Posts from the ‘ART’ category

Courtyard capitals

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

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Isabella’s courtyard

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

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Davis Museum at Wellesley College

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

The Davis Museum at Wellesley College has a gorgeous collection in a building spacious building where you can see between the various levels of galleries. They’re having an incredible exhibit of works by Carlo Dolci, a late Baroque painter whose work I know from his painting of David and Goliath at the MFA.

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Shades of Gray: Simmons Sculpture Painting Series

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

I had a tube of gray oil paint in my studio for years and I’ve almost never touched it. Why paint with gray when there are so many color combinations that give you a much more interesting shade of gray? True-gray is, of course, a 50/50 mix of white and black, but out in the real world, we see grays in a rainbow of colors … just look at all of the shadows around you.  

I recently finished a series of four oil paintings that I created together to explore many different ways to paint gray. The paintings are two views of two sculptures at the Portland Museum of Art, and each one is painted with only two colors, plus white.

Simmons Sculpture – series by Becky DiMattia
each painting: oil on 10×20″ canvas

This series is special to me partly because this was a lot of fun to paint, but also because it was really challenging for me, and because of the special memories attached to these sculptures, which I first saw ten years ago. This series accomplishes several artistic goals that have been floating around in my mind for years.

20160604_182859First and foremost, my goal was to explore shades of gray with oil paint. I spent a delightful summer afternoon going back to my roots, painting a few color charts using the various tubes of reds, oranges, greens and blues in my studio. After a very scientific decision-making process (staring at them for a long time), I chose four combinations that I think make especially interesting shades of gray:

  • alizarin crimson and oxide of chromium (red and green)
  • alizarin crimson and cerulean blue (red and blue)
  • cadmium red light and oxide of chromium (orange and green)
  • cadmium red light and cerulean (orange and blue)

20160605_125230Each painting uses one only one of these combinations, and white, which means that two of the paintings use the same blue, two use the same red, and so on. In retrospect, it might not have been the best idea for one of the paintings to use only primary colors (red and blue), but as a lover of the color purple, I think it still works in this exploration of rich grays. 

Two of the paintings are of one sculpture, and two are of another. Two of the paintings are a full-length view of that sculpture, and two are a bit more zoomed-in. Two of these paintings came together easily and were finished a while ago. Two of these paintings were left unfinished for months while I puzzled over how to finish them. I have been endlessly fascinated by the endless combinations of pairs among the set of four. 

Another one of my goals was to finally do something with a few favorite photos that I took ten years ago. The Portland Museum of Art has a gorgeous gallery that is filled with sunlight and sculptures by Franklin D. Simmons. Each marble figure is magnificently carved, and they each look especially beautiful to me in the light of the floor-to-ceiling windows. 

I saw this gallery for the first time ten years ago, in Fall 2007, on a family trip to Maine to visit my grandparents, who had a timeshare in Ogunquit that week. Having been to so many museums around the world, it’s a rare treat to visit a museum for the first time, and an even rarer treat to visit a museum with my grandfather, who is also an oil-painter and photographer. I remember being blown away by the beautiful marbles in the sun-filled Simmons gallery, and he and I took several photos. He has also experimented with how to make interesting shades of gray in oils, and he has a beautiful painting that uses only cadmium red light and cerulean, another inspiration for this series. 

A week before that trip, I had started dating the man who is now my husband. I remember talking to him on the phone, looking out over Ogunquit’s Perkins Cove. Brian’s a fellow art-lover, so it was a real treat to show him the Simmons gallery when he and I took a daytrip to Portland the following year. 

Here’s my photoblog entry from our family trip to Ogunquit and Portland in October 2007.  
Here’s my photoblog entry from Brian’s and my daytrip to Portland in December 2008

Brian is an enormously valuable studio assistant, and his opinions on my works in progress have become an essential part of my system. It’s so hard to decide “how much” to paint a painting … in other words, how to decide when the painting is finished. We have had ten years of fascinating debates about this, including a memorably heated debate over the Red/Green painting in this series, which he counts as one of my best paintings. When I saw how incredibly disappointed Brian was after I changed a part of that painting that he really liked, I learned a lot about how much painting can be a team sport. Fortunately, he still likes how the painting came out, and his many valuable insights really helped me to finally finish this series.

Here are the four paintings in the series ‘Simmons Sculptures.’
Please click on the thumbnails to view the whole painting:

When I got started on each painting, I took a photo-memo of each painting with its colors so I would keep my combos straight. 

These paintings are based on photographs that I took in 2007 and 2008 of two marble sculptures by Franklin D. Simmons (1839-1913), Medusa and Promised Land. Please click on the links to visit their pages on the Portland Museum of Art’s website.


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purple gray

Saturday, February 25th, 2017

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Gardner Museum with Mo

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Maureen and I spent a lovely evening at the Gardner Museum, where we met as fellow volunteers 13 years ago!!

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Gardner Museum

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

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Ogunquit Waves

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

For me, paintings are often nothing more than a way to capture a simple memory, or something that was particularly beautiful to me. I just finished this painting of the waves crashing on the rocks along the Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Maine. I remember spending a bright chilly February morning feeling relaxed and refreshed, watching the waves roll in and make these big foamy splashes on rocks, roll back, then roll right back in and crash all over again. I had a lot of fun taking slow-motion videos of this amazing simple feat of nature, and I posted the videos here … photoblog post from our trip to Ogunquit in February 2016. This painting was also a chance to have some fun with the colors of shadows, which are often far from actual-gray. Here, the waves cast shadows that were a gorgeous shade of deep cobalt blue, requiring the purchase of a shiny new tube of oil paint. 

Ogunquit Waves – by Becky DiMattia, oil on 12×24” canvas, 2017

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Mass Art Icicles

Saturday, February 4th, 2017

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Saint Joseph’s Oratory

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016


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Galerie Saint-Paul

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

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Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

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St. Patrick’s Basilica

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

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Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

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Isabella’s amaryllises

Saturday, December 10th, 2016

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McMullen’s Beyond Words

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

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Old South craft fair

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

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Old South Ringers

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

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Gardner Museum scenes

Sunday, November 27th, 2016


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Isabella’s courtyard, day and night

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

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Isabella’s chrysanthemums

Saturday, October 29th, 2016

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St. Andrews Anglican, Lunenberg

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

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Beyond Words

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

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Third Thursdays

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

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Rodin at PEM

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

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Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Williams College Museum of Art



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The Clark

Monday, August 8th, 2016

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Isabella’s Courtyard

Thursday, July 28th, 2016


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New Britain Museum of American Art

Monday, July 25th, 2016

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Nydia, the Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

In the past few days, we visited three museums that we’d never been to before, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that two of the three museums both have a copy of one of our favorite sculptures at the MFA! Turns out, there are a lot of copies of this sculpture and it was delightful to run in to two of them, two days in a row, in two different cities.

Just for fun, here’s a list of all of the versions of Randolph Rogers’ Nydia, the Blind Girl of Pompeii that I’ve seen so far:

Nydia at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston:

Nydia at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: (photo taken in 2012)


at the Princeton University Art Museum
(photos taken in 2016):

at the New Britain Museum of Art
(photos taken in 2016):



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