June 30, 2008

A Good Hand for Melba

Melba was my card partner for Hand and Foot whenever we visited Uncle Carl. My reference was a photograph I took of her as she sat across the card table.

June 29, 2008

Willie "The Lion"

Willie "The Lion" Smith was recognised in New York as a leading ragtime pianist, He earned his nickname in France for bravery. He changed ragtime into the jazzier genre called stride.
This painting was awarded first place ribbon for "Artist of the Month" in April 2007 at the Coppini Academy of Fine Arts.

June 28, 2008

First Words in the Morning

First thing every morning my Uncle Carl would get his daily newspaper and, with the help of his dictionary, would work on the daily crossword puzzle. At the same time his friend Melba would be diligently filling in the words on her copy of the puzzle. At an appointed time, the phone would ring and Uncle Carl and Melba would compare notes and most likely complete the puzzle of the day. At least once a year we would fly to Pittsburgh and stay with Uncle Carl. I took a picture of him working his puzzle; I thought it interesting that the shirt he wore that day had the initials TN on it. Those were the initials of his older brother, Tom Noll. Each time I look at this painting I think of Uncle Carl and Dad!

June 27, 2008

Here's To Friends

I did this charcoal drawing for my friend, Carrol Green. She loves giraffes. At first I did a watercolor painting of these giraffes making the spots different colors and allowing the colors to drip down the paper. I called it "Giraffes of a Different Color". It was a fun painting but on second thought I decided this drawing would be more subdued. They look handsome in a charcoal colored mat and black frame.

June 26, 2008

How Deep is the Ocean?

The tiny 2x4 inch black and white photograph of my parents is one of my favorites. They were both very short and I love the way my Mom is standing to make Dad look taller. The black inner tube around them tells a story also. My Dad was afraid of water and here he is near a big body of water (don't know where this was taken). He was uncomfortable in 3 foot deep water in a swimming pool! Don't you just love the bathing suits.

June 25, 2008


This is my grandaughter, Kayla. Instead of painting her in my loose style, I used a tight, photographic style. She has beautiful eyes and I focused on them. Someone viewing the painting later discovered a halo. I did not consciously paint that but if you look closely you will see a yellow "halo" around her head.

June 24, 2008

Feathered Friend

Birds and I are not friends; actually I have a fear of them. When I saw this photo I was attracted to the beautiful coloring. Can anyone identify this bird? (and don't tell me it's a "blue bird")

June 23, 2008

Room With A View

My sister-in-law, Charlotte, wished that she had a window in her laundry room. On my next visit I packed my paints and brushes in the suitcase. As she left for work I asked her what she would like to see when she looked out the window. "A bird" she answered. My brother, Tom, and I got out the yardstick and masking tape and before long we had established a large window. This was the first time I painted on a wall and I kept telling myself we could always get some wall paint and cover it up if she didn't like it. Several years later they moved from this house and I often wonder if the new occupants enjoy the laundry room window.

June 21, 2008

Struttin' My Stuff

Nothing too serious today.... just playing around with color.

June 20, 2008

In The Shade of the Old Apple Tree

watercolor 15x22

This is my Grandmother, Orpha Noll, seated at her parlor piano. She loved to tell the stories about her father travelling from house to house in horse and buggy to give piano and organ lessons in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. The sheet music on the piano is "In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree". I received Artist of the Month Award at Coppini Academy of Fine Arts in April 2008.

June 19, 2008

Cathy's Angel

My friend, Cathy Rusk, wanted me to paint a picture of an angel for her. Not having an angel reference to look at posed a problem. When in Santa Fe I went into a church and saw before me a statue of this beautiful angel. I just knew that would be Cathy's angel.

June 16, 2008

The White Gardenia

The white gardenia was popular with many singers in the 1940's. June Christy was a featured vocalist with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. She recorded "Tampico" with Kenton and "How High the Moon" was a hit in 1948.

Watercolor 8x10

It's a Good Day

Peggy Lee recorded for Capitol Records from 1945 to 1951. Some of her hits during that time were "It's a Good Day", "Manana", "For Every Man There's a Woman", "I Don't Know Enough About You" and a duet with Mel Torme', "The Old Master Painter"
Watercolor 8x10

June 15, 2008

My Brother's Sunflower

My little brother, Tom, was very small for his age. I was big sister and as children I remember him holding my hand and looking up to me. Tom planted a sunflower seed in my Mother's flower bed in front of our dining room window. His sunflower grew so tall it towered above his head reminding us of the childhood story of "Jack and the Beanstalk". Several years ago I painted this picture as a birthday gift to Tom and wrote this poem expressing my love for him.

My Brother's Sunflower...

a symbol of light, hope and innocence


You are my sunshine, my only sunshine;
You make me happy when skies are gray.
I'm sure you know, Tom, how much I love you;
No one will ever take that away.

The other night, dear, while I was sleeping
I dreamt I held you by the hand.
My little brother grew like his sunflower,
Towering far above my head.

You're my big brother, I'm little sister.
And now I'm standing by your side.
Your arms enfold me; they're reaching downward
and I look up to see your eyes.


This is my beautiful Mother, Ida. My reference for this painting was a studio portrait in sepia tones. Dad married Ida Eckberg, a blond Swedish girl from Irwin, Pennsylvania. This photo was probably taken when they were first married in 1927. Until I was born 10 years later Mom would often travel with Dad and the band. She told us how she would work as a hat check girl or a cigarette girl in the clubs where the band was playing.

I can picture her in this flapper outfit out on the dance floor doing the Charleston. She had the most beautiful legs.

This painting hangs by my piano. She loved to listen while I played.
watercolor 15x22

June 13, 2008

Tommy's Tom-Tom

My Dad, Tommy Noll, was a drummer. He loved jazz, especially Dixieland. My reference for this painting was a black and white publicity photo. Back in the 20's and 30's the big bands travelled in the band bus playing the clubs and nightspots around the country. The drum sets were very large in that era, especially the bass drum. The small copper colored drum was his tom-tom.
watercolor 15x19

A Penny for Your Thoughts

I painted this in Carol Orr's class at Scottsdale Artists' School. This was my first experience painting from a live model. She had a very sad expression on her face and I was not happy as I painted her. Was it empathy or the fear and apprehension I felt in my attempt to capture a likeness of a a live model?
watercolor 8x8

June 12, 2008

Water Lilies

Water lilies are a favorite with many artists. I just had to give it a try, especially since it gives me the opportunity to use my favorite colors. This was originally a full sheet of watercolor paper. I love to crop pictures and look for the little gems within the big picture.

June 11, 2008

Shadowed Sanctuary - Santa Fe

Another painting from a photo taken from the car window as we explored the neighborhoods of Santa Fe.
watercolor 11x14

June 9, 2008

Seasoned Entry - Santa Fe

I could not help but be inspired strolling from gallery to gallery along the ancient streets of Santa Fe. We drove through residential areas and with my window down and my camera ready, I snapped pictures of interesting doorways and courtyards along the route. The original painting was more vibrant than this photo.
watercolor 11x14

The Velvet Fog

This is a painting of Mel Torme' and I can hear him crooning Blue Moon each time I look at it. I like to think that he is at a rehearsal and as soon as the tune ends he turns to the band and says, "Good rehearsal, guys." I feel I've overworked this painting. That is one of the hazards of watercolor. I want to paint him again and simplify the background some.

June 8, 2008

Street Music

What can I say? Let's party. Again, very loose, lots of color. A fun way to paint. This painting was purchased by a dear lady that had been recently widowed. She purchased this on Valentine's Day as a gift to herself. She said music and art were helping her through her grief. The painting hangs on the wall behind her husband's chair.

Fantasy Flowers

Again at Scottsdale Artist's School I took a class with Dick Phillips. He taught us how to see shapes and paint loose with lots of water and color. This was originally a full sheet of watercolor paper. It didn't work for me so I cropped the image and made two paintings. They sold right off my wall.

June 7, 2008

The Balladeer

While riding the rails on the Verde Canyon Railroad in Arizona the balladeer strolled through the passenger cars singing cowboy ballads. I asked him to pose for this photo knowing that I wanted to paint him.
watercolor 10x13

June 6, 2008

Well Seasoned

I decided to paint another cowboy. I also bravely entered my first show, the Fountain Hills Arts Council 8th Annual Juried Show. I submitted my paintings in the morning and was informed that after the judging was completed I would get a phone call instructing me to pick up paintings that were not accepted. I sat by the phone waiting for that call. The phone never rang. Thinking I misunderstood how these juried shows work, I went to the exhibit and was shocked to find that both my paintings had been juried in and Well Seasoned was on display with a yellow Honorable Mention ribbon. Winning that ribbon allowed me for the first time to describe myself as an artist.
watercolor 10x13

June 5, 2008

Morning Muffin

The first watercolor class I took at Scottsdale Artist's School was for beginners. First instruction: This end of the brush goes in the water. The instructor, Lewis Barrett Lehrman, had all the students paint this still life set up. Obviously, I was not in a good position in the class for composition. At the critique Lew said, "Marilyn is not afraid of color." I don't know if this was a plus or minus.

June 4, 2008


Ready for the big time (after all, I was not afraid of color) I enrolled in Ted Nuttall's class Painting Figurative Watercolors from Photographs. A gutsy move from a blueberry muffin and a cup of coffee to a portrait. Ted had just began his teaching career at Scottsdale Artist School. After watching a slide presentation of his paintings I was hooked. As Ted painted for the class demo I would hang on every word he spoke and my eyes would dart from his palette to the paper with every stroke. He made it look so easy. Then came my turn. Everyone painted from the same photo of a cowboy and it was fun to see variety in the finished paintings. I named my painting "Yonder" as he seems to be looking off into the distance

watercolor 10x13

Entering a New Arena

I have been encouraged by other artists to establish a blog to showcase my artwork online. I took a blog workshop facilitated by Susan Carlin and gleaned some pertinent information necessary to begin this venture. So here goes!

My personal objective is to record my work over the years in some chronological order.

My favorite childhood gifts were crayons, paints and art paper - speaking to an enduring, lifelong attraction to the arts. I remember Christmas mornings and the pure delight of finding new crayon sets and clean white paper waiting under the tree. Encouragement from my parents and Saturday visits to Carnegie Museum to attend Tamoshanter's Art Class in my native Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania contributed to and fostered that interest.

My first attempt at portrait painting was straight from the heart. My fiance', Bill, got his orders from the Army and the love of my life would be away for a two-year stint. My brother, Tom, bought me a small paint set and with aching heart, I set about capturing Bill's handsome face on canvas. The results looked more like an ape than a man. I think the crew cut hair on his Senior photo attributed to that look. It was just horrible, a disaster. That was many years ago and, by the way, Bill returned safely and we were married. Today we have three adult children and five grandchildren. I have no idea what happened to that first painting.

Several years later I attended a watercolor class. The instructor had us wet the entire paper, lay on paints and hope for the best. I lost complete control as the paint did it's own dance on the soggy paper and I could not wait for the experience to be over. I felt like I was on a roller coaster, hanging on for dear life, and had no choice but to ride to the end. No, watercolor was not for me!

Another early pursuit centered on decorative art. I sold my work at local craft shows. Soon my customers began requesting lessons. I taught tole painting privately for many years, rewarded by seeing others discover and develop their talents. My students ranged from air traffic controllers looking for stress relief to true amateurs who improved so much that eventually they sold their works in the same carft shows.

Enough of my humble beginnings. I hope to do a posting every day to record the rest of the journey.