March 31, 2008

"Red and Yellow Peppers"

Oil on museum quality 1/8th"ampersand Gessobord panel - 6" x 6"

What can I say about the pepper? Beautiful, flavorful, essential ingredient in the cuisine of so many countries. I don’t think a day goes by without them passing my lips in one form or another. Of course, in my case it would be the smaller, hotter cousins - the Jalapeño and the habanero. As my friends will attest; "Scoville" is my middle name. It was good fun painting this piece. The reds reflecting off the yellow and vise versa kept me engaged and enthraled. For such a small painting it packs a lot of punch, even from across the studio. I’ve been digging the red paint lately. I wonder if that is meaningful?

March 30, 2008

"Pacific Cod" deja vu

Oil on archival, museum quality, 1/8” Ampersand Gessobord™ panel – 6” x 6”

I know what my regular blog readers are thinking; WTF, I’ve seen this painting before. Well yes, you have, but I did this painting before hooking up with and this is the only way I can get it into my gallery and still have people comment on it without having them search for it. OK, I didn’t get into the studio today, but then you knew that. C'est la vie.

March 28, 2008

"Victorian Nautilus Shell"

Oil on archival, museum quality, 1/8” Ampersand Gessobord™ panel – 5" x 7"

Ah, the Nautilus! I’ve been told that I have the body of a God. Sadly the God they had in mind was Buddha. In a fit of madness, I bought a home Nautilus machine to try to change that perception. Anyone who knows me well knows I wouldn’t run out of a burning house, much less jog, so this purchase was ill-fated from the start. As you can guess, it did yeoman’s duty as a clothes hanger before I finally found it a good home with a health conscience friend. Suffice it to say, I am content to look like Balzac for the time being. My other anomaly is that although I loathe boats, I have a fascination for submarines. When I was a lad in grade school, I had a Nautilus lunch box. The Nautilus was our first nuclear attack sub, launched in 1954. It was also Captain Nemo’s ship in Jules Verne’s tale 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. I have never been on a sub under sea although I have been on the USS Torsk which arrived in Baltimore to serve as a museum and memorial in 1972. So there it is...more insight into this artist.

March 27, 2008

"Sleeping Nude"

Oil on archival, museum quality, 1/8” Ampersand Gessobord™ panel – 8" x 8"

It’s been a while since I played with a little nude. {;-)> I miss my old palette knife more than ever. Painting flesh requires lots of color mixing. If anyone out there has an old Japanese Loew-Cornell 41F palette knife they’d be willing to part with, let me know.

Painting the figure on such a small scale is challenging to say the least. I tried not to get fussy with this piece; oops, too late. I have more respect than I already had for Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Vermeer and Jean Leon Gerome this morning. Miniature painters are a mad bunch.

March 26, 2008

"Oyster, Shell and Lemon"

Oil on archival, museum quality, 1/8” Ampersand Gessobord™ panel – 6” x 6”

These beauties were shucked at the Acme Oyster House in New Orleans. The lovely marble bar works well with the alabaster shell and soft flesh of the oyster. I took a few liberties refecting the hints of blue in the bar.

Back in February, twenty-six–year-old violin virtuoso David Garrett fell down a flight of stairs and landed on his violin case, which held a priceless Stradivarius. The violinist wasn’t badly hurt, but his instrument was not so lucky; upon opening the case, he found the violin in pieces. I had a similar experience recently. Well, perhaps not quite as devastating as crushing a priceless Stradivarius but just as debilitating to this artist; my palette knife finally gave up the ghost and broke from metal fatigue after 40 years of faithful service. Much has changed since I bought that first knife. As my painting brethren can tell you, mixing paint is crucial to a successful work of art. The feel and spring of a good palette knife becomes second nature. My dear old knife was Japanese. Its fine blade had the perfect shape, thinness and spring for the job. Although I did manage to find a close approximation of the shape, the new blade is Italian and is thicker than its predecessor. The spring is all wrong. I may have to try and find an old one on eBay.

In the words of Joni Mitchell -

“Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t know what you’ve got

Till it's gone”

March 24, 2008


Oil on oil primed linen panel - 6"x 8"

I am back from Birmingham for a while. Being away from the easel for a week is scary. I have always suffered from cold starts; that feeling that you have somehow forgotten how to paint. My friend Stephanie has a beautiful Maine Coon named Leo. He was the perfect subject to get me back in the saddle.

March 16, 2008

Brief hiatus

Sadly, I must take a break from painting and posting. I am headed to Birmingham to help with my dear Uncle Bob's convalescence. Back in a week (maybe) I'll leave you with this painting I did of him back in 76; the finished portrait of the English Horn Player.

Oil on canvas - 1976 - 30" x 40"

March 14, 2008

"Mardi Gras Masks"

I painted this a while ago as a birthday gift for a friend. Many of you know that New Orleans is my adopted second home and a place I visit with some frequency. We are headed down there next month, Whoo, hoo! Anyway, this painting was given away wet and very few people saw it, so here it is. "Laissez les bons temps rouler!"

March 11, 2008

"Handcuffs and Chaps"

Oil on archival, museum quality, ampersand 1/8” gessobord™ panel - 8" x 8"

I was challenged recently to create something more dark and intriguing than my normal still life subjects of oysters and alcohol. I thought these iconic bracelets might fit the bill. This fashion jewelry may soon the new bling of New York Governors and Cy Young award winning Major league pitchers. At over $1000 an hour, it is possible that Mr. Spitzer has had some experience with these already, if you catch my drift, nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Since I ride a Harley, black leather is my everyday wear, so I am very familiar with that texture, and handcuffs are chrome, so they were no real stretch either. The cuffs are resting on my riding chaps. I like the reflected blues and the slightly chipped chrome of the cuffs hints at the warm metal underneath. I wasn’t sure about the marriage of brass buckle and chrome cuffs, but the interplay of warm and cold seems to work.I don’t know why but my mind wandered back to Burl Ives singing “Silver and Gold” from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. He seemed to be telling me it was OK to put them together. My brain is like my basement – full of boxes of weird lost stuff. It is fun to occasionally open a box and be sent back in time. My wife doesn’t buy this "time travel" theory and threatens a to get a Roll-off dumpster whenever I leave on a bike trip. I always look for the tracks on the lawn when I return home.

March 10, 2008

"Loaves and Fishes - part 2"

Oil on archival, museum quality, ampersand 1/8” gessobord™ panel – 6’ x 6”

I loved these baguettes piled up like cord wood at the farmers market in Paris. The smell of fresh baked bread was intoxicating. It must be the coming of spring and Easter that made me think of pairing these paintings. I’m certain Saint Mark didn’t have this in mind as an illustration for his story of Jesus feeding thousands of his followers on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Did they have baguettes back then? If you wish to refresh your memory on the story; today’s lesson begins in Mark 6:30-44. (Isn't the internet a wonderful thing?)

This is how I envisioned them hanging together:

But I am selling them separately, for secular reasons.
(I could use the dough...I need a few fins...bread is always good)

Thus ends the lesson for today.

March 8, 2008

"Loaves and fishes - part 1"

Oil on archival, museum quality, ampersand 1/8” gessobord™ panel – 6’ x 6”

Don’t look too closely at this painting as it isn’t quite finished. I didn’t want another day to go by without posting something new. This piece is part of a diptych called “Loaves and fishes”. Could it be that my religious upbringing is coming to the fore? Perhaps, I was an acolyte for four years, in my youth. Look for the second part tomorrow.

March 6, 2008

Sails, sales, soldes

Click here to bid on this painting

Oil on museum quality, archival 1/8" ampersand gessobord panel - 6" x 6"

I set sail on this daily painting odyssey almost 4 months ago and though life sometimes intruded into this adventure, a lot of creativity happened along the way, both process and product. As I trimmed my canvas and picked up speed, I started gathering faithful devotees to the site who anxiously awaited my latest work of art. What a wonderful thing to have art groupies. The downside of this is that I hate to disappoint them on days when it doesn’t flow from the hand or I am working on larger projects. Months before I was accepted into the daily painters, I painted some fun things, many of which have left the building. Those that remained had no more audience than my friends and the occasional visitor to the studio. On the days that I am working on a commission, a larger piece for a show, or just plain don’t get one done; I am going to repost these orphans for my daily painter patrons to more easily view. I promise not to abuse this. There are only a handful of these lonely panels left in the studio. Shamed to be left behind, the last picked for the volley ball team in gym class, they long to find a wall to call their own and to hang with their own kind. I am going to put these waifs on eBay to try and find them a loving home.

I can’t believe I used a sailing metaphor to begin this entrée, everyone knows I loath sailing. Perhaps it was having a “sale” of my remaining panels that put it in my head. My wife and I found ourselves in Paris a few years ago in January. Why would anyone go to Paris in January when April and May are available? We were there celebrating my friends 50th birthday. Unbeknownst to us, Janvier is the month when the stores all have their winter sales. As we strolled through the Odeon, window shopping, we thought it odd that shops would put merchandise in the windows that was already sold. We eventually figured out that “solde” is French for “sale” and not some cruel, perverse joke played on the consumer as a reminder to shop early.

It’s “neat” that I didn’t use puns like; my hopes were dashed “on the rocks” or that I was “smokin’” – I thought about it.

By way of a long voyage, with the wind at my back, I give you once again – “Boston Legal” (November 2007 blog entry)

March 4, 2008

"Drink Naked"

Oil on archival, museum quality 1/8" ampersand gessobord panel - 6" x 6"

I seem to be bouncing back and forth between reflective chrome and fuzzy puppies. What can I say? I love painting diverse textures and want to keep it fresh. Next up – cold and slimy; by that I mean fish or oysters.

We went to visit the Naked Mountain Vineyards and Winery in Markham, Virginia last year. They make extremely good wine and we bought a case of their excellent Chardonnay. I might have gotten a case even if the wine was just so-so because of the corks. When you open the wine, the cork reads “Drink Naked”. That appeals to my decadent sensibilities. Indeed, I picked up a tee shirt at the winery with that slogan on it. I get a lot of smiles from people when I am wearing this shirt. Once, Forgetting I had it on, I went to take some mail to a friend in rehab. I got some real dirty looks from the counselors…oops, my bad?

These tools of the trade were fun to paint.

March 3, 2008

"Study for the English Horn Player - 1975"

Oil on panel - 1975 - 9" x 12"

I did this study of Uncle Bob when I was 23 years old. Back in my early days of portraiture I used a grisaille under-painting and glazed the color overtop via Maroger’s medium. Thus I could concentrate on each element of the design; form and color separately. The result of this was that your eye penetrated through the transparent glazes at different rates of speed and created a three dimensional effect. I used this technique all through the 70’s

March 2, 2008

"Walter, the Drunken Dachshund"

Oil on archival, museum quality 1/8" Ampersand Gessobord panel - 5"x 7"

Last week I painted a Great Dane named Mr. Big. This is his adopted brother Walter. As with most Dachshunds I’ve met, Walter is a most inquisitive hound. Sweet, good natured, curious to a fault and always hungry, he tends to get into trouble. A case in point: I was invited to a dinner party to celebrate my birthday by Mr. Big and Walter’s owners. My friend is a first rate photographer and we ventured upstairs to view his latest work. We men took our beers with us and the girls left behind two half full chocolate martinis on the table. We were gone perhaps 20 minutes and returned to find a very drunk dachshund. He had managed to climb up onto the table and had drunk every last drop of both martinis. Though there was not enough chocolate in the drinks to worry about, he had consumed enough alcohol to be staggering around. We called the 24-hour clinic and were told he’d just have to sleep it off, as the alcohol was already absorbed. We, too, had absorbed a lot of alcohol so it seemed only fitting to dress him up for St. Patrick’s Day. I guess you had to be there. You will be happy to know that other than a bad hangover the next day, he is fine. Do I think he learned his lesson about not getting into things? Not a chance.