January 27, 2009


Oil on museum quality ampersand gessobord panel 8" x 8"
When Piper had her kittens last summer we named the litter after the rat pack. Although perhaps not politically correct, the little black one was obviously named Sammy, the black and white one we named Dino and the little girl we called Shirley, after Shirley MacLaine. Dino's black and white spots are more Robert Motherwell than Dalmatian. I was more open to the abstract expressionists back in my youth. I remember going to a Halloween party dressed as Motherwell's Elegy to the Spanish Republic number 57. It was during the mime years so I had ready access to grease paint. I wore my beatnik black and painted Motherwell's painting on my face. No one at the party knew who I was supposed to be, imagine that. Then it occurred to me that I had painted the painting using a mirror so the image was backwards. Did I feel foolish. We had a couple in inches of snow today and Dino is really enjoying playing in it.

January 26, 2009

Stage Makeup

Oil on museum quality ampersand Gessobord panel 5' x 7"
One of the nice things about moving, if you are a pack rat like me, is you have an excuse to look through all the boxes and storage bins in the basement, attic and studio once again. It really is like Christmas. Phrases like "Hey, I've been looking for this," "Oh wow, I forgot I had one of these" etc., etc, spring to the lips. I am getting marginally better at editing out the true dreck from the "I might find a use for this someday." While foraging in the bowels of the cellar recently I came across a treasure trove of old photos from my theatre days. I thought it might be fun to stroll down memory lane and paint a mime once again. This is a young Tom Casciero from the Towson Mime Troupe putting on classic white face.

January 23, 2009

"Two horses with braided manes"

Oil on museum quality ampersand gessobord panel 8" x 8"

One of the most challenging things about recording the pageantry of the Blessing of the hunt held every Thanksgiving in Gyndon, Maryland is the intermingling of the hoi polloi and the hoity toity. The bucolic landscape of the valley is littered with petters in sweaters, mothers with strollers, teens with their iPods and photogs with tripods. Trying to get a clean shot is nearly impossible. Thankfully, as a painter, I can often just edit them out in the composition. While it might have been nice to include the quaint St. John's Episcopal Church in the background, there was something pleasing about the simplicity of this painting. The focus is on the magnificent beasts and the intricate harnesses and not the scene wherein they play in. I chose to use a simple blue into green gradient although not without trepidation. I had a back-of-my-mind fear that it may come off looking like the colored tissue paper that folks in the 50's put over their black and white TVs to simulate color; blue for the sky, red for the people and green for the grass. My fears turned out to be groundless, no pun intended, and the gambit paid off. The tack and harnesses proved to be much more labor intensive than I first imagined, but I always look at my reference and think I can lay it down in an hour and 6 hours later I am still pushing paint around. I may have to paint some fruit or oysters tomorrow just to prove to myself that I can paint a sketchy painting.

January 21, 2009


Oil on museum quality ampersand Gessobord panel 6" x 8"

I am posting this late tonight and hope to write a bit more tomorrow afternoon. This is Cleopatra, a long haired Eastern German Shepherd. She was 13 weeks when she posed for this painting. Sorry about the huge file. I lost photoshop when I lost my computer and can't figure out how to resize things in lightroom.

January 14, 2009


Oil on museum quality ampersand Gessobord panel 6" x 6"
The intensity of color got lost in translation on this portrait of the late Dabasir. I haven't had a chance to paint many birds. It was fun to have a new texture to play with after all the fur I've been painting lately. Dabo was 40 when he passed and hopefully he is flying high among the morning stars.

January 13, 2009

"Monet in a cable knit sweater"

Oil on museum quality ampersand Gessobord Panel 6" x 6"

I've been spinning my wheels since the break-in, trying to recoup my lost images and data. I did order a new computer today and am looking forward to my shiny new PC. Yes, I have returned to the dark side. I'm sure Macs are fine for some but I never really loved mine. It did have a beautiful monitor but it was like riding an Italian motorcycle; pretty but full of quirks, and what's with the CD drive? That alone kept me from getting another one.

Monet here was a fun little piece to help get me back to the easel. It reminds me of a George Rodrique blue dog painting.

January 8, 2009

Strange request (ndp)

An artist friend of mine made a strange request the other day. He said "Mark, I tried to paint a painting of my daughter's dogs and it didn't turn out well. I know you paint dogs. Do you think you could touch this up?" I, of course, was flattered but had never over-painted someone else's work before. I said I would see what I could do. It had quite a thick impasto of white on the panel which had to be removed before I could proceed. The original reference was of Kate, Emmie and Bandit laying on a white fur rug, which was probably taken at a Petsmart or some such place. I applauded my friend's artistic licence in creating the landscape instead of laying in the backdrop used for the photo and left it in, feathering the "snow" up to it. It's ironic that my first painting of the new year isn't really mine. It was an interesting exercise and a good way to get my hand back in it. How many of us have lost a painting and would have the nerve to ask someone else to save it? Of course he may not be thrilled that I posted this. Oops.

Here is the scraped down original so you can get an idea of the challenge:

January 6, 2009

"Self portrait with Vincent"

Oil on Canvas 16" x 24"
Tomorrow the theme of the daily painters is self-portraits. I was really looking forward to doing something fun with it until the robbery. Today was spent dealing with insurance people and data recovery so I didn't get into the studio to paint. To tell the truth my heart just wasn't in it. The other problem is I look kind of weird right now (er, more weird than usual). To celebrate my birthday we had a few folks over for a 50's themed dinner party. Since I was halfway there already, given my propensity for black turtlenecks, bongos and berets, I decided to go full beatnik daddy-o. I trimmed off the Santa beard and left the goatee which I dyed dark brown. To add to the authenticity I had my copy of Allen Ginsberg's Howl in my pocket in case an impromptu poetry reading was called for. I fear I may look like one of those sad men who use Clairol "just for men" a bit too long. I thought it would wash out but this stuff is good. I cut what was left of my beard really short and the grey is just starting to peek through. Before you know it I'll be getting the senior discount again.
I did this painting in 2005 after my beloved Vincent went to join his brother Theo in the morning stars.

January 5, 2009


Ah! 2009 - Time to put all the bad stuff that happened last year behind us and look ahead to a bright new year. So what happens on day 3 of this bright new year? Someone breaks into my house and steals my iMac computer. Yes, the one that has taken me 9 months to finally get used to. Did I back up all my reference material that was on that machine? Yes and no. I had an external hard drive that automatically backs up the mac every hour and the perps left it behind. The trouble is that my auxiliary laptop is a PC and cannot read the data. Since I have to get a new computer anyway, I am going back to a PC. I never really loved the iMac other than the beautiful 24" screen.

Stay tuned. New work is coming, I promise.