philadelphia Museum of Art, located on the sweeping Ben Franklin Parkway, is filled with such treasures.

I was swept off my feet with the extensive Impressionist collection, and the many rooms of exotic temples, French cloisters, etc., gathered from all over the world. It must be seen to be believed.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

National Cathedral of Washington

Outside the Children's Chapel

Needlepoint seat cushions inside the children's chapel

The Children's Chapel

Main Altar

The choir and organ
Dear Imaginary Friends,

I recently had the privilege of participating in a private group tour provided by Karen Miller, a very well-informed tour guide, of the Washington National Cathedral.
It is the sixth largest cathedral in the world. Unfortunately, extensive damage occurred during the earthquake here of August 2011, and some repairs are ongoing.
One highlight for me was the very charming Children's Chapel.
This august Gothic building has been the locale of many VIP funerals, and is the final resting place of Woodrow Wilson.
It is the only cathedral in the world to feature a moon rock in one of the stained glass windows.

Your imaginary tourist,

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Dear Imaginary Friends,

Philadelphia has been the butt of many jokes over the years.
Imaginary contest:
First prize is one week in Philly.
Second prize is two weeks in Philly.

And though the title of that sitcom, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" is truly sarcastic, Philly has something big to recommend it: Wonderful art museums.

Carlo and I just spent two days in Philadelphia at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Barnes Collection, and the Rodin Museum, which are all conveniently located on Ben Franklin Parkway.
From the huge and encyclopedic PMofA, to the tiny Rodin, there is much to take in.

And to make things gastronomically intriguing, the museums have wonderful cafes inside, and Philadelphia being a student-oriented town, has many vegetarian restaurants. Last Saturday night, we dined at the exquisitely creative Vedge, located in the former Princeton Club. Wow, the things they can do with ordinary ingredients, such as cauliflower and eggplant. It is hard to believe how many layers of flavor and how many ingredients are combined to create the most unique vegan dishes, including a mysteriously delicious cheesecake. Make your reservation way in advance, or you can sit at the bar, if you are more a last minute person and a gambler.

Indian Temple at Philadelphia Museum of Art

Iranian room at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

My Pomegranate Sangria at Vedge

All of the above destinations are in center city Philadelphia. Unfortunately, the drive via I-95 from Washington is a lengthy four hours. Hurricane Sandy got in the way. too. Part of 95 near Wilmington was closed. Two of the big rest stops were closed in Maryland. Nonetheless...

Thumbs up, Philly!

Your imaginary Traveler,

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Pair of Pears

Dear Imaginary Friends,

What tastes better in autumn than a nice juicy Bartlett pear? Not much, so I painted the same pear in two different poses as a visual poem to its tastiness. The first one is the pear at attention and the second one is the lazy recumbent pear.

Yellow Pear, 7 x 5", Oil

Pear Down, 7" x 5", Oil

Harmony in Green, 16 x 20", Oil 

I also painted a green chicken. Check it out! It is a safe bet that this is the first and last painting you will ever see of a green chicken! You will notice the same silver tumbler appears in two paintings, as does the same Bartlett pear. Hey, a girl only has so much stuff to paint! The cast has a broad repertory of poses, much like musical chairs.

The Yellow Pear and the Harmony in Green, aka, Green Chicken, were hung today by yours truly in my one woman show at River Farm. If you haven't seen the show yet, it is up through January 7, 2013.
Your Imaginary Friend,

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sushi at the CVS

Dear Imaginary Friends,

I just don't understand what all the fuss is about sushi. It is raw fish. No spices or herbs. Just the laziest way of serving up protein.

Nonetheless, skeptical though I was, I agreed to lunch at Sushi Taro off Dupont Circle in Washington, DC.

Inside Sushi Taro

My Bento Box
And here is why I liked it so much: My entree included fried chicken! Yup, you read it right here. See center of Bento box. First course: miso soup. It was meh: salty water flavored with cabbage.
Second course: shrimp and veggie tempura (mmmm!), then fried chicken in the middle (mmmm!), and then the infamous sushi, including salmon and some other fish, which were all very fresh. And rice and shredded cabbage on the side.

I love the decor. It is very serene, with high ceilings, despite having an entry at the back of a CVS drugstore. Yes, I said CVS. Inauspicious, to say the least. But when one enters, it is into the world of Japanese businessmen bowing and handing each other their cards, and gracious wooden accents and a beautiful lighting fixture. Large windows look out onto the city below.

Make reservations, as sushi plus fried chicken is beyond a winner. And then trek next door to Mr. Yogato for delish fro-yo.

Your imaginary foodie friend,

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Canyon Ranch Spa in Miami Beach

Dear Imaginary Friends,

What city is spicier than Miami? Um... not many. But there are many different sides to Miami. I could write a book. Miami has a thriving  modelling business and is obsessed with beauty. There is also the pervasive Latino influence. And then there is fabulous shopping, of which we partook in Bal Harbour. 

My favorite Miami pastime of all is actually people watching, both in Bal Harbour and on Lincoln Road, even though I have seen some sights that have burned my eyes. This time, we saw a sixtyish man strutting his stuff very slowly and deliberately in a shocking pink Lycra Speedo. He was tanned and buff, and a total exhibitionist, walking past all of the sidewalk cafes on Lincoln Road. We were incredulous. And lost our appetites. Only in Miami. I enjoy seeing the beautiful people at the Raleigh Hotel. They come to lunch poolside and everyone looks pretty fabulous: slick Europeans, youngish couples, expensive clothing.

When my husband and I recently trekked to South Beach last week, we searched for some extra special places to dine. While perusing our choices via, I realized that there is a Canyon Ranch restaurant inside an oceanside hotel and spa built a few years ago.

We made a beeline last Saturday night. The restaurant is stunningly beautiful, creatively decorated and set on the beach with outdoor dining and views of the ocean. Musicians played music that we really enjoyed, setting a really relaxed mood.
The menu was large and contained vegan options as well as a zillion other healthy choices.

Canyon Ranch is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, and has other spas in both Lenox, Massachusetts in the Berkshires, and Miami Beach. Most of the patrons are older, well-to-do, and casually dressed. Canyon Ranch is all about being healthy, at peace, and rested.

Every item on the menu in their elegant restaurant contains full nutritional information, and nothing is unhealthy. Corn syrup? No! Quinoa? Yes! There is actually a tiny healthy serving of cheesecake on the menu, which sits on a lollipop stick.

We ate reasonable quantities of low calorie elegant cuisine, and yet came away feeling satisfied, guilt free, healthy and very relaxed.
The Uber Trendy Base store on Lincoln Road in Miami's South Beach
I look forward to going back next time we head to Miami. Canyon Ranch, can you please open an outpost here in Washington, DC?

Your fan,


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

River Farms Show Up Three More Months

Photo by Shirl Walley. All rights reserved.

Photo by Shirl Walley. All rights reserved.

 Dear Imaginary Friends,

Since I sold 14 paintings from my River Farm show, I thought I would show you some items that are still on the wall. I am trying to replace sold pieces as they sell, but have not succeeded in filling every spot yet. The two pictured with me Amaryllis and Chambered Nautilus, are new to the show. So even if you have seen the show already, there is new work to see!

Your imaginary Friend,


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sunday, October 7, 2012

All Things Natural, Big and Small

Red Bell Peppers

Flowering Quince

Daffodil Study

Great Falls

Grace Gathering Shells

Coffeepot Rock

Love Triangle

Red Roses

Van Gogh's Chair

Lake Okeechobee

Harmony in Blue and Orange

Amethyst Waterlily

Waterlilies Squared
Dear Imaginary Friends,

When I signed up two years ago to have a one woman show, I promised to produce a body of work that contained at least 45 original oil paintings that were all natural, i.e., florals, fruit, vegetables, gardens, seascapes, landscapes, and the grounds of River Farms. I ended up painting four paintings specifically of River Farms and grounds, and seventy-two total to hang on the walls of every room of this magnificent historic building.

I am most assuredly a prolific painter. However, the architectural paintings were slow and deliberate. I kept adjusting over and over again little aspects of proportion, color, shadow. The fruits and vegetables were more loose and free. Not so, the landscapes; I have a hang up about painting trees. For me, it is like speaking in a foreign language; just my little quirk.

Of the above paintings, the one that took me a month was Grace Gathering Shells. I kept changing the little girl and the shoreline, as well as the color of Lewes Bay, to make it interesting and unexpected.

Your Imaginary Fast Painter,