October 8, 2014

"Blowing Bubbles in the Forest"

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

October 2, 2014

"Another Foggy Afternoon on the Pont Alexander III Bridge"

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

May 29, 2014

"Chelsea and Moxie"

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

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"

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


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

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"

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"

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
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
6" x 8"

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
8" x 10"
  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
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.

February 11, 2014

Today's Tuesday Tip - "Framing"

This is not going to be a hands-on lesson in proper framing technique. The framing of artwork is a highly personal thing.  Some artists like minimal containment and some take a more over-the-top approach.  I fall into the later group.  I am what you might call a frame fetishist.

 I have lived in the Baltimore metro area most of my life and I have walked the hollowed halls of the Baltimore Museum of Art often and often.  The Cone collection is a particular favorite of mine.  It is renowned for its early 20th century works by Picasso, Braque, Matisse and their followers.  When then BMA Director Arnold Lehman and Deputy Director Brenda Richardson, who supervised the 1986 renovation of the museum's Cone Wing, decided to jettison the ornately carved gilt frames put on by Gertrude Stein and the Cone sisters in favor of modern strip frames, thinking that "of course the artists surely meant for them to be presented in a more modern simple frame."  The hue and cry was deafening.  I was leading the cheer when in 1999 new director Doreen Bolger returned the paintings to their original  frames which had mercifully been preserved for such an occasion. I Don't think every work of art should be framed to the extreme. Indeed much of my early work is stripped with lattice or simple aluminum but sometimes an overblown big honking frame is called for.

Here is an example of my penchant for the extreme.  We bought this diminutive watercolor by reclusive Smith Island artist Reuben Becker years ago.  The charming little painting is just 4" x 4".

watercolor by Reuben Becker 4" x 4"  1992

However, after we had our way with it, the painting garnered some respect with it's filigree lined mat and hefty gilt frame.

Another example is a piece done by Baltimore artist Steve Waugh.

watercolor by Steve Waugh  3 1/2" x 4"  1987

Too much, you say?  Maybe, but that's the way, uh huh, uh, huh,
I like it.

February 7, 2014

Friday Flashback - "Dancer and Mime"

Oil on Canvas
28" x 42"
circa 1982

This was painted in the heyday of the mime series back in the early eighties while I was working with movement arts majors Chris Millard and Vince Valenti. In the dance room of what is now Towson University the boys and I were taking a break when in walked a friend of Chris's, a good friend, by the look of it, and they began, er, interacting.  I grabbed my camera as he grabbed her and I got some beautifully composed images in less than five minutes. This stable pose became known as the "Adams triangle," which was oft repeated within my theatre oeuvre.

January 21, 2014

Today's Tuesday Tip - "A hole in the wall"

One of my new year's resolutions is to be better about keeping up with my blog(s).  I'm just getting around to this but better late than never.  (I'm also trying to lose weight and exercise and you know how that goes.)  Today's tip is about surrounding yourself with beautiful things and overcoming the fear of putting holes in your wall.  Maybe you don't have that fear at all.  My dad instilled it in me when, as a young budding artist, I wanted to tack drawings up in my room.  "NO, NO, NO!" he shouted.  He said I could use tape but what good is that for paintings?  His solution was to hang a 4' x 8' sheet of Upson board on the wall with molly bolts!   (So much for not putting holes in his precious wall.)  Now I was free to tack up drawings, paintings, invitations and miscellaneous inspirational detritus to my heart's content and I did.  As a grown man I have learned that there is nothing you can do to a wall that can't be undone with Spackle or plaster.  My house is a testament to that.  The Victorians would have been impressed with the sheer volume of art hanging in my house - both mine and others. 

Still, we all have something too precious to mar.  For me it was my mahogany bar.  I have had an antique brass lion plaque stored away for years.  It is gorgeous, weighs 25 lbs and is perfect for the end of my bar in the studio.  You heard that right - I have a bar in my studio.  One that would be the envy of many an Irish Pub, though alas, no Guinness on tap.  The end panel of the bar was beautiful in its simplicity yet was crying out for the lion.  That meant drilling  holes in it to support the weight of the plaque.  Spackle might fix plaster but glossy wood is another story.  I finally screwed myself up (no pun intended) to do it and I am glad I did.

Moral of the story - Just do it!  Hang that art that has been leaning up against the wall, thrown on a shelf or stuck in the basement.  Surround yourself with beautiful things.  You will feel better for it.  The gallery that I worked for years ago had a saying - "One can live as long without art as with it, but not so well."  Words to live by.

January 17, 2014

Friday Flashback - "Red Glove"

"Red Glove"  Oil on panel  8" x 12"  1998

Many years ago, a friend came to dinner and causally threw her coat and gloves on a chair by the door.  Later, when it was time for her to leave, she noticed one of her gloves had gone missing.  The fur and leather glove had proved too tempting to one of the resident Siamese that prowled the studio at the time. Most likely China, the kleptomaniac, who was known to go into purse and pocket, box and bag to find treasures, had whisked it away.  After a futile search, my friend shrugged and tossed the remaining glove to her and her companions and said "Have fun."   I painted the glove as a token of thanks for her generosity but somehow we lost touch. The painting hung for years in the dining room with one glove hanging over the frame, the fickle cats having lost all interest in it.  I think we may have found the glove's mate in a lonely corner of the basement when we moved.

December 23, 2013


"Georgia"  6" x 8"  oil on panel  2013

November 1, 2013

Friday Flashback - "Manon" (in progress)

"Manon"  oil on canvas  40" x 60"  2002

As some of you may know, I have been painting theatrical images off and on for many years.  I came by it honestly.  My uncles on my mother's side, John and F. Robert Lehmeyer, were instrumental (no pun intended) in seeing that I was brought up with an appreciation of fine art and classical music.  John was a nationally known operatic director and Rob, aside from his scholarly work as a German Professor, was an accomplished musician, orchestral conductor and operatic translator with more than a dozen published translations.  I, too, contemplated a career in the theater, as a scenic artist.  I never followed that path, as far as joining the union, etc., but I did a lot of local community theatre work as well as work for the Peabody Opera.  I was a supernumerary, back in 1985, during the Baltimore Opera Company's production of La Bohème where I was able to sketch and photograph during rehearsals.  One learned how to paint fast and free backstage, as the carpenters usually didn't finish building the flats and set pieces until three or four days before the curtain went up. You really had to toss the paint!  It's ironic that my work has gotten smaller and smaller as the years go by. Both my uncles are gone and I, alas, am no longer very involved in the theatre.  I sometimes miss the excitement.  I do still have a penchant for the theatrical, at least in my personal life.

October 31, 2013

"Blue Dog"

"Blue Dog"   8" x 8"   Oil on panel  2013

The SPCA is packed with pit bull terriers. Not because they are bad dogs, but because the breed has been deemed "dangerous" by the Maryland State legislators.  Oh, wait...I think I was recently on this soapbox. 
I had a hard time thinking of a name for this painting.  Sadly, I hadn't noted this pup's name when I was there but his soulful eyes speak volumes.  I'm sure he is wondering, "Where am I?  What's happening?  Where are mom and dad?"  Poor boy.  I call it "Blue Dog" because he is sad and blue.  He brought to mind a brown version of George Rodrigue's Blue Dog paintings:
 In the end, his expressive eyes named the piece for me.  If you're not familiar with the story of the Blue Dog, he's on a quest to get back to his owner.  This pit was on a quest to find his perfect family -- one I hope he's achieved.

October 17, 2013

"La Chien-Fleur"

"La Chien Fleur"   8" x 8"   Oil on Panel    2013

 While painting this pooch wearing an Elizabethan collar, I was reminded of two iconic images.  One was of Marilyn Monroe with her skirt blowing up from the 1955 movie The Seven Year Itch.

The other was Picasso's painting of his lover, Françoise Gilot portrayed as a flower in La Femme-Fleur.

October 11, 2013

Friday flashback - "Connoisseur"

"Connoisseur"  40" x 60"  Oil on canvas  1985

Today's flashback is an early painting from my late eighties "Confetti" series.   I was fascinated by fashion in my formative years and had aspirations of becoming a fashion illustrator.  This collection of collage-like images, all 40" x 60",  flirted with neo-pop and appropriationism.  I learned a lot about the portrayal of luscious fabrics, exotic animal skins, rhinestones and beautiful women from this experience.  I also learned that I hate lettering!  If there is a hell, I'm sure it has a spot in its calligraphy department waiting for me.

October 7, 2013

"Scared Puppy"

"Scared Puppy"  6" x 8"  Oil on panel  2013

Last week I started a series of paintings dealing with the sad plight of animals in need of a loving home.   There are scores of blogs and rescue group sites out here in cyberspace that could state their cases more eloquently, so I won't go into a long verbal diatribe about the thoughtless idiots who surrender their pets with lame excuses like, "My girlfriend didn't like him," or "He got too big," or "We moved and can't take her."  Don't get me started with the poor pit-bulls, which are turning up in shelters in alarming numbers because the good folks in Annapolis have deemed the breed too dangerous to own.  Landlords are forcing pit-bull owners in Maryland to give up their dogs or move because they are afraid of litigation. Not too long ago it was Dobermans, then it was German Shepherds.  My daughter had a pit-bull named Ginger and she was the sweetest dog ever.  I never lost a minute's sleep fearing for the safely of my two young granddaughters.  Indeed, I felt much safer knowing Ginger was there to protect them.  This little guy at the SPCA seemed reluctant to pose.

October 1, 2013

Today's Tuesday Tip - "Beautiful Things"

Have you noticed how cheaply things are made these days?  We had an impromptu cherry pie party last week and I bought some red glass Christmas ornaments to fill pie plates as part of the centerpieces. At least that is what I thought I bought.  When I spilled them into the plates, they made an odd sound. They just felt wrong.  On closer inspection I first noticed the seam, then the paint on some of them was sort of wrinkled. Gasp,  they were made of plastic!!   Has it come to this?!  Of course they were made in China, as so much is these days, but I paid as much as I used to pay for the hand blown ones from Germany.  Are our children and grandchildren never going to know the joy of quality craftsmanship?  Alas, I fear it may be so.  Not too long ago, I ordered a gross of faceted purple, green and gold Mardi Gras beads from a company I have dealt with for years; the Mardi Gras Annex. The difference in what was delivered this time and the beads I had ordered just 10 years ago was startling.  The paint was thin and poorly applied and the beads were badly formed.  It is this way with everything!  I challenge you to find a new quality potato peeler, can opener or spatula.  It is impossible.

All that said, I try to surround myself  with things that are not only functional but beautiful and well made.  A case in point:  I have a wonderful clip on my easel to hold my reference photos.  I could have nailed a wooden clothespin on it to serve the same purpose but this beautiful brass clip, from the Kaltenbach and Stephens Manufacturing Company, reminds me that quality and beauty will endure when the disposable crap around us is long gone.

September 30, 2013

"SPCA Kitty"

"SPCA Kitty"  Oil on panel  6" x 8"  2013

I recently attended a function at the Baltimore SPCA called "Wine and Wags."  I thought it might be a good opportunity to capture some new reference for the blog, as every breed imaginable would be there carousing the dog runs.  It actually was a little too much kinetic happiness, as the frenzied pups dashed back and forth and played with their new found friends.  What I did find was a much sadder tale inside the facility.  Staring back from cages and enclosures were the forlorn faces of people's abandoned pets looking for love. It broke my heart to see these sad little kitties and hear their cries pleading for affection. Don't get me wrong, they are being well cared for at the SPCA and it is a no kill facility so, with luck, they will soon find a new family to love them.  

September 11, 2013

"Oysters at the Hon Bar"

"Oysters at the Hon Bar"  Oil on panel  5" x 5"  2013

Jonathan Swift said: “He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.”  True enough, and I thank him and his bravery, for he paved the way for a life time of enjoyment and fascination with these delicious creatures.  Actually, it was my father who introduced me to oysters.  Dad worked for the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company and was a Legionnaire as well.    It seemed to me growing up that, between September and April, he was always going to some sort of Bull and Oyster Roast.  I remember vividly the day he handed me a rough shell with this slimy grey glob and bade me try it.  At 10 years of age, I was up to the challenge, but with little guidance I just let it slip down without chewing and the whole culinary experience was lost on me.  "Like having a bad cold" was probably my response.  At 60, I have bushels under my belt. (Sadly, this is a literal statement.)

September 10, 2013

Today's Tuesday Tip - "Blue-Jean Scrap Paint Blotters"

When I am working on a painting, I find that having a blotter to wipe my brushes is quite handy.  Old tee shirt rags are all well and good and also near at hand, but being able to wipe off copious amounts of paint quickly and (somewhat) neatly is helpful to keeping the creative process flowing.  When I wear-out a pair of jeans, I dissect the garment into long squares of folded fabric which acts as a blotter for paint and turps. When one side is dirty I fold it over and over and over until there is no clean side left.  I have been known to use a folded paper towel on top if I am really throwing the paint around.

August 27, 2013

Today's Tuesday Tip - "The Masters" Brush Cleaner and Preserver

For years I've been using this stuff  to clean my brushes.  I blush to admit that more than once I have let my wet brushes sit longer than I should and have had to work doubly hard to bring them back to life.  This product is a Godsend to absent-minded or just plain lazy artists.  You can also leave it on as a final shaping aid to re-point those fine sables.  According to "The Masters" Brush Cleaner and Preserver website: "Just wet the brush and work up a lather on the hard cake. Even old, hardened oil paint brushes can be restored to their original snap and luster. Brush Cleaner and Preserver works on most acrylics and watercolors, too. It gives off no harmful fumes or odors, and it's safe for use in the classroom or studio."  

I'm not so sure about their claim that it can remove "old, hardened paint," but it certainly works on brushes that have been drying for a day or two.  The photo above is a container that I have had for over 15 years (!) so don't let the price stop you since it seems to last forever.  It also comes in smaller 2 5/8 oz cakes for about 5 bucks.

August 26, 2013

"Oysters on a black plate"

Oil on panel  8" x 8"  2013

My love affair with oysters continues unabated.  These local beauties, born and bred in the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay, were presented here in all their splendor by master shucker, George Hastings, at the Hon Bar in Hampden, Maryland. They were darn tasty, too!

August 23, 2013

Friday flashback - "Mardi Gras Masks"

"Mardi Gras Masks"  Oil on panel 11" x 14" (approx)  date unknown

This is another one of those paintings that came and went very quickly.  I choose this piece for today's flashback since I had taken a photograph of the set-up for this still life, which will shed some light, pun intended, on how I staged this.  Enjoy.

August 20, 2013

Today's Tuesday Tip - the "OptiVISOR"

The device at present around my head is known as an "OptiVISOR."  It has interchangeable lenses available in focal lengths from 4" to 20" and costs about $50 depending on the lens.  I use a #5 lens which has an 8" focal length good for 2.5 times magnification.  This piece of equipment is invaluable in the studio, especially if you work on small tight paintings as I do.  It is also good for removing splinters, fixing broken jewelry, reading the fine print or whatever.  I often have a brush stuck behind each ear through the loop which gives me the odd appearance of one of Picasso's fauns.

August 16, 2013

Friday Flashback - "Cubist Dancers"

"Cubist Dancers"  Oil on canvas 1977

This cubist pas de deux surprised even me.  I recently received an e-mail from a man in Florida who attached an image of a painting that I had totally forgotten I had done.  In the old days, before the advent of digital photography, I kept a seldom-used 35mm Canon FTB camera loaded with slide film to record my paintings for posterity.  I would usually wait until I had a critical mass of 6 or 7 paintings before I would set up the studio lights to shoot them.  Occasionally a few slipped through the cracks due to someone coming to the studio and buying a wet canvas, no film in the camera, pure laziness on my part, etc.  Such was the case with this piece.  The cubist movement has always fascinated me and I was flirting with the concepts of analytic cubism a lot back in the 70's.   This kinetic work clearly had futurist inspiration with a nod to Marcel Duchamp's "Nu descendant un escalier n° 2" as evidenced by the upward movement of the dancer's leg.

August 9, 2013

Friday Flashback - "St. Sebastian"

"St. Sebastian"  oil on canvas  38" x 54"  1976

I'm fairly certain that most of you have never seen this painting.  It has lived in Birmingham, Alabama for the past 33 years.  I don't know why I refer to this piece as "St. Sebastian," as I am nowhere near sainthood in my personal life and I am not shown here martyred:  bound to a tree and pierced with arrows. It is probably just the light on the torso that makes me think of him.  Actually, this work is more of an allegorical time capsule.  Contemplate this Escheresque concept:  the canvas in the background is the canvas on which the painting was painted.  I vividly remember every little artifact on the shelves and floor, from the stale rum-soaked fruitcake in its foil wrapper to the ecology button just below it to the record albums (remember those?) used to fuel the creative furnace.  I modeled for myself a lot back then, when I was young and fair.  I am more suited to portray Sir John Falstaff or Bacchus these days.  *sigh*
"And then the [artist],
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part." 
Here is an annotated version of the painting:

August 7, 2013

"Lucky Dog"

'Lucky Dog"  Oil on Panel  6" x 8"  2013

This is one of those paintings that, no matter how hard I tried, just didn't come together.  Weak reference, bad lighting and trying to force that 50's Formica table in led to this.  Oh well.   I'm posting this to show you that we all have bad days at the easel. Sorry, Lucky Dog.  

Perhaps I was thinking more about this lucky dog.

August 6, 2013

Today's Tuesday Tip - "Old Brushes"

It has been firmly established that I am a compulsive saver. Things that most normal people would have long ago tossed in the bin I hold onto in hopes of finding new purposes for.  A case in point is old brushes.  Many non-artist types would look at these worn out nubs and think they are totally useless - au contraire mon frere!  For a painter of animals, these are instrumental (no pun intended) in creating the effects of fur and feather.  You can't buy these either.  They are created over time and are thus very precious.  Think twice before you throw that old brush out.  I am currently working on a painting of a venerable Jack Russell terrier, whose wiry, aging fur would have been very difficult to paint without the benefit of my old friends here.  You'll see it posted tomorrow.

August 2, 2013

Friday Flashback - "Motorcycle helmet, boots and gloves"

"Motorcycle helmet, boots and gloves"  22" x 16"  Oil on canvas  1998

Done from life back in 1998, this still life typified my other passion - riding.   

July 31, 2013

"Penny with floppy ears"

"Penny with floppy ears"  6" x 8"  Oil on Panel  2013

I had a go at painting Penny in May of 2012 but she is such an expressive model that I just had to paint her again.  Her eyes would be the envy of Cleopatra and her black headband sets those soulful peepers off with great effect.  Here's looking at you, kid.