the Art Drive

Digital DNA for Belissima Blue

If amino acids are the building blocks of life, single images or fragments of them are the DNA of composite images.  These are the building blocks of Belissima Blue, my contribution to the 2015 Art Drive School of Bodacious Bonito.


This project begins in January when our local boatyard cuts 36 fish from marine plywood. The fish are approximately 4 feet x 2.5 feet, and this year it is a bonito, a member of the tuna family.  Each of the participating Art Drive artists starts with the same wooden form and each gives their fish a truly unique, artful and often fanciful interpretation.

During this long snowy winter, my naked fish sat patiently waiting while I worked on a fine art portfolio project.  In refining a body of work, there are always good pieces that just don’t make the final cut. Some of these "rejects" became Bellisima Blue. I imagined the luscious peachy opalescent tones from my moribund nautilus project as translucent fins. I knew that close-up shell curves could be re-purposed as the dividing line between head and body,  with hosta vein patterns for sinuous scales….

For me, creating a composite image like Belissima Blue is a process of love, learning and letting-go. To get from my vague starting notions of color, shape and texture to the final product requires hours of practice, reading, and watching tutorials. Often I learn a new technique and then have to abandon that element when it doesn’t fit with the evolving “canvas.”  Those opalescent tones that so attracted me had to become more blue and less peachy for visual unity.


But here she is! – happily swimming in my garden until she starts her summer rounds visiting the Rhode Island Botanic Center and Westport River Winery.  All the details about the 2015 Bodacious Bonitos will be posted on the Art Drive website in June, including where they will be and how you can have one of your very own!

Meet "Lost in Reflections"

Not every winter flounder likes to bury itself in the sand.  Some get adventurous.  This one, like many guys, refused to ask for directions and found himself upstream in Destruction Brook where he got lost in the reflections. 


 I first caught sight of him while studying ripple geometry last fall and over the early spring he became my "Flippin' Founder."  Kidding aside, since becoming a member of the Art Drive I have started to see fish shapes, scales and fin patterns everywhere.

Long ago I knew that this ripple would be a fin, and the image below would become a scale.

Of course there was a steep learning curve from imagination to execution- but what fun along the way!

Lost in the Fish

A friend of mine from Mexico sent me an email the other day - no posts since June 9th- unacceptable !!    Guilty as charged.  I have been consumed with fishy business.  My garage is no longer a place for cars and garden equipment, but is rather an aquarium full of 4 foot fanciful and very creative fish - this year's Art Drive school of Classic Cod.  Happily the fish are now all photographed, found their way onto the poster, and soon will go to their display locations in Dartmouth, Westport and New Bedford.  For more details about their whereabouts and the auction where you can buy a Classic Cod check out or go here and buy your very own!

In addition to all the fish stuff, I have been taking a class in Advanced Photoshop- Speed Painting.  The work I did on Entangled made me want to learn more about using the brushes in Photoshop so when I saw this class advertised at RISD I thought it might be a place to start.  I emailed the instructor and he assured me that it would, and the fact that I am not already a painter wouldn't be a problem.  So with some trepidation, I took the plunge.  Perhaps free fall off the 10 meter diving board is  better description.  For starters, I am at least 30 years older than everyone else in the class and the only person without a solid background in painting.  But as promised, I am learning a huge amount and loving the challenge.  In a few short weeks I am supposed create a whole world complete with different weather and lighting. ...whew....  Given the oceanic theme of my life these days, it is no surprise that my practice exercises on clean rendering, creating custom brushes from inkblots and masking techniques all have an underwater look.

Crabby inkblot babies

Crabby inkblot babies


Meet Entangled, my fish for this year's school of Classic Cod that will be part of the Art Drive Open Studio Tour in August.  Each year participating artists create a school of fish that are used to promote this annual juried summer art tour in Dartmouth & Westport, MA. After the Art Drive the fish are auctioned off with a portion of the proceeds going to our local environmental education center. 

The selection of the Atlantic bearded cod for this year's fish was a timely one, as new fishing regulation go into effect this month.  Although New Bedford is one of the biggest dollar yield ports for fish in the US, cod fishing will be severely curtailed going forward.  The livelihood of fisherman and the ancillary industries they support are in question. While debates rage about the science behind the restrictions and the politics of enforcement, the harbor is filled with docked fishing boats of every type as owners struggle to survive with catch limits, rising fuel etc.  It is a tangled mess.

Entangled is a digital composite made from the photo below of trawling gear and images of ocean waves, along with some digital painting. The trawling rope used for the beard was graciously provided by Reidar's Mfg - a local company owned by fishermen making gear for fishing boats.

Trawling gear 5_fishing Boasts-6955-Edit.jpg


For the first time in way too long, I was out
in the early morning light, watching the
perfect reflections of herons fishing in the
salt marsh and the dancing eddies of the
incoming tide.  After so much time spent this summer with Fabulous Fins, all sold on the Art Drive auction, it is a relief to be viewing real jumping fish from afar and not on my computer screen. 

Now, after a wonderfully successful Art drive, I am ready to reorganize and to begin thinking about the next images and adventures.  Harbingers of the coming autumn are beginning to appear.

And swirling around in the place of unconscious creativity are shiny moving fish with hummingbird cohorts….hmmmmm


Charley's Angel

My blog postings have been sparse lately because I have spent the spring immersed in the world of 3D yellowfin tuna.  For the past three years artists from Dartmouth and Westport have created 4-foot long fish that are used to promote the Art Drive, an open studio tour through the coastal villages of Dartmouth and Westport.  The fish are auctioned off on eBay to support the event and the Lloyd Center for the Environment.

As a participating artist this year, I spent a long time thinking about what to do with my yellowfin tuna.  In Mexico, reflected light patterns on tin angels made me think of shiny fish scales and that started me off on an idea that was at the time way beyond my skill level and pay grade. But a lot of time playing with photoshop and learning how to use my graphics tablet got me to a pretty good place when my daughter raised the bar saying,

“ Oh Mom – you have to make this 3D.  It will be so much more dynamic.” 

Easy for her to say!  She is a talented artist who can easily move in three planes.  For me, adding a third dimension was as challenging as one of those yoga poses that the teacher does so easily.  While she twists and turns all forty six different muscle groups, I can’t even get a message from my brain to my neck, much less arms, shoulder, abdomen, legs……..  But perseverance pays off.    After many trips to AC Moore and Ace Hardware trying out different schemes and learning more about adhesives than I ever wanted to know, it did come together. So here is “Charley’s Angel” made of photographs on colored xeroxes mounted on flexible foam, over an oatmeal box.....


The angels that started this whole idea.


My own little yellow fin angel stands only 12” tall.

To create the colors for the fins and scales I used sunshine and a bright
Mexican tablecloth and a lovely turquoise shirt.