Friday, December 16, 2011


My niece Samantha Sheehan, and her boyfriend Michael McDermott gave me a beautiful moleskin sketchbook when I was in Napa for my birthday. They're wonderful books because the paper is heavy watercolor stock, and you can paint or collage, and do whatever you want, and it really holds up. Today I was working in the art room at Morristown High School, and I brought my sketchbook with me. There's always something interesting going on there, and I get inspired just soaking up the atmosphere. The last time I was there, about a week ago, I spent a lot of time looking at a beautiful book about Frida Kahlo's journal/sketchbook. Of course, her journal was in Spanish, but it was soooo incredible. Really loose watercolor drawings and her beautiful handwriting. It was jam packed. I've been thinking about working in a new way lately, and wanted to try some stuff out. A sketchbook is the perfect place to experiment. Also, I had recently put together an online portfolio, and want to do some new samples for it. So I thought today would be a good time to fool around a little. I just found some pictures in different magazines, and did some simple watercolor and pencil portraits, and then collaged and did some hand lettering. I'm so tired of computer generated images, and really want to do some stuff that looks hand done. Now I think I may even put in a "sketchbook" page for my portfolio....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cow crazy

I don't know what's come over 
me! My mom & I went to visit my sister Linda and her husband Bob in Napa. There were vineyards  everywhere,  and wonderful restaurants full of organic and farm fresh everything. There are shops where you pour your own olive oil into bottles, and cork them. The labels are actually hand stamped. Everything looks old fashioned, but modern at the same time. Artisanal cheeses and chocolates, scrumptious coffee, fresh herbs in everything you eat. Petaluma has an antiques store on every corner, and St. Helena has the most gorgeous shops, with beautiful things that you just don't see anywhere else. Or do you? Everything there just looks so fresh and well designed. Letterpress cards, scarfs that look like little stitched quilts, handmade pottery....even the smallest cafes have a French kind of feel. Francis Ford Coppola's winery, Rubicon, is an elegant estate, with a beautiful view of the Napa Valley, and a wonderful collection of Hollywood memorabilia. The Hess Winery, way up in the hills, has a stunning collection of modern art. Not to mention the fact that everyone in Napa looks so attractive and a little artsy. It's Northern California. The minute you land in San Franciso and walk out into the terminal you feel the difference. Even the airport is sophisticated. There are murals everywhere, and a museum quality exhibit on the history of television! I guess the effect my visit to the epicenter of food and wine had on me was that now, all of a sudden, I really want to design a line of tableware....plates, napkins, tablecloths, the whole deal. So I think I'll start with  farm....can't you just see it, with a bottle of fresh white milk on the table? Maybe a platter of fried chicken, and a big serving bowl of mashed potatoes? A big supper to be eaten on the porch...and perhaps the stars and stripes will be hanging outside. It will be very vintage Americana, with a folk art kind of bent. Red, white and blue, or black?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Long Beach Island

I can't think of a more relaxing place than the beach. This summer our family spent a few days at Long Beach Island, right before Hurricane Irene. It was beautiful there....sunny and warm. Marie Line Noonan was there from France with her children, Edward, Tess, and Zelda; and all the cousins had a great time hanging out, lying on the sand, swimming, eating at the local places, and going to the amusement park at night. And they never stopped talking! My son Ray's friend, Patrick Chabot was there from Virginia, and he fit right into the Noonan mix. Of course, we all had to flee early because of the approaching storm, and no one had quite enough gas in their tanks....there was none left on the island, to add to the stress. Everyone made it home, and we continued the party at our house the night Irene was to hit. But for a few days it was sunny and relaxing, and luckily I had brought my watercolors with me. Barbara (top) and Marie Line (bottom) sat and read while I did some quickie little paintings of them, and we had a great time chatting. It was so windy that day that sand got in all the paints, and is stuck on the paintings. I feel so lucky to be in such a big family, and I always tell the boys how fortunate they are. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Journal Fun

This particular journal was started in January 2008, when I was teaching art at St. James School. While it was enjoyable, and I really liked the kids and the staff (my sister in law Barbara teaches 7th grade there), I missed being out in the professional art world. I decided it was time to do an whole new portfolio, and I would take it out to textile companies. I was a freelance illustrator for years, and before that, had worked designing fabrics. And when the boys were small, and we lived in Los Angeles, I did my own line of hand painted children's furniture, which I sold through a wonderful store--Imagine That. They were so hugely popular that they had three branches--West Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Sherman Oaks. It was a great outlet for me, and I loved working with them. But when we moved back East, I could never duplicate what I was doing out there--the market was too different. So, I started working as a substitute teacher, and then got a job teaching art. But it was as if I lost part of my identity, not doing my artwork. Not that I ever stopped doing it, but I wasn't selling it. So this journal kind of reflects that period of time when I was putting together my new portfolio, and getting ready to go out with it. I set my sights on Michael Miller Fabrics, and that was my goal---to work with them. I ended up doing my Modern Home collection for them, and my Old West collection.

Fooling around:
These are two doodle pages from last year, just done on notebook paper. I'm in the mode right now of making books of everything. I just organized all my vintage scrap that I've been collecting since our flea market -going- days in LA. I had it all in different folders, in this filing cabinet in the basement. But now I put everything in acetate sheets, and made a book out of it. I also made a decor-inspiration book, which was all my favorite pages of the now defunct Country Home Magazine, and Country Living. Pictures of rooms decorated with vintage, garage sale, side of the road items with chipped paint and rusted patinas. I had STACKS of these magazines going back to 1996, when the whole Shabby Chic cottage style started. And I'm also trying to archive all my Ruby Ritz material, and see what kind of form I can get it into. is a website for self publishing, and they have all kinds of sizes and formats. So we'll see what happens...maybe I'll just get some made up for gifts. What do you call it when you're just trying to organize all your material? Anyway, if you're not keeping a journal, I advise starting one!
I stick everything in mine, and it's a real hodge podge of stuff. You can take any notebook that you think will work, and paint over the cover, or decoupage something on it. It's nice if you have one that has a combination of blank and lined pages. Use any kind of supplies that you want: colored pencils, cut outs, rubber stamps, paint, old photographs (or better yet, copies of them), and even pieces of fabric. The more texture the better. I also buy antique books and glue the old, yellowed pages into my journal. Then, paint, stamp, or do whatever right on them. I like the idea of a journal being a sketchbook and an experimental place for new ideas. xoxox

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pop-Up Art Show

This past weekend we put on a fabulous Pop-Up Art Show! It was held in the space for the proposed Morristown EcoCenter, and it was sponsored by Sustainable Morristown, and the Arts Council of the Morris Area. It was a huge success--and we had live music played by Morristown High School students, and we had yummy food and plenty of wine + beer. It was truly a blast! The fun part was that my husband David and my son David both put paintings in the show. The one to the left is called Death, done by David Noonan sr. The True Cost of War is mine, and of course, so is Natural Beauty. Tearful Killer is done by David Noonan Sr, and Secret Star (the one with the little Mario figure in it) is done by David C. Noonan. He wanted to be in the show, and was so inspired when he was there helping us hang it, that he went home and whipped up his own painting. It's the first art show for both David's. An art show is a wonderful thing to put on, and the energy is very catching.....everyone works so hard to decide what goes where, and when something unexpected comes in that just pulls the whole thing together, it's truly inspiring. We have to do it more often! I can see how having a gallery would be an absolute blast. Hmmm...a gallery-bookstore-antiques shop-coffee house? Is that a possibility in the not so far future? We certainly know enough people who could contribute.....

Sunday, April 17, 2011

More collecting

Ahh...the lost art of Penmanship! In this Collier's Encyclopedia from 1882 there are several chapters on writing and penmanship. They even have illustrations showing the correct way to sit and hold one's pen, as I guess now there are manuals on the proper way to sit at a keyboard. Posture perfect! But look at how beautiful the writing was truly an art form. All the flourishes and swirls, and even the difference between a "Ladies hand", and a "Standard" one. And this book was 50 cents at a barn sale! More reasons to head out on a chilly & rainy saturday morning in April. David's cousin Bobby Cramer & his talented wife Holly have a wonderful old house and a barn they painted blue...and it's full of great stuff. Bobby does restorations and has a magnificent garden, and Holly makes all kinds of quilts, creatures, painted boxes, and jewelry. It's always inspiring to see them and their talented daughter Leigh, who writes stories and paints. Family fun!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

We Love Old Books!

And, we love bookstores. In our family, they've always been a major destination for us. Our boys grew up going to author's signings, and in Los Angeles, we would hang out at our friend Julie Von Zerneck's Portrait of a Bookstore for hours. My husband David has always bought books on the street in NYC, and has a pretty amazing collection. He has an early paperback copy of the Sun Also Rises, called Fiesta. I've been collecting vintage children's books. Yesterday we were at a local used bookstore where we always find a treat. I got the Burgess Bird Book For Children, which is in perfect condition, and it was published in 1927. At this shop, the older the book, the cheaper it is. This beauty was only $7.50. Of course, you can get any book on ebay, but there's something special about picking through the stacks at an old bookstore, a library sale, or a flea market.  At one time I worked at a middle school, and the librarian had carts full of young adult books that she was "deleting". Some of them were incredibly collectible, with stunning artwork on the covers. One was an edition of Black Beauty, my favorite childhood book, that must have been from the turn of the doesn't even have a date on it. Another was a Robert Heinlein book from 1951, called The Rolling Stones, in fabulous, mid century condition. There's something so innocent about the way these old children's books are written, and of course, the illustrations and design are just to die for. We have one room in our house that's a library, but it seems like every other room has shelves or just plain piles of books. Can you have too many? We're debating that question constantly. I think my favorite things are old comfortable chairs, books, flea market treasures, and of course, a great cup of coffee. Put all those things together, and you have a perfect environment, don't you think? Our friend Julie in LA has just that. Portrait of a Bookstore on Tujunga in North Hollywood is connected to the Aroma Cafe, and she has great books, fabulous antique finds, and even a terrace outside to enjoy it all. It's a winning combination!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Do people watch more TV in January? It must be the #1 month for cocooning. It's BITTER cold, we've had snowstorm after snowstorm, no one has any extra money or energy, and we're all in that post holiday funk. It must be why American Idol premieres with those two 2 hour episodes a week. Right now it's Sunday night, and my husband David is watching the Jets game and America's Funniest Home Videos. And Jim Gaffigan is on one of the comedy channels doing his hilarious bit about bacon, so David's watching him too.
I grew up in a TV family. My brother & sister & I watched it CONSTANTLY. We would get up at 6 on Saturday mornings and watch it till noon, and every day after school. We would watch it at night after homework till our bedtime. Our dad had a store that sold all kinds of electronic equipment, so we had one of the first color TVs, and everyone came over to our house to watch it. I read books and comics all the time, but I watched a lot of TV.
We have two flat screens in our house. One's in the basement, and the boys can play games on it, and our big one's in the TV room right off the kitchen. It seems like if we're home, it's always on. The HD quality is amazing. This afternoon I curled up in my corner of the couch and watched Hannah and Her Sisters on TCM. It was such a relaxing thing to do on a freezing cold one of my favorite movies under a quilt. I guess there are people who still claim not to watch any TV, but everyone I know, especially family members, watch a ton of it. And plenty of junk, like The Jersey Shore (which I do watch) and Biggest Losers (which I don't). Mad Men is top tier TV, as is Curb Your Enthusiasm, and documentaries like American Masters, and I guess Million Dollar Money Drop is pretty close to the bottom. But right now it's too cold and snowy to do much else....( there are under 60 days till the
First Day of Spring) I'll probably be under my quilt in my corner of the couch watching something or other.