My desire to paint led me to Creative Arts Workshop, New Haven in the spring of 1987. On a tour of the facility, hanging in the hall were student’s paintings of flowers done in a watercolor class taught by Graziella Patrucco de Solodow. At that moment, I knew I had to learn how to paint botanicals from this instructor.  I learned a great deal about painting, watercolor and nature by studying with Graziella. Her enthusiasm for finding beauty in all living and non-living natural things was fascinating and contagious. She seemed to have an endless supply of reference materials, including an extensive library, beautiful flower gardens, and stories to go along with them. I was her student until 2002.  At that point in time, it was clear that I no longer had the desire to paint botanicals. It was not my work—the thought being that ‘it’ (the object) had already been created–so how can I improve upon perfection? Why not just take a photograph?  

Making a radical shift, I chose to try my hand at mixed media collage and acrylic mediums. The process of creating collage–completely opposite the control of botanical painting–became my segue into painting abstracts. While our paths did not cross for a time, Graziella and I reconnected—getting together every few months in the past several years for tea & cookies, show & tell, and tales of her upbringing in Argentina and Peru.

On December 1st, Wayne and I went to her art opening at the Da Silva Gallery in New Haven. Graziella had been planning “A Collection of Watercolors” show for 2 years, and wondered if anyone would come. Come they did ~ the turnout was amazing. It was the happiest that I’d seen her in a very long time. It would also be the last time I’d see her. I had an inclination to call Graziella on March 3rd; pondering this, I decided to wait until the 30th, as that would be her 71st birthday. Two days later, her husband Joseph sent out an email stating that Graziella had died suddenly the morning of the 4th while out feeding the birds.  [obituary]

A memorial service was held for her on May 1st in a chapel on the Yale University campus. Many of her family and friends got up to speak, myself included. Graziella had always wanted me to show my work; there was even some discussion about having a show in her barn studio.  I made a promise at her service that I would one day show my work to honor her memory and for all she had done for me. It is my belief that she’s been a primary force behind my becoming an artist.I am so blessed and grateful that Graziella was such a part of my life. Peace and sweet dreams, dear friend.

Graziella Patrucco de Solodow. Born in Argentina. M.F.A. from Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes, Peru. B.A. from Columbia University. Exclusive designer for H. George Caspari. Has more than 1,400 works in the market. Paintings in Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge University) and Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation (Carnegie Mellon University). [source:]