Tag Archive | portraits

Poems and Art at “the song is…”

if it's magic s

Marianne Szlyk, at “the song is…” has posted 3 of my poems with accompanying artwork as part of her tribute to musicians born in the 50s.  The Prince and Police-inspired work appeared on the blog, but the Stevie Wonder-inspired art and poem are new.

She also has some wonderful musical links at the bottom of the post (as she always does), and I’d just like to quote from Stevie, first from the song “As”, and then from his words, spoken before he sang that song at Aretha Franklin’s Homegoing service.

“Change your words into truths
And then change that truth into love”

“Let’s make LOVE great again”

Thanks, Marianne, for featuring my work, and for your continuing support of music, art, and words.

You can see the post here.


3 1/2 Facts x Two

nk comp 2017

Mek at Work in Progress (10000hoursleft) recently received the One Lovely Blog Award and invited us to also post 7 facts about ourselves (3 1/2 each).  Luckily we each have half a fact that works with the other to make one!

Fact 1:
Kerfe:  I begin every morning with coffee (cream, no sugar) and Brown Cow vanilla yogurt with fresh berries (blue, straw, black or rasp). I like iced coffee in the afternoon and herbal tea before bed.
Nina:  I was skipped twice in elementary school thereby missing the basic facts of mathematics.  To this day I count on my fingers.  I was always the youngest kid in the class and graduated high school at 16.

Fact 2:
Nina:  One of the times I got skipped was (I think) because of a drawing I did of Kate Smith sitting on her moon and singing “when the moon comes over the mountain”.  I wish I still had this drawing and for that matter I wish I had all the drawings I’ve ever done.
Kerfe: I was voted “most artistic girl” in my senior class of high school.  But I really always wanted to be a cheerleader.

Fact 3:
Kerfe:  My first job (after babysitting) was working for my older brother at the University of Maryland, where he was a student employed in the physics lab. I can’t remember how much I made, but they couldn’t find any college students willing to take the job at the salary offered, so it couldn’t have been much. My brother asked me if I would like to try, so I worked on Saturdays during the school year, and during the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school. I measured data graphs with an instrument that traced the contours, doing several readings of each to make sure they were correct, and typed punch cards for the computer (this was 1968). We lived in Bowie, Maryland, at the time, which was near the University, but moved out of working range in the middle of my junior year–thus ending my career in science.
Nina:  I’ve been playing the guitar since I was about 12 years old.  That would make it around 56 years of more or less playing the guitar all the time.  I bought a Martin with babysitting money; it’s a small parlor guitar and not worth a lot of money but it’s my favorite possession.  It never goes out of tune.

Fact 1/2 plus 1/2:
Nina:  I received a BFA from the University of Cincinnati in 1969.
Kerfe:  I attended the University of Cincinnati in 1970-71.
I was a student at FIT 1971-73, graduating with an AA in Fashion Design.
Nina:   I received an AA from FIT in 1974.
The universe finally got its timing right around 1975.  We were both employed as textile designers at Fair-tex Mills, Kerfe in knits, and Nina in prints.  A friendship was born!


Our Wordpress avatar, above, which you may recognize, was put together from drawings we did of each other in 1978 (Kerfe by Nina on the left, and Nina by Kerfe on the right).  The drawings that start this post are our 2017 updates, 40 years later.  We look just the same, right? (or maybe even better).

Portraits from the Whitney

nicole eisenman half the artist s

“I don’t get it…do I have to get it?…does the artist get it?…”
–overheard at the Whitney Museum this week

Nicole Eisenman’s  “1/2 the artist…”, above, was a favorite in the Whitney’s widely varied show containing a selection of portraits from its collection.  And the young woman’s overheard observation seems a good summary of the state of the world right now.

annette lemieux  30 raised fists s

Annette Lemieux’s 30 photos of raised fists.

de kooning  woman and bicycle s

de Kooning’s “Woman and Bicycle”

john wilde  portrait of wife helen s

John Wilde painted mystery into this portrait of his wife Helen.

calder wire portrait w shadow s

Calder’s hanging wire portrait was echoed in its shadow.

alston  the family s

Charles Henry Alston’s “The Family”

jay defeo  photo collage s

Jay DeFeo was represented with an enigmatic photo collage.

byron kim skin color grid s

This grid portrait by Byron Kim is ongoing as the artist continues to paint and rearrange squares reflecting the skin colors of his friends.

alice neel  andy warhol s

Alice Neel’s haunting portrait of Andy Warhol was another highlight for me.

This is a wonderful show.  And Stuart Davis is at the museum now too.

stuart davis 1s

I have to say this week has left me particularly disoriented.  I will be catching up with myself and everybody else slowly I think.

Lunch with Nina

nina comp

It’s been awhile.  This time we took our table sketchbooks in hand.  I did 6 sketches of Nina–I think she did more of me–and these are the two I like best.  We were having a serious conversation about many things plus concentrating on our sketching, so my one comment is that in every drawing I did Nina looks so stern!  But in fact we laughed a lot too.

restaurant s

table comp

Indian food.  Always a delight.

gifts comp

evenico comp

We always come bearing gifts, and Nina brought me two Moleskine sketchbooks which will be put to good use.  I’ve heard so much about them, and now I can see for myself.  We also stopped in a very appealing little shop on Broadway, Eve & Nico.  They sell wonderful things made by a women’s craft cooperative in Africa.  Nina purchased a colorful mandala coaster woven from recycled telephone wire and then slipped it into my backpack.  Thanks Nina!

ninas hands 1s

The hands of a friend are always beautiful.

Missing 13

hermon s


I was in midtown the other day near the Morgan Museum, so I stopped by to look at the portrait drawing exhibit.  I didn’t write any information down when I was there, but a lot of the drawings that I think were Renaissance-era were done on tinted paper (blue was evidently popular for a number of years) with black, white, and red.  I decided to use the same technique for this portrait, although I used reddish brown rather than red.

Looking back, my previous “Missing” portrait also uses this technique (combined with a few other colors), but when I was drawing Hermon I was much more aware of the role each color played, especially the white as a highlighter.

Hermon has so much warmth in his smile; I hope he is well and no longer among the missing.

You can see the rest of the series here:  https://methodtwomadness.wordpress.com/category/missing/

And the Morgan Museum, though its exhibit spaces are small, is always worth a visit.  They also currently have an “Alice in Wonderland” room that is fun, photography, and some oil landscape studies on paper to see.

3-Day Quote Challenge Day 2

ella s

“The only thing better than singing is more singing.”
–Ella Fitzgerald

More Alice Neel

alice neel family group s

When I went to see the Nevelson show a few weeks ago, I also went to an exhibit of Alice Neel drawings in a gallery nearby.  I had been working on drawing family groups, and I knew she often used her own family as subjects.

neel couple s

I was surprised to see that she sometimes used markers for her drawings.  The couple above is quite large, probably 18 x 24 inches.

neel figure study s

I liked this early figure study, showing the subject in a few different outfits, at different angles.

neel brown paper s

Another early drawing looks like it may have been done on a paper bag.

neel early watercolor s

This sweet early watercolor portrays her mother with her daughter.

neel early landscape s

And here’s a simple watercolor landscape, also done when she was young.

neel watercolor comp

Later watercolors are also worked in different ways.  The woman appears to be first drawn in pencil and colored in with paint; the sisters were done as part of an integrated, painted scene.

neel pastel s

Neel also occasionally worked in pastel.

neel bw comp

Her imagined figural scenes contain lots of emotional impact.

neel figure 1 comp

The variety and depth of Alice Neel’s drawings are an inspiration and a reminder to stay open and flexible.  And to always keep exploring.

Self Portrait 1989/2015 #3

self portrait 1989 2015 comp 3

The next self-portrait in my 1989 journal was done in crayons–maybe Caran d’Ache Neocolor, that’s the set that was in my closet anyway.  I like the texture of wax-based drawing, and often use china markers or Stabilo marking pencils instead of graphite.

sp #3 don't lift comp

In my current mode, I did drawings with both right and left hand, and a pair where I didn’t lift the crayon from the paper…

sp #3 don't look comp

and also not looking at the paper.  Very Picasso-esque!

You can see the other self-portraits in this series here:  https://methodtwomadness.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/self-portrait-19892014-2/

and here:  https://methodtwomadness.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/self-portrait-19892014/

Faces 5

questlove comp

I found an old drawing (above, left).  Not labeled.  Questlove?  So I did new, serious, Questlove (above, right).  Yes, I think it’s him.

Missing 9

william 2s


You can see the rest of the series here: