An analysis of Pet Santas - Bingos 2015 photo with Santa

It is the time of year where I bathe and primp my dog Bingo and cart him off to the local pet store for his annual photograph with Santa. All in all I am pleased with this year's photo as Bingo looks very puppy-like for his 15 years. But the Santa, as kind as he was, had on the most bizarre outfit. I understand that these are the B-level Santas that are available for pet stores, probably just a youthful employee.  I must however ask, where do they find these outfits? The way the moustache is attached to the hat creates a bizarre Ancient Aliens type of helmet. Do they really think that dogs won't recognize these imitation Santas? I seemed to remember that the earlier photos had much more realistic outfits so when I got home I thought I'd pull out his past photos for comparison and decided to make up this chart. (You can read more about the Maniacal Dog Mother of 2013 here.)

Pet Santa Comparison Chart

All that being said, I am grateful that pet stores provide a Santa at all and must admit that they have always been very kind and gentle with my dog.  I truly enjoy this tradition but I must admit that tomorrow I am heading over to Bergdorf Goodman to have Bingo photographed with the REAL Santa...

Bingo with the REAL Santa

Bingo with the REAL Santa

Bingo and Myself with the Bergdorf Goodman Santa

Bingo and Myself with the Bergdorf Goodman Santa

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Saying Good-bye to Christmas here in NY

Every year at this time I struggle with post Christmas melancholy. All those weeks of excitement; watching the mail for Christmas cards, decorating the tree, making cookies and seeing the city come to life with twinkling lights are all behind me. I always love walking around the West Village and peeking in windows to see all the Christmas trees, wreaths, bows and lights to get myself into the Christmas spirit. This week as I began to see the sad, discarded Christmas trees on the curbs I thought I'd take a last stroll with my camera and capture some of my favorite sites before they are taken down till next year.

                                                                              Simple Christmas Tree in Greenwich St. Car Rental

                                                                              Simple Christmas Tree in Greenwich St. Car Rental

                                                                                Reindeer in scarves in Bigelow Pharmacy

                                                                                Reindeer in scarves in Bigelow Pharmacy

                                                                    Beautiful snow scene in Hudson St Pharmacy window

                                                                    Beautiful snow scene in Hudson St Pharmacy window

                                                                        Sweet chocolate Snowmen in Lilac Chocolate's window

                                                                        Sweet chocolate Snowmen in Lilac Chocolate's window

                                                       Even the White Horse Tavern looks festive with their branches and lights

                                                       Even the White Horse Tavern looks festive with their branches and lights


Renaissance Reindeer

Presenting Renaissance Reindeer, the Curious Christmas portrait of 2014.  I realized this year that of all the Christmas portraits I have done I had never painted a reindeer. As I worked on his portrait I found I was using a color palette resembling that of some of my favorite Italian renaissance painters so I decided to name him the Renaissance Reindeer! 

          

 

 

 

 

             

 

 

 

 

 

Prints, Christmas cards, brooches, coasters and ornaments featuring his portrait are all available in my Etsy shop Curious Portraits! Merry Christmas everyone!

Devoted Dog Lover or Maniacal Traditionalist?

OK, so every year I like to have my dog Bingo photographed with Santa. I know it may sound excessive to some but most dog parents would agree that these magical moments with your pet captured in time are priceless. I usually go down to the Petco in Tribeca as they are always so nice and accommodating but this year I just couldn't make it down during Santa's hours because of work. However, I located a Petsmart on Broadway and Houston that had Santa today only until 4:00 but naturally, as luck would have it, I had to work until 4. Yesterday I phoned them and simply would not take no for an answer. Always polite I begged Santa to stay until 4:30 when I would have just enough time to run home, grab Bingo, stuff him in his bag and run over to Petsmart. He kindly agreed and everything was set UNTIL nature decided to deliver a blizzard today.  I was late getting out of work and when I got home I had to rummage through my closet to find my boots and THEN stuff Bingo into his bag and head out. The wind was in my face all the way as I walked across town (not a cab to be found). I could feel Bingo's bag vibrating as he shivered inside but I didn't care, I HAD to get that photo. I run into Petsmart only to be told Santa had just left but might still be in the store so I began to run up and down the aisles calling "SANTA, SANTA...." until someone took pity on me and located him by calling his actual name which was Mark. He put on the suit and took Bingo in his arms and only then did he inform me that I was supposed to bring my own camera!!! Of course I had forgotten my phone in my frantic rush to get there on time but this very kind Santa offered to let me take the photos with HIS phone and email them to me.  I admit that he may have been motivated by fear of this maniacal dog mother with wet and bedraggled hair and a wild expression in her eyes ready to burst into tears if she did not get that photo but I prefer to think it was just good old Christmas spirit that was at the heart of his kindness. I felt so satisfied with myself for keeping up my annual tradition that walking home too quickly and smiling benevolently at the snowflakes I slipped on the ice and literally fell right on my bum, feet up in the air! Thankfully Bingo was secured in his bag and sustained no injury but I am going to have a lovely bruise tomorrow. It was all worth it, I got my damned photo against all the odds and  Bingo got a new Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer toy so we are now filled with CHRISTMAS CHEER! Merry Christmas everyone!

Bingo and Santa 2013
Bingo and Santa 2013
Bingo safe at home with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Bingo safe at home with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

New Curious Christmas Ornaments

Christmas Mouse-Curious Portraits I am so excited to finally have my new Christmas ornaments for sale in my Etsy  shop, Curious Portraits! I've been having so may requests for ornaments featuring my curious portraits and I have been busy researching the items I needed to make them. I finally found the perfect little bronze frames  2" in diameter and the glass cabochons that fit inside. I am so pleased with how sweet they look. They come with a red satin ribbon for hanging and arrive in their own red felt pouch tied with a mint green satin bow ready for gift giving. You can now hang Victorian Mouse, Cat Dandy, Santa and Elf Squirrels, Polar Bears, Snowmen, Foxes and more right on your Christmas tree! Happy Holidays to everyone!

Santa Squirrel-Curious Portraits

Snowman Ornament-Curious Portraits

Victorian Mouse Ornament-Curious Portraits

Dogs love Christmas too

Bingo-Santa-2012Bingo came home the other day feeling sad because the other dogs in the neighborhood were telling him that Santa doesn't exist. I tried explaining to him with the old "Santa lives in your heart" or "He exists as long as you believe in him" stories but he still seemed uncertain. So today I dressed him up and took him down to Petco in Tribeca to have his photo taken with Santa! I think the visit did the trick because he seemed to walk home with an extra spring in his step!

The Singing Squirrels

Singing-Christma-Squirrels

This year for my official Christmas portrait (and Christmas card which hopefully all of you have received by now) I went back to one of my favorite subjects. These cheerful squirrels live in the courtyard of my apartment building and are a constant source of inspiration. This year I have at least 3 squirrels ( I suspect a mysterious fourth) who come regularly to my studio window for their daily meal of peanuts and/or acorns and who are not in the least bit shy in front of the camera. I sit out there on the fire escape and photograph them while they eat and they don't mind at all. Of course it was tricky getting them to put on the hats and sweaters but in the end they all cooperated...

A very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and Happy New Year to everyone who reads this blog and a very sincere thank-you for your support this past year!

The Polar Bear Portraits have arrived

This year for my new Christmas Portraits I chose the humble Polar Bear. Who could be better prepared for winter weather? This soft, fuzzy pair of bears, sensibly dressed in their fur hats, top coats and woolen scarves are ready to celebrate Christmas together in their color coordinated outfits. They are now available in the Etsy shop, Curious Portraits as prints and notecards. Buy them or any other Christmas prints and cards from Thursday (Thanksgiving) through Monday and receive a 15% discount by typing  in the coupon code JINGLE12 at checkout! It is all part of the Etsy Black Friday, Cyber Monday sale.

 

Red Velvet Cake

It was my friend Kristina's birthday on Friday and I wanted to make her favorite cake for the occasion. Now being italian-american Red Velvet Cake was not in my recipe box of traditional cakes so this was an adventure for me. I ended up using Martha Stewart's recipe from her website as I figured I could trust her.

It is an unusual recipe and I admit to being skeptical when it called for mixing baking soda with vinegar  not to mention all that red food coloring!

But in the end it was so light and delicious, was great fun to make and got me into the holiday spirit of baking!

Did I mention how yummy the cream cheese icing was??

Christmas Inspiration

Now that Halloween is over I am trying to psyche myself up for Christmas. Halloween is just so inspiring for me with all the dark, macabre images it brings to mind. But Christmas is supposed to be merry and bright. My work  just doesn't naturally go in that direction. So I turned to nostalgia which is always a big inspiration for me. I decided to try photographing an old squeaky Santa that my Mother used to put out for the holidays. Seeing his smiling, rubber face brings me right back to my childhood and I thought that might make an interesting portrait.  That got me looking on Ebay for more vintage squeaky Christmas items and it all went downhill from there. I am now the proud owner of a group of wierdly jolly, smiling rubber Christmas toys that are all waiting to be immortalized. I know they are a little creepy but I can't help myself, that is what makes them so appealing to me. Here is a sample of what might become a curious portrait in the next few weeks...

Merry Christmas

I finally finished painting my Christmas card and am ready to send it out, miraculously ahead of time! I usually use a dog portrait or do a special Christmas themed painting of Bingo but this year I thought it was finally time to immortalize my courtyard squirrels. This is Daisy on the left and Pip on the right enjoying some holiday cheer!