Reoccurring themes and revisiting familiar subjects have been an artist's prerogative throughout history so who am I to go against tradition? I used this shell as a model a few months ago and was pleased with the result with the exception that it was perhaps too small. That painting "Victorian Nautilus Shell" was as much about the stand as it was the shell. In this iteration I let the shell take center stage. The little bit of verdigris stand showing was such a gas to paint that I may have to scrounge around for more old brass objets d'art to play with in the future.
June 29, 2008
June 27, 2008
Oil on linen mounted on birch wood panel - 6” x 8”
...but you can call me Cherry. Yesterday I said I hated the color orange and here I am using that color again. What's up with that? While I do have an issue with "pumpkin" orange, its spectral cousins I actually enjoy visiting my palette on occasion. Burnt Sienna, Venetian red, Cadmium red light - all welcome guests. Indeed, I don't think I could paint a portrait without their help. It was proposed that I make the background of this painting less solid and flat. I maintain that by contrasting the mottled brushwork of the fur and having painted it the hue of Cherry's chromatic complement, it takes on a contemporary, graphic quality. My question to you, gentle viewers is this - Without adding extraneous elements (i.e. pillows, walls, floors, etc.), do you think this painting is too stark? Would the addition of a gradient background, more brushwork or pulling some umber into the background add or detract from the piece? Let me know what you think.
June 26, 2008
Oil on museum quality, archival ampersand gessobord™ panel - 5” x 7”
I have never been a big fan of the color orange. I don't know what is is about that particular spectral wavelength that upsets me, but it does. It shouldn't - the official team colors of the Baltimore Orioles are black and orange. The colors of Harley-Davidson's ubiquitous bar and shield logo are black and orange. The colors of Halloween are black and orange. The only time I am comfortable with the color orange is when it is emanating from a huge pile of steamed crabs , hot boiled crawfish or a 2 pound Maine lobster waiting to be cracked open and it's succulent meat dipped in melted butter. There are a plethora of artists out there dining at the wine table, their labels painstakingly rendered with the utmost care and precision. I fear that I will never be mistaken for one of them. I choose a much freer approach and kept the painting loose and sketchy. After all, it is a daily painting.
June 23, 2008
Most men of my generation remember fondly the illustrations in the Playboy Advisor section of Playboy magazine by the iconic Patrick Nagel. (We read it for the articles, after all.) Nagel left us too early back in 1984 but he left a legacy of graphic images that are imprinted onto our very souls. I have lived happily with one of his silkscreens for many years. A friend recently sent me an image of her daughter that begged for the Nagel treatment. Stripping the image to its base elements, although second nature in the silkscreen process, is not intuitive when painting in oil. Doing this, however, allowed for a graphic image that harkened back to those lovely illustrations of my youth. Thank you, Patrick.
June 20, 2008
After all the organic subjects that I have been painting lately I thought some wine corks might be a fun change of pace. I assured my wife that this painting was a piece of cake and that it would be done at 10:00, 10:15 at the latest. I had scrubbed in the corks and I just needed to pop in the medallions and there it is. Well Cinderella is getting nervous about the ball at the point where I finally got around to putting the smile on Veuve Clicquot's Grande Dame. The clock in the studio is tolling midnight as I type this. Break out the champagne!
June 19, 2008
It may seem like I'm in a rut since I've been back in the studio - dog then seafood - seafood then dog. Fear not! I have no intention to paint crustaceans, mollusks, bivalves or any other sea creatures tomorrow. Of course I never plan these things. "What, never?" Well...hardly ever. Some days I wake up and everything is potential fodder for the daily paintings. I have a hundred compositions waiting in the wings. (Oh dear God, not another theatre metaphor) Other days those same images seem flat. (Here we go again with the self-doubt bull shit) I may have to paint dear little Anna, who is currently nestled in my lap, causing me to type with one hand. She looks like a furry Queen Elizabeth in her blue collar - very regal. We shall see. Tomorrow is another day.
June 17, 2008
Oil on museum quality, archival ampersand gessobord panel - 6" x 8"
Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? I sure do. Here in Baltimore we have steamed blue crabs, which I love, but when I'm in New Orleans, put 5 pounds of boiled crawfish in front of me along with a couple of Dixie long necks and I'm in heaven. I tried to have a bit of fun with this piece. Once again I started with a black gessoed panel and reduced the elements to their essentials. Shape and color take center stage with form playing a minor role. The bay leaf supernumerary enjoyed a mute but important part in the production. Crawfish don't taste nearly as good as when eaten off the latest edition of the New Orleans Times Picayune.
June 15, 2008
Oil on archival ampersand gessobord panel - 6" x 6"
I know what you are thinking - "So this is it?! We've waited two weeks for this?! WTF!!"
When you have been away from the easel as long as I have you want to come back nice and easy so as not to get frustrated. I have had dear little Elfie in the queue for a very long time. She may not be Champion O'neill's Elf-girl of Baltimore, but to my friend Deb she is mistress of the house and protector of her domicile. She may not look like much but you should have seen her before she was rescued. I have a soft spot for strange looking creatures. Speaking of which, I am trying to type this with my 18 years old Siamese Anna on my lap. She has had a very tough week. An abscess sent her to the veterinarian last week and she had to have some serious surgery to remove a large patch of dead tissue - no small feat for an old cat. Both front paws have been shaved for the IV's and half her hind quarters. On top of that she has on an Elizabethan collar to prevent her from biting the 5" of stitches - making her look like a lamp. She is very unhappy and embarrassed but doing well. JJ went lame in mid May and was misdiagnosed with a torn ligament. It turns out that it is some sort of neurological problem. He is walking around the studio like Quasimoto and we still don't know the answer. That is why I haven't had the heart to paint. That and I have had the tooth ache from hell, the antibiotics for which have knocked me out. The tooth comes out on Friday - yippee. Though the composition was simple, I had fun with the brushwork on this painting. I have something more intricate planned for tomorrow - no, really.
June 12, 2008
By now I'm certain that even my loyal followers have given up on this blog. Traveling, even for pleasure, is not conducive to creative production. Illness is worse and worrying about sick pets can be devastating to creativity. I'm dealing with all these and more at present. Life just seems to get in the way of art. I have new respect for my creative brothers and sisters who seem to work through adversity. My mind doesn't work that way. I guess I am too sensitive for my own good. Perhaps that is why I chose this artists life, or did it choose me?