Friday, October 31, 2008


I have been running a bit short on sleep and time lately as I work to get things together for my wonderful clients, readers and the upcoming holidays. I can't believe tomorrow it's November and we will be turning back the clocks and our days will be shortened. Believe me, I can use all 60 minutes in that extra hour I am gaining! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and try not to eat too much candy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


(Click for larger image)
This is a home portrait for a Christmas card that was recently commissioned from me by a beautiful young couple. It's hard to find a more unique or personal expression for your Holiday card than a portrait of your home and /or family. I was able to capture their home and dog for them, but at the same time, it is also a very personal way to visually document them as a couple at this unique point in time in their "story" together. They will be able to keep this for years to come and look back at this stage in their lives with fond memories.

I would love to do the same for you! Please feel free to contact me here for more information.

Monday, October 27, 2008


The glamorous ideal (image via Elements of Style)

AND........ the way I actually live (I have got to paint those drab walls!)
What I do love: the plantation shutters, the desk from my mom's childhood I re purposed as a dressing table, and a mirror I bought in London years ago.

There is no place like home! I am sure most of you would agree with me, being the design and domestic aficionados you are. Nowadays, with so much available to us as far as design-related media goes, it's easy to look at the fabulous homes of others and, while being inspired, also feel twinges of design insecurity/inferiority. For me, design blogs and shelter magazines provide an endless source of eye candy and inspiration. But, at times, it's kind of like air-brushed photos of celebs, the homes look fabulous, but most have been styled to death, airbrushed and fine-tuned to excess. That can leave ordinary folks like me with "habitat-image" issues, not unlike self image issues that are exacerbated by "perfect" images of skinny, polished celebrities. Too much focus on design-perfect homes can leave people with thoughts like, "gosh, my kitchen cabinets look too much like cabinets and not furniture" or "my bed skirt looks like it is waiting for a flood". Have you ever felt nauseated when you look at clutter on your counter, or groaned with disgust at the dust you let build up on your lampshades? I have. (I hate dust, but hate dusting even more. I'll admit it, sometimes I skip the dusting.)

Truth is, nobody's space looks perfect all of the time. At least not mine. Like the rest of life, 99% of the time there is something of a gulf between people's ideals and how things actually are. If you're always bemoaning the imperfect, you don't have a chance to enjoy the better aspects of what really is. It's sort of like accepting your appearance. You see your flaws and, yeah, there are things you might like to change, but you don't run out and get a plastic surgeon to overhaul every inch of you. You make the most of what you have and make peace with the genes you've been "dealt", the good ones and the not-so-good ones.

One thing I appreciate about European design magazines, is that while I am sure they do their share of tweaking before photos, they seem better at letting things look natural and lived-in than us perfection-oriented Americans. I am not campaigning for a magazine that comes in and takes candid photos of mediocre interiors or anything akin to "just rolled out of bed" sloppiness. Nobody wants to aspire to that. What I am saying is that I think we should be able to enjoy our homes in process, even if we have absolutely no current plans to change anything. Home is dear purely because it's our private refuge and sanctuary. A space where we can find shelter, express ourselves and be "us". That is what makes people's homes truly beautiful and inviting, not when we are just following trends, trying to impress people or purchasing pieces much as someone buys a "statement handbag". I love to see it when someone decorates with things that mean something to them, whether it's been passed down, gathered on travels or made by someone special. To me, these are the things that truly give my space it's own unique personality, whether or not it wows other people. It needs to fit who YOU are and how you live! Don't listen to anyone who tries to sell you anything by way of intimidation tactics or subtle put-down manipulation. Like those hairdressers who ask first time customers in a snide tone"WHO cut your hair last time?!"or store clerks who use that annoying phrase to wind up your checkout experience,"Will this be ALL?". As if, by saying that, they are going to convince you that you are incredibly cheap and need to buy a heck of a lot more before you will be able to impress them. Not nice. Not smart.

Yeah, I am certainly all for new projects, or making the most of your space, but I don't think we should succumb to cookie-cutter peer pressure or always having to strive for "perfection" in our homes. As a wise person once said, "It's not the destination that matters, it's the journey". Take time to just live and enjoy what you do have. It's a blessing to just have a place to call home, be it grand or humble. It's more than a lot of people have.

Friday, October 24, 2008


This is a recent commission of a beautiful floral bouquet that a client wanted immortalized in gouache and then made into her own personal notecards. Keep in mind that if you're looking for your own distinctive stationery or a very unique, thoughtful gift for someone special, a one-of-a-kind work of art is a great option! Contact me here for more information.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Illustration by Izak Zenou

......And I am not talking about the Holidays, just yet. I am talking about the "Season" here in South Florida, which is just beginning. Since we don't have beautiful turning leaves, cider mills or crisp nights, we are enjoying what we DO have. Temperatures below 85, stone crab season, a chance to wear a sweater (maybe!), the prospect of a beautiful Winter and the narrow escape from serious hurricane damage this year. Some year-round Floridians dread the season and love to complain about all the added traffic, crowds and snowbirds, but for me, it's a good thing. I look forward to the added liveliness, less humidity, Christmas lights on palm trees and never waking up to a cold and bleak landscape! The months between October and April are when year-round Floridians receive payoff for the steamy Summers (which I don't even mind). Here's to payoff season!

Monday, October 20, 2008


H is for Hannah was started by British-born artist Hannah Morrow. She now lives in L.A., but upholds the British tradition of creating beautiful bone china pieces with a unique, updated twist. All of her products are made by hand in the UK. Pictured above is a vase from her Jewellery Collection.

My favorite is the Sticker Collection pictured above. Great design and cheery colors on classic fine bone china. Not your grandmother's china, but equally as well made and beautiful. Hannah has worked as a props stylist and production designer, as well as leaving her touch in critically acclaimed Indie films. She also blogs. Quite a creative lady! You can check out her website here.


Sincere thanks to Wendy Garraty and Linda Hayes for the kind mention on their blog last week!

This is the facade of their charming store that they commissioned me to paint. They also have a terrific website where you can shop online for stylish home furnishings.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Photo- Josh Harwell
This photo of this vintage Fiat was taken by my brother Josh, who is an amazing photographer and graphics/web designer who just launched his own blog. While clicking through his photos, I found myself remembering some funny things about our family trip to Rome in 2000. It's amazing how photos have the ability to transport you back to the sites, smells, sounds and great memories.

Photo - Josh Harwell
Ok, this is one of those quirky things you never forget. Across from the apartment we stayed in, there was this tiny little fountain with this statue we dubbed "mossy guy" that was adjacent to the sidewalk and apparently quite a famous landmark in the neighborhood. I found a reference to him on the web, so you can see him in context. Hope you have better luck reading Italian than I did!

This is me all poofy-headed on the balcony of our apartment on Via Babuino before the advent of the flattening iron. There was a Greek Orthodox Monastery and Church across the street (note beautiful church in background). My dad had secured a place online in a great neighborhood and close to everything. Small problem when we arrived - the surly agent who rented us the apartment had lied a little in his description of the place. You should've seen us trying to get our luggage up to the place in the elevator, one bag at a time! I wish I had my mom on video trying to ask the non English-speaking landlady for a washcloth. Hilarious. Well, we certainly learned the name for it-"asciugamani" I think it was. I am probably spelling it incorrectly, but Italians don't use them. Well, we survived with insufficent toweling and our hair was dry after using our blowdryer for about an hour on half-power. Word to the wise - never bring US appliances and try to use them with adaptors. If you don't blow a fuse (like I did) you will only get a dribble of electricity. Why am I telling you this? My readers are all savvy people who are smart enough to stay in hotels and not try to live an authentic experience in a flat.
The bones of the apartment were gorgeous, but the furniture looked like something that had been hastily snatched from the Goodwill for the American chumps. My sister and I slept on this sleeper sofa that wreaked of vomit and had very hard buttons sewn onto the mattress. I tried to sleep between them, but inevitably ended up with one boring a hole into my hip bone. The linens were like 20 thread count and the blanket was one of those woolen numbers people spread out for a tailgate party. Prickly. My sister spiked my water bottle with Italian beer from the fridge (thanks, Sis) and by the end of the week, I had almost figured out how to do a load of laundry in the womb-sized washer. I had at least learned not to hang my underwear on the outside line too near the eaves. Pigeons like to leave surprises on clean laundry. They think it's funny. My jeans took about 3 days to dry, but had soaked up so much pollution by then that it smelled like I had never washed them! LOL. We had a terrific time and I came home thanking God for a full size washer and dryer. Yes, we Americans are spoiled. But it's always a good thing to go outside our own world and experience the good and the bad about the way other people live. Just don't forget your camera!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Meet Tyson, an adorable Yorkshire Terrier from Hartford, CT who happens to be one of my latest subjects. He was commissioned as a surprise gift for a client's husband. Pet portraits make a great gift! Contact me here for more info.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Not just for babies anymore.....

These are my favorite!

My latest find, babytears. I have been loooking for this plant forever and just found one at my local nursery. I popped it into an IKEA pot and it loves my bathroom!

My friend PVE tagged me over a week ago to participate in a little blogging game and I am just now getting to it. Sorry for my tardiness, Patricia!
Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person that tagged you.
2. Mention the rules.
3. Tell six quirky yet boring, unspectacular details about yourself.
4. Tag six other bloggers by linking to them.
5. Go to each person's blog and leave them a comment so they know they've been tagged.

This one was easy because there are all sorts of trivial, boring and unspectacular things about me. So, here goes:
1) I am a germaphobe and carry antibacterial wipes with me everwhere.
2) I love iced lattes
3) Someone once told me I brush my teeth like a German - not sure what they meant by that, BUT I think about it almost every time I brush my teeth.
4) I wish I lived in a place where I didn't need a car (car= money pit).
5) I love checking things off my to-do list.
6) I have a thing for plants, especially house plants.

Since I am so late at this, I think everyone I know has already been tagged within the past week, so I will spare them the trouble of having to figure out a way to politely decline. LOL. Have a great Monday everyone!

Friday, October 10, 2008


I could send a box of these Laduree treats to everyone of my readers! OR hold a first rate bloggers convention here

JK Place - Capri, Italy

I don't know what it is, but lately there are all of these generous people overseas who want to make me their beneficiary. Strange thing is that an overwhelming percentage of them have esophageal cancer and are dying without a single charity or known person to share their vast fortune with. Some of them have inherited millions, but are forced to turn to a total stranger (me) to receive these funds into my account because their country is caught in a civil war. I am flattered, because most of them like to refer to me as "Beloved" or "Dearest" and they always have an"URGENT" request for me. Gosh, I had no idea I was so lovable. It seems they all have one thing in common - they are filthy rich, but their spell-checker is totally defunct. Seeing as how I am about to cash in big time, with probably close to 20 offers a day now, I thought it might be fun to think about how I could share my good fortune with my readers and fellow bloggers. Hmmm, let's see. First of all, I would donate a huge chunk of it to needy people. After that, I think I would throw a gigantic blogger's bash on Capri - here. There are many of you I am dying to meet! Maybe I should just have some of them get in touch with some of you and share the wealth? Let me know if you've had any offers or if you have any suggestions as to what to do with the money.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Just wanted to express my appreciation for one of my favorite people in the design blogosphere, Anna Spiro, of Absolutely Beautiful Things. Anna has recently started a series that runs Thursdays on her blog. It's called "Absolutely Favorite Things". I was honored to be featured today with a snapshot of my favorite things (excuse my horrible photography - I give a whole new meaning to the term" washed-out"!). Australian Anna has achieved cult status in the blogging world with her great taste, inimitable style and eye for beauty. She is also a real sweetheart! Don't know about you, but I love Australians - I have met so many exceptionally nice and talented people from down under and am dying to go there and visit. Thank you, Anna!!


You will have to check out Sylvain Lourador's website. It is a cool concept that features the favorite places of people all over the world. There are some absolutely beautiful photos on it. Sylvain was kind enough to invite me to contribute and you can see the post here. Merci beaucoup, Sylvain!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Here's my latest home portrait commission of a beautiful, classic Cape Cod style home in Richmond, Virginia. These make a wonderful gift or a great subject for your custom Holiday card. Contact me for more info. The holidays are fast approaching!!

Monday, October 6, 2008


The lovely writer, Vicki Archer, captured here by her daughter, Venetia Archer.

Mas de Berard - the Archer's home in St. Remy de Provence (painted by Anne Harwell)

Vicki Archer's lush book, My French Life

Today, I'd like to introduce you to a new friend, the very gracious and talented Vicki Archer. Vicki is a gifted writer who has adopted France as her home and authored the book,"My French Life," which I'm sure many of you are familiar with, as it seems to pop up everywhere these days! She also happens to be a great addition to the blogging community. I had the pleasure of "meeting" her when she left a comment on Annechovie. She is a fascinating person with an exceptionally interesting life, having transplanted from her native Australia with her family to share her time between her home in London and the seventeenth century farmhouse and olive grove that she and her husband bought and restored in Provence, France. I know you will enjoy getting to know a little about what makes her tick and be sure to check out her gorgeous book,"My French Life", with wonderful text lushly illustrated by Carla Coulson's photos. Keep your eye out for her new release focusing on lifestyle and decorating (two of my favorite subjects!) expected in late 2009.

3 words you'd use to describe yourself
Creative, energetic and not too serious I hope! ( sorry 8 words)
Where were you born? I was born in Hobart, Australia but lived all my life in Sydney until 9 years ago when I moved to Europe.

Photo - Carla Coulson
What do you love most about life in France?
Where do I begin? My book, ‘My French Life’ is almost an ode to my love affair with France! I live in the countryside in France so I like very much the relaxed and slow pace of life that living on a farm entails. France is a country where ambience permeates daily life in every way and so making and living a life in France stimulates all the senses. Life in France is all about the tastes, the smells, the sounds, the feelings and the visuals and that is one of the reasons why I have started my blog, French Essence, to try and keep a record of those sentiments. For example, I love the French way of decorating - the grandeur and glamour that is Paris and the Cote-Sud relaxed style that is so a part of Provence now. I love that family is so important in France and that mealtimes are a cause for companionship and celebration, not just a means to satisfy hunger. The blog is my way of sharing this ambience.

Photo- Carla Coulson
Are you married? Children? Pets?
I am married to David (child bride and all that) and have been for nearly 26 years. We have three children, Emily who is 23, Venetia who is 20 and Paddy who is 19. I have two dogs in France – Nellie and Charlie. I would love another dog in London but I travel too frequently and so it would be impossible.

Photo - Carla Coulson
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Rock and Roll star! (so sad and misguided, as I have the worst voice imaginable)

Photo - Carla Coulson
What do you wear when you work?
Jeans and a tee-shirt/sweater on a good day, tracksuit pants when nobody is looking.
What's your favorite color?
I can barely admit to this, but my favourite colour is pink and has been forever.

Photo - Carla Coulson
Do you have a motto?
Yes, I have a couple. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today and never let the sun go down on an argument. Old fashioned ideas but with very beneficial outcomes.

Photo - Carla Coulson
What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your success/well-being as a person and writer?
I am very much a home body and I don’t really like being away from home for too long, so my favourite things or those things that are essential to myself as a person and as a writer are those that make up the routine of my daily life – my garden, my olives and my house and these are the things that inspire me to write. My favourite possessions are those that I have collected over the years or gifts that have been given to me by my friends and family. I am a great collector (that could read hoarder) and tend to accumulate bits and pieces wherever I am. A couple of years ago I was travelling in Beijing with David and we visited an ‘antiques’ emporium/market. As we wandered around we came across an old cultural poster of Mao that had been shoved in a dark corner – it was unusual in that it was oil paint on canvas as opposed to the normal paper posters that were widely manufactured at that time. Somehow we managed to buy it and remarkably get it back to France. My local painter stretched it onto a frame and hung it for me in our dining room where it is always a point for vocal conversation – this is one of my favourite things today because whenever I look at Mao I remember our wonderful trip and the very strange likelihood that a Chinese cultural poster would be hung in our farm in southern France. I cannot live without my blackberry or my apple computer either! P.S Also major shoe junkie.

Photo - Carla Coulson
What are the most challenging things for you about writing?
The most challenging thing for me about writing is not the discipline, the idea that I have a deadline and that I must work so many hours each day to make it, but it is the creation of a good sentence and a sentence that allows my readers to feel and understand my sentiments and to be there with me on the page. I have such respect for great and important writers as I have learned that the search for the appropriate word or phrase is eternal. When I read a sentence or even an adjective that can transport me I am truly in awe. The truth about good writers is that they must be superb observers of life.
What's your pet peeve?
Judgmental people.

Photo - Carla Coulson
Where do you live and work?
I live half the year in London and half the year in Saint Remy de Provence in southern France and I work wherever I am.

Photo - Carla Coulson
Favorite food?
Spicy would be my pick – whenever I go home to Sydney I tell my friends I only want to eat very hot Thai food.
Favorite music?
Music – so many favourites, but funnily enough right now I am listening to Carla Bruni’s new album (probably because she married the French President and everybody is talking about her CD!)

Photo - Carla Coulson
Any more books in the works?
I am working on a new book with photographer Carla Coulson for release at the end of 2009 so we are racing madly towards our deadline. Again published by Penguin and it will be along similar lines to, ‘My French Life’ in that it is a combination of photographs and text, but it concentrates very much on interiors, home making and the ambient side of life in France.

Thank you so much, Vicki, for so graciously sharing more about yourself with us. You can keep up with Vicki by subscribing to her delightful blog, French Essence and find her charming book, My French Life, through Amazon and major booksellers everywhere.

Friday, October 3, 2008


but they don't have ANY idea what an ill-fitting slipcover they're sitting on! And what's it doing on the patio?

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and I'll see you back here Monday with a terrific new interview!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Ok, anyone who knows me knows I am not exactly loaded (I am an artist, folks). Not exactly starving, but thin. LOL. I love quality and stylish things, but I am also a bargain hunter (my mom turned me into one). I believe it's better to have fewer things that last and are good quality, than a closet full of trendy junk. That's why I love J. Crew. I could wear nothing else and be perfectly happy til I am an old lady. Their stuff is perfect for my casual lifetsyle. Right now, they are having an UNBELIEVABLE sale. For my stateside readers, I would recommend a visit to your local branch or their website and pronto. Things are getting snapped up by smart people. The t shirt above sums it up. The pink Julianne dress is only 49.99 and it won't be out of style next season. That is a steal. Hard times demand resourcefulness and J. Crew is a terrific resource!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


A few simple objects that surround me on a daily basis that I really enjoy. Pretty shells. My pink reading glasses. Anchovy paste (yeah, it's GREAT in lots of things!) Chocolate Altoids - amazing! My business card case. A beautiful cross I bought in Florence, Italy. My favorite baseball cap I wear out to the beach, the post office, etc.

You know, sometimes you can grow kind of immune to the things that surround you in your daily life. Things that are pretty, objects that make life easier, the good things. Once in a while, it's fun to look around you and take stock of everyday things that brighten your life - simple pleasures.

Same goes for the people in our lives. We tend to take people that we love for granted, just because, well, they're always there. We don't step back and appreciate them like we should and think how they make our lives better, or what it would be like if they were no longer present. We forget to be patient or tell them we love them or give them that extra hug or thank you. I need a kick in the pants every now and then to remind me to slow down and appreciate what God has given me and the people who are a support and blessing in my life. The upside of the current dismal economy and uncertain future is that it tends to HIGHLIGHT the importance of things that have nothing to do with money - makes you think about what is really most valuable. What you would really have if everything fell apart....
What is truly most important to you?