A mother reads to her 3 sons in front of the tree on Christmas Eve.

Do you have special holiday traditions?

Is there a family recipe you love to make each year or a favorite movie you watch over and over? “Love Actually” is my personal fave!

My dear client Doris had a special tradition when her boys were young. Every Christmas Eve, she read the Clement C. Moore poem “The Night Before Christmas” to her sons. As the boys married and began their own families, she gave each of them a copy which they now read to their children.

Sadly, Doris passed away in 2018. Her husband Dave is creating gentle remembrances to help them all stay connected with her spirit. His goal is to maintain a sense of gratitude, for Doris and for each other. Dave commissioned me to paint a portrait of their Christmas tradition, as a remembrance for himself and for each son.

“Family Portrait—Mother & Sons” is based on Dave’s 1980 photo and includes precious family treasures from other photos. I hope the painting triggers happy memories for you. Perhaps it will inspire some new traditions for your family.

Reference Photo

Work in Progress

Want to see the new method I used to paint this portrait?


The images I referenced for the painting included Doris’s now rare 1960 book, illustrated by Catherine J. Barnes. Luckily, I found the exact page online and placed a screenshot of it on my computer monitor for reference. The book is upside down as we view Doris reading. To keep my brain happy, I rotated the portrait on my iPad and painted the illustration right side up.

I love being able to draw and paint directly on my iPad with one hand, while easily moving the painting around with my other hand. I have always painted exclusively on my computer, using Corel Painter with a stylus and graphics tablet, but for this portrait I mostly used Procreate on my iPad with an Apple Pencil (in a protective case).

Being able to bounce back and forth between Corel Painter and Procreate gives me more tools and flexibility—really thrilling for me. Dave was excited to commission my first family portrait painted on an iPad.

Dave sent photos of his mother’s side table and lamp, as well as a delightful watercolor Doris had purchased from Indiana artist, Ray Day. Hope I don’t get arrested for repainting it. 🙃 The Christmas tree and decorations were especially fun to paint with the many textures and brushes available in Procreate. You should try the app!

A Piece of Cake!


When the painting was complete, Dave asked if I would create Christmas cards with the painting on the front and the story of their Christmas Eve tradition inside. We also included Doris’s fabulous Apple Nut Cake recipe. If you would like your own copy of Doris’s recipe, please contact me and I’ll email or snail mail it to you.

I couldn’t wait for Christmas to try the recipe, so Gerry and I baked it Thanksgiving weekend for our family. The cake is super moist and flavorful … full of apples, pecans, and spices … and was a big hit with our kids and grandkids. Doris’s Apple Nut Cake now has a permanent place of honor in our holiday traditions, which mostly seem to include food. 😋

Let’s transform your favorite photos and traditions into masterpieces!

Forgive me for getting sentimental. I’m turning 83 this week 🎉🎈and feel very grateful that I still have the good health and strength to enjoy painting every day. I’m very much aware that time is fleeting and I’m extremely lucky.🍀 So maybe you’ll commission that special portrait you’ve been thinking of having me create? I hope so!

Your Portrait Here 🖼 in 2023!

With gratitude for your support of my art and best wishes for Happy Holidays and a Very Healthy New Year,