We stopped by Zuni Cafe on Saturday for a martini at the bar (HEAVEN!) and to see my artwork on display in the restaurant -- courtesy of my amazing gallery owner Andra Norris and Gallerie Citi.  A thrill to see my work hanging in such a venerable -- and still vibrant -- San Francisco restaurant!

"Portrait of a Marriage" (two brides on wedding cake)
12 X 12"
Oil on Linen

"Dreaming of O"Keeffe" (calla lily and nautilus shell)
11 X 14"
Oil on Linen

"Allen's Dress Boots" (cowboy boots)
16 X 20"
Oil on Linen

"Portrait of a Perfect Marriage"(martini and glass of champagne)
11 X 14"
Oil on Linen

I was asked to create a "portrait" of a lovely woman and her late husband -- using their shoes.   It took me a while to discover how to compose the painting to capture their relationship.   I finally decided to "pose" their shoes as if they were in an embrace, with his shoes protectively enclosing hers.  I also love that it looks as if they are dancing together.  This had special meaning for the collector, since her husband passed away just before their youngest daughter's wedding -- and these are the shoes they would have worn -- and danced in -- at the wedding.  What an honor to create a memento of someone's love story!

"Portrait of Sally and Donald"
25 X 25"
Oil on Linen

Last night we had dinner with friends at the beloved and legendary Zuni Cafe.  Amazing, creative comfort food, stylish cocktails, great conversation -- and the added pleasure of seeing one of my paintings, "Ignition" on display at the top of the stairs.  The curator selected "Ignition" because it is sexy and it is placed in a cozy nook perfect for two lovers.  Here's to cozy food, sensual wine and ROMANCE at Zuni Cafe!

I've just completed this painting "Portrait of a Marriage."  It continues my "marriage" series, which celebrates the privilege and joy and humor and wonder that are part of being married.  Marriage is for me a joy and a privilege and I love illustrating some of the aspects of this state of being.  This painting was inspired by two incredible women -- they are every bit as vibrant, colorful and filled with joie de vivre -- as the painting.  The "brides" are from their own wedding cake -- and the rest was my invention.  It was SUCH a great pleasure creating this painting (and my husband LOVED eating the cake afterwards!).

Last year, I was commissioned by a wonderful family to create a painting in memory of their late father.  He was an extraordinary man -- beloved husband, father, athlete, architect, church leader, friend to many.  The family sent me a box of his belongings -- each one symbolic of an aspect of his life and spirit.

I spent several days searching for a composition that would make a beautiful and pleasing painting -- but would also tell his story in a meaningful way.  After many hours of experimenting, everything fell into place in one moment and the composition sang to me.

On Sunday evening, I presented the painting to the family and a gathering of their friends.  When I unveiled the painting there was at first silence, then a few tears and finally smiles and even laughter.  It was a profound experience to see how one painting can move a room of people and touch them deeply.  And it was a privilege to be able to create this gift in memory of an exceptional human being.

It was a beautiful evening in Sacramento on Saturday night -- at the opening night reception for Elliott Fouts Gallery's Annual Still-Life Invitational exhibition.   Wonderful art, gorgeous gallery, wine, nibbles and a jazz combo.  I have four paintings in the exhibition, and am so grateful to see my work hanging side by side with so much talent!

I have just completed a painting in honor of my dear friend Zheng Cao.  She was an opera singer with a devoted following around the world, and she died tragically young earlier this year.  In addition to her amazing musical talent, she was a sparkling presence who enchanted everyone she met.  

The painting is titled "Portrait of Zheng Cao (with Mozart and Frederica von Stade)."  It is a tribute to Zheng’s artistry and shining spirit.   It is also a tribute to the extraordinary friendship between Zheng and the great mezzo soprano Fredericka von Stade (Flicka).   

The painting features two objects that are emblematic of the bond between the two mezzos.  The score of Le Nozze di Figaro was presented to Flicka when she first sang the role of Cherubino at Paris Opera in 1973.    And the buckle on the shoe is one of a pair worn by Flicka each time she performed Cherubino.  Flicka passed the torch to Zheng by giving her the score and the "Cherubino" buckles, which Zheng faithfully wore in each of her own Cherubino performances.  

The last object in the painting is a ribbon -- symbolizing the ribbon treasured by Cherubino as a memory of his beloved.   It is red for Zheng, and it has no beginning and no end.

I've just received some fabulous news from two unexpected places -- Nacogdoches, Texas and Coos Bay, Oregon -- and couldn't resist sharing it. Two of my paintings were accepted into the Texas National Juried Exhibition (in Nacogdoches, TX), and Dave Hickey, the juror, selected "Portrait of a Romance" for the Second Place cash award.   And two paintings were selected by the juror, Douglas Russell, for Expressions West 2012, a juried exhibition at the Coos Art Museum in Oregon.  He awarded the third place cash award to "Some San Francisco Ballerinas." I'm a very happy artist!

I heard today about a Martha Graham quote that was posted on the wall in a ballet studio. It is this: "Discipline is liberation."

This strikes such a profound chord with me. People often say to me, "You are SOOOO disciplined!" when talking about the long hours I spend in the studio painting. And I always answer, "It's not discipline, it is passion." And that's what the "discipline" of showing up at the easel, or the ballet barre, or the writing desk is for artists. We show up, no matter how we feel that day, knowing that the "discipline" of being there will transform and lead us eventually to the truth and beauty we are seeking.

Southwest Art Magazine has just announced the winners of their Artistic Excellence Competition -- and my painting, "Portrait of a Social Columnist" was one of thirteen winners -- and I am featured along with the other winners in the December issue. Who says that 13 is unlucky? My contemporary still-life paintings (actually, a fusion of portraiture and still life, which I call portraits in absentia) aren't precisely southwestern, but it seem to me that the definition of southwestern art has changed -- it doesn't have to be cowboys and wildlife and western landscapes anymore -- it can be anything that is beautiful and tells a truthful story. Here's a link to the article and interview, if you care to take a dip!

This week I had the pleasure (and luck!) of being one of the featured artists on a Margy Boyd Art Tour. Margy is a beloved Bay-Area institution who leads groups of art collectors/lovers on tours of artist's studios and homes. Margy brought 31 of her bright, incredibly curious art mavens to our home -- where I was able to hold them captive for an hour and show them six of my newest paintings. Talking about my work in front of 31 VERY knowledgeable art lovers was intoxicating and exhilarating -- what artist doesn't love being asked about her inspiration and process?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOHANNES VERMEER! People often ask me who my favorite artist is, and I always pause. It feels like a trick question -- do I REALLY have to choose? Why? But one artist who makes me weak in the knees when I have the good fortune to see one of his paintings is Vermeer. His feel for light and the palpable sense of a moment in time that he imparts -- it takes my breath away. I only wish there were more Vermeers in this world and that I could spend time with each and every one of them.

I read this quote from Thoreau early this morning, while drinking my tea and watching the sun begin to rise over San Francisco Bay. It's a call to the power of the "dawn" inside each one of us.

"Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me....We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few object beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look.....To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts." Thoreau, Walden

My painting "Portrait of a Marriage" was selected to be part of Berkeley Art Center's Annual Juried Exhibition. The exhibition is called "California" and my painting depicts the marriage of my friends Jake Heggie and Curt Branom (below). It is part of my new series called "In Their Shoes," in which I am exploring the idea of shoes as both intimate objects and cultural artifacts. You can discover a lot about someone by their shoes!
The exhibition runs from August 20 - October 2, 2011 at the Berkeley Art Center.

I was thrilled to learn that my painting "Allen's Dress Boots" was selected by the jury for the 87th Annual Springville Museum of Art Spring Salon (April 22-July 3). Out of over 1,000 entries they selected only 250, so I am humbled and honored to have my painting chosen. My dad, Philip Barlow, also had a painting selected. Now it's back to the studio to try to delve deeper and paint ever more beautifully.....

I've been working on a new series I am calling "In Their Shoes." These paintings are "portraits" of people I know and admire -- but the paintings are not of my subjects' faces -- they are of their shoes. I am fascinated by the idea of shoes carrying us on our journeys through our lives -- of the choices we make when we select the shoes we wear -- and of the life stories that are reflected in the crevasses and wrinkles of our shoes. I feel that shoes can illuminate who we are -- or want to be. This painting is called "Allen's Dress Boots." Allen Fletcher died in 2010 at 99 glorious years of age. He was an Oregon cattle rancher and worn these beloved boots to the Pendleton Roundup every year.

The "opening night" of the Barlow-Barlow exhibition was a great party -- even for a jittery artist! I was so proud to be showing my work side by side with my Dad. Now it's back to the studio to get that paint flowing again!

Whew! I shipped twelve new paintings to the gallery this week -- for the show with my Dad. Can't wait to see our work side by side. I am so proud to have the privilege of showing my work with him.

Seasons greetings! I wanted to share a peek at what I've been up to at the studio. This new painting is called "Ripe."