February 24, 2009


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

Baltimore has long been called "the land of pleasant living" in advertisements for National Bohemian beer. Natty Boh being the proper drink of choice to wash down a dozen steamed crabs. Tossed unceremoniously on brown Kraft paper or on yesterdays news, these steaming hot crustaceans are what makes living in Maryland so special. In New England, arthropods are treated more upscale, often accompanied by a tenderloin filet and a fine Cabernet. The French take seafood to yet another level, pun intended. Their "plateau de fruits de mer" is a thing of beauty. Assorted shellfish and crabs are artfully arranged on a tower of ice filled splendor. You can find these in just about every brasserie in Paris. I hated to deconstruct these glorious edible works of art, although they were delicious.

February 23, 2009

"Olive and Friend"

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

Have you ever wondered why some words are invariably coupled with a particular qualifying adjective? For instance, have you ever heard pride described as anything but foolish? It's always "foolish pride." Olive drab is another. Why are olives drab, I ask you? I painted this painting of Anne Stark's Whippet, Olive, to prove not only is this Olive not drab, but she is quite vibrant. Well OK, perhaps her companion is the vibrant one but I say guilt by association. All that pink reflects well on her.

February 19, 2009


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

I'm not sure why I was reminded of the menu of the late lamented Hausner's Restaurant in East Baltimore when I was working on this. Possibly because the restaurant was brimming with late 19th century art and on the menu cover was an image of a particularly sentimental but sweet painting of a little girl and a Saint Bernard from their collection. RibN, my friends Marianne and Steve's Australian Shepherd bears little resemblance to a St. Bernard. Perhaps it was the bits of pink hinted in his snout that jogged my memory.
My mother was a product of German immigrants. She was what you might call a "disinterested" cook. Her limited culinary bag of tricks was distinctly 50's - no herbs, no spices (except Adolf's meat tenderizer, S&P (not freshly ground pepper- Heaven forbid!), maybe some dried oregano to throw in the spaghetti, canned vegetables, and then cook the hell out of everything (sorry Mom). Although her father was a professional pastry chef, I'm afraid the apple fell very far from that tree. To be fair, my mother was a diabetic and an ex model and actress, so I guess food wasn't high on her list of priorities. Thankfully for me, my boyhood friend Keith's parents allowed me to tag along when they went to Hausner's. My palate, dulled by years of bland cooking, was desperate for new experiences. Imagine a 14 year old boy tucking into his first plate of hasenpfeffer...Yum!! Did I mention that Hausner's was known for their strawberry shortcake?

February 18, 2009

"The red coats are coming!"

Oil on museum quality ampersand gessobord panel 5" x 7"

I probably should have painted this a bit larger as the detail in the tack and coat required the use of my trusty opti-visor. I am not Jean-Leon Gerome by any stretch of the imagination but once upon a time I painted a lot of miniatures. There are only 27 Vermeer paintings in existence. There is a reason he wasn't a daily painter. I tried to have some fun with the paint and keep the background loose and free. I should have channeled Degas. He could have knock this out in 20 minutes.

February 12, 2009

"Three Foxhounds"

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

The last few days have been most illuminating. Recently my painting lamp gave out after years of faithful service. I didn't think much of it at the time, I just assumed that I could go to the hardware store and get another one. Boy was I wrong. In their zeal to save Mother Earth, merchants have pulled from their shelves any flood lamp over 75 watts. Their intentions may be good but how am I supposed to see what I am painting? I bought one of those new-fangled curlique floods and it was passible but not great. My old reveal floodlight bathed my palette and canvas in lovely natural light. This new one bare lit up my work. I went back and bought a clip light and a 40 watt mini flood to light my palette and the Kelvin temp is close enough. I did find a source on the internet called Bulftown that still had some 150's so I may be back in business. If your neighborhood hardware store has any high wattage bulbs you may want to stock up while you still can.

February 9, 2009

"Salsa - the early days"

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

February 5, 2009

"We're all in this together"

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

I went to Centerstage on Tuesday and saw a fine production of Lynn Nottage's "Fabulation, or the re-education of Undine." A line from the play that stuck in my head was, and I paraphrase - "I dreamt of fish last night. That means I'm comin' into money." I, too, dreamt of fish that night, but for a completely different reason. When I started this painting, it seemed to be a fun little exercise in color and texture. It roughed in well, but soon I was lost in the myriad of iridescent hues and glistening reflections that had my head spinning. Each little fish had its own subtle character. Some seemed happy, (as happy as a dead fish can be) and others sad, or at least resigned to their fate. Sheep may all look the same, except perhaps to the shepherd, but I am here to tell you that all mackerel are not created equal. The variances in hue and shape caught me by surprise. Painting one was a challenge; painting a dozen soon became overwhelming. I fought the desire to do a wipe-out and the resulting painting turned out fresh and colorful. Lesson learned - push on though and try and come out on the other side. I'm glad I did.

February 3, 2009

"Eat Bertha's Mussels"

Oil on Canvas 15" x 20"
It is amazing how much time and thought goes into building a new house. Extreme care must be given to the choosing and placement of the smallest detail. As we get closer to being "under roof" the decisions about plumbing and lighting are coming fast and furious. Not wanting to make a mistake, we are spending hours and hours perusing lighting books and the Internet for that perfect sconce, just the right farm house sink, etc, etc. Sadly, my head is spinning from all this and I have not been able to concentrate. I did stand at the easel today but it just wasn't there. The painting laid in nicely but I couldn't see it through. I am going to freeze the palette and try again tomorrow. In the meantime, here is a painting a did in'05 that hasn't been posted.
There is a bar/restaurant in Fells Point called Bertha's which is famous for their steamed mussels. It is not uncommon to see their ubiquitous "Eat Bertha's Mussels" bumper stickers all over town. In one of the little side rooms, in a room painted chalk board green, is a table that has what I consider to be the perfect light for a portrait. I took my model friend Stephanie there one early afternoon for lunch, hoping my special table was unoccupied. It was and this is the result. They have excellent mussels by the way, if you should find yourself on the waterfront in Baltimore.