February 27, 2015

"Oysters at the Passport Wine Festival"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
6" x 8"
2015


I really had fun painting this piece.  The tooth of these Ampersand panels allows for some great effects.  I doubt that I could have gotten the same scratched weathered wood effect on canvas. It was a bright sunny day in Healdsburg, with a few puffy clouds as evidenced in the base of the wine glass.

February 25, 2015

Mandala Series #1 - "Four Oysters and a Shell on a Black Plate with Lemon"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
8" x 8"
2015
 

When I was a youth, one of my early record purchases was a 45 (remember those?) of Peter, Paul and Mary’s “Puff the Magic Dragon.” On the flip side was a song called “The Great Mandala – The Wheel of Life.”  Since I didn’t have many records in my collection at the time, I gave it a spin.  The haunting harmonies were compelling but the lyrics were a downer.  I filed the Great Mandala away in my collective unconscious.  Fast forward 50 years and the circle of life has come to the fore.   Hitherto I had not been a “new age” kind of guy.  You know what I mean – Crystals, smudge sticks, spirit guides etc.  My meditation has always been to get out on my motorcycle and lose myself.  My friend Hugh would attest to this as I have been known to get lost often and often.  On doing research on mandalas I may have opened the door a crack to a new way of seeing inside myself.  I don’t know why I have been drawn to these strange circles but I have been recording them for a few years now. I guess I am doing with oysters what Richard Dreyfuss did in Close Encounters of the Third Kind with mashed potatoes.  As stated, I am not well versed in the lingo of the spiritual order so I will borrow and link to a more informed source to enlighten the uninitiated.


The meaning of mandala comes from Sanskrit meaning "circle." Even though it may be dominated by squares or triangles, a mandala has a concentric structure. Mandalas offer balancing visual elements, symbolizing unity and harmony. The meanings of individual mandalas is usually different and unique to each mandala. The goal of the mandala is to serve as a tool on our spiritual journey as it symbolizes cosmic and psychic order.

 The design of the mandala is to be visually appealing so as to absorb the mind in such a way that chattering thoughts cease, and a more philosophic or spiritual essence envelopes the observer which in turn leads to higher consciousness or awareness. In short, a mandala can be seen as a hypnotic, letting the creative hemisphere of our mind run a little more free while our analytical mind takes a little nap.

Each observer has different experiences. However, the overall consensus is that meditating with the mandala leaves the observer relaxed, and he/she comes away with a resolution or clarity concerning the intention that was set before the meditation.

Another form of mandala meditation is to make or color a mandala of your own. Painting, coloring or drawing mandalas allows for our creative brain to come out and play, leading to an altered state where we can perform constructive healing, and gain incredible insight into ourselves and our lives.

Once we have set our intention, we begin to focus on the mandala. Let your eyes take in the beauty of the designs, allowing your mind to wander as it will. If your mind begins to chatter (i.e., I should do laundry, have to get milk, need to finish that report for work), simply bring your attention back to the beauty of the mandala. Get inside the mandala, simply fall into it, swim in it, let it absorb all of your attention. As you fall into the mandala, you will begin to feel lighter, and intuitive thoughts may arise. Relax and float with the thoughts and feeling that come to you. If you begin to feel lost, uncomfortable or if you get the "chatter" again, simply focus your attention back on the mandala."

Of course, for me staring at a plate of oysters also makes me hungry.

Enjoy the new series! 


February 22, 2015

"American Standard"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
6" x 8"
2015
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Bikers have an expression - "Chrome won't get you home."  That may be so but it is fun to paint.  Not that this is a tricked out trailer queen.  This lowly plumbing fixture adorned the urinal at the now defunct Dogwood Restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland. Some wag noted recently that I could paint anything, kind of the visual equivalent of a singer being able to sing the phone book.  High praise indeed.  When I'm on, I do feel that way.    

February 21, 2015

"Rooster and Goat"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
8" x 10"
2015


I may go back into this piece.  "Daily painting" doesn't allow for glazing techniques, as the idea is to lay it down in a few hours.  I wanted to capture the warm setting sun on these critters.  The goat worked out fairly well but I need to glaze some shadows into the rooster since the sun was shining through his comb and a more distinct shadow falling onto his feathers. I'll post the glazed piece here in a week or so.  Stay tuned. 

February 20, 2015

"Deep Cup"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
5" x 7"
2015

 


These pretty bi-valves were had last year in Healdsburg California at the Passport Wine  Festival.  Unfortunately I cannot recall their appellation and provenance. I should have named this painting "Stars in the Heaven" as that is what they remind me of.  Their elegant ripples and points and the glistening ice are as varied and as vast as the constellations. 

February 19, 2015

"Fred Cantor Saddle-view"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
8" x 10"
2015

This painting has a lot of presence for its diminutive size.  I was happy with the movement of the Percheron cantoring around the ring, his mane blowing in the breeze.  One can almost feel his large hooves kicking up dirt and gravel.  I had forgotten just how challenging painting a portrait the size of a dime can be.  I have new found respect for Jean-Léon Gérôme.  


February 16, 2015

"Lucky Dog"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
6" x 8" 
2015
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This little guy is the resident greeter at a restaurant in the Hampden area of Baltimore.  His name is Lucky Dog.  I won't name the restaurant because, unlike Paris and other European cities where dogs are welcomed, our health department is not be thrilled with such four footed maître d's.  I have been in more than one dive bar in town that could use a resident cat to keep the mouse population at bay.

"Pool Time"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
6" x 8"
2015

I've been told by some of my followers that they have had issues with the e-mail notifications crashing.  I think the problem may have been the large files I have hitherto been posting.  I have gone to a 72 dpi file size which I hope will correct the problem and also make it harder for the Chinese to steal my work.  Sorry about that.

February 12, 2015

"Ricky Reflection"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
9" x 12"
2015


This was a wild one.  Lots of loose, wet paint and lots of squinting to get the effects I wanted.  The orange tones are not as pronounced in the painting as they are here.

February 10, 2015

"One Plump Oyster"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
6" x 6"
2015


  "O Oysters, come and walk with us!"
The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each."


The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head--
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

February 9, 2015

"Little Yellow Nude Sketch"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
8" x 10"
2015
Contact me for availability 

This little nude is quite different from the brushed out, tightened down paintings that I am used to doing.  It was all I could do to not blend out the strokes and soften her up.  Old habits die hard and I am fighting against years of photo-realism.  I am not unhappy with the results.  Fear not!  A zebra can't change his stripes.  Doing these quick oil sketches will hopefully keep my larger work fresh and lively.  


February 6, 2015

"Ella in the Sun"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
6" x 8"
2015
Contact me for availability

Fellow blogger, Alice Thompson, recently opined the demise of the art blog and the exodus to other social media sites like Facebook and Instagram.  Is it any wonder?  We artists want, nay need, constant ego stroking and approval to keep the creative fires burning.  Sure, there is a place for comments on a blog but seldom do people take the time to make them. Days or weeks may go by without a single remark.  It is much easier to hit the "like" button on Facebook.    Today's artists judge the success of a painting by how many "likes" they get.   I must admit that it is nice to get immediate approval of one's work. Then there is the wider audience that popular social media enjoys.  Here on my blog I have 163 "followers."  On Facebook I have many times that and with other people "sharing" my work it goes on from there to infinity and beyond. I still use my "Daily Painters" site to reach an even broader target audience for my small works.  Thousands come to that site daily to look for little gems.  I personally think there is room for both blogging and other social media.  In the old days an artist would spend weeks or months in the studio preparing for a gallery show.  If you were lucky, two hundred or so would come to the opening and a few more would amble through during the run of the exhibition.  Thousands and thousands of people from all over the globe see my work now and I have paintings in Greece, Germany, France, England and many other countries.  Why, there are workshops in China stealing my work and selling copies at this very moment...but that tale is for another day.

This is one of my studio cats - Ella.  She came in as a feral kitten 6 years ago and has made the jump to indoor life quite well.  She is top cat and keeps the other three - her mother, sister and a recent addition from the shelter, in line with a hiss and a firm paw.

February 5, 2015

"Virginia Oyster and Shell"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
6" x 8"
2015


This is new twist on an old theme. I really enjoyed painting the warm tones of this oyster painting.  The slightly briny oysters were shucked at a friend's party over the weekend. They were staged on a venerable aluminum cookie sheet, the brushed surface of which picked up and diffused the warm light of the kitchen in a delightful way.  The yellow and pink tones of the shell and flesh of the oyster played well against such a background. 

February 3, 2015

"My Ever Loving Joy and Mr Mosby"

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
8" x 10" 
2015

A visitor to the studio yesterday asked me if I liked painting horses.  I told him that I did but that I had a lot to learn about equestrian body language and other idiosyncrasies. A case it point - Joy, the little brown mare here, does not have her ears pricked forward.  Something which I did not pick up on.  I made a similar mistake a few years back when I painted my first llama.  His ears were way back, which signifies agitation.  I suppose I should be glad he didn't spit at me when I was in the field with him. I'll have to have a consultant to guide me with the hunt paintings I plan to do this Spring.  Tally Ho!