November 27, 2008

"Please sir, I want some more."

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

We weren't lucky enough at my high school to have our own composer like Kelsey from High School Musical to create something original.  For our senior musical we were forced to use the work of Lionel Bart.  I must that say our production of Oliver! was very professional, and not just because of the great scenic artwork in which I had a hand. Right by the computer are two large french doors and very often one or more little faces are pressed up against the glass, looking in with pleading eyes for more food.  Even if I slide the door very slowly, they scatter.  All except Sammy that is, he comes just inside the door to have a look.  There is a scene in Oliver! when young Oliver, having finished his meager bowl of gruel goes up to Mr. Bumble for seconds. "Please sir, I want some more." he says.  I often think that is running through these little girls' heads. This is of course Piper and her new daughter Shirley.

This painting looks better in reality.  The photo doesn't show off the softness of the fur very well.  For the record, my high school basketball team were the Parkville Knights.  "Get your head in the game!"

November 24, 2008

Tag - you're it!

Tagging season is in full swing and I've been tagged by two fine artists this week.  Alice Thompson and Susan Beauchemin both honored me with this distinction.

This is a fun way to get to know your blogger friends in art! The rules of this great game are:
1. Put a link in your posting to the person who tagged you.
2. List 7 unusual things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 other bloggers at the end of your post and comment on their blogs to let them know.

These are my seven;

1.  I can recite Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Ernest” word for word.  Once upon a time I went for light treatments for a skin problem I was having, which required me to stand naked in a tall cylinder filled with tubes of UV lamps for 30 minutes at a time. There is not much to do in there but contemplate life. To pass the time I would recite the play out loud. I nearly got up to Act II before the timer went off.    I can only imagine what the nurses in the office thought listening to me arguing with myself in a pronounced British accent thusly:

Jack. How can you sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can’t make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless.
Algernon. Well, I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them.
Jack. I say it’s perfectly heartless your eating muffins at all, under the circumstances.
Algernon. When I am in trouble, eating is the only thing that consoles me. Indeed, when I am in really great trouble, as any one who knows me intimately will tell you, I refuse everything except food and drink. At the present moment I am eating muffins because I am unhappy. Besides, I am particularly fond of muffins. [Rising.]
Jack. [Rising.] Well, that is no reason why you should eat them all in that greedy way. [Takes muffins from Algernon.]
Algernon. [Offering tea-cake.] I wish you would have tea-cake instead. I don’t like tea-cake.
Jack. But I hate tea-cake.
Algernon. Why on earth then do you allow tea-cake to be served up for your guests? What ideas you have of hospitality!
2.  I love to eat spicy food that mere mortals dare not.  Wilbur Scoville consults me for heat ratings on peppers.  It must be the endorphin rush from the heat, like a runner's high.  That said, I find those silly XXX hot sauces like Endorphin Rush to be nasty bitter extracts.  I like taste with my heat, which leads into tidbit number 3.
3.   I am an avid cook.  I do the lion’s share of the cooking in our house, my wife does the baking.  Baking is science, cooking is art.  Don’t get me wrong, my wife, Susan, is a great cook, too.  Baking requires precise measurements for things to do what they are supposed to do and that’s not my way.  My maternal grandfather was a professional pastry chef and explained precise measures to me as a boy as he poured baking powder or salt into the palm of his hand.  Years of practice taught him to know what a teaspoon of whatever looked like.  Where measuring is concerned, I am a palm of the hand guy myself.  
4.  I’m gay -- Well, maybe not actually gay.  I often listen to show tunes or vintage disco while painting.  Lately it’s been “High School Musical.”  How many straight men over the age of fifty do that?  My mother,  an aspiring actress, would wake me for school every day with her best Debbie Reynolds rendition of “Good Morning, good morning, we talked the whole night through. Good morning, good morning to you...” from "Singing in the Rain.” Of course I couldn’t really be gay, aside from the obvious choice of the gender of my partner; I dress like a biker (or a beatnik) and have the body of Balzac.  One of my models likes to rub my tummy for good luck while whispering under her breath, “Buddha Belly.”  This brings me to number 5.
5.  I slept with David Hasselhoff.  Well, maybe not actually slept with him, it was more of a sleepover.  When I was a small boy, my parents were very good friends with his parents, Joe and Dolores Hasselhoff.   (My mother pronounced their name Hazelhoff, as in witch hazel, back then.) When my parents would visit Joe and Dolores, they would pack my sisters and me in the car with our PJ’s.  Eventually we and the Hasselhoff kids would fall asleep watching TV waiting for our parents to finish playing Canasta or whatever parents did in the fifties.  I haven't seen him in fifty years.  It’s a pity we lost touch, I know he rides a Harley and I’d love to go on a ride with him sometime.
6.  My mother was an ailurophobe, I am an ailurophile.  I didn’t grow up with cats but now I couldn’t imagine my life without them.  But then anyone who reads my blog regularly knows that.  J’embrasse mon chat sur la bouche.
7.  I suffer from terrible stage fright.  Painfully shy as a small boy, my mother thought the stage might help bring me out of my shell and enlisted me in a summer stock production of “Rumpelstiltskin,” where I played a peasant.  I did get to wear a cool costume, but seeing all those people looking at me freaked me out. I was an acolyte at my church for four years, which petrified me, but I kept on despite myself because I loved the robes.  The theatre is in my blood and in high school I became involved in set design and construction.  I did a bunch of scene painting for Peabody Opera Theatre back in the 80’s.  To this day I love to wear costumes. On any given day I either look like Maynard Krebs or a Hell's Angel.  But if it’s Oktoberfest, the lederhosen comes out.  Renaissance Festival?  No problem. Christmas?  Ho, Ho, Ho.  Indeed I have so many fencing shirts, capes and waistcoats hanging in my closet, the cleaning people are beginning to wonder about me (see number 4).  
My 7 victims, er tags are:
I don't know if I mentioned this, but we are designing and building a new house/studio which is really eating into my painting time.  Hopefully tomorrow will see me at the easel.

November 20, 2008


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

I've never painted a Cornish Rex before today.  The coat of a Cornish Rex is curly and extremely fine.  It's more like down than fur.  Indeed, Max here would get hypothermia on a day like today if he was allowed outside. Not unlike JJ, Max has found a recently closed laptop to perch on. He lives with my friend George and his antics are legend. In case you were wondering what is in the background of this piece; it is huge glass bell dome covering a stuffed crane atop an ornate carved chinese stand.

As I am typing this, some drama was happening just outside.  I had given Piper and the kids a bowl of kitten chow about 10 minutes ago and when I looked out, a very large raccoon was woofing down their food.  They were cowering in their cooler/cathouse.  I chased off Rory and checked on the gang.  Everybody was OK, thank goodness.  I still don't have the heart to separate Piper from her children.  I am working on gaining there confidence.  

It felt good to be back at the easel today.

November 18, 2008

Art - A seeing and feeling process

I am not going to wallow in creative self pity once more. Suffice it to say that I just couldn't summon up the inspiration to push around the paint today. I have many wonderful images and ideas in the queue but they all seemed flat. I passed up dinner and Quantum of Solace tonight because I felt that I had to create something. (Sorry Steve, a vodka martini, shaken, not stirred, might have cheered me up) Some artists can force themselves to work when their heart isn't in it, and successfully come out the other side. If I try and do that, it is reflected in the paint, which just makes me feel worse. Performance anxiety sets in when I have been away from the studio too long. I hate to disappoint everyone who has subscribed to my blog and who look forward to wonderful new things from me. Sorry guys, I'm working on it. This economy is getting to me. Did I mention we are building a new house? How's that for timing?

November 13, 2008

They're Baaack - and I'm gone

These paintings swam back upstream to the studio.  I held a few paintings back for the "Fish and Fowl" show at the Ice House Gallery in Berkeley Springs, WV last month. The works below are now available, all framed up for the holidays. If you'd like to have one click this link: and click "Artists," then find me and open my "Gallery"  click on the painting you want, click the PayPal button and voilĂ .   

In case you haven't guessed, my creative batteries are depleted (again).  I am off to the Big Easy to recharge them.  New work on Tuesday, I promise.

November 10, 2008

"Kittens in a wall"

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

Maybe it's the little guys frolicking just outside the studio that made me want to paint this piece. I have been spending way too much time watching the "rat pack" as we call them. Sammy, Dino and Shirley are destined to make the move into the studio before the snow flies. I made a make-shift house by cutting a 8" x 8" hole in front of an old igloo cooler and put a heated dog bed in it, which they have taken to, so I am slightly less worried about them being cold. Piper is still a hissy little bitch but the kids are starting to think the big pink monster is O.K.

These little kittens looked at first like they were stuck in the wall of my friends barn, but I was assured that they could come and go with no problem and that they felt safe in their nest. Having a farm can be a challenge. People seem to think they can dump kittens off with impunity. After all, everybody knows you can't have too many barn cats. At last count my friend has 50 some outside cats and 16 inside. She is more of a bleeding heart than I am, God bless her.

November 6, 2008

"Toasted Marshmallow"

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

Experience has taught me that two weeks away from the easel requires a slow progression back. Too often have I set myself up for a creative crisis by starting in on a complex new piece without warming up.  You wouldn't start a marathon without limbering up; the creative process requires no less. 
While camping on Long Key last week, I met a gifted pastry chef named Kelsey who had the site next to ours. My riding buddy Hugh, a.k.a. the "Beast," and I had a large bottle of Tanqueray Rangpur Gin and some Rose's lime juice and she had homemade marshmallows and a roaring campfire.  It was a match made in heaven.  I should mention it was cold, cold, cold.  Temperatures in the low 50's was not what I was expecting in the Florida Keys but with the help of a few Gimlets and the campfire we didn't feel the chill.  You can never go back to Stay-Pufts once you've had Kelsey's.  She was kind enough to leave us a whole bag of them when she broke camp the next day.  This painting features one of her creations freshly charred by the fire and seconds before being happily devoured by me.