May 31, 2008

"Marti Gras"

Oil on archival 1/8" ampersand gessobord panel - 5" x 7"

You all know how I love comments, but you needn't leave them to tell me, " It's Mardi Gras, dummy!"  The title is a word play on my model Marti.  This is only the second painting I've done painted on black gesso. It is interesting painting backwards and I like the little black touches flecked throughout the piece.  The final result is more illustrative than the photo-realistic quality a white gessoed support produces. 

May 27, 2008

je regrette

I have been in Birmingham since Sunday and don't get back into the Studio until Thursday, then I'm off to the Americade rally in Lake George for a week from early Saturday until the following Sunday. I hope to do a piece on Thursday but I am fairly certain Friday is shot, so the next new painting will be the following Tuesday. Mark your calendars for June 10th, which ironically would have been my Uncle Bob's 75 birthday.

May 23, 2008

"I'm ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille"

Oil on linen mounted on birch wood panel - 6" x 8"

Another version of the inimitable Cujo, the wonder dog.  Sadly, the photo doesn't do the painting justice.  The subtle hues of his fur got lost in translation.  There are some fun hints of prussian blue in the fur and the brushwork is more in evidence than this photograph would indicate.

May 22, 2008

"Girls in the Garden"

Oil on archival 1/8" ampersand gessobord panel - 6" x 8"
Something a little different tonight. I was in the art supply store today picking up some new brushes when I spied black gesso. I had heard rumors about it and thought it might be an amusing diversion. Any artist can tell you that there are few things more frightening than staring at that bright white rectangle first thing in the morning. That first stroke is a killer. Painting on a black support, while no less daunting, was great good fun. You are working backwards, pulling the light and color out of the darkness. It also allows for more freedom to swish with equanimity, as you are not plagued with those bits of white shining through.

I had a friend staying with me this past week who sang for her supper (which was fitting, as she is a Mezzo-Soprano) by modeling for me. In front of my house is a pond with a weathered statue of a girl standing next to a gargoyle spurting water. Young, brave and uninhibited, Laura acquiesced to pose in front of the pond, undaunted by the slippery rocks, bullfrogs and the possibility of unexpected visitors. The irises were in full bloom and she lightly stepped over the pond to become part of the landscape. We played there as long as was prudent. Ten minutes after we had returned to the studio, the UPS man arrived with a package. I'm sure he wonders why I am always home in the afternoon. Wouldn't he have been jealous to know why. I'm certain my neighbors refer to me as the crazy artist on the hill, so perhaps he is already aware of my occupation and preoccupation with the female form. I have answered the door in a paint smeared apron with a brush perched behind each ear on more than one occasion, which might have been a clue.

A few years ago I took a photography class at the Maryland Institute College of Art called "The nude in the landscape." One day our class was shooting in the old Mount Royal Train Station, which is part of the College. A far off whistle alerted us to an oncoming freight train. We were working with two models that day; a perky young model named Stephanie and a very dark skinned ex prize fighter named Leroy. When we heard the train, Stephanie slipped on her little dress but Leroy just put on his shoes. The look on the engineer's face and his double-take when he saw this naked guy standing by the tracks waving hello was priceless.

May 21, 2008

Blue Iris

Oil on archival 1/8" ampersand gessobord panel -5" x 7"

I had in mind to have some brushy fun with these pretty irises which adorn my friend Diane's garden.  Perhaps it was my love of Van Gogh coming to the fore.  His wonderful painting of irises has always been a favorite. It was one of his first works while he was at the asylum at Saint Paul-de-Mausole in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.  Vincent felt that by continuing to paint while at the asylum he could keep himself from going insane.  Why, this sometimes has the opposite effect on me.  Sometimes continuing to paint makes me crazy.  Not from the act itself, which I love, but from the aftermath of creation.  Was it good enough? Will people like it, understand it, get it?  I suppose self doubt is part and parcel of this life I have chosen.  Oddly enough, I have a very strong sense of my own abilities.  Go figure.  As you can see, My idea of laying it on with a trowel vanished in the night and once again I broke out the blending brushes to soften the background and contrast the blossoms.  I guess I have to be true to myself.  Sometimes my hands have a will of their own.  The eye perceives but the hand executes. 

May 18, 2008

"Nude with Cigarette"

Oil on archival 1/8" ampersand gesspbord panel - 5" x 7"
Smoking has become such a taboo in the 21st century that only the fringes of society light up with impunity.  Indeed, such a stigma has been laid on smoking that it has taken on fetish status.  So call "draggin-ladies" populate the internet with sexy cigarettes perched on pouty lips.  Though not a cigarette smoker myself, I do like a good cigar now and then, along with a nice peaty scotch...that's my idea of decadence.

May 17, 2008


Oil on Linen mounted on board - 6" x 8"

I'm not sure little guy was what Stephen King had in mind when he wrote the book.  He may be like this scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

There he is!
What, behind the rabbit?
It is the rabbit.
You silly sod!
You got us all worked up!
Well, that's no ordinary rabbit!
That's the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on!
You tit! I soiled my armour I was so scared!
Look, that rabbit's got a vicious streak a mile wide! It's a killer!
Get stuffed!
He'll do you up a treat, mate.
Oh, yeah?
You mangy Scots git!
I'm warning you!
What's he do, nibble your bum?
He's got huge, sharp-- eh-- he can leap about-- look at the bones!
Go on, Bors. Chop his head off!
Right! Silly little bleeder. One rabbit stew comin' right up!
I warned you, but did you listen to me? Oh, no, you knew it all, didn't you? Oh, it's just a harmless little bunny, isn't it? Well, it's always the same. I always tell them--
Oh, shut up!

Post note:

I have toned down the hue of this painting at the behest of it's owner.   The intense graphic natural of the original has been modified to reflect the Victorian dog portraits of the late 19th century.  I like them both - you be the judge.


Oil on archival 1/8" ampersand gessobord panel - 5" x 7

Another painting from the "artifact series", these shells have migrated from Apalachicola, Florida  to Birmingham, Alabama by way of Uncle Bob's suitcase. Laid out on his mahogany table to catch the afternoon sun, they offered some new challenges for me to paint. The translucent pinks of the spiny one and the cross texture of the other kept me entertained.

May 16, 2008

study for "Amphictyonis - Goddess of Wine"

Oil on archival 1/8" ampersand gessobord panel - 9" x 12"

Once again the color got washed out while posting this little study.  The painting is luscious.  

..later the next morning.

It just occurred to me that the reason the photos of my paintings look great on the MAC but look like crap on the blog may be the settings in lightroom.  I think the blog doesn't recognize ProPhoto RGB.  I will try and switch over to sRGB and see if things improve.  This is a maddening development.

This painting is meant to serve as a study for a later work. The ambiguous, neutral, slightly floral background is intentionally vague and shot with Corot-like flicks of green.  I may drop her into a forest Bacchanalia at a later date.

May 14, 2008

"Champagne cork reflections"

Oil on museum quality, archival 1/8" ampersand gessobord panel - 5" x 5"

I don't know why I love playing with this red tablecloth so much.  Perhaps I was a bull fighter in a past life.  It is fun to paint and it really gives some gravitas to such a tiny panel.  Corks from two of my favorite champagnes; Schramsberg and Mumm, reflecting off of a chrome wine bucket on a red tablecloth.  So simple yet so satisfying.  

Something a bit more complex tomorrow, I promise.

May 8, 2008

"Pipers Will Power"

Oil on linen mounted on birch wood panel - 6" x 8"

Devo was playing in my head while I painted this piece - whippet, whippet good. Commissioned by his owner, the painting has more color than this reproduction indicates. That mushy orange color is actually a rich, cadmium red / rose madder, later toned down via a glaze to a rich mahogany. The warm creams, bright whites and subtle hints of pink and blue got lost in the translation. Oh well - it happens.

May 7, 2008

"Pear Brandy and snifter"

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

This is the first painting in the “Artifact Series,” a collection of treasures and miscellaneous fun stuff collected by my Uncle Bob over a lifetime. I was not totally idle in Birmingham. I spent many hours composing and cataloging my Uncle's collections of shells and watches and glassware and beer steins and hats and walking sticks and figurines and books and ..., well you get the idea. The good Professor was a “stuff” guy. I, too, am a “stuff” guy, much to my wife’s consternation - she is a “tosser.” It is truly amazing just how much one can accumulate in a lifetime of collecting. A trinket here, a bobble there, something to remember that trip to Paris or Daytona or New Orleans and pretty soon full blown clutter begins to form. George Carlin put it in perspective...”Everybody else’s stuff is shit, your shit is stuff.” An artist has even more of a collecting problem, as everything he sees is material for a possible art project. I have a friend who is a serial artist dater. One of her conquests was a guy who used dryer lint as a medium for his work. Think about it - those pretty colors in the lint trap after you wash the purple towels or red flannel sheets. One of the weirder things I have is a box of cat hair collected from our three Siamese cats over the years. Much the same as dryer lint, although more monochromatic, the little daily tufts of fur range in value from almost white (from China) to medium brown (Theo) and very dark (Vincent). Someday I will get around to doing something with this sepia medium, even if it is only stuffing a pillow with it. Wine corks, champagne medallions, beer caps, wish bones and God knows what else are lurking in boxes in the basement, waiting for their chance to be transformed into great works of art. This apple (pear?) didn’t fall far from the Lehmeyer tree.

May 5, 2008

"Tag sale- Meerschaum pipes"

Oil on linen on birch wood panel - 6" x 8"

In the words of Sam Gamgee - "Well, I'm back."