August 30, 2008

"Mimi"

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


This sweet Bearded Collie belongs to my friend Diane. Mimi was a rescue dog who now lives with her two brothers, both Standard Poodles.  There is no question who is the leader of the pack and that's Mme. Mimi.  I caught her just before she struck a less ladylike pose that begged for a tummy rub.


When I think of Mimi, I think of the tragic heroine of my favorite opera; Puccini's La Boheme:


Mi chiamano Mimì, 
ma il mio nome è Lucia. 
La storia mia 
è breve. A tela o a seta 
ricamo in casa e fuori... 
Son tranquilla e lieta 
ed è mio svago 
far gigli e rose. 
Mi piaccion quelle cose 
che han sì dolce malìa, 
che parlano d'amor, di primavere, 
di sogni e di chimere, 
quelle cose che han nome poesia...


Mi chiamano Mimì, 
il perché non so. 
Sola, mi fo 
il pranzo da me stessa. 
Non vado sempre a messa, 
ma prego assai il Signore. 
Vivo sola, soletta 
là in una bianca cameretta: 
guardo sui tetti e in cielo; 
ma quando vien lo sgelo 
il primo sole è mio 
il primo bacio dell'aprile è mio! 
Germoglia in un vaso una rosa... 
Foglia a foglia la spio! 
Cosi gentile 
il profumo d'un fiore! 
Ma i fior ch'io faccio, ahimè! non hanno odore. 
Altro di me non le saprei narrare. 
Sono la sua vicina 
che la vien fuori d'ora a importunare.

They call me Mimi, 
but my real name's Lucia. 
My story is brief. 
I embroider silk and satin 
at home or outside. 
I'm tranquil and happy, 
and my pastime 
is making lilies and roses. 
I love all things 
that have gentle magic, 
that talk of love, of spring, 
that talk of dreams and fancies - 
the things called poetry ... 

They call me Mimi – 
I don't know why. 
I live all by myself 
and I eat all alone. 
I don't often go to church, 
but I like to pray. 
I stay all alone 
In my tiny white room, 
I look at the roofs and the sky. 
But when spring comes 
the sun's first rays are mine. 
April's first kiss is mine, is mine! 
The sun's first rays are mine! 
A rose blossoms in my vase, 
I breathe its perfume, petal by petal. 
So sweet is the flower's perfume. 
But the flowers I make, alas, 
The flowers I make, alas, 
alas, have no scent. 
What else can I say? 
I'm your neighbour, disturbing you 
at this impossible hour. 

August 26, 2008

"Urinal"

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


OK, so I lied.  Perhaps it doesn't have to be an animate subject to have fun with the light and paint.  While I was in "chrome" mode I thought I would experiment with some loose paint and a piece of iconic porcelain.  No Dadaist I, but I figured if it was good enough for Marcel Duchamp last century with his readymade "Fountain," why not have a go (no pun intended) and reprise it here. This particular plumbing fixture resides in the mens room of the Dogwood Gourmet in Baltimore.  Elegant marble tile, rose tones and dramatic lighting raise the lowly pissoir to new heights, creating a theatrical aquatic display. 


I'll be out of the studio for a couple of days.  Look for new work on Saturday.

August 25, 2008

"Harley-Davidson"

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


So much for taking it easy after my operation.  The painting you see here may prove to be what is known in artistic parlance, as a "unique" -  a unicorn, dodo bird, an Ivory-billed woodpecker, the last of its kind.  I don't know what possessed me to undertake such a painting other than my love of motorcycles and needing to ramp up the wow factor after my being away from the easel.  Do I like this painting?  Most definitely.  Would I do another one? I'm not sure.  Although I am delighted with the finished product, the application of paint was tedious; observe, mix, dab, repeat.  No subtle glazes and bravado brushwork, merely precise placement of just the right color. Wearing an opti-visor and using 1/8th inch filberts and a lining brush is really not my thing.  I am and have always been about the creative process, not necessarily the final product. If the process is good the resulting product will follow suit.  Perhaps that is why I like painting people and animals. There is room for the brush to interpret. Maybe painting inanimate objects isn't in me.  I have always been a figure and portrait painter.  I like my work looking back at me as I go along.  OK, maybe oysters don't exactly gaze out of the canvas, but you get my drift.  So enjoy the Harley.  Which is all I can do with my own Harley - look at it, as I am not allowed to lift it off the side stand for another 4 weeks.  I couldn't have had my appendix out in the dead of winter.

August 24, 2008

So close

Nurse Susan says I have over done it today and so I must wait until tomorrow to finish the Harley painting.  She is probably right, as usual.  Oh well.   Check back, it is a very strong piece. 

August 20, 2008

"Cold Comfort"

Oil on museum quality, archival ampersand gessobord™ panel - 5” x 7”


Here is another painting for the upcoming "Fish and Fowl" show at the Ice House Gallery in Berkeley Springs, WV.   I am putting it on the Daily Painters site as "contact me for availability" since it is possible that they may swim back upstream to the studio after the show.

"The Cat's in the Bag"

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


I still had the notes on my palette set to paint JJ so I thought I'd add a touch of whimsey and go a bit graphic with this one.  There is a painter in New Orleans named George Rodrique who has made a handsome living painting his dog Tiffany, aka the Blue Dog.  His "Blue Dog" series is good fun and while I am not attempting to emulate him here, there is an amusing similarity. I like the fact that it is a total opposite of his (i.e. orange instead of blue, cat instead of dog).  I should paint something completely different tomorrow, JJ is getting a big head from all this attention. 

August 18, 2008

"Cat and Mouse"

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


This is my cat JJ's favorite place to sleep. In the afternoon the western sun shines through the office window and warms the great mahogany desk and the small laptop, already warm from its own power, becomes a relaxing pillow. Needless to say, my wife has to coax him off with treats to resume work. More often she will use the downstairs desktop, rather than disturb him. She used to leave the laptop open, but that resulted in him sending odd e-mails in secret, cat code that only his feline friends could decipher. Leaving the laptop half-closed was no good either. It took him no time to figure out how to close it all the way, resulting in turning off the computer; oops, where was I? He is a great cat and a fantastic mouser to boot. He has found quite a few in his forays into the basement. I couldn't resist the visual pun here.

August 17, 2008

"Hummingbird"

Oil on museum quality, archival ampersand gessobord™ panel - 5” x 5


I have paid my dues to the appendix gods and have laid about for a week being a slug. I am happy to report that I am on the mend and able to stand for a few hours at a time. That said, I decided to start off small. It doesn't get much smaller than a hummingbird, so here she is, as seen from my kitchen window. I am endlessly amazed at the aerial acrobatics of these tiny creatures. They are quite territorial and protect their turf with the intensity of a World War I Sopwith Camel dogfight.

August 8, 2008

Technical Difficulty

Standing in for Mark for this post is his wife.  You know, the one who so often looks at one of his finished paintings and says, "I love it all, but for that little splash of white there," to which Mark replies, "That's exactly what makes it sing to me!"  And I usually come around to appreciating the splash of white in time, though occasionally the splash of white will be softened to appease me.


Mark is currently in the hospital, having had his appendix removed Friday afternoon.  Pesky little things, appendix.  What purpose do they serve, anyway?  If you can do just as well without them, then why the heck do we have them in the first place?  Be that as it may, my poor boy's appendix was quite angry - I believe the semi-technical term is "hot."  And so the hospital is where he will remain until Monday.  I don't know how much time he will have to recover before being able to stand in front of an easel for hours on end.  I would suggest you will likely see a few small, simple pieces in another week or so.  It may be a while before he can tackle anything as complex as the hounds.  And so this site is temporarily on hold due to technical difficulties.  Please keep Mark in your thoughts and I know he'd love to hear from you via comments to this post.

August 6, 2008

"Foxhounds"

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

Here is the finished painting.  I am happy to report that freezing one's palette does work to keep the paint from drying out or skinning over, even earth pigments.  You learn something new every day.  I read this tip (no, not from Heloise) on the comments page of someone's blog.  Whoever mentioned this, I am grateful.  I used to submerge my palette in a tray of water, which also works but it is not ideal. 

Call it perverse, but while I painted this piece I was listening to a recording of the original Broadway production of CATS.  Anna, who is on my lap as I type this, thinks it was purrfectly fine.  She does question my masculinity on occasion; show tunes and all that.

Midnight 
Not a sound from the pavement 
Has the moon lost her memory 
She is smiling alone 
In the lamplight 
The withered leaves collect at my feet 
And the wind begins to moan 
Memory
All alone in the moonlight 
I can dream of the old days
Life was beautiful then 
I remember the time I knew what happiness was 
Let the memory live again 

Every street lamp seems to beat 
A fatalistic warning 
Someone mutters and the street lamp sputters
And soon it will be morning 

Daylight 
I must wait for the sunrise 
I must think of a new life 
And I mustn't give in 
When the dawn comes 
Tonight will be a memory too 
And a new day will begin 

Burnt out ends of smoky days 
The stale cold smell of morning 
A street lamp dies, another night is over 
Another day is dawning 

Touch me, 
It's so easy to leave me 
All alone with the memory 
Of my days in the sun 
If you touch me, 
You'll understand what happiness is 
Look, a new day has begun... 

work in progress - "Foxhounds"

In keeping with the dog days of summer, I have started this painting of a group of fox hounds waiting to be blessed on Thanksgiving morning in Glyndon, Maryland.  Here is a rare glimpse of my working process.  I am going to try and freeze my palette to preserve my mixed pigments.  Look for the finished painting here tomorrow.  

August 5, 2008

"Let sleeping dogs lie"


Oil on linen mounted on birch wood panel - 8” x 10”


What is it about a patch of sunlight that draws an animal to it like moths to a flame? My cats JJ and Anna live for these hot spots. On any sunny morning, the competition to see who gets to sit in the chair by the east window in the kitchen begins, each cat vying for that precious patch of solar real estate.  My studio faces due north, so there is no direct sunlight, much to their dismay. When we were looking to buy our first house years ago, the realtor would remark about the wonderful sunlit room that would make the perfect studio. Perfect for getting a tan, perhaps. The reason north light is great for painting is that it is cool, constant and indirect. That beacon of bright sunlight is not a welcome guest in the studio, reflecting its warmth off the oak floor and onto my canvas. My studio has two huge north facing windows and skylights which are a wonderful source of illumination. However, two oval windows, high on the east and west walls, alert me to brave Helios' presence. The west window I can easily close off by going into the loft and covering it with a makeshift cardboard disk. The East window is more of a challenge. Closing this aperture requires a long telescoping pole and some dexterity to place the disk just right. 

The Wiktionary (sorry Daniel Webster) describes the expression "Let sleeping dogs lie" as thus - To leave things as they are; especially, to avoid restarting an old argument; to leave disagreements in the past. - Eventually, they decided to let sleeping dogs lie and not discuss the matter any further.  I have found this to be sound advice in matters domestique.

These sleepy-heads belong to my friend Anne. In case you are interested, she tells me she has two new litters waiting in the wings.  You can see them at:  www.piperspuppies4u.com