Painting Frida Kahlo

Hey everyone! i painted a portrait yesterday for the first time in a long time. It was a request. i don’t think i would have done it otherwise. But i ended up having the most lovely afternoon/evening working on it. It was so relaxing and fun. I instagrammed the progress and thought i’d recap here on the blog.

Step 1: printout some photos of the subject (Frida Kahlo) that i found online so i could make a pencil sketch right on the canvas. i always start by drawing the overall face shape, then mapping in a center line and eyeline. Scribbling in the decorative elements quickly is the best way i know how to come up with a balanced composition, even if i don’t follow them EXACTLY in the painting stage.


Step 2: Begin painting in large solid areas. i start with the part of the painting that is most challenging. That way, if i stink it up, i haven’t wasted any time on easy parts i could do again without problem. In this case, i started in on the face and hair, then worked in some background.


Step 3: Finish with the fun details. i saved the floral headpiece, jewelry, clothing and background doodles for last because to me, those are low-stress, easy fun. i’m not worried about symmetry and shading like with the face. i took the painting off the easel and laid it flat for the background swirls so i could turn the canvas as i worked. This part took a while, but was very relaxing. Near the end, my patience was wearing thin and i just wanted to see it complete!


Step 4: Final Scanning and Digital Editing. When i started this, i had an image of lots of floral layers, very decorative. By the time i got as far as step 3, i was a bit tired and had that “temporary art blindness” we all get. i felt i couldn’t be objective about whether or not to add the flowers to the sides, all around, or what. SO!! i cheated. i scanned in what i had and messed with extra flower placement digitally. This way, i didn’t potentially ruin my hours of work, but could still play and work toward the vision in my head without fear.

Corfee-Frida-IG_smAfter some hours away from it to get “fresh eyes”, i reviewed and made a few tiny tweaks this morning, then sent it off for a client to review.

Standard, classic, oil portraits may not be my “thing”, but i sure did love doing this highly stylized portrait with all the fun decoration. Hope you all enjoy! xo, s

New ARtwork

LUSH – 36 x 36 x 1.5″ Acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas

Recently, my paintings have been inspired by the idea of reinventing themes for nurseries or kids spaces. That’s not to say the finished pieces can only be used in those spaces. But i have been thinking a lot about how more “grown up” art can really work for kids. This piece was my take on a room with a jungle, animal, rain forest…even pirate island theme. i’d hang it over the crib as a statement piece. Wouldn’t stuffed monkeys and elephants look right at home with it? But yet, its not so obvious and literal that it couldn’t translate into other rooms of the house.

Here are some detail images of the painting:

You might remember another piece i did a couple months back, titled BALLERINA? Same idea there. A complement to a ballerina themed room, but in a subtle, abstracted way : )

What types of art do all of you like to use in kids spaces?

Yay for Productivity!

Nothing like the sun streaming through the studio window on a sunday afternoon. Endless possibilities. This is such a beautiful sight to me.

Every weekend i swear i will catch up on overdue work and get some fresh new artwork done.

Every weekend flashes by in the blink of an eye and i come up short.

But this weekend, for some reason….i got it ALL done??? …and then some. So that meant that i could spend some time this lovely sunday afternoon being creative.

i’ve been keeping a little secret. i was contacted by an artist/author whom i consider to be pretty. darn. great. and she asked if i wanted to be part of her upcoming Blog Book Tour! Wow! Yay! (Once my very wet-behind-the-ears-in-the-world-of-publishing self came to understand what that was, i was stoked!) Essentially, she’ll be guest posting on popular creative blogs all over the web in the coming weeks talking about the launch of her new book, offering tips and tricks. interviews, videos and the like. Its a press junket that doesn’t require leaving your couch.

Turns out that this artist is about to roll out her own doodle book this month and thought we could partner on some fun press opportunities!!

Now, this is the part where i get all soft and squishy thinking of how many beautiful people i’ve met since embarking down this road toward my dream of being a full-time artist. i have found this community to be so giving, so willing to help. Nobody is looking to hog all the limelight and i have yet to meet a fellow artist who has been anything but amazingly generous.

Anyway, i’m still going to keep the full details under wraps a tad longer, but i thought i’d post some little tidbits from this first collaborative project we are working on together. i got to do Phase 1, then pass my work off to her for Phase 2, then i get it back for round 3 and …you get the idea. i can’t wait to see what develops! Happy Sunday!

story behind the art – can you guess?


Tables are turned.

Sometimes when you’re trying to paint one thing…another emerges. A Happy Accident.

i’d like to give a free 8×10 print of any piece of art in my etsy shop to the first reader who can correctly tell the story behind this art. How do you think it was it made? What materials were used? What tools? Does it convey meaning or represent an emotion?

i know what it says to me when i look at it, and how it makes me feel….but how about you? Double points for colorful (pun intended) answers.


ok ladies, so brooke was pretty spot on. But the things i was wiping were little fingers.

i taught an art class to 3,4,5 year olds yesterday and we were learning about Mondrian. They were making black marker grids on white posterboard and painting in spaces using only red, yellow and blue poster paint.
That’s right.
all the color blending on the crumply paper towel was just a lovely happy accident. And yes, Rosie, i DID think the shape looked like butterfly wings. i looked down at the towel and just couldn’t throw it away. So i acted like a crazy lady and tucked it into my bag to bring home.
i scanned it in and duplicated it once (so you see 2 “butterflies”) and that’s it.

Funny how and art project with rigid black lines and bold primary colors could turn into something so soft and precious. The fact that my students little messy fingers created the image (and yesterday was the last class session for the year – sad) make it all the more sweet to me.

So choose your prize, Brooke!

peace out.

Commissions – What’s in a name?

An old friend and colleague of mine sent the sweetest holiday card this past christmas. It was a photo of her and her husband standing in front of their fireplace, looking all christmas-y. They were smiling for a reason. The card was actually an announcement. After much waiting and fretting, they proclaimed on this 5×7 card that they were soon to add a new family member. They had finally been matched with a baby girl in China and were going to be parents!

Fast forward a few months and my friend is excitedly anticipating a baby shower and wondering what exactly she’ll need for her daughter, who will be about 18 months old when they bring her home. Lots of the standard baby shower gifts just won’t apply. But one thing she knows she wants is a piece of art for the asian-inspired bedroom she is decorating. That’s where i come in. And here is the color scheme.

Harper ARt Color Palette

The proud mama had lots of great ideas, but the general idea is that i’ll be painting a 24×30 inch canvas with some blue skies and cherry blossom branches in the background and the baby’s Chinese name AND American name in the foreground. Inspiration will be drawn from the meaning of her Chinese name, which translates to “before the dawn.” I’ll also be including a hummingbird or two because the birds have special significance to the parents along their adoption journey. This artwork will be designed digitally for composition & color. Once approved, all bets are off as that flat digital image is translated into a richly layered paint, collage, pastel work of art.

i am so honored to be taking on this project for my dear friend and will happily post my progress for all of you to see.

story behind the art – woodgrain profile series


Several months back i got the notion for this artwork. i love drawing tendrils and curves and curliques and wanted to do a stylized portrait series focusing on hair. For a long time, the idea was a bit fuzzy in my mind and i didn’t know exactly what i was shooting for. i started looking in magazines and catalogs for some inspiring hair angles and styles. Then it hit me. Duh!? Why hadn’t i started looking on etsy? i searched under “hair accessories” and “hippie” and “bohemian” and “organic” and lo & behold, my inspiration appeared on the screen. i came across the Mandizzle site and was smitten. i immediately wrote up a convo and explained what i was doing and asked permission to use the shop’s photos as my inspiration. Luckily, the shop owner had rights to the images and a very generous heart. She was excited! i whipped through 4 of these pieces in a matter of days. The spirit was in me! i had so many ideas for color combinations, how i would stain and layer transparent color onto the wood panels. i was falling asleep each night dreaming of what the hair ornaments would look like in my trippy, swirly style. When i was done the series, it felt so good.

i’ve had a lot of good response from this set, even sold one of the originals to a local Philly radio personality, and am talking with Miss Mandizzle herself about creating a custom logo for her business based on the drawings. Of course, she gets all the perks i’ve got to give. If it wasn’t for her amazingness, these pieces wouldn’t have been born in the first place.




story behind the art – white lines

WHite Lines

Why did i create this piece?

This one started as a study of form, and i’d spent about 8 hours on it when i decided i’d have to scrap it. It was out of balance somehow. i told myself it was no biggie, it was just an exercise, and it had been extremely calming and meditative to create….so you win some and you lose some. But after walking away and coming back to it a few days later, it was so obvious to me what was wrong with it. The outlines were solid black. They were too heavy considering the wood-stained perimeter and the intricately filled spaces and loops. It felt heavy. It didn’t feel like ME. It needed to be lifted up and given an airier feeling. So i filled in the black lines with white acrylic, just leaving a sliver of the original black around the edges, and i started loving it. The white lines BECAME the piece. They inspired me to add all the white line-work around the perimeter of the main shape. They brightened the personality of the piece and made me want to add the cheerful words. Those simple white lines changed everything.

Now, i could probably insert some great “Black vs White”  analogy or turn of phrase here…but that would cheapen the truth, which is really crazy simple. i just needed to lighten up! My brain and my spirit wanted me to lighten up. If you know me, that’s pretty freakishly on point. Sometimes, in my little world of detail and control and perfection, i  miss the forest for the trees and i just need to remind myself to loosen the grip, take a break, get some fresh eyes! Then, like magic, the answer comes and i feel better, more like myself. i know it’s why i adore wild color so much, it balances my crazy, meticulous, type-A tendencies.

i really have a special fondness for this piece, because when i look at it, i see the journey. i turned the lost cause into something i consider beautiful. It’s a great lesson and a good daily reminder. So that’s the story. ; )