March 12, 2015

"Oyster on Red"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
5" x 7"
2015
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February 27, 2015

"Oysters at the Passport Wine Festival"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
6" x 8"
2015
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I really had fun painting this piece.  The tooth of these Ampersand panels allows for some great effects.  I doubt that I could have gotten the same scratched weathered wood effect on canvas. It was a bright sunny day in Healdsburg, with a few puffy clouds as evidenced in the base of the wine glass.

February 25, 2015

Mandala Series #1 - "Four Oysters and a Shell on a Black Plate with Lemon"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
8" x 8"
2015
click here to purchase

When I was a youth, one of my early record purchases was a 45 (remember those?) of Peter, Paul and Mary’s “Puff the Magic Dragon.” On the flip side was a song called “The Great Mandala – The Wheel of Life.”  Since I didn’t have many records in my collection at the time, I gave it a spin.  The haunting harmonies were compelling but the lyrics were a downer.  I filed the Great Mandala away in my collective unconscious.  Fast forward 50 years and the circle of life has come to the fore.   Hitherto I had not been a “new age” kind of guy.  You know what I mean – Crystals, smudge sticks, spirit guides etc.  My meditation has always been to get out on my motorcycle and lose myself.  My friend Hugh would attest to this as I have been known to get lost often and often.  On doing research on mandalas I may have opened the door a crack to a new way of seeing inside myself.  I don’t know why I have been drawn to these strange circles but I have been recording them for a few years now. I guess I am doing with oysters what Richard Dreyfuss did in Close Encounters of the Third Kind with mashed potatoes.  As stated, I am not well versed in the lingo of the spiritual order so I will borrow and link to a more informed source to enlighten the uninitiated.
The meaning of mandala comes from Sanskrit meaning "circle." Even though it may be dominated by squares or triangles, a mandala has a concentric structure. Mandalas offer balancing visual elements, symbolizing unity and harmony. The meanings of individual mandalas is usually different and unique to each mandala. The goal of the mandala is to serve as a tool on our spiritual journey as it symbolizes cosmic and psychic order.
 The design of the mandala is to be visually appealing so as to absorb the mind in such a way that chattering thoughts cease, and a more philosophic or spiritual essence envelopes the observer which in turn leads to higher consciousness or awareness. In short, a mandala can be seen as a hypnotic, letting the creative hemisphere of our mind run a little more free while our analytical mind takes a little nap.
Each observer has different experiences. However, the overall consensus is that meditating with the mandala leaves the observer relaxed, and he/she comes away with a resolution or clarity concerning the intention that was set before the meditation.
Another form of mandala meditation is to make or color a mandala of your own. Painting, coloring or drawing mandalas allows for our creative brain to come out and play, leading to an altered state where we can perform constructive healing, and gain incredible insight into ourselves and our lives.
Once we have set our intention, we begin to focus on the mandala. Let your eyes take in the beauty of the designs, allowing your mind to wander as it will. If your mind begins to chatter (i.e., I should do laundry, have to get milk, need to finish that report for work), simply bring your attention back to the beauty of the mandala. Get inside the mandala, simply fall into it, swim in it, let it absorb all of your attention. As you fall into the mandala, you will begin to feel lighter, and intuitive thoughts may arise. Relax and float with the thoughts and feeling that come to you. If you begin to feel lost, uncomfortable or if you get the "chatter" again, simply focus your attention back on the mandala."

Of course, for me staring at a plate of oysters also makes me hungry.

Enjoy the new series! 


February 22, 2015

"American Standard"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
6" x 8"
2015
Click here to purchase

Bikers have an expression - "Chrome won't get you home."  That may be so but it is fun to paint.  Not that this is a tricked out trailer queen.  This lowly plumbing fixture adorned the urinal at the now defunct Dogwood Restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland. Some wag noted recently that I could paint anything, kind of the visual equivalent of a singer being able to sing the phone book.  High praise indeed.  When I'm on, I do feel that way.    

February 21, 2015

"Rooster and Goat"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
8" x 10"
2015
Click here to purchase

I may go back into this piece.  "Daily painting" doesn't allow for glazing techniques, as the idea is to lay it down in a few hours.  I wanted to capture the warm setting sun on these critters.  The goat worked out fairly well but I need to glaze some shadows into the rooster since the sun was shining through his comb and a more distinct shadow falling onto his feathers. I'll post the glazed piece here in a week or so.  Stay tuned. 

February 20, 2015

"Deep Cup"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
5" x 7"
2015
Click here to purchase

These pretty bi-valves were had last year in Healdsburg California at the Passport Wine  Festival.  Unfortunately I cannot recall their appellation and provenance. I should have named this painting "Stars in the Heaven" as that is what they remind me of.  Their elegant ripples and points and the glistening ice are as varied and as vast as the constellations. 

February 19, 2015

"Fred Cantor Saddle-view"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
8" x 10"
2015
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This painting has a lot of presence for its diminutive size.  I was happy with the movement of the Percheron cantoring around the ring, his mane blowing in the breeze.  One can almost feel his large hooves kicking up dirt and gravel.  I had forgotten just how challenging painting a portrait the size of a dime can be.  I have new found respect for Jean-Léon Gérôme.  


February 16, 2015

"Lucky Dog"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
6" x 8" 
2015
This little guy is the resident greeter at a restaurant in the Hampden area of Baltimore.  His name is Lucky Dog.  I won't name the restaurant because, unlike Paris and other European cities where dogs are welcomed, our health department is not be thrilled with such four footed maître d's.  I have been in more than one dive bar in town that could use a resident cat to keep the mouse population at bay.

"Pool Time"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
6" x 8"
2015
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I've been told by some of my followers that they have had issues with the e-mail notifications crashing.  I think the problem may have been the large files I have hitherto been posting.  I have gone to a 72 dpi file size which I hope will correct the problem and also make it harder for the Chinese to steal my work.  Sorry about that.
 

February 12, 2015

"Ricky Reflection"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
9" x 12"
2015
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This was a wild one.  Lots of loose, wet paint and lots of squinting to get the effects I wanted.  The orange tones are not as pronounced in the painting as they are here.

February 10, 2015

"One Plump Oyster"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
6" x 6"
2015
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  "O Oysters, come and walk with us!"
The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each."


The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head--
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

February 9, 2015

"Little Yellow Nude Sketch"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
8" x 10"
2015
Click here to purchase 

This little nude is quite different from the brushed out, tightened down paintings that I am used to doing.  It was all I could do to not blend out the strokes and soften her up.  Old habits die hard and I am fighting against years of photo-realism.  I am not unhappy with the results.  Fear not!  A zebra can't change his stripes.  Doing these quick oil sketches will hopefully keep my larger work fresh and lively.  


February 6, 2015

"Ella in the Sun"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
6" x 8"
2015

Fellow blogger, Alice Thompson, recently opined the demise of the art blog and the exodus to other social media sites like Facebook and Instagram.  Is it any wonder?  We artists want, nay need, constant ego stroking and approval to keep the creative fires burning.  Sure, there is a place for comments on a blog but seldom do people take the time to make them. Days or weeks may go by without a single remark.  It is much easier to hit the "like" button on Facebook.    Today's artists judge the success of a painting by how many "likes" they get.   I must admit that it is nice to get immediate approval of one's work. Then there is the wider audience that popular social media enjoys.  Here on my blog I have 163 "followers."  On Facebook I have many times that and with other people "sharing" my work it goes on from there to infinity and beyond. I still use my "Daily Painters" site to reach an even broader target audience for my small works.  Thousands come to that site daily to look for little gems.  I personally think there is room for both blogging and other social media.  In the old days an artist would spend weeks or months in the studio preparing for a gallery show.  If you were lucky, two hundred or so would come to the opening and a few more would amble through during the run of the exhibition.  Thousands and thousands of people from all over the globe see my work now and I have paintings in Greece, Germany, France, England and many other countries.  Why, there are workshops in China stealing my work and selling copies at this very moment...but that tale is for another day.

This is one of my studio cats - Ella.  She came in as a feral kitten 6 years ago and has made the jump to indoor life quite well.  She is top cat and keeps the other three - her mother, sister and a recent addition from the shelter, in line with a hiss and a firm paw.

February 5, 2015

"Virginia Oyster and Shell"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
6" x 8"
2015
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This is new twist on an old theme. I really enjoyed painting the warm tones of this oyster painting.  The slightly briny oysters were shucked at a friend's party over the weekend. They were staged on a venerable aluminum cookie sheet, the brushed surface of which picked up and diffused the warm light of the kitchen in a delightful way.  The yellow and pink tones of the shell and flesh of the oyster played well against such a background. 

February 3, 2015

"My Ever Loving Joy and Mr Mosby"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
8" x 10" 
2015
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A visitor to the studio yesterday asked me if I liked painting horses.  I told him that I did but that I had a lot to learn about equestrian body language and other idiosyncrasies. A case it point - Joy, the little brown mare here, does not have her ears pricked forward.  Something which I did not pick up on.  I made a similar mistake a few years back when I painted my first llama.  His ears were way back, which signifies agitation.  I suppose I should be glad he didn't spit at me when I was in the field with him. I'll have to have a consultant to guide me with the hunt paintings I plan to do this Spring.  Tally Ho!    

January 31, 2015

"Three's Company"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord Panel
8" x 8"
2015
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 What is it about oysters that makes them so much fun to paint?  Could it be that each one is as different as a snow flake?  Or that the flesh is so sensuous. Their varied shapes and sizes never fails to excite me, whether they be plump or slender, colorfully flamboyant or mono-chromatically plain, large or small.  Oh, and they are tasty little creatures too!       

January 26, 2015

"Oysters with lemon and cocktail sauce"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand gessobord panel
6" x 8"
2015
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This is a colorful one.  I personally don't nap my oysters with cocktail sauce or douse them in mignonnette, preferring to enjoy the lovely brine and taste of the sea.  To each his own.  I do savor the dash of color the red cup of cocktail sauce brings to this painting however.

January 24, 2015

"The Conversation"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
8" x 10"
2015
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I attended the blessing of the hounds this past Thanksgiving, across from St John's Episcopal church in Glyndon, Maryland.  It was a crisp morning with a fresh thin blanket of snow covering the field.  The foxhounds were frisky and anxious to be off.  I fancy this little guy was asking the hunt master "Is it time to go?"     


January 22, 2015

"Laura and Thor"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
6" x 8"
2015
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Last year was a particularly sad one with regard to our furry companions.  Aside from me losing my beloved JJ, many of my friends saw the demise of little loved ones.  
Thor, the world traveling Schnauzer, left us late last year.  He had been to Germany, San Juan, New York City and numerous other far away destinations in the company of his opera singing "parents."  Farewell, mighty Thor.  

"Amy Angel" study

Oil on linen mounted on board
6" x 8"
2015
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I have been sitting on this reference of model Amy since before the turn of the last century.  I laid it in and started to work on it and I felt that I just couldn't go on.  The image is so wonderfully late nineteenth century, so Bouguereau,  that I didn't think I could do it justice at the time.  Armed with the Zorn palette. I think I may be able to finish it now.  The little sketch above is my dipping a toe in the water.  It reminded me of the scene in H.G. Wells The Time Machine when George shows his friends the model of his invention:


Here it is

 

January 21, 2015

"Callie"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
8" x 10"
2015
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 This is Callie.  Sadly, she has gone to join the morning stars.  Her merry spirit lives on in this small piece. I have never before painted a Rottweiler.  Their fur is a myriad of changing hue.


January 20, 2015

"Yin and Yang"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
6" x 8"
2015
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These were some local oysters from the St James river, I think.  I really like the light on the empty cup.  I may have to play with some more empty shells in the future. 

January 16, 2015

"Teal Bands"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
8" x 10"
2015
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To paraphrase Professor Higgins - "By George, I think he's got it!"  I have finally figured out this daily painting thing.  Six new works in six days!  The daily paintings are meant, for me at least, to be a sort of warm-up exercise to start the day.  For the longest time I have treated them as more like small jewels than sketches, not that there is anything wrong with that.  The hours involved in some of the small but very complex works of the past didn't make fiscal sense and I lost my way.  This Harley painting is a case in point:

 

While the painting is lovely, I got very little for it, considering the hours spent on it.   This is one of those paintings that I wish I had kept for myself.  I have at last discovered that the joy of creation is in letting the paint speak for itself.  "That looks like a photograph." is not necessarily a good thing in this day and age of computers and Photoshop.  I want people to say - "That looks like a painting"

January 15, 2015

"Mika"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
6" x 8"
2015
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My fifth painting this week and my first papillon.



"Marti"

Oil on linen mounted on board
6" x 8"
2015
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I am trying to touch all the bases while my creative juices are flowing freely so I have been maneuvering from one genre to the next - oysters, dogs and cats and people, to keep it fresh and exciting.  It has been a while since I pushed flesh around and this little sketch allowed me to play with the limited "Zorn" palette again.  Laid down in about an hour, it was refreshing to paint something that was not too tedious.  It may not be the "Girl with the Pearl" but it was fun.

January 13, 2015

"Sherwood in a pool"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
8" x 10"

This is Sherwood.  I met him in Healdsburg CA last year. He was really sweet and loved the water of my friend's pool.  We were reacquainted last week in Palm Springs and I was reminded of this reference.  I wanted to try my hand at wet fur.  The painting is not this orange/red/yellow.  I seem to have lost my touch at white balancing.

January 12, 2015

"Oyster Shooter"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
6" x 6"
2015
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Day three of being back at the easel and the paint still feels good coming off the brush.  The key to daily painting is to not stop (duh).  I have often and often, on these pages and in my personal journals, bemoaned the dreaded artist's block and the cold start.  My goal this year is to not let that happen.  I am armed with many, many images stored away, so my quiver is full of arrows.  Hopefully most of them will hit the mark.
  
This oyster shooter was from an oyster bar in Portland Maine.  I tried not to get too fussy with the wood-grain.  I liked the way the sun played on it through the glass.  The piece has a lot of texture and I scratched and applied the highlights in the glass with the back of a brush. 

January 11, 2015

"Locking Horns"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
9" x 12"
2015
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Sadly today's painting didn't photograph well.  The subtle browns and greens went orange for some reason.  Oh well.  I may pick at this in the north light of the studio in the morning. Day two and I am still on track.  Woo hoo!


January 10, 2015

West Coast Oysters

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel  
 6" x 8"
2015
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2015?  Wow, what happened to 2014? ...and 2013, and 12, 11, 10, heck, the whole new millennium? My time on this ball grows short and I am sensing that it is time to start padding my oeuvre before it's too late.  So my New Year's resolution is to try and paint or draw something every day and to keep up with this blog.  I'm sorry that I have let you down over the past few years.  I know what you must be thinking - "Hey, it's already the 10th. What's up with that!"  Okay, I was in Palm Springs enjoying the warm weather.  Can you blame me?  It is 11˚ here in Maryland tonight.  Brrrr!   However, I'm back now and ready to push some paint!  Here's to a productive New Year!

October 8, 2014

"Blowing Bubbles in the Forest"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
8" x 10" 
2014
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October 2, 2014

"Another Foggy Afternoon on the Pont Alexander III Bridge"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
8" x 10" 
2014
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May 29, 2014

"Chelsea and Moxie"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
8" x 8"
2014

This is an earlier portrait of Moxie with her owner in happier days.  I was once again playing with the Zorn palette but felt the need for a little Prussian blue. Even Anders wasn't slavish to the limited palette at times.

May 28, 2014

"Moxie with green scarf"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
8" x 10"
2014

I'm sorry that I have been remiss in my blog duties lately.  I have done a few paintings in the last month or so but my mind has been focused on the declining health of my faithful companion and muse - JJ.  He was diagnosed with an abdominal mass in late March and we have been trying our best to keep him as comfortable as possible.  It is so sad to see him slipping away.  One bright spot - JJ has always wanted to go outside and we have found a way to allow him to stroll the grounds with us in safety using a cat harness.  He doesn't mind the harness and I'm happy to report he has found renewed vigor in the prospect of going for a walk. 

  Lately it seems my raison d'être is painting posthumous pet portraits.   It is certainly a compassionate and noble cause.   It is satisfying to know that my work can assuage someone's grief and create a lasting memorial.  This is Moxie.  She recently went to join the morning stars.

April 15, 2014

"Mike"

 
Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
6" x 6"
2014

I experimented with scale with this piece.  The painting is of Mike, the dearly departed tabby that belonged to my friend Ellen.  It is amazing how much presence this panel has for it's diminutive size.  His countenance can be felt from across the studio.

March 28, 2014

Renaissance Faerie Blowing Bubbles"


Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
8" x 8"
2014

I had fun with this painting of a faerie girl blowing bubbles at the Maryland Renaissance Festival.  As many of you know, I really get into the spirit when I go the the RenFest and always dress in period costume.   Indeed, it will surprise no one that I have more costumes than clothes hanging in my closet.  Sadly, most attendees to our Renaissance Fair are dressed more appropriately for a trip to the local Walmart than a trip back in time to jolly olde England in the 15th century.  It was a pleasure to remove mom in her stretch pants, pushing a stroller and dad in his Orioles tee shirt, etc., from behind this model.  The background certainly gives her a more celestial countenance.

March 25, 2014

'"Things are looking up"


Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
8" x 8"

My little studio companion in happier days.  I lost my Sammy last May.  A day doesn't go by that I don't think of him...or Vincent, or Theo, or China, or Titian, or Frankie...

March 20, 2014

"Laura and Miriam"


Oil on canvas
24" x 36"
2013

Those who have been frequent visitors to my blog may think that all I paint are small studies of animals and oysters.  Visitors to the studio get a different picture of the artist.  My work is actually quite varied in size and scope.  For example; all of the "Confetti Series", canvases portraying contemporary American fashion from the late 80's, were a massive 40" x 60".  Hung together at the Zenith Gallery in Washington, DC, they made quite a powerful statement.  The little panels have been an important bridge between series and a way for more people to have access to my work.  Of course selling tiny studies has not been without consequences.  The price of a complicated portrait is many many times more than an oil sketch that took a few hours.  I am having a hard time juggling the two.  I'd hate to give up the small work since the immediate pleasure of posting something new is more exciting than commission work where only you and the client see the finished painting.  Well...and all my Facebook friends usually get a peek.

March 18, 2014

"Do you like my toy?"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
2013
8" x 8"

Painted last year as part of the rescue series, this little pit bull puppy is looking for someone to play fetch.  The blue bandana adds a bit of needed color.

March 12, 2014

"Oyster, knife and block"


Oil on museum quality ampersand gessobord panel
2012  
6" x 8"
available

If some of these paintings look familiar it is because and I phasing out the "small paintings" blog and repopulating the work here.  That said, I have always liked this oyster painting and it has happily lived in the studio for two years but it is time to give it some air so I  am putting it and some other old friends up in my daily paintworks gallery. 


 

March 8, 2014

"Foggy Paris Afternoon"

 
Oil on museum quality ampersand gessobord panel
2014 
8" x 10"
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  The cupids and sea monsters that festoon this ornamental candelabra were produced by artist, H Gauquic.  There are four of these unique lamp posts located on the Pont Alexandre III bridge in Paris.  It was a particularly foggy autumn afternoon when I stood on the bridge and the Eiffel Tower in the distance was shrouded in mist. 
 

March 5, 2014

"Puss in Boots"


Oil on museum quality ampersand gessobord panel
2014
8" x 10"
 Last Wednesday I spent the entire day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  To say that I was invigorated would be an understatement.  Room after room, gallery after gallery of paintings from art history were there before my eyes.  Captivated by the bravado brushwork of artists whose work I thought I knew so well, I brought home to the studio a clear vision and renewed desire to splash around and show the paint like never before.  Today's painting gave me the opportunity to do just that. The subject is a marble figure of Puss in Boots, part of a monument to the author Charles Perrault located in Paris in the Tuileries Gardens. It was late autumn when this reference was taken and the bare ground and sparse greenery allowed for some fun brushwork behind the statue.  I hinted at a small carousel that was in the background for a bit of needed color.