January 30, 2012

"Owen and Ellie"

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

I was amused by these little imps sitting on a pile of cookbooks with an empty dish beside them. It's as if they are saying "You don't need a recipe, just put something in the dish please." My boy, JJ, is notorious for sitting on anything I am trying to read. I'm sure none of you ever have that problem {;-)>

January 27, 2012

"Conch Shell"

Oil on museum quality ampersand gessobord panel - 8" x 10"

Ah, the ubiquitous conch shell. Who among us (at least on the eastern seaboard) didn't grow up with one of these beauties in the house? A souvenir from a family trip to Ocean City, Atlantic City or some coastal vacation town, these mollusk shells were wondrous instruments for blasting out a trumpet-like tune and when lifted to your ear you could swear you could still hear the ocean. I understand they are somewhat endangered now. Pity, as I love a good bowl of conch chowder.
If this background color looks familiar it's because I had mixed a bunch of this teal for the horse painting and had some left over. I thought it would make the perfect foil for this piece.

January 25, 2012


Oil on museum quality ampersand gessobord panel - 6" x 6"

My friend Debby has a new mare to hitch to her team of draft horses. Her fancy name is Seven Lick Acres Jane. Whether you call her by that hefty appellation or just plain Jane, she is quite a horse. I had fun with the coloration on this small piece. Hey, at least it wasn't another oyster.

January 18, 2012

"Oysters and lemons"

Oil on museum quality ampersand gessobord panel - 6" x 8"

Hey, what can I say? Oysters are fun to paint! These guys modeled for me at the Cross Street Market in the Federal Hill area of Baltimore.

January 17, 2012

"Oyster and knife"

Oil on museum quality ampersand gessobord panel - 6" x 8"

It's ironic that I love to paint (and slurp) oysters but I couldn't unhinge a raw one if my life depended on it. I've watched the process a thousand times. It looks so simple when my friend George does it, of course he is a world champion oyster shucker. To be fair, I haven't tried in a long while.

This beauty and a host of its siblings were brought to a party I attended recently by a very thoughtful and well received guest. Carried in a joint compound bucket, along with the accouterments for opening them, they were dredged from the river flowing past his backyard. Thankfully he also brought the skill to retrieve the bounty within. Someday I'll try again when the fear of a stigmata has past.

January 16, 2012

"Lover's Eye"

Oil on porcelain - 1" x 1 1/4" 
I was commissioned a while back - OK, a long while back - to paint a "lover's eye" for a dear friend. For those not familiar - miniature portraits of just an eye, set in elaborate brooches, lavaliers, stickpins or even small boxes were secretly exchanged between clandestine lovers during the turn of the eighteenth century. Eye, brow, perhaps a wisp of hair was just enough to keep one's lover close but not reveal his or her identity. The girl for whom this was painted is quite the jewelry aficionado and I have no doubt she will find the right craftsman to set this properly. As for its ultimate recipient - she'll never tell.

 Addendum:  This is the finished mounting,  created by master goldsmith Lauren Schott here in Baltimore.  Made to wear as a lavalier or a pin, it is a really beautiful setting. 

January 12, 2012

"Monica's Wedding"

Oil on museum quality ampersand gessobord panel - 8" x 10"

Technically speaking this was the first painting completed in 2012. However, I have been working on it for quite some time. It was a challenge since the original reference was artfully taken in black and white and I had to transpose the color from a plethora of miscellaneous snapshots from the wedding. The painting was commissioned by my friend Deb who provides the following commentary:

– Monica was married on June 24, 2011 in Penang, Malaysia in a Hindu ceremony. This is an image of her following the wedding in her wedding sari, which is traditionally red. The ornate necklace which can be seen is customarily placed on the bride during the ceremony in lieu of a wedding ring. During the ceremony, Monica’s hair was covered by a scarf, which remained on until the ceremony was completed. When it came off, an elegant braid was revealed underneath. The jasmine in her hair is the flower customarily worn; the smell was exquisite.

For those of you not familiar with Hindu weddings, they definitely know how to party. These festivities lasted for four days and at each event there was wonderful food and drink, with all who were present dressed to the nines in fabulous saris, gowns, cocktail dresses and amazing Indian garb. On the first day, there was an engagement party where the engaged couple received blessings. On the second day there was a Mehendi party where the bride and female wedding guests received henna tattoos on their hands, arms, legs and/or feet. This was followed by a Sangeet, an evening party, held under a tent on the beach. On the third day, the wedding took place under a tent at sunset followed by another fabulous meal. The kilted groom and his family, who are Scottish, were escorted to the wedding site by a group of bagpipers. People hung out their windows to see this sight in tropical Penang. Finally, on the fourth day, there was a formal reception.

The painting was commissioned as a gift for Monica’s mother, Usha, in thanks for her warmth, generosity and hospitality. The original photographs that were used as reference for this painting were taken by Monica’s new sister-in-law, Alicia Betham.

January 11, 2012

JJ in the Studio

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel - 6" x 8"

Happy New Year! I don't know about you, but I am glad to put 2011 behind me. Talk about the quintessential creative blackout. I won't go into the myriad of negative elements that led to my eight month artistic drought. Suffice it to say that I am climbing out of it and am excited to be back at the easel. Here's to 2012! May it be glorious for us all.