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Stepping outside my comfort zone

I’ve been approached a number of times in the last 6 months to come to events and do live drawing and sketching of guests. I admire artists who do this but I have become set in my ways doing commercial projects from my studio, working from photographic reference with total privacy. If I mess up, I scrap the painting and start again. I have the freedom to scan and digitally tweak things like contrast and color.

I was recently approached to do a backdrop for a special event and to live draw editors and guests as they come in. I turned down the on site part initially but the client persisted so I wound up agreeing. It’s been a while since I’ve painted from observation. I used to love doing figure drawing and painting but it’s been a while so I invited a couple of friends over and took out my paints and went to it. My goal was to paint them as quickly as possible. At the event I’ll only have a couple of minutes for each painting. I tried a couple of different materials but realize that watercolors are truly home for me. I’ll use a limited palette and aim to use the simplest strokes to capture the movement, energy and gesture of my subject and then if there’s time I’ll add some more details.

Here are some of the paintings I did the other night as warm ups. Thanks for posing Rubi and Natalie.


Thrilled to say that my book Well-Read Women: Portraits of Fiction’s Most Beloved Heroines is currently the #1 best seller in Art Portraits on Amazon. It’s #2 in Painting and #10 in Watercolor. I’m so excited that it’s still chugging along since coming out in September last year.  I’m currently starting work on my next book. I’ll be excited to share little sneak peeks as I go along. It’ll be published in April 2016. Stay tuned.

Looking for a nice holiday gift for a pal, your mom, yourself? Check it out.



Emily Johnston photography

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Emily Johnston who came over to shoot my space for an upcoming home decor book. I’m amazed by her beautiful work. She recently had a show called What It Was. The photographs are natural, quiet and moody conveying our connection to nature both internal and external and the stillness of being (that’s my take anyhow). Check out Emily’s portfolio and follow along on her adventures on Instagram.

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Best Book Covers


I am very guilty of judging books by their covers. I often peruse book shops and let a gorgeous cover magnetically pull me to it. Often enough, the cover is a good indicator of the content inside. Most recently I was drawn to Worn Stories. I’m also smitten by the three covers above. The Vacationers is written by my friend Emma Straub so I’m bias but I am beyond certain I’d be swooning over the cover whether or not I knew Emma. Nobody is Ever Missing is another stunning cover, one of many designed by the talented Charlotte Strick who I had the pleasure of working with on my illustrative series of illustrations for Rachel Cusk’s novel in issues 207-210 of the Paris Review (and here’s a great interview with her on it’s nice that). The Woman Destroyed cover by Peter Mendelsund led me back to his site which is a treasure trove of stunning work.

Buzzfeed included Emma and Charlotte’s covers in this great round-up.


Paddington Bear for IFC Mall, Shanghai

Paddington bench IFC Shanghai
Paddington bench2
I was happy to oblige when IFC Mall in Shanghai asked me to create a design for a special celebration of Paddington Bear’s 65th anniversary and the holiday season. The design is featured on special benches throughout the mall. I decided to focus on Paddington’s iconic and impeccable style. He’s so well known for his wellington boots, jacket, scarf, hat and suitcase. I added a bit of holiday flare as well as a jar of honey which I know would make the bear himself very happy. If you are in Shanghai, check it out and take a seat.

A few years ago I did another project for IFC Mall in Hong Kong, illustrating style legends for a big exhibit. Here’s the video.