Thursday, December 26, 2013


Tim and Suz
(maybe around 2004)

I keep this snap of us in the studio near my easel. We were at a beach party one of our co-workers had at her parents place. I remember walking hand in hand along the shore and feeling so fortunate.

And I feel as fortunate today! There is complete and total continuity. Nothing has been broken, severed or come to an end. I've come to believe the time we spend here on the earth plane is predetermined. Everything we experience here is part and parcel of whatever lessons we need to learn while we are here and believing that all we are are these bodies, we place all of our eggs in that particular basket. And as long as we cling to that belief, when our favorite egg breaks, we break along with it.

I know now we are so much more than this life and these bodies. But I also believe we will never know that until we learn to accept each other and learn to live in peace. And I believe we can do that.

I wish everyone a very Happy and Joyous Holiday Season. And most especially a peace-filled, prosperous and loving New Year. And thank you again and again and again for all of the support and generous comments you have been so kind to leave here over this past year. And, as I've said and will continue to say, words cannot express how grateful and blessed I am by them and you.

Our boys....Blu Berry and Raz Berry!

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 21, 2013


"Dressing Up"
16x20" mixed media

We were all a tad busy this month so the challenge posting is a tad late. Diana chose "a little girl's holiday dress" for our subject and a fitting choice it is. I was busy with life and the jelly donuts and then the dress I ordered to paint and subsequently gift my niece arrived late due to snow storms in the west, so I found this little frock online.

I wasn't at all happy with it so when I scanned it into Photoshop I added the dots in the background to try and give it some character.

During this busy joyful season, it's difficult to turn our attention to those facing demanding challenges but I want to share this because I know first hand how caring and wonderful you all are.

If you haven't read already on her blog post, my very dear friend Brenda Ferguson, who I have spoken of many times here, is facing, unfortunately, the challenge of her life. Please, if you can, drop by her blog and leave her a message of comfort and hope and if you pray, please include Brenda and her family in your prayers.

Bren, who I've never had the pleasure of meeting in person, has become one of my closest and dearest friends. The first year of my journey without Tim, Brenda would constantly send me passages of encouragement and messages of support to let me know she was thinking of me. Then subsequently we began chatting through emails and discovered we had been separated at birth. Our similarities, not the least of which is sharing a beauty mark in the exact same place, paved the way for daily emails back and forth, sometimes all day long. She is an incredibly generous, kind and loving person and I am beyond grateful and blessed to have her in my life.

"Decked Out!"
oil on hardboard 7x5"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

oil on linen 20x16"

Thank you for stopping by, your visits and comments mean more than I can put into words. I'll be posting my Christmas greetings on the eve of.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


48x36" oil on heavyweight canvas


Well, what can I say. If ya can't eat 'em, paint 'em. Curious though that as soon as I swore off the demon white granules I felt a desperate need to paint pastry! Hmmmm. Nothin' gets by me, there's a connection there! (gee, ya think suz?). There are plastic containers of the prettiest cupcakes in the fridge and there were 2 dozen assorted doughnuts that sat around for a while. How surprised was I when the late night munchies descended and I chose an apple from the inner glow of the open fridge! Growth spurt!

This was so much fun to paint! Each day I couldn't wait to get to the studio. Even with appointments, prior commitments and emergency phone calls from friends in need, I found time to get in there and work on this. Could it be the subject matter? Na...I think I was just really havin' a good time.

I've included some progress shots because when I began I was determined to have a finished painting that looked more painterly and I think I was doing okay in the beginning but eventually I got tighter and tighter. Still, I'm happy with the results. Might as well embrace my style.

I bought these from Dunkin Donuts and was a little disappointed in the amount of jelly inside. I imagined all sorts of oozing globs of the stuff emerging from these golden disks of love, (easy suz, you're worshiping the food again...not cool) however when I began to set them up I found I had to squeeze some of them beyond all recognition to get even a little blob out! Bummer!

They look precarious because they are. I put a hand lotion bottle behind the stack of sugar-laden love to hold them up and snapped away. I still have lots of work to do but I need to get on to other things and I wanted to post my progression so far.

The sugar was interesting to paint. At one point I actually dotted the canvas with the brush and then took an old brush with a nasty do and shmushed away. What I found interesting was that the warm and cool sections of the sugar globs really illustrated depth. In the light I used yellow ochre, a bit of raw umber and white. In the shadow it was a combination of raw umber, white and a new tube I just bought of blue white. Whenever I drifted into warm territory with the cool version of the sugar, the painting didn't read so it was a good lesson in temperature values.

I'm going to finish this and the Sparrow's Ass (Berry-speak for asparagus) before the end of January. There are more than a few paintings just languishing, including that portrait that I just can't seem to nail, but I will. I think.

Also, I had a visitor today! I glanced out the window early this morning to see a red suited figure headed toward my door! What a surprise! Not one to name drop, I will say that Santa and I are tight. He was in the area checking on some routes since the neighborhood has expanded since last Christmas and he stopped in for a cup of Joe and to use the facilities. We had a nice chat. The boys weren't with him though, curiously enough he was in one of those little numbers, you know the ones...they look like toys. Fitting transportation I thought.

Anyway, I'll be posting before Christmas so I'll save my good wishes for then. Take good care and thank you so much for stopping my.

Oh, yeah, one more thing. Tim suggested I remain upbeat and joyous and I think he's right. I am celebrating his Spirit this season and enjoying every minute.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


16x16" oil on linen


Maddie is a Westie and a Christmas commission. I so hope her Mom likes it, it's a surprise. I've been assured that she wouldn't see it here so I am looking forward to hearing how it's received. It was a lot of fun to work on except this is my first time using Blick Linen. We didn't hit if off, but I have another canvas of theirs to work on so we'll see.

Been having a difficult few weeks but I think it's because I realized I was falling back on some bad behaviors every night to dull the senses. Overeating has always been my first drug of choice but I've found it's no longer affording me any peace, not that it ever has, so I decided to change my habits. And of course, all of the emotions I've been pushing down with peanuts (you remember them) etc., are now washing over me like a set of large cresting waves, increasing in size with each successive one. And this is a good thing!! In my studying I've learned that I need to sit in these feelings and experience them before they can be released, so actually what feels like poop will eventually clear the way for even more healing.

It's really amazing to realize that those awful feelings we have are there because we need to feel them, not try to make them disappear. Ugh! But I have to admit, once I sit in them, experience them, feel them, there is a sense of a huge weight being lifted. Resist nothing! That's what seems to be coming at me from all directions and I'm finding that admitting and facing my fears and dreads is what diminishes them and makes them go away....for good.

Tim has been very sweet during this time. In fact the latest "visit" has me so freaked out I hesitate to share it. But of course I will and I'll keep it short because I'm very uncomfortable with it and am having trouble embracing it.

Real bad day last Wednesday. Wandering from room to room, lots of ugly crying, couldn't work, couldn't read...felt like it just happened. Plopped down on the couch with the pups and just looked out the window feeling just awful. The mailman pulls up. The dogs freak out. I let them out the back so they could give the mailman a piece of their minds and I could go out the front and retrieve the mail. What is it with dogs and mailman. They go nuts! Anyway....

Back in the house I see an envelope from Amazon. Not remembering ordering a book recently, I ripped it open to find a book entitled..Chicken Soup for the Soul...Miraculous Message from Heaven! I had no memory of ordering this book, but thought if I did at some point and forgot, the timing could not have been more perfect. I smiled, looked up and thanked Tim for his ever impeccable timing.

Thinking I'd ordered it months ago and it was out of stock, I examined the envelope for the receipt that always accompanies anything I order from Amazon. Nothing! Hmmmm....So I went online and reviewed my order history for the last full year. Nothing! There simply is no evidence that I ordered this book whatsoever!!

Okay....what's going on here? I began reading the stories which were very comforting as promised and most of them were about objects with real meaning, to those who received them, manifesting in the physical world which freaked me out even more! I shared this with 3 close friends to see if they would shine me on and think...okay, she's lost it, but they were supportive and excited, so I decided to share this with you guys. I must admit, I am a little ashamed of myself as I always tried to make Tim embrace the metaphysical when he was here and now that he's tossing me some serious proof of its existence, I'm balking! Again, I think it's that bugaboo of wanting something so much that when you receive it, you just can't believe it!

I'm still very freaked out. I saved the envelope and continue to read each story of hope, love and assurance and I feel so much better I can't believe it! This is an amazing journey. I've begun keeping a record of each "visit" and gift and it's been so incredibly invaluable I am amazed!! My mood has shifted completely and I can't thank Tim enough for continuing to show me that he's right here with us.

Clearly, Tim Berry has not lost one ounce of cool! Thank you my love for this gift of peace and assurance.


December 10, 2013

And I must say, I am both a little disappointed and a tad relieved! I just stumbled out of bed and while the boys were eating logged on to find an email from a new friend Wendy Barnes. Wendy is also my first attempt at teaching online.

Anyway, in her email Wendy asked if I had received the copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul....she recently sent me as a gift!

OOOOkay!! I definitely was having trouble embracing this particular "visit" from Tim. They say souls retain their personality when they pass, and this "gift" really didn't fit his. However, I'm both proud and happy that I was open to believing it could have been from him.

And so, the mystery of this blog entry is solved. And thank you so much Wendy, I still believe the arrival of the book at a time when I needed it most was, in its own way, a miracle.

Friday, November 22, 2013


 "Bearded Iris"
30x30" oil on heavyweight canvas

Here's another really big flower and again referenced from a purchased stock photo, which is something I'd rather not do, however it was such an incredible shot to work from, I couldn't resist. Next summer I plan to set up and shoot my own flower reference incorporating this mysterious blackness from which the flower emerges with some of it still in shadow. I think it adds such a dramatic feeling to the painting.

I'm busy trying to finish that portrait I've been stuck on for over a year. I was either very arrogant or completely naive in thinking I could dive right in and be satisfied with the results, however, either way the experience is opening up my mind to the possibility of new techniques and approaches to my work.

Still have trouble grasping the concept that consistent studio time equals somewhat consistent improvement. I've always favored learning through osmosis. I have quite the collection of how-to books, magazines and DVDs and still maintain that having them in my possession is all that's needed for me to gain the knowledge they contain. The fact that that hasn't happened yet has not dulled my expectations that someday it will.

Tim's been rather quiet, however I suspect it's because my mind is all over the place. As one might expect this time of year increases and exacerbates grief bubbles which have been popping up rather frequently. But there again, it's a choice. It feels so much better to be grateful for how fortunate we both are to have found each other and for every moment we shared in the physical world.

So, top of my list this Thanksgiving is Timothy Berry! Surprise! And the boys, the roof over our heads, food on our table, transportation, caring friends and relatives, the ability to create and the hope that someday we will all finally learn to live in peace.

I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving, good times with friends and family and I thank you again and again for all of your loving support.

Friday, November 15, 2013


16x16" oil on linen


Thank you all so very much for the wonderful comments you left on "In the Hood!" I'm so grateful and elated!

Challenge time again! My turn this month. I chose shellfish. Didn't spend as much time on this as I had planned however I'm not altogether unhappy. My friend commented, and I agree, my oils sometimes resemble watercolors. Weird. My guess is I use a lot of Liquin so it will dry overnight and be ready for another layer the following day.  Also, the shadow was first painted solid, then gone over with white to give the appearance of fading. I discovered that works well when I was preparing "Allegra" the firefly for her journey. While tidying up the white canvas background I accidentally painted over her wings and noticed they appeared less "there", which I thought worked because they were so delicate.

Simply cannot believe it's almost Thanksgiving again!! Holiday decorations for sale, Santa and his crew in commercials, and reminders to order those holiday desserts! It's all goin' too fast for me! I look out on falling leaves and naked trees but in my mind, it's still sultry summertime.

Tim gave me a virtual hug the other day! I have my favorite shirt of his hung on the left side of the closet, right as I walk in. It still has "eau de Timberry" on it and from time to time I just go in and bury my face in the shirt and inhale deeply. Amazing! This past Saturday as I stepped back from the shirt and told him how much he is missed, the lights and tv went off and then came back on. The strangest thing is that when the lights go out the cable needs to be turned on again, but this time it just snapped right back on. Wonderful!

Could have been a coincidence, however, for it to happen during one of my "shirt sniffing moments" tells me it wasn't.

Apologies, I digress. Enjoy:

4x6" oil on hardboard
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

"Pick Me...Not!"
7.5x7.5" Encaustic

Thursday, November 7, 2013


"In the Hood"
16x16" oil on Belgian Linen


This is Shawn, the son of one of the construction crew members that worked on the house last year. I have been struck by this young man's amazing features since I met him back when we had 30 inches of snow and they came to bail us out. Last week, when they were here to move some furniture, I decided to at last ask if he would mind if I took some reference shots of him. Happily he was fine with the idea which made my day because I had a great time painting this.

I've been listening to Eckhart Tolle's audiobooks while working which makes it near impossible to listen to the "voice" at the same time. I've struck a nice balance I think. His words help me with grief, insecurity, mind clutter and the near constant negative chatter that seems to become so very loud whenever I work. Nice.

Shawn wore a hooded sweatshirt that day and I think it frames his face so nicely. I want to do more work on his hood but don't want to get bogged down in detail and take away from his incredible features.

I am falling in love with this linen surface however it is a tad expensive. It's so me. I go along and work on surfaces for years, just accepting that that is what I'm used to until I actually realize in the middle of a painting that a different surface would be better for the subject matter.

Reminds me of the time when I was a pre-teen and a gentleman came to the door offering music lessons. I wanted to take guitar for the longest time back then but because he was selling accordion lessons I studied that for four years! Hated every minute of it. Never occurred to me to ask for guitar instruction. What's up with that? In hindsight it's seems pretty messed up, but we were taught to be very agreeable. Asking for something you wanted instead of what you were offered was thought to be I guess it makes sense...a little.

Oh well, I finally got around to trying the portrait smooth linen on Tim's portrait so the timing was perfect. I'm so pleased that I did his painting on this surface, I think it added a lot to the feeling of it.

He's been quiet lately save a few perfectly timed light flickers. But I've been quite content embracing his presence since the peanut dream so I guess he see's I'm good to go right now. Thank you so much for your kind words of support and understanding on that post. I'm very fortunate to be able to share this journey with so many open minded and caring people. I will be forever grateful.

Thank you for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

LOUY and Tim's Validation

12x12" oil on canvas


Meet Louy! I so appreciate his pet parents patience, thank you so much. Louy, unfortunately, is also no longer with us. I hope the painting helps to bring his memory closer to those who miss him so very much.

I think I'm beginning to prefer the smoother linen surface to this heavyweight canvas. I think, not really sure yet. We'll see. Wow, that was not a real smooth segue, sorry, but...

Moving on, I'd like to thank you for all of the comments on the palette knife painting! I appreciate them so much! Clearly, I wasn't sure about that painting at all, but the comments and a sale shut me up and steered me in the direction of.... hell yeah! Let's do another! Maybe. I think. We'll see.

And, I know it was a tease and a set up to mention that I couldn't wait to share Tim's validation of his presence while painting his birthday portrait and then not do it, but I couldn't help myself... so I'll dive right in:

First, it should be explained that I have a deep and abiding love for peanuts. In the shell. Roasted. No salt. Love em. And lately, I've been eating far too many of them so I swore, during the painting of Tim's portrait, that I would resist temptation and not buy any.

So I finished painting him on a Friday. Having spent the previous two weeks in the studio with himself and feeling pretty satisfied, I determined that a reward was in order. And what better than a nice, big bag of roasted, unsalted peanuts! Fridays are particularly difficult as I've shared previously, so why not? Have at it Suz, you deserve it.

So at the market, ignoring the siren's call of the seductive aromas emanating from the bakery department, I headed for the produce section...the healthy produce section...and scored a bag of my favorite brand. I can always rationalize that they are indeed good for me, just not in the mass quantities that I enjoy consuming. As I placed the bag on the conveyer belt, I promised me that I would make it last all weekend and not mindlessly chomp away while mesmerized by the flat screen.

Of course, come time to hit the sheets, the bag was all but empty. More than a bit disappointed with myself, I rolled it up and deposited what was left in the kitchen cupboard. Damn peanuts!...I swore to myself, why is that I can't feel this way about carrot sticks, broccoli or even pretzels?

The next day Laura, our friend from the job, was due to stop by for a visit. Since Tim passed, Laura has become a very close and trusted friend. She was, like most of the folks Tim worked with, very upset when he left us and she has been incredibly attentive, kind and patient as I make my way through my days without my best friend's physical presence.

I had emailed an electronic version of the portrait for her to see earlier in the week, so after our greeting at the door, she rushed past me and into the studio to have a look at it. As I joined her, she was excited to share a dream that she'd had the night before but wasn't sure what it meant. Maybe, she said, I could make sense out of it.

In the dream, I was standing in front of the painting and working on it while she stood behind me watching when she heard a voice say..."I was here!" She turned to see Tim standing in the corner of the room! He wasn't clearly solid but she knew it was him and she was very excited and wanted to let me know he was present so she implored him to...."give me something so I can let Suz know you were here!"

With that his arm came forward, now becoming more solid. He extended his hand, palm up, fist closed. As he slowly opened his hand, there in the middle of his palm was a lone peanut, unopened, in the shell!

"That was it!" she said looking confused. "I can't understand why he didn't show me a pistachio nut since you told me those were your favorite!" (which they are but so high in calorie I try to limit my exposure to them).

I too was confused and wondered as well why he would show her a....WHOA!!...WAIT...a peanut?? I ran into the kitchen, retrieved the now almost empty bag and ran back to show her what I had almost finished night before!! I then went on to explain my decision to buy a bag to reward myself for finishing the painting and how I was going to try and not consume them in one sitting.

WHAT??? I was so excited! I cried tears of joy and relief and we both were so shocked all we could do was laugh and run from room to room while Laura kept repeating..."you're're kidding right...are you kidding?" We were both pretty freaked out. So much so that when my friend Jason, the contractor arrived to attend to something, and I began to introduce them to each other, I forgot his name! I'm still apologizing for that!

Now those of you with more rational minds might think I'm making this stuff up or imagining it because I miss him so much. I've always been interested in the mysteries of the other side and now, for obvious reasons, it's become my passion, so each time something like this occurs I go from elated to inquisitive to dismissive and back to elated again, all in the span of five minutes! It's pretty incredible and as much as I need and want these kinds of interactions, it's hard to believe that something you want so very much is right there in front of you and has actually taken place!

The medium, George Anderson, said that anytime there are coincidences, or sightings or feelings and dreams, to accept them as a loved one making contact. He went on to say that it's fine that some folks might think I'm koo-koo. It's not about that, it's about what makes me feel good, what makes it easier to get through the day and know with my heart that Tim is always near and will never leave my side.

What puzzles is my inability to dream and contact him directly although George insists I do but just don't remember. I can see the wisdom in that. I wouldn't do much vertically if I could recall spending time with him in my dreams at night. In fact, I'd most likely spend most of my time sleeping. I only remember two distinct times. One the first night after he left and the second seeing him in a big comfortable chair, laughing during what felt like a party. But that was for just a few minutes and I remember being quite put out that he didn't seem the least bit excited to see me. But, since I'm told we're together most nights, I gave him a pass.

I recently stumbled upon a blog,, maintained by a grieving mom whose son committed suicide in 2009. She chats with him daily through a medium and blogs about what he says about the afterlife. I'm also reading her book, "My Son and the Afterlife." It's fascinating stuff. I've been researching a lot and am bowled over by what I've found and read.

Until one loses someone, it's impossible to imagine how one might react or might try or believe in and do to regain some kind of contact and for me personally, it's about getting through each day with a positive and grateful attitude. It's not about what's believable, what's possible or real or about me being koo-koo or anything else, it's about feeling good, it's about living on and knowing that you'll see that person again, about being grateful and full of joy recalling the time spent together on the physical plane, about embracing what is and accepting and finding peace. This happened! There are no backsies, no do-overs, no if only-ies. I can deny it, refuse to accept it, get angry at the Universe, fate, my own inability to save him, all of which I've done at times, but none of that will change what happened or help me.

Without acceptance there's just darkness. Emptiness. And that's not what this is about. Personally I don't believe that the death of the body is a punishment, some kind of lesson, or a permanent loss. It's just a different state of consciousness. I have horrible spans of time where all I do is cry but it passes and then the sun comes out and I feel him near. I firmly believe that if one maintains an open, kind, giving, compassionate and grateful attitude, our loved ones who've moved on are closer than we can possibly imagine and will find ways to show us just that, even if it's with one single peanut in a shell!

Thanks so much for visiting and again, many many thanks for your patience, interest and kindness. And also again, attempting to convey how much it means to me is just not possible with words.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


"Flower of the Sun"
12x12" oil on canvas


Palette knife! Arrrgghhhh! I've come to detest those two words these past few weeks! That was the challenge this month. Paint exclusively with a palette knife! "Thanks Vicki!"...she said, her words dripping with sarcasm.

I always thought I would enjoy painting with a palette knife. I was wrong. I loathed it and it doesn't look good for a second date. The only sparks that flew were the ones coming from my progressively exsplicit potty mouth!

But, it IS a challenge after all, and it WAS a challenge. For me, it was like painting with a tree stump! Creating depth was nearly impossible because every new stroke brought whatever I was painting forward, so going back to try and add a shadow of some sort wasn't working. And mixing colors was not happenin' all! I have a new found, deep respect and admiration for artists who create extraordinary work with a palette knife. I, unfortunately, will never be among them.

I am, however, okay with the outcome. It does look like a palette knife painting so I guess it works. The one thing I adored about this method was clean up! Even between applications of different colors...just wipe and dip! Nice! And who knows, one should never say never right?

And I would like to thank and give photo reference credit to my dear friend Brenda Ferguson. She has an amazing piece of land graced with abundant flowers of the sun and was kind enough to let me use one of her shots for this painting. 

And as a post script, after all my ranting about painting with a tree stump, the darn thing sold!! And quicker than any other painting I've done. Okay! I have no problem being wrong about this palette knife thing! Excuse me, I'm off to the studio to apologize to the knife and retrieve it from the bin.

Also, Tim validated his presence in the studio while I was painting his portrait, and I can't wait to share how.


6x8" oil on hardboard
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

"#17" (of 100 variations)
7.5x7.5" oil on paper

And, thank you so very much for each and every word in each and every comment left on the painting of Tim's birthday portrait. You all truly made it a celebration of joy for me, for us!

Monday, September 30, 2013


24x24" oil on Fine Belgian Linen

His actual birthday is October 1st, but I'm posting today. I've been wanting to paint his portrait again and I felt the time was right so I decided to do one for his birthday. We weren't fond of having our photos taken so there is, unfortunately, a limited supply of snaps to choose from, however I did find one that hit the sweet spot. The reference shot for this portrait was taken very soon after we found each other, he's wearing that striped shirt that I loved so much.

His second birthday after leaving his earth suit behind finds us doing fairly well. As I've said in previous posts, I've decided to fully embrace his presence and chat with him constantly, even as I watch TV shows, movies and documentaries I know we'd enjoy together. I would give anything to hear him talk over the dialog the way he used to. We were forever rewinding.

Again, hopefully, I haven't overstayed my welcome with my endless anecdotes and stories about how incredible he was. To this day, he is without doubt, the nicest human being I've ever met. Of course, he got angry, like the rest of us, but it was always a controlled, low key kind of anger. I remember once at work, something happened and he looked at me and said, very calmly..."I'm seething right now." Oh, really, I can you tell? As one would expect with Tim, he was amused.

I miss his physical presence in a way that defies explanation but his spirit is ever present. I carry a printout of the session I had with the famous medium George Anderson in my journal and read it when I feel the need to. It's the most amazing document. Even now, it's difficult to wrap my mind around it. Basically, it is that "one more phone call" or that "one last visit" we beg the Universe for when a loved one passes away. It's a gift I know he found a way to give me so I would understand that he's perfectly fine and know he is always near.

I'd like to share this one section George related that day that really touched my heart if you don't mind:

"....he's still very positive, good with people. Just meeting him this way, you can feel he's very likeable, very tranquil over there, very peaceful. I'd have to say that if someone on this side didn't like him for some reason...I'd have to say that it's their problem because he's just such a wonderful spirit!"

That was only one of many indicators that Tim did indeed join us in the room that day. The whole thing still freaks me out a bit, still gives me the chills, every time I read it. And I don't read it as often as one would imagine, it's a lot to take in.

I've included another scale shot as the canvas is rather large at 24x24 inches. I can't say enough about Masterpiece Fine Belgian Linen. It's the first time I've painted on the portrait smooth version and it's like butta! What a wonderful experience. I would highly recommend it if you haven't tried it yet. Also my Catalyst brushes are really doing well. Maybe the one that's frayed already was having a bad hair day. But that said, I think I'm home in terms of process, supplies and environment. Or maybe it was just spending this entire last week with himself.

Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued support, caring and wonderful comments, about my work and about Tim. They are appreciated and treasured more than you can know.

I have the distinct feeling that my posts will be much brighter from here on in...mostly!

Thursday, September 19, 2013


20x20" oil on linen


Meet Allegra. She's a dragonfly and a tad narcissistic, but who among us isn't...a tad? Clearly she's enchanted with the vision of herself and why not? She's a rainbow in motion. So many incredible colors, her whispering wings, her shapely legs.... and so many of them!

She's always been a star, in her own mind anyway. And society today does nothing to discourage her, elevating her to celebrity status merely on the basis of her looks. She spends a lot of time gazing in her mirror and posting selfies, however she does find time to shop and party with her buds.

She's young, carefree and rich. Having just graduated from Dragonfly High, Leggy as her friends call her, is planning to tour the continent before taking up residence in Paris for a year, where I'm sure she'll get into lots of good times, a little trouble and some dazzling designer duds. She might even do some modeling.

Ahh, to be young, rich, beautiful and capable of flight!

Sunday, September 15, 2013


"The Lady's Dark Journey"
5x7" oil on linen

Not my best effort but it's done. This was hard. Diana chose this month's all black composition to follow last month's all white, and I must say, I was stuck. Obviously, I fell back on a familiar reference, the bunched up cloth solution, but felt I had to add something so I took some advice I've gotten over the years from you guys, and added a bug! It's red but I just couldn't think of anything black to put there except maybe a string of black pearls, however I'm not in possession of any so, lady bug time.

And, it was a tad difficult painting on a smaller canvas because I've been painting so large lately. Sure did go quickly though.

I'm sorry to report that the new brushes I gushed about didn't last long. The ends are going in all different directions after only 3 washes, but I will say that I like the way they feel and will continue to use them. Like anything in this world, if you produce a permanent solution to the problem, there will be no reason to buy new, and we can't have that now can we?

It's coming around Tim's birthday, October 1st, and I'm hitting some rough patches. It's okay though, it's called grieving and it will go on for quite some time, so I will be kinder and more patient with myself. We had promised each other, that if one of us should leave early for some reason, the other would follow closely behind. And since I'm still walking around and actually living a life that I enjoy more often than not, I think I'm doing okay and that Tim is proud of me for that. Although, I must say, I'm looking forward to seeing him as soon as I possibly can, but in the mean time I have so very much to be grateful for, including each and every one of you who visit my blog, leave comments and send messages of support and hope from time to time. And again, I thank you for that from the bottom of my heart!


 "Shades of Black"
 original oil  6x6"© 2013 Diana Moses Botkin

"Black...A Study"
12x16" oil on linen
© V.N. Ross

Friday, September 6, 2013


30x30" oil on heavyweight canvas

I've never painted a flower. Leaves yes, but not a flower. I've always wanted to, but just couldn't seem to snap the right photo of one. There are hundreds in my file, you'd think I'd find one that hit the sweet spot. But no. Heavy sigh. So it was off to a stock site to make a purchase. Glad I gave in, it was fun.

This really isn't finished, it's one of those paintings that could go on forever, but I decided to call it because, not to break form, I'm way behind.

I've found that pre-mixing my palette really helps my flow, as I've mentioned. I would always run out of what I needed and now I don't! Plus, I realized that taking the paint out of the plastic container and putting it onto the palette paper was a wasted step, so now it's out of the freezer and onto the tray, still nestled in their little plastic homes. I loved this selection of colors, it looks like sherbert.

I also discovered that I have been growing as an artist! Who knew? Back in the day, I would have painted each one of those curly french fries in the center, one by one—shadow, mid tone and highlight! Instead, I found the darkest shade and splashed that in and then when that was dry I picked out the shapes with lighter shades.

I've included the scale shot even though this canvas is much smaller than the ones that I've been working on of late, but still rather large for a single bloom. I'm really hooked on Blick's Heavyweight pre-stretched. They just feel so substantial and the paint just seems to glide on.

Also, I found some great brushes there as well. I've written before about trying to extend the life of my brushes but basically, if you use them, they deteriorate. These new Princeton Catalyst Polytip Brushes seem to be just what I've been looking for. They feel wonderful on the canvas and clean up doesn't seem to be disturbing their 'do! Nice. We'll see.

I cannot believe that summer is almost over! My second summer without Tim physically here was strange. Last year, I guess I was still in shock, plus there was construction going on most of the time. The confusion and distractions helped. This summer however, it was left to me to keep myself busy and out of the pity pot.

I failed these last few weeks but that's cool. The good news is that I feel him here all the time and have embraced the reality of his presence more often than not. Sometimes though, it's back to the "real" world and the emptiness and silence. But it doesn't last long. I realize there is nothing to be sad about. He's much happier, in fact he's perfect and he's here! Where's the problem? Yeah, I know it needs work. But, it's a choice. Reach for the good feelings, the bad ones don't serve any purpose that I can see.

After I snapped the scale shot I turned to look for something on the table and there, underneath was my cheering section and support system. Raz and Blu Berry! Pure perfection.

Sometimes they seem to be interacting with someone that I cannot see. Gee... I wonder who that could be?

Thank you for stopping by, your support and comments continue to help me grow.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


"Eggs 2"
36x48" oil on heavyweight canvas

Yet another protein-packed canvas! Thought I'd be painting eggs for a stretch but I'm done for a bit after this I think. Too much protein isn't good for me!

My challenge choice turn came round and I chose an all white composition as this month's subject. This set up, believe it or not, is of 9 white eggs in a white bowl on a white background, but as you can see there was very little in the way of white to paint...which is after all, what attracted me to an all white challenge! The lessons in value and temperature are many.

I took this reference shot when I did my extensive egg photo shoot with the double yolks. When I suggested the all white challenge I'm sure I had this in mind. Taken from above, I loved the shot; it was graphic and had an element of abstract design that I thought would be so much fun to paint! It wasn't though, surprisingly enough. It did become a tad tedious. It's not completed, but I need a break and will put it away for another day. I think it's close enough to call though.

I had a hell of a time with the bowl and the eggs. I wanted smoother transitions from shadow to light but it just became splotchy. I feel a little betrayed by my larger Home Depot brushes. But, who cares? I worked, I was present, focused and involved. That is what's most important. And even if I'm disappointed in the outcome, handling that with emotional maturity is another part of the lesson. I don't know how many paintings I've abandoned only to find them years later and wonder what my problem was. I think, with this one though, I missed the color!

Here's the scale shot, juxtaposed fittingly next to their cracked cousins. Again, thanks to Bren for the scale suggestion!

Quite surprisingly, there were, evident in the reference shot, shades of burnt sienna! Where, I wondered, could this color be coming from? Then I realized that it only showed up on the bottom of the eggs. They're snuggled up in one of those 21st Century bowls that are attractive but fairly useless. You know the ones I mean. The huge, oddly-shaped dishware that holds very little in the way of food but look really amazing with a handful of micro greens and one big shrimp!

This is one of those bowls. The front end is about two inches in depth and the top end is about eight, so the eggs settled toward the front end and gravity affected the yolks, the double yolks I should say, which made themselves known through the thin shell with that touch of burnt sienna.  I guess. I can't imagine how white eggs in a white bowl would suddenly sprout a warm glow of sienna through their shells otherwise.

I hope the summer is going well for you all. And I wouldn't dream of closing this post without uttering just two more words...Tim Berry. Whew! There, thanks, I feel much much betta!

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot...if you have any interest in joining our happy group, please email Diana at

 Please enjoy these wonderful all-white compositions from the group:

"Study in White"
16 x 12" pastel
©V.N. Ross

"Basic White"
8 x 6" oil on canvas"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

Monday, July 29, 2013


20x20" oil on linen

Meet Zhen-Zhen! She's a Chinese Crested and a donation portrait. This is my first dance with this breed and did I have a field day with her flowing locks! And the bi-colored eyes! Shades of David Bowie! I thought I'd have trouble with her but a pooch is a pooch and I dearly love all pooches so once I got going I had a great time. I hope her pet parents are pleased.

Also, I thought I'd post a scale example of the as yet unfinished "Sparrow's Ass" or the asparagus as they are identified by most normal folk. I found that the paints don't last more than a month and a half in the freezer so when I get back on this I'll have to remix, which might be a good thing, we'll see.

Okay, I'll admit that I can't think of a clever way to segue into a Tim tale so I'll just dive right in if you don't mind.

A few months ago I received an email from a friend of Tim's who is a member of the band "Blow Up Hollywood." They're on Wikipedia! Anyway, Steve, Tim's friend was so very caring when Tim first left and called to check up on me periodically to see how I was doing which I really appreciated.

The email offered band merchandise and an opportunity to support them in their efforts. He was really kind and explained that if I wasn't interested he would certainly understand. I made a mental note (not a good idea for me) to indeed log on and make a donation but, unfortunately, all but forgot about it until...

About 2 weeks later I was sitting in the back yard and suddenly the email popped into my head and I felt compelled to go to the computer and do as I'd promised. I found the email, clicked on the link and took the appropriate steps.

Later that day I received an email from Steve thanking me for my donation and asking how I was doing. He then went on to say that something strange had occurred and he had no idea what to make of it.

He went on to explain that the night before he had been dreaming about something completely unrelated when suddenly Tim appeared out of nowhere in his dream! He said it was vivid and Tim looked great and was happy and they had a nice chat but avoided any reference to his passing. When he woke up and remembered seeing Tim he was surprised as he hadn't thought about his friend in a while but didn't think anything of it until...

he logged on and saw a donation had been made in Tim Berry's name! A coincidence? I think not! You can imagine how good this "sighting" and coinciding donation made me feel. You are too cool Berry!

Thanks so much for dropping by, I so appreciate your comments, thoughts and support. Happy creating!

Monday, July 15, 2013


"Seeing Double"
48x36" oil on heavyweight canvas

Well this month's challenge subject should be fairly obvious at this point. I love painting eggs. In the shell, out of the shell, cooked, raw...there's just so much going on at any given time with eggs, vibrant colors, the googlies, almost as if half of the sun was (should that be were or was?) encased in clear liquid.

There's this great gourmet market a bit up the road that I just haunt. Amazing collection of treats, both savory and sweet. They carry eggs with double yolks and when I discovered Vicki's choice for this month, those yummy double yolks popped right into my mind. I set up a photo shoot and snapped over 50 shots so there will definitely be some protein-laden canvases in my future. And, for some reason, I feel as though I need to paint everything on large supports here lately!

I decided not to rush into the painting and did some thinking and even with that I had to begin over again having started working on a lighter cotton canvas with far too much play in the surface. A very unique thing happened during this process. It dawned on me that far larger brushes might be a big help and they were! Who knew? I went to Home Depot and purchased the regular brushes one would use to paint the wall and they worked perfectly.

I would normally start by looking at my reference and try to capture the deep reddish orange and nearly white highlights in one session but since the previous few paintings have fared well with layering I thought it best not to futz with the streak.

I painted the predominate color with lots of Liquin so the next day I could paint the next layer and so on for three days. I actually finished on time!

Also, a dear friend, Brenda Ferguson (I love her work) suggested that I include a snap showing the scale of the canvas in real life. Thanks Bren, great idea!

There's a feeling of fullness, of working on 3 different challenges, commissions, mentoring and donation work all at the same time. My head hits the pillow and I'm feeling satisfied because there are paintings waiting for me when I get up the next day. Tim you were so right. Working really, really helps. Repeating myself, I know. And speaking of himself, what would a post be without including Tim?

Sitting out reading a book last week before it got oppressively hot, I saw a rather large crow perched on a branch nearby. He was incredibly loud, cawing and cawing, when suddenly he began making this soothing clucking sound. He stayed there for the duration of my reading session making that soothing sound. Once or twice I looked up, laughed out loud and asked him if he was Tim. He was there when I went back inside, having stayed on that branch cooing sweetly for an hour and a half! The next morning when I took the boys out into the back for their morning toilette, I found a big black feather right in front of the door. Now me being me, it was validation that Tim did indeed join me while I read. A more rational person would pronounce the crow annoying and ignore the feather, however, clearly, I'm not rational and for that I am so grateful.

That said, please enjoy the Egg Specials of the day:

Original drawing on paper
Approx. 7.5 x 9"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

"Dusk Flip"
12 x 16" pastel
©V.N. Ross

Monday, July 8, 2013


14x14" oil on heavyweight canvas

Well I did it and since I approached it as an adult it worked out okay! Besides, it's just a face. That it happens to be mine makes it difficult to see it that way however, no matter how grown up I try to be.

But the face comes with a story. I painted myself as joyful because joy is my daily goal and how I've decided to tell my story. I saw all sorts of images in my head given the portrait assignment for the group Artists Growing Together was to convey how we perceive ourselves and what our life experience has been. And, I would like to say that choosing a smiling pose was due completely to my new outlook on life, but sadly, no. The shots taken with sadness and loss etched on my features really showed my age. (Hmmm...vain much Suz?) That said I'd like to offer a tip to aging hippies and baby boomers out there. Smile. A lot!

It doesn't read in the photo of the painting, but there's a bright light over my right shoulder, and I'm sure I don't have to tell you who it represents. Himself is present and accounted for! Tim is with me, always. I know this because I can't fake feeling good.

I originally saw myself standing in front of a window, the light falling on my features showing a reflective, distant gaze painted in strong dark hues and bold strokes. But that's not what I feel, how I look or how I paint. I thought it would be cooler than just a smiling face but I don't want my story to be tragic, sad or difficult. I read that we don't live the life we deserve, we live the life we think we deserve and I think I deserve to be joyful.  And I know Tim wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


"Us Three"
11x14" oil on heavyweight canvas


 About two months ago, I received a very complimentary and eloquent email from a young artist named Melissa Adams. She was very sweet and asked me if I would be interested in mentoring her. My initial reactions was the usual "aw shucks...who me?" shuffle but she added a thought to her email that I found very intriguing. She said, and I'm paraphrasing..."I believe that we can both learn from the experience."

Hmmm. I'd been thinking that I wanted to branch out and get involved in things online and here was the perfect opportunity. The problem is I'm not a huge fan of critiquing! We are just in the first blush of mentor/mentoree interaction so time will tell how it works out, but so far, I'm pumped and enjoying our chats very much. I'm thinking and working more and that can't be a bad thing!

The painting above is our first project/challenge together. I decided to actually paint in layers. I put down the basic colors and built up my layers over three days. Plus I premix the colors and put them in the freezer (thank you for that tip), so when I'm ready to start, everything is right there and ready.

Melissa also asked if I would like to join a group of artists in a joint blog entitled..."Artists Growing Together". I did, and I'm feelin the love. Our first challenge is the dreaded self-portrait. Arrrrrrghhhh! However, in the spirit of being a grown up and doing grown up things, I decided to stop being silly and relate to my face as if it were....well...a face!

Recently, I got all tarted up for dinner out with friends and I thought since I cleaned up, did the hair etc. it might be nice to see how the aging process is going so I took some iPad snaps.

The aging isn't going as well as I'd hoped but the snaps were tolerable. I chose one and begin it tomorrow. It's due on the 7th. We'll see.

Oh, yeah, I've been meaning to share a little situation that I experienced a few months ago. Losing my wallet is a hot button issue for me. I'm sure no one likes to lose their wallet, but for me it's instant panic city. I freak out! During our first few years together, Tim went from understanding, patient, and supportive to "Dude, you're on your own!" Admittedly, my reaction to the missing possession was over the top. Really. Over. The. Top.

So when I'd gone to my favorite market and driven home listening to some great tunes, all calm and looking forward to relaxing with a good book and a glass of wine, it was quite distressing to slide my hand in my pocket to put my wallet away and find it empty!

Panic ensued. I phoned the store I'd just left to see if anyone turned it in. I combed the car, the grocery bags, the garage floor and every pocket I had. Nothing! I hopped in the car and drove up to the market like a madwoman, hugging the rear end of the car in front of me. See, like I said...over the top. Of course when I arrived and retraced my steps there was no wallet to be found. I went into the market and inquired again, but it wasn't turned in.

At that point I began hearing echos of Tim's common sense filter through my panic and fear....everything can be replaced, it's fine...and I began to calm down. My stomach dropped when I remembered I kept emergency money in there and thought...oh well, I hope whoever found it needs it more than I do. I decided to go straight to my bank, cancel my debit card and get a new one.

Luckily they know me there so replacing my card without a license was possible but took some time. When the teller handed me my shiny new debit card, I was coming back to feeling normal and I felt Tim would be proud of me for not getting depressed and heavy sighing all day. Back in the car I heaved a sigh..but of relief and laughed to myself...dude, you survived losing Tim...this is just a wallet!

As I pulled into the drive I noticed the mat on the front porch was raised up and thought, oh goody, the books I ordered from Amazon arrived. I put the car in the garage and came in through the studio and went straight to the front door to see what had come. When I lifted the mat up there was my wallet with all the money and everything still in it!!! It felt like a dream! Sweet relief! I was astounded!

The gentleman who returned it called later that day to make sure I'd found it and to see if I was indeed the owner of said wallet. I thanked him profusely and was so very grateful.

There are some really wonderful people in the world. Still.

Also, thank you SO VERY MUCH for all of the wonderful comments on the Sparrows Ass (asparagus)!There's nothing like getting a great response to a painting in progress you're not sure works! My thank-yous are on their way!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


WIP 36x48"  oil on heavyweight canvas

I have to stop working on this and get back on track with work due soon, but I keep putting it off. Keep promising more day and then it's back to my regularly scheduled program. I'm thrilled that the Dreads have eased up some and am feeling much better.

I so appreciate your patience with me as I work through Tim's loss. Writing about my feelings on my blog helps so much, however I don't want it to become a pit of despair. Your comments of support and caring mean so much and I will be forever grateful for every syllable.

This painting is a beast! So much detail and me so impatient. I promised myself I wouldn't post it until it was completed but looks like I lied. At least now maybe I can put it aside and get back on my deadline work, but I'm so looking forward to getting it to the "bright work" stage. There are so many subtle shadows and highlights to do that I think will really help it sing...I hope.

I've wanted to paint asparagus for so long but I've seen so many really amazing paintings of them I wanted to try something different. I bought three bunches of really beautiful stalks and placed them on light gray backdrop paper, trained the spotlight on them, stood on a step stool and snapped away. I thought at first that the shadow gave them a "line up" kind of feeling but I think it adds an interesting touch and a feeling of "movement", as if they're all milling about not knowing what to do next.

We could never use the proper words for anything and somehow asparagus morphed into sparrows ass. I can hear Tim now..."Would you like some sparrows ass with the salmon tonight?" Oh my, yes, please!

We'll see. Thanks for dropping by.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


"Old Red"  20x20" oil on linen
©Suzanne Berry

This months challenge subject is "vintage." I had sepia tones in mind, lace, Victorian accoutrement and the like but the only thing vintage in our house is moi! So it was off to the Stock store again to purchase some reference. I didn't see anything that resonated except old red here. Remember dialing, the sound it made? Talk about dating ones' self.

Anyway, I'm feeling better and so appreciate the kind comments left on my previous post. I'll be getting to my thank yous this weekend and so appreciate your patience.

I hope everyone enjoys the weekend and these works of "vintage" art:

"Old Hotness"
8x6" oil on canvas board
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

"Brown Betty"
Julie Ford Oliver Guest Artist this Month

20x16" Pastel