Celebrating the Now

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I have a favorite cartoon that came to me in the form of a birthday card. I keep it on my refirgerator because it sums up life's choices perfectly for me. In the cartoon, a waiter in a posh restaurant stands before a couple who are seated at his table. He says: We have two menu options today. Which would you prefer...the "My Body is a Temple" menu, or the "Life is Short, Whooppeee!" menu?"

I chuckle every time I see it, because even though my usual approach to upholding my diet (or my budget, or my work schedule...) is to follow a well-intentioned, regimented plan, I do occasionally give in to the urge to splurge. And I feel it is important, every now and then, to eat that piece of chocolate cake or buy that pair of fabulous shoes. This is what gives life balance. The silly cartoon reminds me that life is short, and special moments need to be acknowledged and celebrated.

Recent days have brought this truism to light for me. The tragic Florida school shootings; the death of a childhood friend's father; and the passing of two of my friends' beloved dog companions, remind me that time is fleeting. Every day, I remember to say a little prayer of gratitude for all of my blessings. I think about my role in life and ask what I can do to help others.

Luckily, artists have many ways to help enhance people's lives. Through our work, we can choose to inspire, to dazzle, to uplift and to educate. Artwork can create moods of tranquility, of energy, of compassion and of hope. 

One of my greatest joys as an artist is to help people celebrate their special moments by creating paingings that remind them, every day, of the people and places that have brought them joy. A painting of your home that you lived in for many years but are about to leave; a view of your garden in all its glory; a portrait of your beloved furbaby who lights up your life with unconditional love... these are creative opportunities for me to help people remember what is most dear to their hearts.

So today, I am putting myself out there to ask you...what brings you joy? What are the moments that are special to you that you would like to hang on to forever? Maybe now is the time to finally get that portrait you've been dreaming about. It would be my greatest pleasure to create something for you that is meaningful. Over the years, I have created artwork in many mediums and creative styles, and can work with you to create a special piece that fits your space and budget.

For inspiration, I thought I'd share with you some samples of commissioned artwork that you may not have seen. These special pieces are more than simple portraits...they are infused with my clients' unique dreams and wishes, created to preserve special moments that are personal to them.    

This house portrait shows the client's home in the springtime, their favorite season. I worked with several reference photos to create a piece that resonated with them. This is a sample of my work using colored pencils, which have a softer feel than acrylic paints. Colored pencil on paper, Nina Davidowitz copyright 2012.

This house portrait shows the client's home in the springtime, their favorite season. I worked with several reference photos to create a piece that resonated with them. This is a sample of my work using colored pencils, which have a softer feel than acrylic paints.

Colored pencil on paper, Nina Davidowitz copyright 2012.

Friends who were moving out of their long-time residence commissioned this painting showing the lush gardens along the front of their house. They decided to name the painting "Summer Splendor". It reminds them of happy times with family and friends in a place very dear to them. Acrylic on canvas, Nina Davidowitz copyright 2013

Friends who were moving out of their long-time residence commissioned this painting showing the lush gardens along the front of their house. They decided to name the painting "Summer Splendor". It reminds them of happy times with family and friends in a place very dear to them.

Acrylic on canvas, Nina Davidowitz copyright 2013

   

This painting is fun because it is a house portrait, but I snuck in a beloved character in the front yard... the owner's Black Lab! This is a view of their home in the summertime. Acrylic on canvas, Nina Davidowitz copyright 2010

This painting is fun because it is a house portrait, but I snuck in a beloved character in the front yard... the owner's Black Lab! This is a view of their home in the summertime.

Acrylic on canvas, Nina Davidowitz copyright 2010

These two paintings were done in acrylic paints on canvas, but are based on old black & white photos. I love the look of doing the figures in monochrome but adding color and some fun designs in the background for a touch of whimsy!  

These two paintings were done in acrylic paints on canvas, but are based on old black & white photos. I love the look of doing the figures in monochrome but adding color and some fun designs in the background for a touch of whimsy!  

Is it time for you to "Celebrate the Now" with a commemorative piece of artwork? Consultations are always free. Let's create something to cherish forever!  

  

Famous Artists and their Pets

If you've been following my blog lately, you know that I love animals and enjoy painting portraits of pets. I am sad to say I am currently pet-less. While I'm enjoying a new-found sense of freedom, I have to say I often miss that furry companionship.

Over the years, I've had many cats (Aladdin, Jane Jetson, Moonbeam, Beatrice, Munchkin,  Midnight Sun, Echo and Wanda) and one dog named Banjai (Chinese for "half-price"), a black-and-white Pekingese who lived to be 14 years old.

Echo and Wanda were my most recent companions. They behaved like little dogs, greeting me at the door, following me around the house, and talking to me. They especially loved it when I spent time in my art studio, where they would roost either at my feet or on my painting table where they could watch the action. I think they sensed that I was both calm and energized by my creative activities and they liked sharing in those experiences with me. I often felt they were my best critics!

All these thoughts about my former pets and art studios got me thinking. I wondered how many other artists have their dogs or cats by their side when they are creating? I searched the internet to see if I could find a listing of famous artists and their pets. Turns out, there are a lot of sources on this theme.  I'd like to share a few of these wonderful photos, and will try to give credit to the photographers and resources as best I can.

 

GEORGIA O'KEEFFE

Georgia O’Keeffe / Photograph by John Candelario / Courtesy Palace of the Governors Photo Archives – from thisiscolossal.com

Georgia O’Keeffe / Photograph by John Candelario / Courtesy Palace of the Governors Photo Archives – from thisiscolossal.com

Georgia O'Keeffe loved animals. Her first pet was a cat, followed by a black French poodle who lived to be only 2 years old. After moving to New Mexico, she fell in love with Chows, and owned six of them during her lifetime.

Georgia O'Keeffe and her Chow. (Photographer John Leongard)

Georgia O'Keeffe and her Chow. (Photographer John Leongard)

              "O'Keeffe with Dogs", Todd Webb, Abiquiu House, 1962

              "O'Keeffe with Dogs", Todd Webb, Abiquiu House, 1962

Georgia loved the company her beautiful Chows provided, and even slept with them in her bedroom at night. A nice article about her life with her pets (with a bunch of additional photos) can be found here.

 

SALVADOR DALI

Salvador Dali and his ocelot, Babou (photographer not credited)

Salvador Dali and his ocelot, Babou (photographer not credited)

Salvador Dali was such a crazy guy. His surrealist art was quite the sensation, and with his quirky and eccentric personality, his choice of pet...an ocelot named Babou...is not too surprising! Dali enjoyed shocking people with his strange behavior, and often took Babou out with him when attending events. "Dalí acquired his ocelot in the 1960s (allegedly from the Colombian Head of State), and for a time it was seen to accompany him, on a leash and stone studded collar, almost everywhere he went. One of the most popular accounts of Dalí and Babou is that of the painter bringing the wild cat into a Manhattan restaurant and tethering it to his table, causing great alarm to a fellow diner."  A great article about Dali and Babou can be found here.

(Quote from: http://www.anothermag.com/design-living/2472/salvador-dalis-ocelot).

 

ANDY WARHOL

Warhol and his dog Archie (Photograph by Jack Mitchell, 1973)

Warhol and his dog Archie (Photograph by Jack Mitchell, 1973)

Andy Warhol had cats as pets until the 1970s , when his boyfriend suggested they get a Dachshund. They named the puppy Archie. "Warhol became so enthralled with Archie that he became his alter ego. As he held Archie during interviews, when Warhol did not want to answer a particular question, he would simply deflect the questions to Archie. Warhol took the dog everywhere – to his studio, to art openings, to dinner, to photo shoots, and to London when his work took him there." ( From Pop Art Pet Unleashed, http://popartpet.com/blog/2007/08/20/andy-warhols-pets/)

 

DAVID HOCKNEY

Awww!! David Hockney, Self Portrait with his Dog Stanley (date not documented)

Awww!! David Hockney, Self Portrait with his Dog Stanley (date not documented)

David Hockney and his dogs. Photograph by Richard Schmidt.

David Hockney and his dogs. Photograph by Richard Schmidt.

David Hockney is an amazing contemporary artist who has produced tons of artwork, from paintings, large-scale photo collages, and computer art to theater set designs and much more. Some of his most charmng sketches are those of his beloved Dachshunds, Stanley and Boodgie. The color photo above was taken in his LA studio in front of a wall of his doggie paintings. The black and white photo is a self portrait and is such a sweet testament to his love for his little pals. I love that both of these photos were taken in Hockney's art studio! There's a wonderful article from 1995 that talks about his Dachshund paintings when they first came out: click here.

 

PABLO PICASSO

Picasso and Jacqueline (his second wife) sharing lunch with Lump. Photograph: David Douglas Duncan, 1957. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/06/02/t-magazine/02lookout-picasso.html

Picasso and Jacqueline (his second wife) sharing lunch with Lump. Photograph: David Douglas Duncan, 1957. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/06/02/t-magazine/02lookout-picasso.html

Pablo Picasso was also a dog lover. His first dogs were Afghans, but his most famous pet was a Dachshund named Lump. There is even a book about Picasso and Lump written by David Douglas Duncan, Lump's original owner, and it is still available (try Amazon). Lump was very dear to Picasso, who took him on his daily rounds about town. Lump was the top dog in the Villa La Californie, Picasso’s hillside mansion in Cannes, and he is immortalized in many of Picasso's acclaimed works of art.

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Picasso and his Afghan, Kabul. David Douglas Duncan, c. 1959.

Picasso and his Afghan, Kabul. David Douglas Duncan, c. 1959.

 

FRIDO KAHLO

Frida Kahlo and Deer

Frida Kahlo and Deer

"The Mexican painter surrounded herself with animals: her household menagerie included macaws, monkeys, Mexican hairless dogs and an eagle called Gertrudis Caca Blanca. This photo – taken by Kahlo’s long-time lover Nickolas Muray in the 1930s, during their ten-year affair – shows the artist with her pet fawn Granizo. Many of Kahlo’s self-portraits feature animals, and they became surrogates for the children she was unable to have after a bus accident in Mexico City left her with serious injuries at the age of 18." (Nickolas Muray Photo Archives) Quote from: http://art-sheep.com/artists-and-their-pets-2/

 

GUSTAV KLIMT

Moriz Naehr - Gustav Klimt and his Cat, Katze, at his Studio on Josefstaedter Strasse, Vienna, Austria. Circa 1912. | Gustav Klimt | Pinterest | Klimt

Moriz Naehr - Gustav Klimt and his Cat, Katze, at his Studio on Josefstaedter Strasse, Vienna, Austria. Circa 1912. | Gustav Klimt | Pinterest | Klimt

Though I love Klimt's work, I have to confess I don't know anything about his cat! But I've always loved this photo...it's just so sweet! While doing some research, I found out there's a children's book on this topic. Written by Bérénice Capatti and available on Amazon, the book is called Klimt and His Cat and tells a story about "Katze, the loyal cat of Gustav Klimt".

 

HENRI MATISSE

Henri Matisse and his cat in Nice, France (photographer and date undocumented)

Henri Matisse and his cat in Nice, France (photographer and date undocumented)

Henri Matise is one of my all-time favorite painters. I never knew he had cats and was excited to find a website called The Great Cat (The Cat in History, Art and Literature) that features many photos of the artist with his pets. Here's a little blurb from that article: "Matisse was attached to his cats Minouche and Coussi, as well as his black cat la Puce (the Flea) whom he fed pieces of brioche in the mornings."

Henri Matise in bed with his cats. Photograph © Robert Capa © International Center of Photography Magnum Photos

Henri Matise in bed with his cats. Photograph © Robert Capa © International Center of Photography Magnum Photos

As Matisse got older, he continued to create magnificent artwork, often working from his bed. This photo of him with two of his kitties really touches my heart! To read the article that I found about Matisse with lots of photos and his paintings that feature his feline friends, click here.

 

Do you have a pet at your feet while you are creating or working? Feel free to share below! 

Artwork Spotlight

"Crystal Morning"

For many years, finding inspiration for my artwork was as simple as taking daily walks through the streets of my hometown of Kingston, PA. I love to paint houses nestled in their suburban lots, and always felt lucky that our town featured homes built in a wide range of architectural styles. In Kingston, elegant Federal homes mix and mingle with Victorian gingerbread houses, Cape Cod saltboxes, mid-century modern ranches, and humble little 1930s cottages. This haphazard arrangement was like eye candy to me, and I usually ended up taking hundreds of reference photos on my walks each week. Only a few of the photos would end up being saved and put on my painting "to do" list. 

"Crystal Morning", 30" x 24" x 1", acrylic on canvas, Nina Davidowitz 2013.

"Crystal Morning", 30" x 24" x 1", acrylic on canvas, Nina Davidowitz 2013.

The house in "Crystal Morning" was always one of my favorites in the neighborhood. With its smooth stucco exterior, interesting roof lines, and those two "porthole" windows near the front door, it satisfied and excited my interest in geometric shapes. The house sits snugly on a corner lot, surrounded by trees and one marvelously long sculpted hedge. I knew some day I'd paint it!

One day in February on a cold and crisp morning I spotted the house glowing in the early morning light. A dusting of snow covered the landscape, and the rays of the rising sun highlighted the house's rooftops and the sweep of trees behind it. No one was around. It was very, very quiet and deeply cold...I could practicly hear icicles forming and the crunch of snow under little birds' footsteps. I stopped and took some photos, thinking the composition and the color palette of this winter scene were pretty cool! Interestingly, the painting literally was done in a cool color palette, with lavenders and silvery baby-blues,  complimented with a soft rosy-orange for a little warmth and contrast.

The trees on the left side of the painting glow in the early morning light.

The trees on the left side of the painting glow in the early morning light.

This is a painting that you can "take a walk in". As your eye travels along the horizontal line of the hedgerow, you come to a spot on the right where the sidewalk turns, extending into the background. As the viewer of this scene, you may decide to take a walk down that sidewalk, lined by a row of houses and trees fading into the sunlight.

On the right side of the painting, a sidewalk lined by trees and houses calls to you.

On the right side of the painting, a sidewalk lined by trees and houses calls to you.

I was very honored that "Crystal Morning" won an award at the Salmagundi Club in New York City at the 60th Annual exhibit of the National Society of Painters in Casein and Acrylic. It now hangs in my living roomm where I enjoy its calming colors. The painting is awaiting a new home, and I know it will find one when the universe feels it's the right for it to be on its own. 

"Crystal Morning" is also February's featured Giclée print in our online website shop, and comes available in two sizes, printed on archival fine art paper. 

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It's a Beautiful World

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Do you have a favorite house in your neighborhood? I'd love to see it! Feel free to post a picture below. Perhaps it will go on my "paintings to do" list!

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For a look at available original paintings, including "Crystal Morning", click here.

If you'd like information on commissioning a portrait of your house, simpy contact me and I'll be happy to tell you about my process and answer any of your questions.

 

Wishing you a wonderful day!  

 

 

 

 

An Ode to Maple Trees

I really love maple trees. Pennsylvania has loads of them, and pretty much every place I've lived up north had nearby maples that I admired. In my parent's backyard there's a maple that we planted way back in 1967 when we moved in. I remember it in its youth, slender and lime-green with freshness, its trunk straight and smooth. It shocks me now when I return home to see how large and grand it has become! It is tall and majestic with a thick trunk lumpy with age, and sturdy branches...too many to count! Many of them hang low to the ground, making a natural ladder perfect for climbing. It towers over me, my 50-year friend.    

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Maples have beautiful leaves, usually with an overall square shape, with swoops and dips in their contours making them look rather fancy. The leaves range in size from tiny to quite large (depending on the variety), and their colors in the fall season span the rainbow: from yellow, to yellow-green, to orange, to cherry red, and deep dark purplish-maroon. I remember many an autumn walk to school when I would collect the leaves along my way, trying to get the biggest range of colors. I would take them home and press them between the pages of the biggest book I could find (back then it was the family dictionary). As an adult I do the same thing, and often when browsing through my art books I'll come upon a pressed leaf, crumbly and sadly brown.    

Over the years, I have done many sketches and paintings of maple trees, especially in their fall finery. They seem to retain their leaves long enough to give us a final blast of color just before the whole landscape turns grey. What a treat!

"Red Maple in WInter", acrylic on canvas, 14" x 14",  copyright 2013

"Red Maple in WInter", acrylic on canvas, 14" x 14",  copyright 2013

"Red Maple in Winter" is one of my favorites. It's based on a photo I took of the glorious maple in my neighbor's back yard in Kingston, PA. The tree's pop of red against the snowy ground and the pine trees looked like it would be such fun to paint. At the time the photo was taken it was late in the afternoon, with a milky sky that had taken on a slightly pinkish tone. This lighting created a fun and subtle shade that I could incorporate into the sky and the snow on the ground, making a soft and neutral backdrop to the maple. And my neighbors' house, a historic three-story Federal, takes a peek at us. Surrounded by the trees it looks protected and cozy. 

Just for fun I'll post some of my other maple tree paintings below. You can click to enlarge them. The first one (going left to right) represents a red maple in the summer; the next one features maples in various fall colors; the third painting features the same tree as pictured above in "Red Maple in Winter" but from a slightly different angle, sometime in the early autumn; and lastly is "New Day Dawning" which has maples in the background tinted by the sunrise.   

 

I am wondering: are you as crazy for maple trees as I am?

And is there a favorite tree that has inspired you?

Feel free to share below!

 

 

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January's Pet Parade!

Once a month I'd like to share with you the Pet Portraits that I have recently completed. I call this showcase my "Pet Parade". Why a "parade"?, you may ask. Because our animal friends deserve special attention, of course! :)

(Dog and cat graphics by freepk.com)  

(Dog and cat graphics by freepk.com)  

Painting the pet portraits brings me such joy! I really fall in love with every animal. While I'm painting, I am sure to send each one some love and thanks for being such wonderful companions and loyal friends. This connects me with my subject, and I feel like we are communing and keeping each other company during the whole process.  It is very rewarding when clients tell me that I managed to capture the spirit as well as the likeness of their loved ones. I'm happy that these paintings, which will last a lifetime, ring true to heart. 

So now it is time to help me celebrate this roundup of the cute'n furry friends I've have painted recently...the January Pet Parade! Their human companions have sent me a few words about them. I hope you enjoy their stories! Please feel free to comment if you have a pet of a similar breed or personality, or any stories you have to share with us and our readers. 

GRACIE

"Portrait of Gracie", acrylic on canvas, 11" x 14", 2017

"Portrait of Gracie", acrylic on canvas, 11" x 14", 2017

"Gracie was an Australian Shepherd. Her dad was the brown dog with the white fur collar at the beach in Marley and Me. We joked that she didn’t have the discipline to be an actress that got paid, so she just practiced all the time with us. She loved to watch tv…especially basketball. When hearing one musical note of a commercial with an animal in it, she ran to the tv to watch the commercial. She loved to swim and loved all people and all animals!" 

HAGGIS

"Portrait of Haggis", acrylic on canvas, 14" x 11", 2017

"Portrait of Haggis", acrylic on canvas, 14" x 11", 2017

"Haggis is a 5 year old Gordon Setter. He has a very loving and docile personality, and can have boundless energy and enjoy huge naps. He joyfully greets most visitors by taking their whole hand or forearm in his mouth, his tail constantly wagging. Haggis also has quite a vocabulary, as most Gordon’s do, another expression of their wonderful personalities. He has hunted for game birds here in PA, and loves tearing about the woods or lawns wherever he is. He very much loves the ocean, and he just doesn’t understand why all those seagulls don’t fly right to him! He shares his world with his 3 sisters, Hudson and Gracie, (English springer spaniels) and Chelsea, also a Gordon." 

BULLET and HARPER

"Portrait of Bullet", acrylic on canvas, 14" x 11", 2017

"Portrait of Bullet", acrylic on canvas, 14" x 11", 2017

"Portrait of Harper", acrylic on canvas, 14" x 11", 2017

"Portrait of Harper", acrylic on canvas, 14" x 11", 2017

"Bullet is 7 and Harper is 2...they are both Springer Spaniels. They are such great buddies! They can usually be found laying together during the day, sharing a chair. Bullet was a rescue at 11 months and is best known for his eyebrows (!) and being a true "velcro" Springer…he loves spending time on his daddy's lap. Harper is "mommy's girl"...she is super smart and loves swimming. Her grandfather was the 2007 Westminster Dog Show CHAMPION - she's almost royalty (...at least SHE thinks she is)!" 

OLIVE and PETUNIA

"Portrait of Olive", acrylic on canvas, 11" x 14", 2017

"Portrait of Olive", acrylic on canvas, 11" x 14", 2017

"Portrait of Petunia", acrylic on canvas, 11" x 14", 2017

"Portrait of Petunia", acrylic on canvas, 11" x 14", 2017

"Olive, a Maltese, and Petunia, a Yorkshire terrier, come to work with us most days. Olive is a sweetheart and the greeter at the office. If you left her in a room and closed the door you wouldn’t find her until you went back into the room; she doesn’t know to bark! Good thing she is cute because she’s not too smart. She doesn’t know she is a dog. She is more like a parrot because she sits on my shoulder while I drive! Petunia is Olive's older sister. Some days she wants to go to work and some days she doesn’t. This little one knows what she wants and she will make it known. She’s a lover but she is high maintenance!"

INDY

"Indy", acrylic on canvas, 11" x 14", 2017

"Indy", acrylic on canvas, 11" x 14", 2017

"Indy will be missed by his family and friends, as he has gone over the Rainbow 🌈 Bridge. A tiny, but feisty little guy, who was always ready to play and gave a ‘cocked head’ when spoken to! He enjoyed many rounds of tug-o-war with his cousin Oscar, they were evenly matched Yorkie-Poos!"

 

Thank you for joining in the fun of our January Pet Parade! If you know anyone who would enjoy this posting, please pass it along.

Would you like more information about ordering an original Pet Portrait? Click below!

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Winter Sunrise Extravaganza

"Sunrise in the Treetops", acrylic on canvas, 24" x 30", copyright 2015 Nina Davidowitz

"Sunrise in the Treetops", acrylic on canvas, 24" x 30", copyright 2015 Nina Davidowitz

Winter sunrises can be spectacular! Whether you are living in the crisp and cold climate of the north or the sunny south, somehow a sunrise in the winter months is full of special light. 

It was a spectacular winter sunrise that inspired this month's featured painting, "Sunrise in the Treetops". It was created while I was living in a cottage in the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, surrounded by tall pine trees and situated on a hill overlooking the town. My art studio had windows that faced to the east. Early morning work was very inspiring as I would watch the sun rising in those windows.

Detail Trees, Sunrise in Treetops.png

One winter morning I was bedazzled by the early morning light filtering through the trees across the street. It had snowed the night before, and everything was blanketed by a fresh coat of powder. The sky seemed to be aglow with shimmery pastel colors that looked like they were caught up in the treetops. I took several photos and then began to sketch the scene on my canvas. I worked on the painting for several months, adjusting the colored shapes and their placement in the sky, until I got it just right. 

"Sunrise in the Treetops" has a color palette that I don't often use. Most of my paintings are full pf vibrant blues and greens, whereas this one has such lovely pastel hues. The combination of lavenders, mauves, rich browns, and that soft light-blue create a quiet and serene feeling. 

Detail, Houses: Sunrise in Treetops.png

I especially love the view of the houses and little garage buildings in this painting. Nestled under the trees, their boxy shapes make a great design silhouetted against the snow. I can fondly remember all of the activity that took place in this little grove of trees throughout the seasons: raking the leaves in fall; mowing the grassy areas in summer, with little kids running through the backyards; shoveling sidewalk pathways and hanging up Christmas lights in the winter. It was a special place to live, with wonderful neighbors. This painting reminds me that nature's most beautiful treasures are often in our own backyard.   

The original painting of "Sunrise in the Treetops" is available for purchase and awaits a spectacular home setting. It is also available as a set of notecards and as a Gilcée print in my website shop.

I hope my painting has inspired you for this new month...the first of the year! Let's make it a good one. Sending love and blessings to you all!