With a little help from my friends…

Matisse Woman with a Hat; Diebenkorn Seated Figure with Hat

A recent visit to San Francisco’s MOMA for the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibition and the purchase of a book on Matisse spurred me on to drag out my seldom used oil paints and create something myself. I do not consider myself an oil painter, perhaps more of a wanna be. A few paintings here and there over the years. So this is more about the inspiration to try something creative at any age than an expression of a true artist.

Vincent van Gogh Bedroom at Arles

Henri Matisse Interior at Collioure

I was inspired particularly by Matisse’s Interior at Collioure and also by Vincent van Gogh’s Bedroom at Arles (Musee D’Orsay), a print of which hangs in my bedroom.

Karen Stephen Flamingo Dream

As my painting evolved, I found myself wanting to portray the sleeping girl as a child who has lost her dream of being a ballerina to a malady that requires her to wear a leg brace. But the common artistic device of showing the exterior through an open window, common in Matisse’s day, allowed me to bring a different world view to the sleeping child. There stands a beautiful pink flamingo in it’s natural pink tutu, standing proud and free on one leg, bringing her a message of wholeness no matter what our circumstances.

Paris miniatures, Renoir’s Dance in the City, photo of original oil created by Carol Quinn from photo I took of Albert Pub in London 2009

I’ve placed it near some of my other favorites in my living room.

Full English Breakfast

sports-bar-grillI’m just returning from the land of the living dead this morning and trying to remember what it is like to have an appetite after several days of languishing prostrate on the couch and slurping down pomegranate and cherry flavored jello from small plastic containers. Fantasies of real food chunk-full of calories and flavor flit through my mind, although we’re still at the wishing stage here. What comes to mind, should I ever be fit enough to lift a spoon to my parched lips, is a full English breakfast. The traditional fare, includes bacon, poached or fried eggs, fried or grilled tomatoes, fried mushrooms, fried bread with butter, sausages and baked beans, usually served with a mug of tea. As nearly everything is fried in this meal, it is commonly called a “fry-up” or in medical terms, a cholesterol sudden-death killer.

P1000215I have fond memories of my traveling companion bellying up to the bar at the famous Albert Pub on Victoria Street in London, many hours before a pint of ale would be appropriate even in the furthest stretch of one’s imagination, and ordering two such overfilled plates.

P1000216 - CopyThe Albert is a beautiful Victorian pub was built between 1845 and 1852 and was originally known as ‘The Blue Coat Boy’. It was later renamed the Albert in honor of Queen Victoria’s husband, the Prince Consort. The celebrated carvery restaurant is known to have been frequented by British Royalty, Cabinet Ministers, and Parliamentarians of note. Surviving the Blitz, it stands in its original splendor, boasting original hand-etched glass windows and ornate ceilings, captured so beautifully in this photograph taken from our table.

P1000219All right, enough of this. I’m not going to make it to London this morning. And my, well technically my daughter’s cat, Shadow, is rubbing up against my calf, meowing vociferously, and begging me to throw on some clothes, drag myself to the store, and get him some cat food. Maybe I’ll find something to fry for my breakfast.

Beautiful bits of flotsam and jetsam


Very often it’s not the grand vistas but the intricate details that are most remembered from our travels. Enjoy this array of exquisite bits of flotsam and jetsam from my travels in England and France.


A swan at Versailles


The “Thinker” gargoyle at Notre Dame


Two gargoyles’ view of Paris


Chenonceau through a window


The kitchen at Chenonceau


Drain pipe at Chambord


Opera costumes at Chambord


Egyptian cats at the Louvre


MIniatures of Paris in shop on Ile St. Louis


Pont D’Alexandre Paris


Buckingham Palace


Near Buckingham Palace


And ending on a yummy note…the Albert Pub in London. See you there!

Phone call from London

DSC01151“Hi honey. Guess what? I’m calling from one of those darling little red phone booths in London. And no worries about losing my watch. Big Ben is just over my shoulder. It’s just after noon. Time to head to the nearest pub for lunch.”

P1000144“Forget the pub! Ran into Fortnum & Mason‘s on the way and grazed on their delicious assortment of sweet and savory.”

P1000163“The tulips are out across from Buckingham Palace making for a lovely spring stroll.”

P1000216“Up early at my favorite London spot, the very Victorian and alluring Albert Pub. I’ve had a full English Breakfast here every morning. Yes, I’ll get on the treadmill when I get home!”