October 26, 2008

Heading South

I'm riding the bike down to Key West for Halloween and some inspiration.  I'll be back on the 4th so don't look for any new work until shortly after then.  Happy Halloween!

October 23, 2008

"Oyster Shell with Lemons"

Oil on museum quality, archival ampersand gessobord™ panel - 6” x 8”

I threw my back out yesterday, which put the "pain" in painting.  I stand while I work and every time I twisted from my easel to my palette, which is on a converted music stand, it was electrifying.  I guess being 55 is starting to take its toll.  I may try and paint something simple today and hold the palette in my hand.  I am riding my Harley on a 1200 mile ride down to the Florida Keys, leaving Sunday, so I want to baby my back until then.  To that end, there will be no new daily paintings from 10-25 thru 11-5. "Please don't talk about me when I'm gone."  On second thought, talk all you want.  It is better to be looked over, than overlooked.

October 20, 2008


Oil on museum quality, archival ampersand gessobord™ panel - 6” x 8”

I recently attended a party at the farm of some friends. They have quite a varied menagerie; llamas, a kangaroo, a wallaroo, goats, sheep, chickens, a pig and cats, lots and lots of cats.  I had never been face to face with a live llama.  My introduction to them was from Dr. Dolittle's Pushme-Pullyu, so you can image my surprise at seeing that they only had one head.  I also expected them to spit like camels, but one gave my friend Tom a kiss without so much as a little drool. I was impressed with these sweet creatures.

This just in:  I got an e-mail this morning from my friend Marsharee who tells me I have painted "motley blue". Llamas put their ears back at half mast like that when being a bit cautious and first meeting someone new, so this is his "hmmm, let me see what I think of you" face and ears.

October 19, 2008


Oil on museum quality, archival ampersand gessobord™ panel - 8” x 10”

Last weekend two dear friends, Laura and Miriam, were staying at the studio.  Both girls are aspiring opera singers living in New York.  They asked me if it would be OK for them to bring their Miniature Schnauzer, Thor, with them.  Hitherto my cats JJ and Anna had never had a canine houseguest, so I was naturally apprehensive but acquiesced.  My fears, it turned out, were groundless.  Thor, who lives in harmony, or at least detente, with a cat in the Big Apple, was not interested in my guys and JJ and Anna spent most of the weekend upstairs on the bed keeping a prudent distance.  They never really met nose to nose, so I still don’t know what my guys think about dogs.  At least they weren’t freaked out. They were more nervous about Laura’s morning vocal warm up exercises, which Thor is quite accustomed to.  Not so with my childhood dog Emily.  My father was a proud member of the American Legion and one chilly Sunday he took my sisters and me downtown for the Washington’s Birthday celebration. Also along for the ride was our pet beagle, Emily.  It being February and as little kids are wont to do, we started complaining about the cold.  We sought solace in a cathedral where a recital was going on.  Since we had Emily with us, dad snuck her in under his coat and we all slipped up the back stairs to the balcony.  A soprano was giving her all to “God Bless America” when Emily decided it was time for her Kate Smith imitation, Beagle style.  I must say that even without warming up vocally, Emily could reach the high notes, though her phasing could have used some work.  Needless to say we made a hasty retreat. That was the end of Emily’s singing career, at least for an audience. 

  While I had this handsome canine in house, I availed myself of his modeling services.  I was cautioned by the girls that he was desperately in need of a haircut. So here is Thor.  You may see him backstage at the Met someday, waiting patiently for his mistress(es) to return from the limelight.

October 15, 2008

"Piper's Work of Art"

Oil on museum quality, archival ampersand gessobord™ panel - 6” x 6”

Oh My God!  I know what you're thinking - "Mark has sunk to painting puppies and kittens!" What's next - Dogs playing poker?  This is no mere puppy.  He is the offspring of Champion Piper's Will Power and Piper's Felony Indictment.  His formal name is Piper's Work of Art though his friends call him Artie for short, and short he is, being about six weeks old.  You can watch him grow into the Champion he is sure to become at http://piperspuppies4u.com/

October 13, 2008

JJ Sleeping

Oil on museum quality, archival ampersand gessobord™ panel - 6” x 8”

JJ has the ability to make me laugh even when times are tough.  He seems to know instinctively when I'm down and this position always produces a smile.  He has been striking this pose since the day we brought him in. This deferential stance is what won Anna over.  It says "Hey, I'm not here to cause any trouble, I just really want a tummy rub."  Have you ever known a cat to sleep on his back?

October 9, 2008


Oil on museum quality, archival ampersand gessobord™ panel - 8” x 8”

This is Sam, or should I say was Sam.  Sam died last July 30th at the age of 14-1/2. He was diagnosed with cancer of the mouth when he was 10.  His owner was told that half of his jaw needed to be removed but she couldn't do it since the prognosis was that he would only live another 12 months even with the surgery.  She ended up taking him to a conventionally trained Cornell vet who practiced homeopathy too.  With a simple cryosurgery procedure and Chinese herb treatments, he lived another 4-1/2 years and is now one of very few documented canine cancer successes.  It was heart failure that finally took him out.   The original reference was of him sitting on a garden bench in the bright sun.  I chose to let my inner fashion illustrator come out and gave Sam the Richard Avedon/Irving Penn grey-seamless treatment.  His fuzzy free spirit is thus unencumbered by all the extraneous, distracting elements. 

October 8, 2008

"Piper's Felony Indictment"

Oil on museum quality, archival ampersand gessobord™ panel - 6” x 8”

Do you remember when you were in elementary school and you were out sick with the measles for a week?  You hated going back to class because you would be behind all the other kids and would have to catch up with the lessons.  The measles were not much fun but it was cool having your own private mini vacation.  I sometimes look at vacations like that.  They may be enjoyable, but the dreaded "cold start" awaits me in the studio.  I toyed with the idea of simplifying the blanket in this piece but I kind of like the wild animal aspect of it and the fluidity of dog and pattern.  Felony is another of Anne Stark's champion whippets.

October 1, 2008

a little R&R

I will be away from the studio for a few days.  No, I haven't checked into artistic rehab.  This was some planned R&R "downy Ohshin" as we say in Balwmer.  I actually came through this last bout of artistic malaise fairly quickly, with the sage advice of my fellow artists.  Thanks to all who commiserated with me. I am looking forward to getting back to work on Saturday.  My opening in Berkley Springs is Friday night, which also is an ego boost.