March 6, 2019

"Casamento's Oysters on a Formica Table"

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

  You may have noticed that today's painting is dated 2018.  There is a reason for that and forgive me if I have addressed this before, but it is worth repeating.  There is an old adage, nay, an axiom, that states a painting is never finished but merely stopped at a given time.  It is knowing when to stop that separates the good artists from the great.  When I stopped this painting, I was not quite happy with the results.  The flesh was a lifeless, monotone grey.  Since the daily paintings are meant to be exercises or warm-ups, I just moved on, chalking it up to a bad day.  However, I just couldn't let this one go. I did varnish it, in a forlorn hope that the sunken colors would sing and be brought back to life.  They didn't and it wasn't, so it went into "the box."  The Box is sort of like the Island of misfit toys for lost and forgotten paintings.  I had not given the piece much more thought until a few days before Mardi Gras. While watching the Food Channel, a segment on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives featured Casamento's on Magazine Street in New Orleans, which is where I first encountered these three. I knew then that I had to revisit them. 
  Sure, I could have started with a fresh panel but I wanted to experiment with removing the old varnish.  Hitherto, I had never removed varnish from a painting.  I purposely use Soluvar vanish because it is self leveling and easily removable for the restoration process years from now.  I am happy to report that it does come off nicely, without disturbing the paint beneath.  This painting had been varnished at least 6 months ago so I wasn't too worried about that aspect. The nearly grisaille under-paint took the fresh glazes and scumbles beautifully, as if to say "What took you so long?"  Like Lazarus rising from the grave, there is new life in these pretty, puffy little bi-valves.   Laissez les bons temps rouler!

February 28, 2019

West Coast Oysters with Lemon and Mignonette

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

  Another small oyster painting from last week.  Perhaps not quite as much fun since these were posing for me alfresco and there are no catch lights to make them glisten.  That said, the pretty, deep, fluted cups have charm of their own.  They remind me of cogs in a wheel or the inner workings of a watch.  The juxtaposition of the shells, the weathered wooden table, the metal cup and hint of a crystal glass made for a fun and challenging exercise. I like the way the yellow of the lemon dances around the composition, grazing off the shells and mignonette.  The expression "A pop of color" is overused today, especially on home decorating shows, but it is appropos here. The lemon really makes the painting sing.  Perhaps the more correct title should be "Lemon with Oysters, Mignonette and glass."
  I'm generally not a fan of sauces on oysters, but out West, where the oysters are less briny, creamier and more minerally, I like a squeeze of lemon, a splash of herbaceous mignonette or even just a dash of tabasco. Call me a homer, but even after all my travels, I still prefer slurping the local guys from the Chesapeake Bay more than almost anywhere else, with the possible exception of Prince Edward Island.  I do like a salt bomb oyster and they produce some beauties up there.

February 27, 2019

"The Persistence of memory"

oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel
6" x 8"

  Another year has gone by and again I have neglected this poor blog.  Well, today is a new day and a new commitment to keep you, my loyal followers, abreast of my creative efforts. By now you are aware that oysters are my go-to models when I have been away from the easel or wrestling with my Muse. A singer does scales to keep their instrument sharp, I paint oysters.  Besides, I like painting oysters!  They remind me of snowflakes - no two are alike. This little piece reminds me of Salvador Dali's ubiquitous  "The Persistence of Memory." The shell of the lower oyster seems to melt over the edge of the table like a ripe Camembert in the warm sun.