Angelic Sohbet | Oil on canvas | 36” x 48” | $10,000

Angelic Sohbet

Oil on canvas, 36” x 48”, 2013 $10,000
Angelic Sohbet
Sohbet is an Arabic word derived from Sufism, a mystical Islamic sect, and means mystical conversation. Sohbet, as it is known, plays and important and powerful role in the practice of Sufism. Sufi mystics have been known to closet themselves in sacred conversations, sharing mystical secrets and truths with one another, theologizing and philosophizing, for hours or even days.

These graceful angels whisper secret wisdoms to one another in an otherworldly, celestial atmosphere on another plane, as gold and cream clouds flicker by and time stands still. Angels are universal symbols of messengers of the divine, and found throughout many faiths, including Islam.

I have long been intrigued with Sufism, and I find the poetry of Sufi poets such as Jalaluddin Rumi and Rabia Basri very insightful and beautiful. Angels to me are wise protectors and guides that come to us in times of need. They have an understanding beyond human perception, comprehending the cosmic scheme. I find painting these mysterious and sweet beings very healing and peaceful.

Namaka | 30″ x 40″ | Oil on Canvas | $9000


Oil on Canvas, 30” x 40” $9000
Namaka is the name of the ancient Hawaiian sea goddess. The island of Lanai is depicted in the background, as Namaka gracefully glides through the soothing waters of Hawaii. Renee painted this while living in Maui, inspired by the island’s dreamy beauty.

The Golden Glance | Fresco | 23” x 26” | $3500

The Golden Glance

Fresco, 23” x 26”, 1996 $3500
This is an experimental type of fresco – I even purposely broke and reglued the plaster to make it look as if it were truly ripped off the wall in Pompeii from some forgotten castle. The image itself is inspired by the angel under God’s left arm in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling fresco painting “The Creation of Adam.” Much has been written about this mysterious figure. The two most common interpretations are that she is either Eve un-incarnated, or Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom, and God’s consort. According to the Christian gnostics, Mary Magdalene was the incarnation of Sophia as Jesus was Johovah/Yahweh.

Christian Gnosticism was a philospophy and secret sect/society that Michelangelo, da Vinci, and other artistic luminaries were familiar with at the time, though as it harbored many (still) controversial beliefs, had to be guarded with secrecy and only expressed in code. The Goddess Sophia was a prominent Goddess in the Mediterranean going back to ancient Greece and Turkey.

There is even a famous now museum in Istanbul, called the Hagia Sophia, which was once a temple to the Goddess, then took on many different incarnations itself over the centuries, including as an Islamic mosque, and then as a Christian church. Sophia was closely associated with Goddesses Athena, Isis, Innana, and Ishtar. Whether she is Eve or Sophia, God’s arm is wrapped gently and protectively around her in Michelangelo’s painting, showing she is a loving being who is special – God’s “right hand girl” so to speak, but of course, painted to the left and under the left arm, as the left side was considered the feminine side of the body in Michelangelo’s time.

Here I wished to express the mystery, beauty, and wisdom of this figure, and aspects that would seem contradictory – strength, gravitas, sweetness and vulnerability, all wrapped into one glance, one gesture, and one “vibe” at the same time. She is peaceful, but active, not passive. She is aware, but gentle and looks on without judgement, but with understanding. I wanted to give this painting rich colors and lots of warmth, the colors of Tuscany in the Renaissance. And I wanted it to express the fleeting and delightful feeling of a moment in time, a rich, soft and knowing glance, soaked in amber light and an angelic wisdom.

Einstein: Portrait in Renaissance Clothing | Oil on canvas | 18” x 24” | $6500

Einstein: Portrait in Renaissance Clothing

Oil on canvas, 18” x 24”, 1993 $6500
My admiration for this great man inspired me to paint this portrait. Here I have depicted Albert Einstein in Renaissance clothing, and as I see him – a true Renaissance man. In addition to the Nobel prize winning work in theoretical physics for which he is known, Einstein was also a brilliant concert violinist. Einstein actually claimed that the special theory of relativity came to him as he was playing the violin, in a vision of himself riding a beam of light through the Cosmos.

A great humanitarian, like Leonardo da Vinci, Einstein was also a vegetarian, and abhorred war and violence. He often spoke of his regret for what came of his contribution to nuclear physics, and was an advocate for universal nuclear disarmament. Einstein was a great supporter and believer in both the arts and the sciences, and I can imagine with his charming eccentricities and casual wit, he would have fit in seamlessly at the 15th court gatherings of Duke Sforza of Milan or the Medicis of Florence.

I chose to paint this in black and white to modernize and balance the Renaissance details, and in homage to the many iconic, black and white photographs that have popularized his image. I also chose to have him face fully straight on to the viewer, as this is a very modern pose, and because I feel it rightly reflects his direct and genuine gaze, in which he seems intent to impress his consciousness onto the mindset of the viewer. I have been told by some that as they stood before this portrait, they half expected him to start speaking to them, he seemed so fully present. I take that as a great compliment, and I hope that I have done justice in capturing his kindness, intelligence, and audacity.

Ophelia | Oil on canvas | 30” x 36” | $4500


Oil on canvas, 30” x 36”, 1996 $4500
There is a willow grows aslant a brook,
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream;
There with fantastic garlands did she come
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do dead men’s fingers call them:
There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes;
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element: but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.

Queen Gertrude, Act IV, scene vii , Hamlet

Ophelia was Hamlet’s beloved, but ordered by her father Polonius to spurn Hamlet and return his love letters. Polonius thought that Hamlet was just trifling with his daughter and did not intend to marry her, though Queen Gertrude’s later remark at Ophelia’s funeral: “I hoped thou shouldst have been my Hamlet’s wife; I thought thy bride-bed to have deck’d, sweet maid, and not have strew’d thy grave.” would indicate otherwise. Hamlet also lamented Ophelia’s death and swore that he loved her, proclaiming to her brother Laertes as he leapt into her grave that he “loved her more than forty thousand brothers” could have.

Hamlet (and Polonius’ orders) broke Ophelia’s heart, and then Hamlet (accidentally) killed her father, and Ophelia, as I see it, became undone, as male authority and guidance had been what kept her in line, in a way she became free of them and reality and broke with reality to go into her own world of picking flowers, singing melodies, and letting nature take her away from the ongoing violence, murder, mayhem and cruelty back at the palace. In one scene, when she gives out flowers, she tells the Queen that she would have given her “some violets, but they all withered when my father died.” The audience of Shakespeare’s day was quite familiar with the different symbolisms of flowers, and they would have known that violets represented faithfulness. I believe Ophelia was utterly disillusioned and lost all her faith in Hamlet and in this world – because of the worldly and tragic happenings at the court, because she lost her father, because she lost Hamlet, and her world turned inward.

This painting was influenced by the pre-Raphaelites and by the work of John William Waterhouse, who himself painted Ophelia twice. I began this painting at 17, shortly after reading Hamlet for English class, and connected deeply with Ophelia’s sensitivity and feeling of not belonging to the world around her. As far as I know, this is the only serious, fine art depiction of Ophelia painted by a young woman, by a girl, as opposed to the middle aged men who tried to interpret her. I believe I bring to this interpretation a truly feminine and empathetic understanding of what it is to be a young woman overburdened and pressured by a society that ranks male judgment and authority as the source of female validation, to be a young woman who feels lost, foresworn, overwhelmed with emotion, and who finds solace and connection with nature.

Ophelia’s true madness was always in the shadow of Hamlet’s play madness, though I found it much more interesting and profound that his famous ditherings and indecision. Although it is tragic that her father’s authority pushed her away from Hamlet, and that Hamlet lied that he did not love her and treated her very badly, Ophelia’s death in this painting is a positive death- a mystical death, which is why I used a lot of blue and purple, although her death was supposed to be in a forest stream, where you would expect more brown and earthy colors. Dragonflies, insect that represent mystical connection with the spirit world, beckon her and welcome her, flowers and dragonflies providing comfort and beauty to counter the harshness.

Water represents emotion, change, loss, and has not definite shape, so it is not surprising that Shakespeare gives Ophelia a death in and by water. I wanted this painting to express Ophelia’s other sensual sweetness and other wordly quality. She is already a half-ghost before she dies, hardly in or of this world, and moving through her grief and despair into the unknown. Only by escaping this existence, through madness and death, was she able to be liberated and free from the male authority that pervaded her existence and blocked her from happiness. Ophelia is one with nature and her surroundings, she is watery, she is a mermaid, she is elusive and defiant.

Sacred Spiral | Oil on Canvas | 36” x 48” | $6500

Sacred Spiral

Oil on Canvas, 36” x 48”, 2014 $6500
Sacred Spiral Update Proportional
The meaning of the spiral sparkles with an understanding of a universe in constant motion. As science can attest, our universe spirals out infinitely, thus reinforcing the concept of our endless skies, and our infinite creative potential.

“The human mind always makes progress, but it is a progress made in spirals.”

~Madame de Stael

Angel of Music | Oil on Masonite | 18” x 24” | SOLD

Angel of Music

Oil on Masonite, 18” x 24”, 1995 SOLD

‘The Angel of Music’ brings solace and quietude to the grieving. In her glowing embrace all is healed, forgiven, and made whole. This painting was based on a statue in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France. Many great musical luminaries are interred in Père Lachaise: the composers Georges Bizet, Luigi Cherubini, Frédéric Chopin, Gioachino Rossini, as well as French Jazz pianist Michel Petrucciani, and singers as varied as Turkish/Kurdish singer and songwriter and political exile Ahmet Kaya, Italian opera singer Giulia Grisi, French opera singer Célestine Marié, the legendary American-born Greek opera singer Maria Callas, 20th Century French chanteuse Édith Piaf, and rock singer and poet Jim Morrison, among many other musical talents.

This painting was done in a negative/wipe-off technique, in cool colors, with warm tones glazed over later. I sought to achieve an effect similar to stained glass. I took inspiration for the hair and face of the angel from the 15th century Filippino Lippi painting, “Apparition of The Virgin to St Bernard”.