“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sending you all love on #MLKDAY
My art is a tee! I’m so thrilled about how well this turned out — I’m going to wear this every day for the rest of the summer! If you’d like one for yourself, they’re on sale here».
Quote: “There is nothing like a Dream to create the Future.” – Victor Hugo
It’s not always easy to find time to paint when I’m running around on camera. But it’s not for naught, because all that I’ve experienced helps me to refine my vision for one of my upcoming series.
This morning I dug out this unfinished painting, “Beauty Blinded,” from a few years ago; I’m not sure yet if I want to finish it or start anew. It’s part of that series I just mentioned, which I’ve been dreaming a lot about lately: Women + Mass Media (working title, hehe). After nearly eleven years working onscreen, I’ve seen for myself how this business affects us; both those of us in front of the camera, as well as those watching at home. And it’s something worth examining.
Growing up, I was taught that a person’s most important characteristics lie within: intelligence, talent, kindness and strength of character are traits to strive for. So I worked hard, earned top grades, and practiced my art & musical instruments with diligence. Focused in this way, I found little use for personal beautification, and that coupled with coke-bottle glasses and my nerdy nature, made for a rather homely presentation; but it did not bother me, because I knew I was a good person and that’s all that mattered.
Fast forward to many years later, I suddenly found myself on television — an unexpected turn that surprised me as much as anyone else. And I quickly discovered, that in this business, it’s not what’s inside that counts. In this industry, the most important thing is to be “beautiful.” And mind you, being beautiful on television, isn’t the same as being beautiful in real life. In real life, we think our friends, our mothers & sisters, our grandmothers & daughters, are beautiful not just because of the color of their eyes or shape of their face, but based on the content of their hearts. But on television, as in most mass media, beauty is very rigidly and narrowly defined. Despite talk of body positivity running rampant, so many of my colleagues are cutting themselves up with plastic surgery: I can’t tell you how many friends of mine didn’t “make it big” until after a boob job. Meanwhile, I myself have been admonished for the tiniest blemish (Horrors! An imperfection lol!), and then praised when I lost weight, even though I’m already quite thin. Rather like a dog who has retrieved a ball — “Good girl!” they say. Am I? Am I good? Because this kind of praise, as condescending as it is vacuous, doesn’t feel good.
And what about the viewers at home? What about the people connived into believing that their air-brushed celebrity crushes are as perfect as they appear, or that they too, at home, should aspire to squeeze and alter themselves to fit an unrealistic ideal in the name of self-improvement? And in my personal experience as a math & SAT tutor, I have discovered that so many little girls are more concerned with being pretty & popular rather than being smart, or even just being good human beings.
These conversations and thoughts are not new. We’ve been discussing this for decades. And when I was a child, my parents did not allow me to watch much television, in part for these very reasons — in my home, gender roles, unrealistic beauty standards, and the dangers of mass media consumption were topics for discussion. But now, having experienced first-hand the pressures that we, the women behind the scenes in media, are actually exposed to, I have something I’d like to add.
Working in the media, I could make a documentary about this subject, or conduct interviews; I could write a report or make a YouTube series. But since I am an artist first, perhaps I’ll just put brush to canvas and see where that leads me.
Thanks for reading, and as I’ve often said on the air, stay tuned.
The past few months have been a journey. It began with my first visit to France at the end of the summer, and ended with the terror attacks in Paris a couple weeks ago. Physically incapacitated, I’ve certainly had a lot of time to mull it all over.
I visited the south of France with my fiance and my best friend in late summer. We stayed near Cannes with a gracious friend whose home was warm and inviting; the countryside was deliriously beautiful and full of natural charm. We stayed only a few days before catching a train to Paris, but not before…
I was bitten on the back of my ankle in the woods by some kind of arachnid, or so I thought. It was a horrible bite, a huge mound of pus and blood, with a large irregular rash all around it. In the center, like an angry volcano, rose a black mass, like a scab but darker. I couldn’t get a good look at it myself, and my traveling companions were understandably grossed out. They promised to take me to a pharmacy once we got to the capital.
In Paris I was soon distracted by the culture and the vibe. My entire foot was swollen at this point, but who cared? I was in PARIS! We toured the Louvre, strolled the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, and sketched along the river Seine (see drawing above).
And that is how I like to remember Paris: Gorgeous, full of life, art & joy. An escape from the banal stresses of NYC.
But when I returned home to the States, I was here barely a week before things weren’t quite right with me. It started with body aches and a fever, which soon rose to nearly 104 degrees, and persisted for 3 weeks. And for the weeks and months that followed, I was on bed rest 80% of the time, with everything from a stiff neck so bad I could neither lie down nor sit up, vision problems, severe migrating arthritis to the point where I couldn’t walk or even hold a pencil; to bronchitis and laryngitis, rendering me mute. My sister had to come and live with us for over a month, as I could no longer take care of myself, and out of two plus months, I was well enough to work for only 3 days. A normally healthy person, I’d never been so sick in my life, and never for so long. As you can imagine, I was fairly freaked out.
Finally, a few weeks ago, I was still ill, but well enough to start catching up on correspondence and make more regular visits to the specialists who have been working on my medical case. The consensus seems to be that it is Lyme Disease; however since I was bitten in Europe, the bacteria can’t be detected with US lab test; apparently they are completely different strains. I was advised to return to France to get screened with the proper tests, and was seriously considering it until…
The terror attacks.
I don’t have words to describe the sorrow and outrage I feel at what was done to our sister nation across the Atlantic. Paris had seemed like this inviolable oasis of beauty and gaiety. Picnics with wine and cheese along the river’s edge; dance parties all night long; and art galleries back to back along the main drag, so numerous you could never visit them all in one trip. How could they do this to Paris? How could they murder all of those wonderful people in cold blood, in the City of Light of all places?
My heart goes out to all who suffered losses that night. As a New Yorker, I know all too well the fear and the anxiety, the heartbreaking insanity of it all. I just never thought it would happen in Paris. I had wanted to move there eventually; to get away from the danger I perceived as pervading my hometown. Now I see, no city is safe. God rest all of the departed, and bless their families and loved ones. I’m so very, very sorry.
So what’s the point of my writing all of this?
Well, Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I have to admit, I’d been feeling rather sorry for myself lately. Up until recently I couldn’t work, speak or hold a pencil. I still have no diagnosis and thus likely have weeks more ahead filled with specialists and tests, and no telling what new symptoms might arise. Some days are good healthwise, and other days…not so much.
But you know what? I’m ALIVE. And when over a hundred innocent people in the city I just visited and love so much can no longer say that, I realize I have so much to be grateful for. I don’t know if I’ll regain full use of my hands, or if this is some kind of undiagnosed autoimmune disease, similar to Lupus, that will stay with me until my last breath, but at least I can breathe! That’s a gift!!
So even if I might have to learn new ways to follow my dreams, I’m grateful this Thanksgiving. In the end, every day is a blessing, and I feel blessed to make it another day.
Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving. Sending love <3, God bless.
Playing around with Photoshop and my latest live model sketch. First image is the original drawing; added the smile & eye movements on the computer ;).
Almost done with this digital painting; I block in the flat colors first (inset), then add layers of shading to give it life. I love drawing/painting strong female characters! Hope you guys are having a great start to your week.
I left my gray-paper sketchbook and pastels pencils at home, so during this session with a live model, I improvised with NuPastels on large-format white paper. I haven’t handled NuPastels in many years and they were very blocky and hard to blend, but eventually I got the hang of it and something good started to emerge. Not sure if I will bother finishing this one – I rather like where it is right now.
This is my first time combining pen and watercolor, and it was such a pleasure! I definitely think I will work on this technique some more and see how far I can push the contrast between the two mediums. And of course, love stylizing the hair – there’s something I really like developing there as well. So glad the buyer likes it – hope you all do too!
Work-in-Progress Wednesday! (lol is that a thing?) Loved this model, & totally got caught up in my crazy colors & couldn’t finish the background in the 2 hours we had her. Thinking of putting Saturn behind her, IF I finish it…
I was nominated for the “Pen Challenge” by a friend on Instagram, but what to draw?! Well, my sweetie took a pic of me w/his cat while we watched the Pats/Hawks fistfight — err, I mean, Superbowl ;), and I thought, Purrfect! Pen is not exactly my forte, but I kind of like it!