Le Monstre

A brother,  a sister and a dachshund became a year-long challenge because the commission kept growing in size and scope.

I named this painting “Le Monstre.”

My subjects are usually toddlers or little kids, so it was a new experience to work with young teenagers who could actively help and contribute to the the story- telling. It was clear that this brother and sister had great fun together and enjoyed a warm sibling relationship.

It quickly became clear that Molly, the dachshund, had no intention to be left out of the picture.
From the hundreds of photos taken, I selected the best- suited image of each participant.
So far, so good. Now I just had to place them together in on seascape, which was easier said than done.
In Photoshop, I spent days of cutting and pasting, adjusting the background and placement of my three subjects.

The Three Musketeers were born.


But Molly was relegated to the sideline.

Originally, my clients had asked for a 24″ x 36″ painting. But as they grew more familiar with my work and textures, the painting grew in size until it reached 43″ x 63″.

I started the painting in my Normandy studio located on the third floor of our French country home.

Because of the painting’s size, the dimensions of the minerals and stones had to increased too.

To secure the surface from breaking if touched, the canvas was mounted on a two- inch board.

Local fans stopped by daily to admire the progress.

Sometimes I even allowed them to add a few stones.

When the Musketeers and the acrylic layers of the seascape were completed, it was time to stretch and wrap the canvas.


With great care, we managed to get the painting down from the attic studio.

Finally, it was outside the house and we could barely fit it into our car.

To construct the support stretchers and to wrap the canvas around its frame was a task far too complicated for someone my size.

For help, we went in search of the great André Denis in Caen, about an hour away.

If anyone can solve a problem, it’s André!

Artists from all over Normandy flock to his studio www.denisbeauxarts-fr for their artist supplies. And he is always on hand to help with advice whether related to color, technique or framing.

We glued, we wrapped, we drilled and we hammered.

We all worked together as a team. And by the end of the day, the painting was ready for the next stage back in my studio.

Unfortunately, with the added support and frame, the painting was far too large and too heavy carry back up the stairs to my attic studio.

Instead, for the next three weeks, while I kept adding more paints and minerals Le Monstre (as I named it) became our living room centerpiece.

We were now running against the clock as we were soon returning to NY and the painting was still wet.

So, everyday from sunrise till sunset we put the painting out to air-dry, and prayed for good weather.

The next challenge was  to determine how to get this monster painting safely back to NY.

We enlisted Gérard, our carpenter and handyman, to build a box for the transport.

After the box had been built and the painting packed, the total weight was 110 Kg.

There was no way this painting was coming inside the house again.

We once more checked the weather forecast… no rain! So Le Monster spent its last French night outdoors – properly covered – of course!

My saintly husband, Bob, helped getting the box into the airfreight truck. His neck paid the price.

Back in my New York City studio, I went to work on the final glazes.

This took another couple of weeks as each layer required several days of drying time between applications.

But, finally, I was satisfied.

The painting was finished!

It just needed the last vacuuming up of loose stones and minerals.

The time had come to return the painting back into the box that had brought it to NY.

Once more, we struggled to fit it into our elevator.

With much help from our doormen, we made it – barely!

It was now in the basement and we were mighty pleased with ourselves.

As we waved goodby to the FedEx truck, I breathed a sign of relief.

One year after I had started, the painting arrived at its new home in Arizona.

The task of creating this large painting had been momentous and strategically complicated.

At the end, I counted that it had involved over a dozen people to get this done. But it had also been a lot of fun. And after looking at and living all these months with my Three Musketeers, I missed them.