Monday, December 31, 2012


9x12 scratch board NFS

I'll be somewhat relieved when this particular holiday season is over to be honest. Keeping my outlook positive is really helping but it'll be nice to get back to not having to feel like I have to fake jolly. It's a difficult time of year for so many who've lost loved ones, both recently and in the past.

But it's also a time of renewal. Of possibly being able to accept what is and move forward. I know that I will never move on from loving and "losing" Tim but I can and must move forward, with his joyful memory as close to me as my next breath. I must say that the season has not been nearly as horrible as I expected. There really is something to this thought vibration thing. Invariably, when I choose the higher thought, my experience follows suit. Conversely, I've found the opposite to be true. The mornings I wake up and assume a victim posture, there's a lot of toe stubbing, plate dropping, deep depression and missing my best friend like crazy.

I know I've said the above many times in many different ways but I almost feel guilty not feeling constantly devastated, even though I know that's not what Tim wants. How silly to think that being in constant pain would please a loved one who has passed, as if it would show them how much they are missed.

Anyway, I've been doing a lot of purging and throwing out... still. I'm having some work done upstairs and I've been forced to get rid of a lot of stuff. Yesterday I cleaned out the "art" closet, which in reality is just a closet in one of the bedrooms up here. Over the years I'd stuffed it to near bursting with artwork, boards, books, papers and paintings and I finally had to face it all. Somewhere Tim is smiling. He was so after me to finally go through it all. I found some wonderful memories and work that we did in the early years when we used to throw down.

The scratch board above was done when I still lived with the 'rents, way back in the day. My last name was Barnes then but I replaced it with Berry in Photoshop. I remember being so proud of it, thinking that I'd been thrown a bone by the art gods. Working from complete darkness and picking out the light was quite a lesson in values. I'd love to try one again soon.

 I was particularly thrilled to find copies of these illustrations that Tim did of us in '95. Working in the same office at the same job for 15 years was such a gift and more fun than I can put into words. We kept each other sane—the pressure in the marketing department of a newspaper was incredibly intense. And he was so creative and eager to learn anything new, and such a positive influence. And after a hard day, we'd get in the car and just unload, complain, make funny noises and finally laugh until we arrived home. Our hearts were broken when I was asked to retire. We had hoped to one day find a way to work together again, but it was not to be.

In those days, Tim did so many illustrations, both for the paper and for fun. I'd always find a drawing or cartoon on my desk as a surprise. I am so fortunate to have so many loving memories.

I'd like to thank everyone for all of the support and kindness I've received through this most difficult year. Thank you for visiting and following my blog, for reading my posts and leaving messages that have helped so much, for flowers, for checking in to let me know I'm remembered, for being there. I hope to get back to some sort of normal schedule after the new year. My new studio is ready and I can't wait to get started.

I'm putting aside time each day to visit other blogs and see what I've missed and catch up on my thank yous. Until then, I wish you all a healthy, wealthy and safe New Year and again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for caring.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


16x20" oil on canvas

Meet Casey. He is, unfortunately, no longer with us but I'm sure he's kickin' it with his buds somewhere over the rainbow bridge. I'd like to thank his Mom for her patience and an incredible reference photo to work from. This portrait was pure fun to work on.

It's that time again. Cannot believe how quickly time flies and clearly, still not wrapping my head around himself not being here with us. Tim and I took the "surly, aloof artist, we're far too cool for this" route and never really created any sort of traditional holiday rituals once we broke from our respective family festivities about 8 years ago. So, gratefully, I'm not missing trimming the tree and putting up lights with him. I always sort of regretted not going there, until now that is. We just knew, being us, all the stuff would still be there when the next Christmas rolled around. We celebrated the holidays in our own unique way. Great old movies, good wine and a feast prepared by the chef himself. That I will definitely miss.

I'm doing really well actually. Keeping my frequency open to the one Tim is on. When I follow my path, get out of my head and avoid the pity pot I open up the channels and clear the way for feeling him near. Missing him and feeling sorry for myself are two completely different things so I'm focused on choosing my thoughts carefully.

The events of last week in Newtown, Connecticut put things clearly into perspective. I have no words. There is really nothing any of us can say. I saw two different statements from two different parents of lost children and I felt both humbled and oddly hopeful. They spoke only of love, forgiveness and honoring their babies by not becoming bitter and full of hate.

Those are, as it turns out, the perfect words.

I wish everyone a peace-filled and safe holiday season and I hope we all find a way to, finally, live together.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


16x20"  oil on heavyweight canvas NFS

This is Pinot.  I'd like to thank his Mom for her patience. It's taken ages for me to get this done. It seemed as though I would never finish and there's so much more I'd like to do but I'm ridiculously behind, so I called it.

There's a difference that I became aware of while working on Pinot. I can feel a shift in the perception of my work. It's a good thing, I think, however it has affected the length of time it usually takes to complete a painting. But there are other factors to be considered now, of course.

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. I counted it as my first official "real" holiday without Tim's physical presence. It sucked but it didn't, if that makes any sense. My good friends, Jason and his wife Lori, visited that morning and made pumpkin pancakes and turkey sausage for breakfast. It was wonderful and I was so grateful. They assured me that they weren't making sure the widow Berry wasn't alone on a holiday but I couldn't help but feel a bit like the lonely shut in. Silly I know. Even sillier, on some level I think I might have thought that perhaps Tim would be rewarded with a one-day pass to spend the day with us. Strange things dance around in ones head at a time like this. But really, let's face it, I wasn't all that grounded before he left!

After they left I had myself a good cry but it was cut short by the distinct feeling that Tim was not havin' it! I could hear him scold me in my head..."Come one now, you know the deal! I'm right here and I'm perfectly fine. No more ugly cries, vacate the pity pot and get on with it. We will see each other again and until then you need to stay positive!"

Okay. I'll try.

After that, the day was actually a good one. I had invites from Tim's bro Conor and his wife Sheila and a few other friends, but preferred to spend my first Thanksgiving without Tim...with Tim, if that makes any sense. I know it sounds strange but there's no way I could ever talk myself into feeling as good as I do sometimes if he wasn't here with us. It's uncanny. Either that or I've completely lost my stuff.

This snap is from one of our first dates back in '93. I think we were at a party for a co-worker. We were always so nervous because we were both so shy. That's one of the reasons we were so perfect together.

I swore I saw him today as I was driving to the market. He was driving this big SUV and smiled right at me! It was startling! George Anderson and Theresa Caputo (the Long Island Medium on TLC) both say that it's not our imagination when we think we see a loved one who is no longer with us.

That's fine with me. Even that quick glimpse today did wonders.

Also, please forgive me, I'm almost half-way through my thank you's for the kind and generous comments left on my last post. I so appreciate your words of support and your patience. I had promised myself I'd get on them right away but again, time just got away from me.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Moses Botkin Challenge / November

6x6" oil on linen

It's a good thing I've gotten back to the challenge, I haven't been able to get started again since the storm. Yeah, I know, I do have a lot of excuses for not working, but ya gotta admit, they are good ones! More on that very badly behaved young lady named Sandy in a bit.

The theme this month was "Adulthood",  logically following last month's  theme of "Adolescence". This time I decided to look through some photos I'd taken this past summer that I had planned to use for a series entitled "Men at Work", but it never came to fruition. I'd get these ideas and feel energized but then quickly lose interest for obvious reasons. I thought, since the house was full of men working, I had a wonderful variety of models to choose from, why not use them?

This is Mike who owns a company that did work in the backyard. I am thrilled with the results and spent many hours this past summer enjoying the peace and communing with Tim, interrupted by the occasional crying jag and fleeting feelings of guilt for having made the changes. But, all in all, being able to spend my first summer without my best friend in that space, was a gift and helped immeasurably.

I tried something different with this painting. First I worked smaller than usual and secondly, I used only a minimal amount of Liquin. I mixed the colors and kept the paint thick while working and I really like the results. I'm looking forward to trying more like this.

Now. On to Sandy. What a mess. A week before I'd ever heard that name in conjunction with a storm, I sat down at the computer and logged on to the Weather site thinking it was late in the season and wasn't it wonderful that we made it through without a big hurricane hitting our area. Perhaps I shouldn't have done that.

The dire warnings all week before were, to say the least, terrifying. Unprecedented, Frankenstorm, Superstorm, and on and on and on. Everything conspired to create a never before seen weather event and it was headed right towards Long Island. I miss Tim more than I can express, as I've said many times, however, waiting for the storm to arrive without him was not a good time.

I have been very fortunate to have made life-long friends with the owners of the company that is working on our house and will be forever grateful for the help and caring shown me at this most difficult and frightening time. Thank you Jason and Lori!

And thank you too Eileen and Tad, Jon and Laura! I'll be forever grateful for your help and caring. And thank you too Conor and Sheila for your concern and love.

The night the storm arrived was really not fun but I kept focusing on my chosen path, had lots of wine and spent hours talking to Tim. I was typing an email to a friend when the power went out. It would not return for the next six days. And I was one of the lucky ones. As I type this there are thousands still in the dark. During the outage, I had two very unattractive melt-downs. No one escaped my rather loud, expletive-laden, pity-drenched tirades. Not even Tim.  But when they passed I decided that my frame of mind determined my experience so I did my best to realize how fortunate I was and that the lights would come on when they came on.

Something happens when one is deprived of the creature comforts that we take for granted every day. I had no idea what the extent of the damage was to the East Coast for three days. One of our close friends from work had his power restored so I was able to take a nice hot shower, do some laundry and watch the news. I realized then that I had been incredibly lucky. I only lost two small branches and not one single shingle took flight. And, I'm closer to the Long Island Sound than I am the Atlantic but not close enough to either to suffer any flood damage.

My friend Jason came over with a hot breakfast and took me for a ride to see some of the damage to the South Shore while we charged our cell phones. I was flabbergasted! When I returned home I decided to count my blessings, stock up on candles and books and get on with it. Unsafe as it was I had about 25 candles going, shut the bedroom doors and was quite warm while I read book after book by the strangely cold glow of my 2 foot long flashlight.

Needless to say, I was giddy with delight when the lights came back on and went around turning things on and off for an hour or so, running the water until it was hot, listening to the fridge go on and off warming my toes by the now clicking with life heating elements.

I hesitate to share this next bit because it makes me look, well, not very bright but what the hell. My neighbors came over on the first night without power to check on me which I really appreciated. We sat in the living room by candlelight talking about the storm, until inevitably one of them asked to use the bathroom. I asked, without thinking, if she had to do number 1 or number 2. She looked at me, surprised and basically, with her expression, asking why I needed to know. Well, there's no power, the toilets don't flush, I said wondering how she didn't realize that fact.

I had, in fact that very morning, headed out to the woods to answer nature's call because the power was out, so when my neighbor announced that the toilets would indeed flush, I was sure she was wrong. Of course they flushed and after a good 3 minutes of much needed laughter I was shown that I could use the gas stove as well. I was so happy to be shown that I was still able to flush and cook, on the first night without power, I didn't mind the least bit looking like a moron.

I'd like to extend my thoughts and prayers to those who lost loved ones, homes and possessions during this terrifying event. If you haven't yet and are able, please consider contributing whatever you can to help.

And again and again, your comments and caring as I go forward without Tim are helping me more than you'll ever know. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

And now enjoy these amazing paintings by the group:

"New Family"
6x8" oil on hardboard
©2012 Diana Moses Botkin

 "Father Frederick Hanna"
  Oil on Canvas
  24" x 36"
  ©2012 Mark Adams

Monday, October 15, 2012

Moses Botkin Challenge / October

"Adolescence" 8x6" oil on canvas


I've developed the rather immature habit of guessing the date lately. I was sure it was the 10th and I had a few days to finish the painting on the easel and get my challenge painting done. Checking the recorded programs on the DVR last night, I was stunned to see it was the 14th! Woops!

I couldn't blow it off, it's my first challenge painting since Tim left in February, plus the subject matter was my choice this month. The choice of what to paint is yet another part of my work that Tim helped me with.  Still reaching for the phone to ask his advice or mentally cataloging the questions I want to ask or the latest joke I want to share when he arrives home from work, but that's normal I guess. Anyway, I chose "Adolescence" but only because the previous theme had been "Childhood." Seemed a natural progression.

I had some lofty ideas. Wild but studied brush strokes evoking the perpetual angst of the young. Clearly that didn't happen. I gotta get out more and find some live models. Maybe even knock on my neighbor's doors. But, instead, rushed and not having a clue what to do I logged onto a stock photo site, typed in angst and purchased a photo that I thought might work. So what you see above is my interpretation of the photo I chose. Not what I had in mind, but at least it's done and I needed to know I could still paint quickly if needed. So, another milestone, I'm back in the challenge group. I think.

I fear I've pushed the limits of your patience with my many accounts of how cool Tim was/is or how deeply in love we were/are, so I'll just say that I'm feeling better. Days go by without a tear being shed which in turn creates guilt. The huge hole in my heart has at last produced what feels like a scab. Very frail though. A slight scratch, the tiniest tender touch and I fear I would hear it fall noisily to the ground and the tears and pain would again begin spewing out. But, it's a start. I'm smiling more and talking to him without that accusing tone in my voice. The "what-ifs" and "if-onlys" continue unabated, but I think at last that I'm beginning to accept, really accept, what is.

Thank you again for your caring thoughts and support.

And now, please enjoy the other members interpretations of "Adolescence."

"Tyler the Teenager"
14x18" Pastel
© V.N.Ross
Self Portrait 1968
18x27" oil on canvas

 "Soothing Break"
oil on hardboard 6x9"

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy Birthday My Love and a Commission Almost Done

16x20" oil on heavyweight canvas
SOLD Private Collection

The kids above are a commission I'm just finishing that I'm very grateful for. I got a call last August from a client who wanted a painting done of his kids for his wife's birthday. I wasn't feeling that focused but thought it would be a good opportunity to get back in the spirit of working again so I accepted it. And, as it turns out, it's just what the doctor ordered. Or as Tim said, through George, the medium..."get back to work, you think too much. It will be therapy for you and you know I'm right." And, as usual, even from a different plane, he was right...again. I used to hate when that happened.

I have some more work to do, but I'm thrilled with the canvas surface. I'm going to use this heavyweight surface for everything. There's just such a nice finish to the paint with it. I just heard from the client and he's happy, so that means I am too.

 Tomorrow is Timothy Berry's 45th birthday. Last year, when he turned 44, we as usual, didn't make a big deal. Who would have even guessed that it would be his last?

This was a Polaroid snap I took back in '93. We were all pimped out because we were on our way his folks house for Easter dinner. Our first outing as a couple at the 'rents place! I was nervous as hell but it turned out really well. They were very warm and welcoming and we enjoyed ourselves. He's simply perfect isn't he?

Such an incredible human being. So warm and giving. Such an amazing partner. I was so fortunate. I decided, just yesterday, that even if I knew it would end like it did, I wouldn't have changed a thing.

I'm feeling better. I miss him more than I can express but each morning and evening I talk to his portrait and kiss him good morning and good night. I feel a bit like Cloris Leachman in Young Frankenstien kissing "Wictor's" painting, but somehow I think he's there and he appreciates it. I know I do.

I've started awake more than a few times of late, sure that I'd open my eyes and see him standing there, at the side of the bed, smiling at me, telling me he loves me.  I'm grateful that there was nothing left unsaid. Nothing either of us needed to correct or change. It's strange but I realized that because of the way we appreciated each other, at any time we were prepared to be separated by death without any regret or longing to change what we said or did. I'm very grateful for that. We were always sure to express the love we felt, the appreciation for each others presence, for the things we did for each other, the things we said.

"I'd love you if you were a head on a plate!"

That was the most romantic thing he ever said to me and at the risk of being cheesy, we were always telling each other how much we cared. I'd been fretting about looking older, gaining weight, whatever and he just took my face in his hands, looked into my eyes and said that. I'll never forget it. What freedom! What joy! I wasn't relegated to being just the "wife," always looking my best. I was his best friend and he was mine. We trusted each other completely. There would never be a cross moment where a previously shared weakness would be attacked or pointed out. We felt completely and utterly safe with one another.  I consider myself most fortunate to have had that kind of relationship, even though it's no longer shared on the physical plane.

So again, thank you all so much for caring. I'm doing much better than I ever expected but that's because he's here. He's with us. Happy Birthday my love.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


30x30" pencil on heavyweight canvas


This guy’s expression about sums it up. He’s made an appearance in the past, but he was drawn on an 11x14” piece of paper. If size really matters, than my state of mind is rather obvious. And, I was curious to see what pencil would do on 30x30" heavy cotton canvas. Plus, again, I am trying to get back to work on some consistent basis, as clearly there have been more than a few false starts. I was so sure I would continue working when I posted the boys back in June.

But grief will have it's way with you. You think you've come to terms with it one day and the next you realize you haven't even accepted the possibility.

This experience is polarizing on so many levels (gee, suz...ya think?). Painting has clearly not been a priority. I’ve crawled into the pity pot to party far more often than I expected I would (arrogance). I’ve come to see that my pain isn’t special.  Each and every day I hear of some horrific loss or tragedy, both on the news and in my day to day, and it dawns that this is all part of life. And it sucks.

I’ve vacillated between feeling like the most fortunate woman on the planet because I got to spend twenty years with Timothy Francis Berry, to feeling like the victim of a cruel and vicious fate because we only had twenty years. I think I've reached the pissed off stage. I'm really pissed off, but this too shall pass.

When I realized, years ago, that death scared the bejesus outta me, I set out to make friends with it. Not an easy task. I read all manner of life-after-death books, specifically those written by a man named George Anderson. He was very popular at the time and based here on Long Island. I read some of his work while Tim and I were in our first bloom of love. I would relate everything I read to him—I was fascinated, he was sure I was crazy.

So, fast forward some eighteen years and my best friend and husband has had the very bad taste to die and leave me behind. Three months into my journey without him, I found I'd all but abandoned my cosmic muffin ways for the "real" world of grief and loss. It was dark, lonely and terrifying. If there was ever a time to embrace my belief in the metaphysical, this was it, so I thought it might be a good idea to make an appointment with the current popular Long Island medium who has a show on TLC. Logging on to her site I found she was booked for the next two years.

Well dude, I thought to himself, if you wanna chat you're gonna have to take care of how.

The next day I received a lovely email from a fellow artist I'd met online who had just found out about Tim's passing. In the email she shared a link to George Anderson saying I might find it helpful if I went to see him. I was stunned. I'd forgotten all about him! I immediately went to his site and was thrilled to be able to make an appointment on the 3rd month anniversary of Tim's leaving.

So yes, dear followers, there it is...I went to see a medium. Do with it what you will. I hesitated sharing this because as I've told this to some people I know, they blink and their blank unbelieving expression tells me that I've lost them. And they think they've lost me. I understand that reaction. This kind of thing isn't easy to hear no matter what your beliefs, but being in this position makes it very easy to try anything just to have a chance to "hear" from the one you've lost and miss so very, very much.

I won't share what I experienced, it's much too personal for even me, but I will say that when I went to a nearby diner immediately after my session to collect myself, I had no doubt whatsoever that Tim was sitting directly across from me.

This wasn't a desperate attempt on my part to make this marriage work from two different dimensions (although I'm sure it would and is) or to try to hold on to something that clearly isn't physically here any longer. It was more of a... "did I fail you and are you alright," kind of thing. I didn't and he's perfect.

Whatever your judgements about this, it's helped me more than anything I could possibly imagine. The portrait hanging on the bedroom wall is now comforting and inviting. I put the screen saver slide show of us and the pups together back on the computer and I talk to him constantly, even more than before. I have no doubt that, as George said, he's "come home, because this is where he was happiest."

I went ahead with renovations on the house despite feelings of doubt and fear and I can now say, unequivocally, that I did the right thing. Leaving everything like it was when Tim was here would not have been good for me. Now, I feel as if I'm building new memories of us in a different space instead of trying to resurrect the old ones in the same space.

Each day brings new doubts, fears and feelings of loss but at the same time there is the knowledge that something so honest and kind and loving couldn't just evaporate. I'm trying to get out of the house more. I've begun taking Tai Chi which isn't nearly as easy as it looks, but it's helping me to center myself and feel peaceful. I'm also taking guitar lessons and planning to renovate the den to make it an inviting light-filled, efficient studio, so painting is in my future plans.

As for this drawing, I just wanted to post so I did something that wouldn't take a lot of time. If I could put it into Photoshop I'd move the mouth over a tad to the right. Other than that, it was fun to be drawing again. It felt good. There's another painting of the boys on their morning walk on the easel and I have some commissions and a few donations paintings to do so the forced vaycay is definitely over.

I'd like to thank everyone for the emails, cards, gifts, calls and caring. When I say I cannot tell you how much they all mean, I'm not exaggerating one tiny bit.

The boys miss their daddy as much as I do, but they're full of life and are so much company.

I bought a silver box and had his initials engraved on the top. I put his wallet, some guitar pics, some favorite snaps of him, a lock of hair from back in the day, a lock of hair from his last haircut, and some personal things that he loved, along with notes I drop in from time to time.  It sits near this framed photo from one of our jam sessions with our friend Cliff in the living room.

I hope to be posting again soon and so appreciate your patience and kindnesses. Thank you over and over and over again from the bottom of my heart.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


 48x36" oil on canvas

"I think a death, or a loss, of someone very close to you, does something to you that you can't get any other way."
                          Andrew Wyeth speaking about the loss of his father N.C. Wyeth

Clearly, I’m no Andrew Wyeth, that’s not my point. This quote could have come from anyone, it was just a nice happenstance that it emanated from the mind of an artist and particularly one that I worship. It meant so much more to me that way.

I watched "The Wyeth's: A Father and His Family" on the the Smithsonian Channel the other night. I was left with a deep sense of longing for a father like N.C. for one thing and an acute sense of how differently things look to me now that Tim is no longer a part of my physical life for another. That said, it occurred to me that this marriage really isn't over, it just exists on two different planes for the time being. That thought makes me smile.

As I mentioned in my last post, painting feels wonderful. I don't feel the need to apologize, agonize or do the "who me? shucks" shuffle.  It is what it is and the results are what they are. They mean nothing in the scheme of things. Nothing is solved by a particularly good painting, nor is anything harmed by a particularly bad one. I'm still me. Tim's still gone. What difference does it make?

And, I want to continue honoring the memory of my very best friend in the world, however I don’t want each post to be a funeral march to the cadence of my lingering sorrow and grief. I don’t want visitors to my blog to be met with yet another installment of my deep sense of loss. I know that Tim wants me to work. He wants me to realize my potential and he wants me to be happy, and I don’t plan on disappointing him.

I began walking the boys two days after Tim passed. We have a rather sizable back yard and had grown far too comfortable just letting them out into the fenced expanse of space to play, do their business and get the exercise they needed. I felt walking was something we could all benefit from, so I bought two turquoise harnesses and began walking them three times a day.

The fresh air and exercise helps the three of us and we look forward to it every day that it doesn't rain. In the hushed silence of the morning, listening to the noises they make, watching their ears flopping up and down and their little cute bottoms sway as they walked, I couldn't help but think it might be a good idea to paint them doing just that, but from the leash point of view.

I bought the largest canvas I've worked on to date - 48x36" from Dick Blick (gotta love that name). Anyway, I've always used the Premier Gallery canvas for my work but decided to try the Premier Heavyweight cotton for the first time. I'm hooked. The paint just settles on the surface so nicely and the finished look is something I've longed for. Who knew?

I'll be taking the camera on our walks now and then and snap away until I get a shot I like. This one really hit that sweet spot inside and I couldn't wait to paint it. I thought I'd spend weeks doing the asphalt but actually spent only about 30 minutes splashing it on and just leaving some of the black painted surface of the canvas to explain the road texture. I have a few more details to iron out and some shadow and highlight to fix but that's about it.

I think Tim is pleased. With both the painting and my not putting all of my sense-of-self eggs into one ability-to-paint basket.

Thank you again for your caring, support, words of comfort and interest in my work. I'm very fortunate to have so many wonderful friends.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


8x8" oil on cradled hardboard


First, I apologize. I had planned to go on as I usually did. Posting and then visiting other blogs and leaving comments. That never happened, clearly. Plus, forgive me for not thanking everyone for the wonderful and most welcomed comments left on the post of Neo. I seem to be making a lot of false starts these days.

I'm doing ok, I guess.  It's gotten worse though. The missing him. We were together every single day for 20 years, a good deal of that time 24/7. It's going to take some getting used to obviously. I cry a lot. At the most unexpected times. Something will trigger it and I'm off. It's called healing I'm told. Odd, but I now realize, once all of the visits, phone calls and cards fell away, I found myself asking the universe, like some lost little girl...can Tim come home now?

Conor, Tim's younger brother, and his lovely wife Sheila, came by to pick up his work for the memorial held at their mom's home. When he brought the work back, I was struck by one painting that I did of Tim over eight years ago. The reference was from a photo I took not long after we fell in love.  I felt drawn to the painting, almost as if he was flirting with me, somewhere, within the canvas, I felt he was watching. And after that strange event, I've been able to look at his image without dissolving into tears. It's wonderful to see him again.

It's ironic, but there is an upside to this ridiculous event. I call it ridiculous because I'm older. We were sure I'd go first. He would always say, 'you have to live to be 100, you know that, right?'

Anyway, I was talking about that upside. The first positive, if one could call it that, is that I'm noticing that I don't worry any more. About Tim at least. The siren sounding off, while he was on his way to or from work, doesn't make my stomach drop. I find that painting is just that...painting. How silly, it seems to me now, that I questioned my ability and felt so insecure about it constantly. When I do paint now, it's a wonderful distraction and I enjoy it because it's like therapy. Overeating no longer holds the promise of warm security and I don't fret too much that I'm looking older. That's about it though, I'm afraid it's a short list.

Anyway, on a lighter side, the dude above—the fly that is— decked out in neon green is Steve. His real name is Earl, but he now insists upon being called Steve.

One night, a few months ago, he was hanging at home having had a bit of a run in with his buds, and knowing it was date night for the 'rents, he decided to chill and watch the flat screen.

As fate would have it, his pops had the 1968 Steve McQueen vehicle (no pun intended) Bullit ready to go in the DVD player. He decided to watch it so he could make fun of the old man when he got home, he just knew it would be pure corn. Well, to say that the movie changed Earl's young life is putting it mildly. But hey, it was time to identify with a movie hero and, really, how can you go wrong with Steve freakin' McQueen? (If you're really young, check it out. It holds up. Big time. It was one of our top ten. Although it does skirt on the edge when his girlfriend gets all bent out of shape because of the violence he faces every day. But it wasn't like it is now then. Remember Quincy? Compare that with what we see on CSI!)

Since then, Earl...excuse me...Steve cruises the expressway and side roads looking for Mustangs. Preferably a late sixties model in olive drab, but he'll take anything. He's thrilled they've been reissued as classics.

He circles, lands and then holds on for dear life as the car winds through traffic, all the while pretending he's flying through the streets of San Francisco, as 'ole Frank himself, clad in that navy blue turtleneck, looking uber-cool and the lead and stand in for stunt man driver, in the first great car chase in cinematic history.

His new identity has bolstered his confidence, he's finding he has no trouble whatsoever with the ladies and for some reason his buds follow him everywhere now! But, that's no surprise. It's cool to be Steve McQueen. Even if you're a fly.

The example to the right is an idea I had that might be nice. I thought it might be cool to add the story to the bug. I'm not set on the design as yet, but whenever a bug is purchased, a 5x5" parchment with "the bug's story," featured in my blog, will accompany the painting.

If you've already purchased a bug and would like the story that accompanied said bug, just email me and I'll forward their story to you.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


18x24" oil on canvas

Hello everyone. Again, thank you all for your kindness and patience.  

I'm doing much better, in fact much better than I ever expected... today. I go up and down but I guess that's to be expected. I think the key is that I talk to Tim as if he were here, right next to me, and I feel, most times, as if he still is. There are no words to convey how much I miss seeing him and hearing his velvet voice, but I've decided that we were far too happy together for the last 20 years for me to spend the rest of my days in misery. I need to honor what we had and no matter how hard it gets— that is exactly what I'm going to do. 

Clearly, some days are better than others, but I must focus on who we were together and know that isn't over simply because I can't see or hear him anymore. I remember clearly, each of us looking at the other and wondering aloud if a husband and wife, together for 20 years, should be having so much fun. It is my intention to continue feeling that joy in honor of one of the kindest and most interesting people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. The insurance company stated that "the marriage ended on February 23, 2012." They were wrong. Very wrong.

I had my first regular day of work since it happened today and I must say that I am so grateful that it felt good. I'm getting some much needed work done on the house, thanks to Tim, and the confusion, changes and chaos are helping to keep me distracted and busy. But..and that's But with a capital B, it is heart wrenching to see the plans we had for the house come to fruition, specifically because Tim is no longer here.

I set a time limit for myself and I decided that today will my first day back at work. I've been patient with myself, however I feel it could become too easy for me to just do nothing and feel it's my due...basically a great big raspberry to the Universe for taking my best friend in the world away. But that isn't what it's about. I'm blindfolded and holding the elephants tail. I won't see the big picture until I leave this plane, so I'm choosing

I hated reading books and suggestions that I accept what is but, it is that simple! Living in the past, trying to redo our last night together so I could change the outcome, or making believe he'll be home when I get back from the store doesn't help. There is nothing that will change what happened, I know that now. Believe me, I've tried everything. It happened because it was supposed to and I know that... simply because it did.

The Sunday before, as I got up to go into the kitchen for another glass of wine, I heard him ask..."has anyone ever died in this house?" I thought he was just curious. And in January we'd taken out a loan to catch up on some bills and he insisted that my name be excluded from the loan application and he took life insurance out on it! He'd never done that before. I thought he was just being responsible. On some level he knew. I wish I did. I think. 

Anyway, I'm back. This is my job now and I must do it. Neo was a commission I had on the easel before Tim left. It is the last painting he stood in front of. I had started it about a week before even though the canvas was improperly stretched. I was concerned because the canvas had so much play in it and decided to purchase another one and start over. Tim said, most decidedly, not to. I remember how comforting his words were. Today when I put it on the easel to finish it up, the canvas was as tight as a drum.

This past Monday the contractor working on our house asked me if I wanted to keep the smoker barbeque Tim had created so many incredible meals on. It had seen better days and we were going to replace it this summer but it brought back so many great memories, I was hesitant to let it go. But I thought better of it and told them it was ok to throw out...put it out on the curb. When I took the pups out for their before bedtime mini-walk, I saw it there...lonely, used, discarded. I thought of him working over the hot coals, dripping with sweat, pleased with the marinade he'd created. I thought it would be a relief for it to be gone. The next morning I woke up and put the boys harnesses on for our morning walk. As I opened the front door, there, right behind the dumpster, propped up on a piece of wood, standing at attention and ready to be put back into action, was the smoker, looking refurbished and ready for duty. As the day progressed I found that neither the contractors nor their employees had rescued it from the curb. I didn't. As much as I hated to see it go, I didn't want to save it. It's Thursday and we still don't know how it got there.

This past Sunday, I took my guitar and a nice glass of wine down to the living room. I turned on the digital recorder we used for our jam sessions and sat in my usual spot on the love seat adjacent to the couch where Tim would sit when we played. I turned on the digital recorder, chose a tune and turned my track down and played to Tim's accompanyment. Much to my surprise, it was a liberating and joyful experience! I heard his voice, our interactions and all it made me feel was happy. There was no emptiness. No sadness. I played for about three hours as if he were still here. The only thing missing was our mutal insecurity and doubt about our ability. Another indication that this kind of relationship deserves nothing but celebration and joy, simply because it existed.

Again and again, thank you for your support and thanks so much for stopping by.

Monday, April 9, 2012


12x36" oil on linen


Hello everyone. Again and again, I need to thank you all for your support and your kindness. This is the most extraordinary thing that has ever happened in my life and to hear from so many friends, many I’ve never met face to face has meant so very much. Again and again, thank you, thank you, thank you.

I think I’m back. It changes drastically from day to day. I still feel as though half of me has been severed and in my mind’s eye, I see myself as one of those digital framework images, clumsily trying to carry on with only one side functioning.

A while back a reporter asked the Dalai Lama a question. Why, he asked, when your country is being overrun, your people imprisoned and you yourself exiled, why are you always smiling?  Because, he said, it feels good. I get that now.

My brother was in Viet Nam and when he came home he related some incredible stories. A Marine would be sent out, beyond the relative safety of the perimeter, to sit in six foot high elephant grass and listen for enemy troop movement. Consequently, that wait also included the possibility of being eaten by a predator, bitten by a snake or being dispatched by the enemy. At times the waiting and silence became too much and against strict orders and commons sense the men would key their handset and say...”What the ______ (insert desired expletive here), over,”  just to hear a familiar voice.

That’s about where I am right now. I’m trying to smile because it feels good but I seem to be continuously keying my handset and saying... “What the ______ , over.” Hoping against all reality that Tim might answer. We’d always use that phrase when perplexed or vexed in any way. Maybe I just can’t hear him.
I understand the logic of  why everyone always says when something like this happens...“this only happens to other people, this doesn’t happen to us!” I get not being able to process the “qualifying event,” as the insurance company calls it, until weeks later and suddenly, one morning, waking up as if it just happened. I totally see the ability of the human mind to shield itself from a shock it cannot possibly process.

What I don’t get is the survey the funeral home sent to be graded on their work so they can better serve the community. How can I possibly answer those questions? This is my Tim we were talking about! Seeing his name on a piece of paper, the name that I’ve loved so much for twenty years...such a great name, such a cool name....on a certificate with the word Death at the top is excruciating. For a while I refused to handle them. I only touched them with tissues.  His ashes sit in a box, clothed in red velvet along with an envelope containing locks of his hair in the studio. I hate going in there. A small box of dust. Really Tim?

All the cliches work. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. He’s in a better place..although I can’t imagine a better place than here with me and the boys. Time will heal. You had a wonderful twenty years the memories will sustain you. Those things are all true...but...

This was an extraordinary man! A kind, generous and compassionate man. Our time together was fun, creative and thrilling. As recently as a month before he left we’d stayed up talking till 3 am on a school night. I love him with every fiber of my being but, I also genuinely liked this man! I never realized how important that was. I liked who he was as a human being. If I were a male, I would choose to be Tim Berry.  I was so proud of him wherever we were, whatever we were doing. He was always polite, always patient and always smiling.  I simply cannot put into words what this man meant to me and what an incredible person he was. He taught me so much, he taught me the value of kindness, patience, compassion, honesty and integrity. He was my very best friend in the world, I trusted him with my every secret and I’ll never be the same without him.

That said, I can’t promise the subject of Tim Berry won’t pop up now and again if I’m able to continue posting. But then again, what else am I going to do? My butt’s sore from sitting in bed. It’s strange, even with the empty side, the stunning silence, bed is the only place I feel safe.

I have some ideas in my head about painting my emotions. I’ve reconnected with an old friend who has promised to pose for me. We’ll see. Right now, this is Frankie. This is the bug I’d planned to paint when I woke up that morning and thought it strange that the bright light shining in from the bathroom skylight hadn’t woken Tim up. Frankie’s not quite finished yet. Still have work to do on his tail and wings but I felt like posting so I felt I should.

Frankie is a senior at Dragonfly High. He’s full of piss and vinegar and has the potential to become either a nice guy or a jerk. It’s fork in the road teen angst time for Frank. Hopefully he’ll come out of it. Although buzzing the girls while they sun themselves in the courtyard is not cool, he has been seen helping elderly ladies across the street, so there’s hope.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Hello everyone and thank you so very much for all of your messages of support and condolence. It's been very difficult for me as you can imagine. My initial outlook changed drastically when the numbness subsided, however I feel I'm beginning to find my way.

I'm posting today to let you all know that I'm doing better and to thank you for your incredible support,
messages, cards and phone calls. It's amazing how much this helps. I hope to be back at work soon, but I'm just not sure when. I appreciate knowing that I'm missed and that you care more than I can express.

Also, there should be some sort of law against hacking emails of those who recently lost a loved one, but I guess not. If you've received a strangely upbeat email from me, or any email that isn't very obviously from me...well it ain't me! I'm so sorry for the inconvenience. It's boggles the mind that some folks have nothing better to do with their time than to mess about with hacking etc.

Thank you so very much and I hope to be back soon.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012


STONES in progress

Each time I begin to do something that I did before 2.23.12 happened, I have a panic attack and seem bound to remind myself that the last time I did whatever it is, Tim was still here with me. I guess that's normal. I've been sitting in bed, surrounded by spent tissues, books covering every square inch of the quilt, the sound turned down with the picture on the television, feeling completely and totally lost. Again, I guess that's normal, whatever normal is when something so totally unexpected and surreal takes place in ones life.

I decided to try and post today. Thought maybe it would help. I'm going to just try and get going again. Sitting around isn't working but I'd be lying if I said I expect painting will feel good. Nothing feels good. But, again, I guess that's normal.

I don't want to go through this on my blog. This is my job. When one returns to work after the loss of a loved one, one works. I'm fortunate to work from home, so when the tears start I'll just have a good wail and get back to work. You've heard Oprah speak of the "ugly cry?" Now I know what she was talking about.

The painting above has been changed twice. I got rid of the background and plan to work the detail on the stones much more realistically. I started this when I first began my blog so it's been around a while. I had planned to start a new bug that morning. I'll give it a try tomorrow.

And, I have missed so much of what everyone has done. I hope to be able to visit my favorite blogs and leave comments again at some point. Again, my wonderful friends, thank you so much for your kindness. I don't know what I would do without it.

Yo, Northport, where you at?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Each time I open my blog to read the kind and supportive comments left, and I see Tim's serene face and his light-filled eyes, with the boys snuggled tightly on each side of his strong shoulders, I can't believe his name is followed by a span of time defining the length of his life. I can't put into words how impossible this all seems.

I want to thank each and every person who took the time to lend their support and sympathy. Your words mean so very, very much and you will never know how much it meant and continues to mean.  And the irony is, I've never met any of you face to face, and yet you all feel like family!

Everyone has been so gracious and wonderful, I don't know how to thank you. Being rather shy people, we had become a tad reclusive of late and were regretful that we hadn't put ourselves out into the world much. Just last week we had joked that if anything ever happened to either of us, the other would be pretty much screwed since we actively maintained few if any friendships, preferring to selfishly, just enjoy each other.

How wrong I was!! Everyone Tim came into contact with had nothing but wonderful warm things to say about the kind of human being he was. I'm overwhelmed and comforted by each and every word, phone call, and visit.

I'm finding that when the feelings of loss, fear and searing pain begin to filter through, I am almost grateful. They are cathartic, healing. I also find that during those times, when I feel victimized by his loss, I don't feel him near me at all. However, when I quiet my mind and center myself and go within, I feel he's closer to me than my own breath. It feels as though he never left.

The deep terror in the pit of my stomach subsides when I turn within and spend time with the still small voice that has guided me for the past ten years on my journey to inner peace. Without this path I would be completely lost forever. I've never experienced a relationship like this. After almost 20 years we could still talk from dawn till dusk, still fascinated by what each other had to say. We marveled at the fun we had and how much we enjoyed each others company on a daily basis. No guilt or regret for not getting those sweet things said here. It was near constant.

I'm hesitantly but pleasantly surprised that my work is calling to me. The canvas feels, for the first time in my life, like it might be a safe place to be.  And even even though he'll no longer be coming home after work to see what I've done and share his thoughts, I know he'll be with me all day as I paint.  He will get me through this. My journey to inner peace will get me through this. My family and friends, both from cyberspace and close to home will get me through this.

I will survive, but I know will never be the same... and I don't mean that in any negative way. My life was blessed by the presence of this incredible man and I will not do him the disservice of filling it now with darkness and pain because I can no longer physically see or touch him. That would be selfish and not what he would want. We were far too close for him not to be with me now, in some way, and I must accept that.

Thank you everyone from the bottom of my heart. And most of all thank you, Tim, for loving me and for sharing your incredible spirit with me for the last 20 years. You were a gift, and I have a feeling you will just keep on giving— as long as I keep my arms open to receive.

Friday, February 24, 2012

TIMOTHY F. BERRY 1967-2012

I am numb as I write this because it can't possibly be real, but beyond all hope it is. Wednesday morning as I tried to wake Tim for work, it became painfully clear that he was no longer alive. He was only 45 years of age.

I've been inundated with phone calls and visits from family, friends and co-workers offering me comfort and company and I can honestly say I don't know what I would do without them.

I'm not sure about painting, I'm not sure about anything as nothing was real or meant anything unless Tim was a part of it. I hope to be back soon but only time will tell. I won't know anything until the numbness wears off and I begin to try and process a loss I cannot even put into words.

Tim, you are and always will be the answer to my every prayer, my every hope and my every dream. You are the kindest, most generous, selfless person I have ever met, and it is an honor to be your wife, partner and best friend for almost 20 blissful years. I will carry your memory with me until my own heart stops beating, although I think it already did, on Wednesday morning.

My life will never be the same. I love you.

Suzanne, Raz and Blu Berry

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

DMB CHALLENGE - "Tools of the Trade"

10x30" oil on canvas  SOLD

It's that time again! This month, it was my turn to choose our subject, and I chose "Tools of the Trade." We were free to use any tools, from any trade.

I chose eyes as my "tools" for two reasons. They are integral to most occupations and I thought it would be a great way to continue my "body parts" series. Sneaky.

I got a late start and didn't have the time to paint the canvas black. I think I prefer working on a black canvas but the white didn't present many problems, except that feeling of filling the canvas a lot sooner.

I'm very happy with the results and feel that this series, as it develops, will define it's own style and feeling. I've been besotted with Jenny Saville (here featured from a 2009 post on the Women Painting Women blog) lately. Such incredible brush and color work!

I absolutely love visiting the WPW blog. Such inspiration and talent! Amazing! Digressing. My point here is that I plan to wield my paintbrush with much more some point. I'm finding it best to take in all the inspiration I can and then sit down to work and just see what happens.

Also, if you are an artist or even if you're not, you might find this site interesting...

It's literally a video magazine featuring today's prominent artists in demonstrations and interviews! I purchased two issues and downloaded them quickly and easily. The videos are so inspirational and informative that along with my morning web crawl, I try to fit in a demonstration by one of the magazine's featured artists. Nothing like being intimidated to get those creative juices flowing.

And, before I try to come up with a clever segue to lead you into the challenge group's response to "Tools of the Trade," I would like to announce that this post and all posts to follow will be created and written by Suzanne_version 1.01. This new and improved version of the artist has been updated with new software that will all but eliminate any residual whining, insecurity and doubt that previously surrounded her work. I'm pumped! Let the creativity and healing begin!

Sorry, no clever segue except to give a belated and warm welcome to our new incredibly gifted members: Mark Adams, Becky Joy and Mary Maxam! Enjoy and thanks so much for stopping by.

“A Painter’s Handful’
8”x10” oil
©2012 Mary Maxam

© Becky Joy

“Barber Tools”
Oil on hardboard 6”x8”
©2012 Diana Moses Botkin

“Bluebird En Plein Air”
oil on panel, 4x4”
©Vicki Ross

“Tools of the trade - Bartender”
6” x 8” Oil on panel
© Mark Adams

Sunday, February 12, 2012


8x8"  oil on cradled hardboard $85 plus shipping


Meet Shazam! She's an artist and obviously very shy. The minute I asked her to pose she immediately turned and ran, which explains this rather, shall we say, unflattering view.

Shazam lives in the artist's colony, right behind the hot tub but not too far from the fire pit, with her husband Tom and two pet fire-flies, Sparky and Ralph. She loves being an artist and has recently, at the urging of the members of the colony, decided to embrace her ability and enjoy her work.

A collective sigh of relief was heard coming from behind the hot tub.

We'll see!

We'll see!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

BLUE LEAVES 1 in progress

12x12" oil on linen  in progress

I'm still here! It feels like it's been awhile. I've been working on commissions and not being obsessed with finishing "Laura".

I'm so grateful for the wonderful comments I've gotten on that painting, I can't thank everyone enough. It's hard not to feel like  a real artist reading comments like that, but I'm sure I'll manage somehow. Kidding.

Working on a painting that opens up the possibility of a change in direction brings up so much stuff. Realizing how much of my self-concept is tied up into being an artist isn't at all a comfortable feeling. Suddenly painting hands are beyond the scope of my ability, hair begins to get muddy, matted and heavy and it becomes close to impossible to create the right perspective on those damn containers. All imagined, all silly but if I don't acknowledge the poop it builds up and before you know it I'm in the middle of a poop storm— so I took a break and played amongst the leaves.

It's all so ridiculous. Why can't I be a hard working successful artist? What do I think is going to happen if I paint with some consistency and enjoy compliments, attention and sales? Sure there's the "other shoe" problem. You know what I mean. Things are going well and you begin to get uncomfortable waiting for the sound of that other shoe hitting the floor but that's not it.

I'm reading an incredible book right now entitled "Power vs Force, The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior," by David R. Hawkins. The basic premise is that realized human power has it all over force. And by power the author isn't talking about bullying, oppression or might. He's talking about kindness, tolerance and joy. The kind of power that made it possible for Gandi to defeat the British Empire.

One calibrates on the map of human consciousness (20 being the base and 1000 the highest) according to what one feels.  For example, exceedingly violent, hate-filled folks calibrate at 20, Mother Theresa calibrated at 700 plus. And the gist is that you attract what you project. I know what you're thinking but I assure you, no cosmic muffinery here, we're talkin' scientific fact! It's a fascinating read for both the die hard, show me the facts realists (Tim) and your basic cosmic muffin (moi).

The whole book resonated but this passage in particular is perfect for my ramblings above:

"All limited self-definitions create fear because they create vulnerability. Our perceptions are essentially distorted by our own self-definition, which in turn is qualified by identifying with our limitations. Error occurs when we cling to the belief that I am "that." Truth is unveiled when we see that one has "that" or does "that, instead of is that."

Total growth spurt!! So...conceptualize, paint and reap the benefits of it with joy. It's not who I am. It's what I do!

I do go on don't I? Anyway, the leaves are relaxing for me like the folds and I think going back to "Laura" with a clear head and new eyes will be beneficial. We have a section of our backyard that is comprised of woods with lots of ground cover. This past summer I took the camera out and snapped some really attractive sections. I have a triptych in mind but I'm going take my time and enjoy this one.

We'll see. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


8x8"  oil on cradled hardboard $85.00 plus shipping

Meet Edna! She's pretty aloof. No one knows much about her except she's always in a hurry. She's just been invited to the big tree at the end of the drive for tea on Sunday. Folks are takin' bets as to whether or not she'll show.

We'll see.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


18x36" oil on canvas  in progress

Still going and lovin' every minute of it. I'm cautiously excited! But that's the rub isn't it? For the first time in the last eight years, since I began painting full time, I am happy with where I am creatively. The elusive muse has, it seems, favored me with more than just a drive by.

I've been waiting for some existential building to fall on my head enabling me to envision a concept deep in meaning and clever in execution, but I always felt my ideas were just too literal. But, I recently realized that again, I've been struggling to be someone I'm not. Clearly, if my mind worked that way, I'd be knee deep in cool, moody, clever paintings wouldn't I? What if I took what was right in front of me and used that?

That's where the concept for "Laura Contemplating the Container" came from. Yeah, I know. The title is quite literal, but that's the clever part you see. A series of shots from a photo session— where Laura picked up an plastic container with a red scoop inside and just began moving about the room with it —has been in my reference folder for months. And then one recent day, for some reason, I stepped out of my self-imposed "why can't I think of anything cool" box and came up with this composition.

I'm going to be patient. I'm not rushing to completion. I'm studying it and making adjustments when necessary. Again, I'm cautiously excited but, I think I have a real shot of getting my artistic license renewed!

We'll see.

Thanks so much for dropping by!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

UNTITLED in progress

detail  18x37" in progress

I'm fairly excited about this painting. You might remember Laura, my model from sometime last year. Her face appeared cropped on cradled hardboard for a painting entitled "A Hesitant Introduction." I've been wanting to take the shots from her session and bring them together in some way that might make not only an interesting composition but also be fun to work on. Success!

I won't go into too much detail except to say that there are four figures in the painting, all Laura, and I can honestly say that I'm happy with everything about it. We'll see!

Thanks for stopping by, hope the weekend was a good one.