Saturday, February 1, 2014

An Update & More on Archie's World too

Due to several health concerns in 2013 and early 2014, there has been a pause on this blog, but here's an update for you all.  First a bit of progress on my house portrait commission for the Weiss family home and pond in upstate New York, and my thanks to Ricky Weiss and her husband Roberto Chavez for their patience in waiting for me to recuperate until more painting time would be possible.  (Regarding more details on the background about the Conner and Weiss families, as well as the story behind this commission, see my post below this one.)

"Archie's World" in progress,  3" x 8 1/4", egg tempera on panel
(please click the image to see it larger)

Also!  I'm excited to have a new website on my work to share with you, which is specifically for my portrait commissions, so please visit there whenever you have the time and interest at: 

I've also made just a start on revamping (or really re-creating would be more accurate) the original website for my work as a fine artist, and even though there are overlaps between the two sites, much of the content is unique on each one, and the two websites will now represent my art work online, along with my four painting blogs.  So you can find this start on my fine art website presently at:

And Happy New Year to you all!  More soon I hope too! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Archie's World, a miniature commission

"Archie's World" in an early stage of progress, 3" x 8 1/4", egg tempera on panel
(click on the painting to see a larger view)

I have a special request to do a commissioned miniature painting of the lovely country estate of the Weiss family which is located in upstate New York.  It has been commissioned by Ricky Weiss, as a surprise for her Mom, Eve, (who is not on the computer often) and as you can see it will include lots of fun details, and the colors of Autumn. 

There is the house and pool fenced in with rose bushes, overlooking their own pond, and to the left, a bridge they have built across one end of the pond.  In the water are Rebecca and Daniel, Ricky's daughter and son, paddle-boating, and also Archie, a wild duck that their family nursed back to health, loved, and adopted as a pet.  Archie even had his own pool in the garage when the weather was too inclement, so it became 'Archie's world'.
The Weiss family and the Conners have known one another since the days when my father, Eve, and her husband Gus, all shared the same study group at NYU Law School.  In the 1960s we stayed with their family to enjoy the World's Fair in NYC.  So it's a great pleasure to be working on this painting for Ricky and Eve.

On another note, I formerly showed small work portraits on this blog along with my miniatures and other small paintings, but those have now moved over to my portrait blog.  Here is one of my small portraits in egg tempera, nearing completion, which you can read more about, along with others on Mona Conner Portraits

"Frances and Dylan", nearing completion

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The new best brush in my miniature painting repertoire

Da Vinci Maestro Kolinsky Sable Miniaturist brushes, 
L-R, #3, #2, #1, #0, #000
Comparing #0 brushes: 
 from bottom to top, #0 Da Vinci Maestro Kolinsky Miniaturist,
#0 Winsor and Newton series 7 miniature, and #0 (regular series 7 Winsor and Newton)

Comparing #000 brushes:
bottom to top, 000 Da Vinci Maestro Kolinsky Miniaturist, 000 Winsor and Newton series 7 miniature brush, 000 Winsor and Newton (regular series 7)

Along with a few varieties of small synthetic brushes, I've been a fairly loyal user of Winsor and Newton series 7 miniature and regular series 7 for several decades by now, yet over the years I've observed that the amount of hair in the ferules has decreased, the cost has gone up, and although they are still good brushes, for the price and quality I'm just not feeling 100% satisfied with their performance and staying power.  With all the interesting brushes out there to try these days, I thought it was time for some research on sables.  After looking over three or four lines of brushes, I decided to try Da Vinci Maestro Kolinsky 'Miniaturist' sables.   

My rationale was that of all the miniature brush lines I saw, the Da Vinci Miniaturist line has more hair (fatter at the ferrule, or base of the brush), and a shorter but still very pointy tip.  It's a round brush made of Kolinsky sable, (which means male winter Siberian Kolinsky sable, the best sable you can get), and I hoped a fatter pointy brush meant it would hold more paint without dripping, and give me more control and precision.

So far I am very impressed with these neat little sables!  Above are some comparison pictures demonstrating the difference between the two lines, especially since the brush sizes do not exactly correspond, and it took me a while reading over the brush dimensions provided online to decipher the sizes I wanted to try.  They are not inexpensive, but I got mine through a nice sale at Dick Blick online.  I've been using them on a commissioned miniature painting in egg tempera, and also on a larger portrait commission in oil.  As soon as I get a little further with the miniature commission, I'll post it in progress.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Progress on the Hat Ladies Series

"Madame Butterfly" (in progress), 5" x 7", oil on panel
"Lady in Pink" (in progress), 5" x 7", oil on

My Hat Ladies series is coming along nicely, and I'll do one more post with
these in their frames.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

An Honorable Mention award for Portraiture

"Self Portrait at 34", 3 3/4" x 3", egg tempera on Kelmscott vellum

Great news!  I was delighted to hear today that I won an Honorable Mention award for Portraiture from the Miniature Painters, Sculptors, and Gravers Society for my self portrait in miniature!  The judge for this year's annual competition in Washington D.C. was Jane Mihalik, a talented miniature painter and artist whose work I have long admired.  I hope to be able to arrange attending the opening weekend of the show, Nov. 17 and 18, and the first public showing will be from 2PM to 4PM on Nov. 18 at the Strathmore Mansion in North Bethesda.  The show continues through Dec. 29, and I hope if you will be in the area you'll be able to see it.  I believe it remains the 2nd largest miniature show in the U.S.

For details on visiting the show in person, and to see some of the other award winning works which will be included the show, you can visit the exhibition page at

Monday, October 15, 2012

Three accepted paintings in international competition in Washington D.C. next month

"Self Portrait at 34", 3 3/4" x 3", egg tempera on Kelmscott vellum

"Carribean Cruise Flag", 3 1/16" x 2 1/2", egg tempera on Kelmscott vellum

"Madonna in the Leaves", 2 5/8" x 1 7/8", egg tempera on Kelmscott vellum

Hello everyone!  Although they are not new, here are my three accepted entries for the 79th Annual International Exhibition of Fine Art in Miniature  of the Miniature Painters, Sculptors, and Gravers Society of Washington D.C.  All three paintings are for sale and can be viewed in person, November 19 to December 29, 2012 at the Strathmore Mansion in North Bethesda, Maryland.  For details see

Hoping to fit in more miniature painting soon, but I've been tied up on a number of portrait commissions, all of which are larger works of art.  For the latest on those, please visit  Mona Conner Portraits

Monday, May 7, 2012

"Amelia's Starry Night"

              "Amelia's Starry Night", 3" x 2 1/2", (frame size 6 1/2" x 4"), 
             egg tempera miniature portrait on Kelmscott vellum
                                              "Amelia's Starry Night" (shown slightly larger for detail)

And here is little Amelia in April with her first ponytail!    Is this little girl cute or what?!

Here is my miniature portrait of Amelia, who is the daughter of Erika and Brian Boccia.  Amelia's mom, Erika, is my sister-in-law's niece.   P.S. :  I neglected to mention this earlier in my post, but  I used a special powder pigment made from the gemstone lapis lazuli along with the other blues in the sky of this painting.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Entry for the 5th World Federation Exhibit in Moscow

"After the Davidson College Graduation", 4 9/16" x 3", egg tempera on panel, (reframed to meet frame size parameters)

Here is the entry I submitted for the 5th World Federation of Miniaturists Exhibition which is slated to take place in the Gallery of the Russian Academy of Art in Moscow, Russia in September of this year. To enter this painting required me to reframe it in order to meet the stringent frame size limit.

It actually wound up to be my most difficult framing job ever, which entailed wiring the frame vertically from the inside! The hand-painted matt is a softer color of coral than the digital picture conveys, and the silver-gilded frame has a warm feeling with threads of gold in it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Two Miniature Masterpieces at The Renaissance Portrait show in NYC

"A Woman, Possibly a Nun of San Secondo", approx. 3"x 4", by Jacometto Veneziano, oil on wood , ca. 1485 - 1495
Robert Lehman collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art

"Alvise Contarini", by Jacometto Veneziano, approx. 3 1/2" x 5", oil on wood,
Robert Lehman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Recently I had the pleasure of seeing several very special shows at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Italian art from the Renaissance, and in particular, The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini held my interest for hours! What a fascinating show it is, which winds up not only revealing the early history of portraiture, but also becomes a virtual survey of some of the important transitions which artists were making at that time from the medium of egg tempera to oil, and variations thereof.

Among larger masterpieces and sculptures were many profile portraits, so characteristic of this period, but also these two miniature paintings, which happen to be part of the Met's permanent collection. An early 16th century reference identifies this pair as Alvise Contarini and a nun of San Secundo. Possibly they were once a couple and the woman later became a nun after the death of her husband. She certainly looks nun-like to the contemporary eye, yet according to Renaissance dress codes, she is still wearing secular garb in her portrait.

But looking at how these are painted, is it possible that what is labelled 'oil on wood' might actually be tempera grassa, which could account for the very fine level of detail in the woman's hair and in the man's zazzera, a fashionable Renaissance haircut? Tempera grassa, also known as egg-oil emulsion, is a version of egg tempera which is made with oil and egg instead of water and egg, or sometimes oil in combination with water and egg. Tempera grassa recipes vary to this day, but still carry the feeling of an oil painting. In this show some of the paintings were labelled 'tempera and oil on wood'. If it's possible these miniatures were not exclusively done in oils, Veneziano may have either used a layered combination of the two mediums or tempera grassa itself. In any case, as an egg tempera painter, it was fascinating for me to see the ways in which tempera and oil were being used, and even how the application of the paint itself imitated egg tempera brush 'hatching' in some of the early oils in this show which spans 100 years or so.

The Renaissance Portrait will remain at the Met in NYC until March 18, 2012, and if you can't catch it in person, a fine book has been published in conjunction with the show. There are many examples of modern egg tempera painting on my website at and also at

Monday, January 23, 2012

Miniature Art Society of Florida International Exhibition

The final version of "Carol By Moonlight"
after Carol loaned it back to me for its
completion, 3 3/4" x 3", egg tempera on
Kelmscott vellum

"Carol By Moonlight" at the time of the presentation,
a work still in progress

presenting dear friend and MASF Social Chair Carol Curtiss with her portrait in miniature

Recently I demonstrated egg tempera painting in miniature, and presented an award fund and portrait to Carol Curtiss at this year's Miniature Art Society of Florida international exhibition. Many thanks to all with whom I spent some treasured time in Florida! Bill Mundy, we missed you! Hope you are well, hope to see you next time, and I loved seeing your portrait of Jade, along with many other amazing works of art in miniature at this year's show. Those of you who I missed meeting this time, I hope to meet soon too! In my next post I will share something from my egg tempera demonstration in Florida, and a miniature baby portrait of proud mom Erika's daughter Amelia. Meanwhile, a few more great moments from this year's show:

It was such a joy spending some in-person time with fellow artists and bloggers
Barbara Stanton, Debra Kierce, and Akiko Watanabe!

Online friends and colleagues were delighted meet in Florida, many for the first time in person. L to R, Lynn Ponto -Peterson (Best of Show), me, Akiko Watanabe, Barbara Stanton, Debra Kierce, Wes and Rachelle Siegrist, Pat Getha (photo courtesy of Barbara Stanton)

With dear friend and show Administrator extraordinaire, Herb Weed at the Awards Brunch

An emotional moment as Kay Petryszak presents a lifetime MASF membership to her husband and MASF Exhibition Chair, Mike Petryszak

Monday, December 5, 2011

An update, more portraits and a start on "Madame Butterfly"

"Madame Butterfly" in progress, 5" x 7" small work, oil on panel

"Carolina" 9" x 12", black and white charcoal on green pastel paper,
a detail from a 50-minute pose from life

Hello everyone! This Fall I have been taking a little hiatus from miniature painting and miniature competitions, in order to give more attention to my portraiture and portrait commissions, so although it's been several months since my last post on this blog, I have posted fairly often to my portrait blog. Among other projects, several couples portraits are in the works. If you'd enjoy following my work in portraiture, the follower block is positioned at the bottom of the blog at Mona Conner Portraits, (due to the large picture format). "Carolina", shown above, is just one example from the live model drawing practice sessions I've attended from Sept. through early December. Weekly free 3-hour sessions with live models is a wonderful privilege provided to all School of Visual Arts alumni who wish to attend, and I have enjoyed both the models and the camaraderie so much that I really look forward to when these sessions resume next semester!

I'll be posting "Hat Lady in Pink" in her frame sometime soon, and meanwhile a new Lady I just love has entered my head vase collection, this sweet "Madame Butterfly", or so it says on the label that remains intact, and above Carolina is just a start on her. I'm hoping also to share one of my Christmas portraits in miniature here with you too this month, a baby portrait, but only if it won't spoil the surprise for a very proud Mom I happen to know, so miniatures coming soon too!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hand Painting a Frame Specifically for a Painting

Painted frame detail

"Hat Lady With Red Flowers",  5" x 7",  oil on panel

I wanted to show you how I finished off this Hat Lady painting 
by hand-painting it's frame. Although a frame always 
becomes part of the finished artwork, I feel it is even more so 
in this instance an integral part, since it was hand-painted by me.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Progress on Hat Lady in Pink

"Hat Lady in Pink" (later stage of progress), 5" x 7" oil on gessoed panel

earlier stage of progress on gessoed panel, 5" x 7"

Here is my start on another hat lady from my own collection, and it's only a start on her too, more fun to come!

Since she's almost finished, I've added a more recent version of my progress on top.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"Hat Lady with Red Flowers" and "Red-ruffed Lemur"

"Hat Lady with Red Flowers", 5" x 7", small work oil on sealed clayboard

"Red-ruffed Lemur" (in progress), 11" x 14", oil on Ampersand gessoboard

So first, here is "Hat Lady with Red Flowers" after more progress. Since small works as well as miniatures comprise just a portion of my work as an artist, "Hat Lady" is included in a gallery on my website which I've recently renamed to include both types of paintings and which you can visit here: MINIATURE PAINTINGS AND SMALL WORKS

Second, I started "Red-ruffed Lemur" quite a while ago, but reached a point where I felt undecided over how I wanted to handle the background. Yesterday I pulled this one it out again and seemed to know exactly how I wanted to proceed. I still have more to do on this painting, but it's a good example of how helpful it can be, (if time permits, since artists don't always have this luxury!), to wait until it feels just right to process a painting. I've often enjoyed painting animals, and you can view some of my other work on this topic by visiting my website under:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hat Lady ~ a small work oil in progress

"Hat Lady", in progress, 5" x 7", oil on sealed clay board panel

I have such a soft spot in my heart for hat ladies! Anybody else love these classy sweet pieces of nostalgia? So I'm having fun with this small work in oil of a favorite hat lady from my own personal collection. Found her a few years ago at a little vintage shop that I like to explore in my neighborhood called "Under the Pig". I'm also looking forward to painting a miniature of a wonderful hat lady collection that I saw at the 2005 Orange County Fair in California.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Marcia and Harry ~ finishing touches and framing

"Marcia and Harry" frame treatment

"Marcia and Harry", after final touches, 3 7/8" x 3", egg tempera miniature couples portrait

Just wanted to briefly revisit the miniature portrait of "Marcia and Harry" since before I framed and shipped this out, I added a few final touches which I feel subtly improved it---a bit of additional dimension to chins and faces, plus a forgotten buttonhole on the gray jacket (small, but it's there!) It's interesting how even after I've been working on a painting so long, it often helps to see what else can be done when I have the luxury of giving it a break and can take one last look before framing. I can also report that Mom and Harry have received their portrait, and were very happy with the outcome!

I hope to return next to my Princess Kate series, this time at small work scale in 24 karat gold point. Meanwhile, feel welcome to visit my portrait blog and my website where you can see some of my larger work with commissioned and non-commissioned portraiture.

Monday, May 9, 2011

#2 in the Princess Kate series

"Princess Kate #2", 3 7/8" x 3 1/8", framed silverpoint miniature portrait (shown at it's actual size) on pink-toned museum board with egg tempera highlights, $450 on Etsy

Here is the second in my Princess Kate series of portrayals commemorating the recent royal wedding. Later today, I'll add a picture showing it's frame, which is framed with the same style of antique silver-gilded frame as Princess Kate #1.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Princess Kate - One of Several Portrayals of Her in Miniature

"Princess Kate", 3 7/8" x 3 1/8", (framed dimensions: 5 1/2" x 4 5/8"), miniature silverpoint drawing on prepared museum board in antiqued silver gilded frame, $350 on Etsy

Here is the first of several portraits of Princess Kate which I've been working on this week in silverpoint. This one is currently listed for sale on Etsy (click on the link above), and please stay tuned for another Princess Kate portrait which I hope to post tomorrow.

Friday, April 29, 2011

HRH Kate on Her Special Day

preliminary drawing for a silverpoint miniature portrait of Kate Middleton, who today becomes Her Royal Highness

In just a matter of hours, Kate Middleton will become HRH Princess Catherine! I am so excited about the Royal wedding, so I want to try a portrait of Kate. I'm already trying to picture what she may wear, and I can't wait to see her wedding gown today, -- can you?! I've read that her dress includes a nod to Princess Diana, and will be inspired by fashions from the Renaissance period. One of her jackets is a bit reminiscent of the Renaissance without the under blouse, so I've sketched that in. I thought she might wear her hair partly up and partly down. Here is a preliminary pencil drawing for a silverpoint portrait, and depending upon whether I want to include a bit of wedding apparel, this may change later today, but first I must stop to watch this historic and happy occasion. Congratulations to Kate and William!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Easter and Passover!

Scenes from Litchfield Villa garden this week in Prospect Park, Brooklyn

Wishing each of you that blast of spiritual energy renewal which blesses all of us with a new beginning during the Holy celebrations of Easter and Passover each year.

It's Graduation Time Again & Spring Show Time Too!

"After the Davidson College Graduation," 4 5/8" x 3 3/8", (framed size: 8 3/16" x 6 3/16"), egg tempera on true gesso panel (black lacquer frame), available

several views of "Tulips at Giverny Gardens," 2 inch diameter painting in oil over 24 karat gold leaf on carved bone basket box, (SOLD)

"Carribean Cruise Flag", 3 1/16" x 2 1/2", (framed size: 5 7/8" x 4 7/8"), egg tempera on vellum, available

It's graduation time again, and I can hardly believe that very soon two of my nephews, David and Ben, will graduate from high school, and one nephew, Greg, will graduate from Denison College! I am so proud of these guys!

As it is also Spring show time, I'm very honored to be participating once again in the invitational show, "The Art of the Miniature XIX" at The Snow Goose Gallery in Bethlehem, PA. My three paintings in the show include one I painted after attending my niece Lauren's graduation from Davidson College last year, "After the Davidson College Graduation", and also my bone box painting,"Tulips At Giverny Gardens", along with "Carribean Ship Flag". You'll find these miniatures among many other fine offerings at "The Art of the Miniature" from May 1 to June 11, 2011, with a collector's preview on Sat., April 30th, 6-8 PM, and opening reception, Sunday, May 1, from 1-5 PM.