“Matoi and Lara Ames”
Oil on linen – 30 x 34 – Collection of Lara Ames
Matoi was a multi-champion driving and Park horse Arabian stallion and sire of many other fine performance horses. He was also much loved by the Ames family, particularly Lara who had ridden him to some of his wins. When he passed at age 30, Dick Ames called to commission a portrait of his daughter on Matoi as a surprise gift for her at Christmas. Starting with an excellent reference photo by photographer Howard Schatzberg, I made only a few small changes to make sure Matoi looked his best and to change Lara’s coat lining to gold from its original distracting white (gold is one of the farm colors). But the original photo had been taken outside in an arena with a high, solid wood fence. I showed Dick several little oil sketches with different settings I imagined or adapted from photos of the Ames’ beautiful Minnesota river valley farm, Cedar Ridge Arabians. The idea using the road between the ponds with Matoi reflected in the water was the easy winner. Our next choice was to place the scene in autumn. Most daring, I will freely admit, was my decision to move the sun from behind the figures around to the front. I wanted more of Lara’s face in sunlight and more detail and shine on Matoi. My thanks to Dick Ames for entrusting me to paint his daughter and this remarkable little stallion.
Irish Winter Frolic
Oil on linen – 16 x 25 inches – Private Collection
Pat’s Irish Draught, Dillon, was a pretty laid-back gelding. But one morning he was turned loose in a paddock deep with fresh snow and luckily there was a video running. He dug in and went into his big dressage trot as he charged along the fence. Even though he was in winter coat, Pat decided this was perfect for a portrait of him. Frankly it was fun to paint fuzz.
Goose and Becca
Oil on linen – 20 x 16 – Private Collection
I met Becca’s husband at the Arabian Scottsdale show and we talked about a portrait. From then on it was all long-distance but many commissions are. We were able to work back and forth by email and phone until his present to her was finished and ready to ship.
Oil on mounted linen – 10 x 8 inches – Private Collection
Most portraits I paint are larger with fairly detailed backgrounds. This painting of the German Shepherd reminded me of how simplicity can be all you need if the subject has as much life and expression as Kara.
Oil on linen – 24 x 36 inches – Private Collection
Max, the young man on the floor, believes in local, nutrient-dense real food and the freedom to acquire it. Because he delivered raw milk to his customers, he ran afoul of the state government. The other four men are nationally involved in the defense of a person’s right to decide what foods they eat or feed their families; they came to the small Wisconsin town to show their support for Max.
Dr. Mike and Emery
Oil on linen – 32 x 34 inches – Private Collection
Mike and Mary and I had all been in high school together but hadn’t been in touch for decades. They, however, always wondered how far I had taken my art. When they saw my ad in Southwest Art Magazine, they called and we reconnected for two big, enjoyable commissions with their champion German Shorthair hunting dogs. And friendship – did I mention the friendship?? The process of creating this painting is explained in detail in A Portrait in the Making.
Six Little Ladies – Daughters of Emery
Oil on linen – 25 x 36 inches – Private Collection
When the reference photo arrived by email, Mike had written above it, “I trust you can improve on the background.” I certainly hoped so! The puppies were in a bright, white box, indoors, with a chain link fence behind them, all taken with a flash. To be able to use the photo, I knew I’d better keep the lighting pretty flat. Putting them outside on a gray, overcast day with the light just a bit brighter on top of them and a touch darker below seemed to give the little ladies a good home.
Grandpa, the Artist Before Me
Oil on linen – 17 x 12 inches – Collection of the Artist
My paternal Grandfather was an extraordinarily talented man who never got to pursue his art because of the time and place in which he lived. He was also the kindest and gentlest of souls. When he realized he had a granddaughter who drew all the time, he supported my dreams with all his heart. I am grateful he lived long enough to see me on my way. When I sign a painting “Maderich”, it’s for both of us.
Making Big Bubbles
Oil on mounted linen – 6 x 7 inches – Private Collection
This was an accidental portrait. One summer I looked across the street and there was my neighbors’ young son making big bubbles, everything backlit by the sun. I grabbed my camera and took a number of photos from which I did this small study. It felt odd to think of taking it across to his parents – here, buy this – so I hung it in my home. Eventually I had a party and someone pointed it out . . . and it now hangs on their wall where it belongs.
Above All Else
Oil on linen – 30 x 42 inches – Private Collection
Susan and Gibraltar were an effervescent force, each making the other more happy. It was a joy to watch them together. We were only to the stage of the large preliminary drawing when Susan notified me that her beloved stallion had died. We paused briefly, then kept going. When I began the painting, in the first layer of his dark paint, I scattered a tiny bit of Gibraltar’s ashes. Susan has concerned about having the painting after his loss but later told me she ended up talking to him every day.
Reflections in the Green Room
Oil on linen – 58 x 45 inches – Collection of the Artist
In my fourth year at The Atelier I was supposed to paint a three-quarter portrait but somehow it turned into a life-sized depiction of my long-time friend, John. Everything in the scene represents important memories in his life: the needlepoint on the footstool, the books, the table, the framed photographs, the plant stand, the framed art and the wine goblet. I had never worked so large and struggled part of the time but it was a glorious experience, for both of us.
Oil on linen – 17 x 16 inches – Private Collection
Trish had lost her Belgian/Thoroughbred hunt horse, Gund, to cancer. But with lots of photos and her comments on my pencil sketches and color studies, we created a painting of him. She wrote to me, “The portrait arrived safely and I am speechless. It is truly amazing. Now I can’t wait until the framing is done. It will be so good to have him be the first thing I see each time I open the front door. Thank you, again.”
Words and Music
Oil on linen – 18 x 11 inches – Private Collection
I’ve known John since college. After he sat for me for free so I could paint Reflections In The Green Room as a student at The Atelier, I thanked him with this portrait of him with Doug, his partner of over forty years. They requested that I keep this looser than my usual work. The title refers to Doug’s love of opera and John’s involvement with theatre as both actor and director.
Four Heads Down
Oil on linen – 24 x 46 inches – Private Collection
Lois and Jim had me come to their place in Texas for the better part of a week to photograph, spend time with, do studies of and even ride their four boys. It was as much vacation as business trip. They had previously lost a much-loved horse so they knew what they wanted in the portrait: if everyone is safe and calm, then all four heads will be down.
Belly Up to the Bar, Boys!
Oil on linen – 15 x 30 inches – Private Collection
While visiting in Texas for Four Heads Down, I had done some sketches of the way the boys lined up along the fence to wait for pets and treats. Jim had me secretly design and paint a second portrait of that scene for Lois’ Christmas present. It worked. She said he’d never in all their years of marriage been so successful at totally surprising her. She hadn’t had a clue.