Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Today's Pianting

I started two new paintings today. This is the background for another scene from the Spring Revolt (Diamond being the instigator.) I thought it would make for an interesting and fitting background if the sky is distorted. Thank you photo shop. On my way.

The other is called "Unikoi." You can guess what that one will be in my world. Sort of my own take on "Unicorn." It's a bit cheeky, yes.

Unicorns ore THE most recognisable word and image in mythology, though they aren't present in Greek myth. Greeks were convinced that they did exist in reality somewhere in India. And there were other supposed accounts throughout ancient history and they had great significance in various cultures. I have a mind to paint what the account describe, which is differnet than what we have been exposd to. Unfortunately, most of us think of a cartoon when we hear the word "unicorn." Because we are ruined. It's the same reason we hear Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody and think "That's that Bugs Bunny song!"

close up, "Pen's New Day Rising"

I always take comments very seriously. I found that they even help me make a decision about a painting. Not always in a direct way, but often in the side door. My fellow artist Sheila made a comment about "Pen" saying "the red beak is like a scarlet gash stabbing into a velvet sculpture." I just love that visual and in thinking more about her story, I imagined her appearing to be like a crack in the window of time; in the moment of that landscape. Hope to get a final excellent photo of the entire work as soon as I can get my "assistant" to help.

So, Sheila, my friend and comrade in art, many thanks for the inspiration today.

Documentary "Art in the 21st Century"

All four seasons of "Art in the 21st Century" are now available on Hulu. Way cool.

I am messing around....back to the easel.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Today's Painting

Beginning to add elements. Shells, seeds, pods, feathers, a few deceased small animals, acorns, etc. Let me know if you think of any other elements I can add. They must all be from the natural world. Nothing human, nothing man made. No cellphones.

Monday morning and Robert Motherwell

There is interesting covereage beginning of the Motherwell lawsuit in the New York Times.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

What's that Painting?

"Sitting Bull Returns" at the Drive-In
1976, Willard Midgette (about 11 ft x 9 ft)

Willard Midgette was an American realist painter and print maker. I can't find a lot about him and it may be because unfortunately he died at the age of 40 from a brain tumor. The painting is in storage at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. I am going to research a bit more and see what I can come up with on our artist brother, Willard Midgette.

So, it is later on Sunday evening. I had very little luck in finding much about Willard except that he did quite a few large works focused on Native American life. Sheila seems to know who he is, but I have never heard of him. Not only did I find a lack on info on him, but I could not find any images of his other work, either.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Artomatic registration opened today and I finally got on site and registered after a few bugs. I have had my reservations about the event, but it is the greatest art collaboration I have ever seen and I am looking forward to participating for the first time, seeing some great art, meeting fellow artists and art lovers. My big concern has been security. Since the artwork hangs for many weeks in a huge building that has many entrances and is open for many hours a day, there is a risk of theft. I know at least one artists had work stolen last year, and though I understand this is a risk you take, I am determined to come up with a way to hang securely at the venue and relieve my conscience over the duration of the event. If anyone has any ideas about how to do this, please chime in!

After my post about the painting in my blog banner last week, I decided to do a regular post called "What's that painting?" on the weekends focusing on a fairly obscure painting in each post. Cool, right? I think so. We all know the top 20 or so artists and paintings. How about a little light on the other thousands?

No painting of the day (because it is too late in the afternoon to shoot), just "painting mess" of the day. But slowly, it is coming along. I think I hate cleaning up brushes more than just about anything.

Thoughts on the Stag painting

Sometimes I find that ideas come very quickly. Over the last day or so I have received this lovely bunch of ideas that I am eager to get on. But I find this happening can take my attention away from paintings in progress. It is the tyranny of the "next shiny thing" syndrome.

In thinking about the stag, I am gathering elements of nature to begin laying in. Memories. I am chewing on how powerful nature is in triggering memories, in carrying those memories over our lifetimes like containers. Most of us make deep connections in nature and the power of those connections is transcendent. Pieces and occurrences that have always been, before we were. Seeing certain objects take us to a place we know we have been before and we connect with others over history knowing that they have seen these elements of nature, too, and had memories connected to them. I want to create that effect in my mythological world among the animals.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

On the Easel

OK, so I thought I was done with the head, but I lied. So, a few details and punches up in the highlights today. Here is a close up. Difficult go at photo'ing on a rainy day, but pretty darn true other that that glare at the top. I am getting my memory elements compiled, too, and hope to be on that tomorrow.

Today, I also researched a handful of new ideas and am really excited about what's next.
How do you get your ideas for paintings?

What to do with Pen.....Is she done?

(these are not rhetorical questions, all.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

On the easel

I have been away from the easel for almost a week now. After a quick trip down to my sister's last wednesday, Craig and I both got some sort of stomach bug over the weekend. I hate that weird out of sorts feeling you get after doing nothing but laying in bed ill for two days being miserable and then trying to get back to daily life. Disconnected is the word. Thanks for everyone's well wishes an medical advice!

But, I did indeed get back to it today. Still waiting for the rest of the story from Pen.

I have one more antler to finish over the next day or so and then the "memories" go in. A little more reworking some of the head, but I feel that part is done, now.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Two words: food poisoning.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Achelous and Hercules"

A few people have asked me about the painting on my blog banner. This enormous painting is "Achelous and Hercules" by regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton. It hangs in the Smithsonian American Art Museum and truly is a remarkable painting. You all know my great fondness for myth, so I am always enthralled by it when visiting the museum.

In the 40's, the Army Corp of Engineers began work in the Midwest to harness the Missouri River. Benton, who was born in Missouri, used the Greek mythological story of Achelous and Hercules as a parable to portray this great work. In short, Achelous, Greek god of the rivers, took on the form of an angry bull, tearing new channels through the earth with his horns. Hercules defeated him by tearing off one horn, which became nature's cornucopia, or horn of plenty. With my great fondness for myth, I am always enthralled by it when I visit the museum and make a point to spend time gazing.

Friday, March 20, 2009


I am reflecting on the immense blessing it is to live the creative life, to have the opportunity to come alongside someone struggling, to connect and to nurture.

Have a grateful weekend everyone and many, many thanks for all of your encouraging and challenging words.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

On the Easel: Pen's New Day Rising

I still have a bit left to do on the let side, and it is difficult to get a good photo inside, but here is "Pen's New Day Rising." Working with very little range in value is challenging, but it creates a of of drama in a painting when one or two areas pop and the majority of the painting is close on the value scale.

She, of course, shows up unexpectedly, replete with mystical meaning. As there are three Sheep of Nectar and the role of the Shepherd of Every Blooming Vine is passed from one generation to another, there is only one black swan, illusive and bestowed with eternal life. When she appears in the mind of creation, it is in dreams, momentary visions and fables. These are the fore tellers of her appearing.

Thinking on about our stag hanging behind me. He will be a bearer of memories. Funny how things come to us. I was on a run yesterday and suddenly there was a change in direction for this painting. More later.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Weekend...

It was a weird between winter and spring rainy, cold weekend. I went to the feed store, gave Reuben James a bath, did some laundry, had dinner with a good friend, cleaned a bit and zoned out on the bed for a bit just to let my mind go and see if I get any images or words that might turn into potential painting ideas. Nothing. Can't be "on" all the time, I guess.

We saw "The Kite Runner" which was an amazing movie. I don't watch a lot of movies unless they come highly recommended by someone I trust, because most of them are trash. This one is great, so see it if you haven't yet.

I learned this past week that my sister, brother-in-law and nephew are moving up to D.C. this summer. He is on his second deployment to Iraq and got new orders to report here from Virginia Beach in July. I don't believe in accidents, so I am looking eagerly to what sort of great things are going to be born out of living close to these people that we love so dearly. I have never lived near my sister. She is twelve years younger and I left home at fourteen, so this is a big deal to me. We share a love of animals. particularly horses. Sarah is a seasoned rider and instructor and will bring her two horses with her, so we will have a great time riding together. My brother-in-law is just plain awesome, he doesn't need any special skills to prove it ("you know, like nunchuk skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills...") And of course, my nephew is the coolest little boy ever.

So, off to address "Pen" and the stag. I am not happy with some of the work on the antlers and may have to go back over them again this week.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Revisiting past work

About this time of year I get several emails from churches or christian organizations about my early work which was very centered on my faith. Most want to use an image in reproduction or in a power point. I was filling one of those requests this morning and revisiting a fifteen year old painting that continues to impact people. It doesn't seem to matter where people are in their belief or lack of belief about God, I get plenty of strong response to this painting.
I was a bit stunned by how it even impacted me seeing it again. It is enormous at 60 x 48 and resides at a friend's home about an hour south of where I live.

What I remember back then was being so struck with the absolute evil of murder, of the extermination of a human life while reading the story of Cain and Abel. I had a very supernatural experience only weeks before that in simple terms took me from a devout atheist to a true believer in Jesus. Long story that is much more complicated.....but here is the painting.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

New Painting

"Pen's New Day Rising." Working title, but it is working for me. Any suggestions are most welcome.
Does sound a bit like a dog show name?.......Still, this is the original string of words the painting began with......

Not One Sparrow Animal Advocacy Group

Ben DeVries of christian animal advocacy group Not One Sparrow approached me a few months ago about featuring my paintings on the organization's blog.

I am usually very wary of these sorts of groups and find most of them to be extreme and unbalanced often aggressively demanding a kind of "equal rights" for animals while being completely void of any concern for human life or without any care or compassion towards any created being other than human beings. This is a tough statement, but I have always felt very strongly that any person who does not care for animals has a serious character flaw. It is an indication of something awry under the surface. A disconnect from God AND other people. One cannot say she loves God and neglect to love His creation in it's entirety

I truly support Ben's mission and goal for Not One Sparrow, so I am honored to be a part of this work.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Painting and Reading

We finally made the jump to turn off the cable TV, which really is essentially a time waster; let's be honest. I have been reading more at night (as long as it isn't LOST night.) I finished up "The Artist's Mentor." Artists say many weird things that don't make any sense. I read a lot of quotes and came away with a "what??" I am not sure that this book has been as much a mentor as it was an amusement.

So, last night I read more of "The Widening Stream: The Seven Stages of Creativity" by creativity guru David Ulrich. This is a good book, though I am sure I am not deep enough to get most of it's contents. I do have a few "what??" moments with this one, too. Maybe its me.

Chapter four is about coming away from the work by retreating and withdrawing. This is something I have experienced lately and with much angst. In a product oriented society, we are steeped in the ultimate value of doing something that produces and we feel something is really wrong if we aren't on this track all the time. Having to walk away from work that isn't moving forward is a good thing giving us time to refocus and reflect. Good words and a lost art, this meditating and reflecting, right? I have to remind myself repeatedly "quality over quantity."

I am exceptionally tired today and have spent the morning doing things like this. Will I paint today?....

From yesterday. I feel really good about the head and have laid in the first color masses in the antlers.

Monday, March 09, 2009

National Gallery of Art

We make a visit to the National Gallery two or three times a year. Saturday after a brief visit to the American History Museum, we headed over there for my must have encounter with the Van Gogh portrait in the collection. I always get weepy, it is always an emotional experience. I have talked about this is the past. For me, considering his life, his letters and his struggles I feel all the more connected to the work. It wasn't until about twenty years after his death that people began to take notice of his work and now, could he even imagine where his paintings might be and that one portrait could deeply effect one woman in Washington D.C.? I managed to compose myself in this photo taken a few years ago.

I was focused on seeing Mark Rothko's paintings, so we made our way to the east building which houses the modern art collection. I have never felt greatly connected to modern art. And as a matter of fact, walking into the gallery, immediately I was struck by the coldness if the atmosphere. There is even a weird undercurrent of "horror", if I may use that word. I find most modern art void of humanity and beauty which is really important to me as a painter and viewer (hey, and as a human.) But last year, I sat and looked at one of Rothko's paintings and remember being quite moved. I wanted to sit and look again, though this is a different painting than the one on display last year. Maybe I am beginning to "get it." It may help to acquaint myself with his story.


I want to mention Thomas Cole's "Voyage of Life" series beautifully displayed in the west building complete with the artist's statements about each massive painting. They are numbers 10 through 13 here. Really beautiful and moving works.

So, a great day in our capital and off to Trader Joe's on the way home. Yee-ha.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Center for the Arts Exhibit

The art director send me the official email about my upcoming three woman show in 2010. I guess that isn't upcoming, but a bit daunting, since I need to have 15 strong paintings by then and a few have sold. My numbers are going down. Not that I am complaining.....

I will have the honor of showing with Karen Eide and Kathleen Kendall at the Center for the Arts in Manassas about a year from now. Loosely, the exhibit is the conceptualization of the theme of myth and nature utilizing human and animal representation. Cool, right?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Leon Frederic and Black Swans

Craig mentioned black swans tonight over dinner (cannot remember why) and I have been pondering for some time a painting called "blank's (insert name) New Day Rising."
The black swan came right to me. I could see it so clearly in my mind.

So, researching tonight, Craig found a really amazing painting by late 19th century Belgian symbolist painter Leon Frederic. I have never heard of him, but am thrilled to stumble upon his work. He was around sort of at the height of Impressionism, so his style is weird for the time. He just did his thing. I love when artists do their thing.

"The Lake" by Leon Frederic

New Painting

I just spent the last hour and a half getting submission ready. Some of these venues can really make you jump through lot of hoops. Man.

New Painting work from yesterday. Now we are rockin'. Antlers go on next week barring any issues. I seem to have a lot of issues lately with my paintings...

And, finally:

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Paintings and Happy Accidents

I have had so many sad accidents lately, I am thankful for a happy one. I need more happy accidents, please.

I have used equal parts stand oil and mineral spirits solely as my medium since I started using oil paint. A painter I took a class from a few years back uses it, so I started using it not knowing much about mediums. His paintings look good, he knows what he is doing, so why not?

Well, I hate it. It is sticky, really thick and gunky (or is that "gooky?") I went through my drawer full of painting add-ons and found a little glass bottle of refined linseed oil. Man, what the hell?! Love it! Where have I been using this other crap?! No offense to those who use stand oil. So, you can hear my intense feeling about this, because it comes on the heels of the baboon painting, which has been a veritable nightmare. I am really tired of dealing with it, which is a really bad place to be regarding a painting.
Here is a new painting I am in the beginning stages of working on. I have a long way to go, but lets hope it isn't as long as the above. Oh, but I have a magic medium from heaven, now, so no worries, right?