Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Lost Gift Of Christmas

                                                   An original mixed-media painting
                                                   18 X 24", unframed - ( mat & frame, 24 X 30")
                                                   $70.00,  ( plus $25.00, pack & ship )

                                                            ( click on image to enlarge )

     There are a number of small, English villages, known as "Picturesque" villages, which
are deliberately maintained without any modernization, to look much the same as they did
a couple of centuries or more ago.  They are a big draw for the tourism business.   But
during the height of the tourist season, they are much less picturesque, because the
narrow, crooked streets become jammed up with tourist buses, cars and people with
cameras, snapping photos in all directions.
     In this painting, looking up a street in a village called Bibury, I tried to imagine how the
village might appear, as a soft, fluffy snowfall began to coat the roofs, streets and shrubs,
creating a scene which would be something like gazing into an antique snow-globe.   I
hope it conveys the feeling that one of Charles Dickens' characters, or Dickens himself,
might imminently come down the street, whether by pony-cart or carriage.
     It would be easy for a wrapped gift to get jostled off the back of an over-loaded,
horse-drawn cart or wagon, and then soon become lost in the falling snow, as I depicted
it, lying there, waiting for rescue.  So, what would you imagine is in the lost Christmas gift?
I'll give you my answer
     It is the same gift which has been getting lost every year, in every village and city, and
in every country, all around the world.  The gift was first offered a couple of millenniums
ago, when a thoughtful, young reformer, stood up to all the entrenched religious and
political powers, which controlled everyone's lives, and offered some words which could
bring peace to all.  "Love thy neighbor as thyself!" he said.  But they were not ready to
change, and his words cost him his life.
     So, when will will of mankind finally be willing to hear the message?  Change will not
come until everyone is willing to stand up and say that no one has the right to impose his
beliefs, or his religion, on any one else, or suppress their rights of freedom of speech, or
deprive any one else of life, liberty, property or their own, personal pursuit of happiness.

     What is in the eternally lost, Christmas gift?  It is love and peace!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Visit From Horatio H. Hamster, as Bob Cratchit

   My little friend, and sometime model, Horatio, has popped up again, wanting to take this
opportunity to wish me and all the blog viewers a Merry Christmas.  He arrived in his new
guise as Bob Cratchit, because this month, he has been playing that part in the annual
production of Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol, at the local, neighborhood, Quadruped
     Today he says that the middle initial in his name stands for Holiday, as in "happy",
not as in "Doc", the western gunslinger of O.K Coral fame.  I told him that I doubted  that
any of the blog viewers would mistake him for a gunslinger of any species, human or
otherwise.  And then, since he was in a hurry to get to the theater for the evening
performance, I thanked him for his good wishes, and sent him on his way.
     I have been glad to see that he has received some critical praise for his roll as the
kindly father of Tiny Tim, praise which has not been quite so glowing for all the cast
members.  But he still feels that the show must go on, despite the lack of talent and
intelligence of some who are not capable of carrying out their parts.
     The critics have all been particularly vocal in pointing out the ineptitude of Donald
Skunk, who was cast in the leading role of the production.  It did seem like the choice
of Donald Skunk to play Ebeneezer Scrooge, was perfect type-casting, since he is so
naturally odious that his very presence pollutes the air around him.  But it soon became
evident that he was completely lacking in the ability to act, in any role of importance.
     On the other hand, Barack O'possum has received high marks from the critics, for
his performance as the Ghost of Christmas Past, perfectly illuminating those days when
kindness and caring for our fellow creatures was more important than personal greed
and the accumulation of excess wealth.
      Then there was also another bad casting decision, when Vladimir Piglet was
picked to play The Ghost Of Christmas Present.  Evidently Vladimir constantly hogs
the stage, gobbling up anything he happens to see, and carrying off anything which he
wants.   And, all the while, he never seems to properly acknowledge the reality of all
the poverty, disease, death and destruction happening in, in the world around him, as
his role requires.
     Sadly, for Horatio, during most of the performances, by the time of the entrance
of the Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come, the critics and most of the audience have
already left the makeshift, old, barn theater, which the Quadruped Players call home.
So, the play usually stops before there is a satisfactory conclusion.  Still, Horatio says
the show must go on, and he keeps on trying.  Next year perhaps he will have better
luck with casting.  We can only hope!

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Last Pumpkin ( Composition Study )

                                             An original oil painting, on canvas panel
                                             20 X 16", unframed
                                             $600.00,  ( plus $25.00, pack and ship )

                                                         ( click on image to enlarge )

      I pulled this still-life from storage, to post on the blog, because it seemed like an
appropriate choice to show on Halloween.  The title of this imagined setting reflects the
idea that this pumpkin, and its ornamental-gourd companion,  may be located in an old,
farm fruit-cellar, awaiting their final destiny, after the rest of the bountiful, autumn harvest
has already found its way to the dinner table, in some dish or other.  The light, filtering
down from a broken window-frame or doorway, reveals two things which are always
guaranteed to be found in such ancient cellars: dust and spiderwebs.  So, all-in-all, it is
not the kind of painting which most people would like to have hanging on their walls.

     But actually, the subject matter of the painting was not what was important to me,
at the time that I was painting it.  The subjects might as well have been bottles, or jugs,
or boxes or any number of objects.  What was important to me back then, was the study
of the dramatic use of light and shadow, which some of the Renaissance masters used
so effectively, called chiaroscuro.   And, although this painting, and others from this
series, will never achieve the status of a Caravaggio, they still hold up fairly well, for the
simple studies that they are.



Monday, October 17, 2016

Sayin' Howdy For Hillary

( click on image to enlarge )

Introducing Horatio H. Hamster III Esq.  You may have seen Horatio before.  He has appeared on my cards and in a number of other works, but this is the first time he has had a blog posting all his own.  I don't know what name his middle initial stands for; whenever I ask him, he always seems to come up with a different answer every time.  He has a way of sneaking into my drawings at unexpected moments.  I think that is a part of his attempts to talk me into making him the star of a new book, but that possibility remains to be seen.

     As an artist's model, Horatio is often seen wearing a variety of different hats.  When he is feeling Lincolnesque, he wears a stovepipe hat, but he is a bit too vertically challenged to carry off that roll convincingly.  At other times, when feeling in a Dickens mood, he may shorten the top-hat and add a long, woolen scarf to his ensemble , to evoke the spirit of Bob Cratchit, asking Mr. Scrooge for the whole day off, on Christmas Day.  And there are some days when he appears with a deer-stalking hat and meerschaum pipe, as if inhabiting the spirit of Sherlock Holmes, investigating a mysterious crime.
     Now he has popped up wearing a western, marshal's cowboy-hat.  I admired what I called his "ten-gallon" hat, but he has corrected me, saying that his hat is the "ten-ounce" model.  Today he informs me that his middle name is Hopalong, and that I should call him by that name, which was also the nickname of a famous, Western film hero, Hopalong Cassidy.  When I asked him if he had ever known Mr. Cassidy, he said that he had not known his namesake personally, but that he had a mole friend who once lived in Mr. Cassidy's front yard, and had therefore seen the star regularly, so he felt that there were very few degrees of separation  between himself and the cowboy hero.
     I couldn't help but notice that the marshal's badge on Horatio's hat was covered by a card with a political emblem I had seen before, and I asked him what it stood for.  He then replied, with soul-stirring emphasis, that it stood for the call to "Make America intelligent again !"  He then went on to express his concerns about the upcoming, national election, and to make an appeal for everyone to go to the polls and vote for only the most qualified, competent and thoughtful candidates for high office.
     I was a bit surprised by Horatio's knowledge of the high-minded candidates who are running for office, and his ability to recognize which candidates were just greedy, self-serving frauds.  But his ability to distinguish between the good ones and the rotten ones, probably derives from his very unique perspective. Horatio happens to be well acquainted with the crude characteristics of the more destructive varieties of rodents, and he has noticed that there are a number of such vermin seeking public office, from the top of the ticket on down.  For example, he says that the candidate at the top of the ballot, who represents the party of the wealthy and the banking and insurance interests, has been exhibiting the kind of manners which are more commonly associated with those of sewer rats, as well as the the lack of intelligence which is more commonly associated with suicidal lemmings.
     It is hard to argue with someone who has such an intimate knowledge of the behavior of the despicable classes of rodents.  Horatio is certainly convincing me.  Perhaps everyone should hear his appeal to common sense, and then vote wisely.

                The original, mixed media drawing of Horatio, in his "ten-ounce" cowboy hat,
                is on illustration board, and it measures seven by five inches.  It is available for
                $45.00, ( plus $8.00, pack and ship )

                A giclee, private-edition print of the drawing, also seven by five inches,
                is available for $10.00, ( plus the $8.00, pack-and-ship charge )

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Art Fair Update

     Hello again, and thank you, to all who managed to brave the weather extremes, to stop by and see me at the fair.  Mother Nature wasn't very kind to us, was she? We were sweltering one day, and wet and chilly the next.  But it was nice to see the old friends who could make it over for a visit, and nice to meet those of you who came by for the first time, and make your acquaintance.   We had some enjoyable chats, sometimes about deeper things than just the weather, although that did tend to dominate the conversations.

     Ah well, what can we do? You can't fight Mother Nature.  Maybe she will be kinder to us for the Spring events.

     Thanks again.
     Til next time,  Gene McNerney

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Come to the fair.

     This is the time of the year when we begin to see arts festivals popping out
 somewhere, on almost every weekend, in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
Most of these art fairs serve as promotional events for commercial retail districts
or shopping centers, but there is one annual fair in September, which stands out
as a benefit for a worthy, non-profit organization.   I am referring to PeaceWorks-
KC, an all volunteer group, working to promote a healthier and a more just and
peaceful world for everyone.  The UNplaza Art Fair is the sole, annual fundraiser
for the dedicated group.
     For those of you who live in this area, or who plan to be visiting here in late
September, and you are feeling the itch to go to an art fair, this one would be a
good one to mark on your calendar.  The UNplaza Art Fair takes place on Sept.
24th, from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, and Sept. 25th, from 12:00 PM To 5:00 PM.
The location is 4501 Walnut, on the lawns of the All Souls Unitarian Universalist
Church.  There will be a large number of booths, offering a wide variety of arts
and crafts to see and enjoy or buy.
     I am planning to be in attendance at the fair, showing paintings and prints, in
booth number thirteen.  I welcome the opportunity to show my work and have
a chat with those of you who would like to stop by and say hello.

     See you at the fair?
     Gene McNerney

Monday, August 1, 2016

Smiling Beneath The Greasepaint

                                                   An original drawing, in charcoal and pastels
                                                   12 X 9", unframed, - ( mat size, 17 X 14" )
                                                   $75.00, - ( plus $15.00, pack and ship )

                                                         ( click on image to enlarge )

     This is one of a number of such studies I have done in the past, as preparations for
doing clown paintings.  People seem to fall into two camps, when it comes to clowns;
they either love them or they hate them.  I can understand some of the antipathy for
clowns; professional clowns who have a genuine talent to amuse an audience are a
rarity.  Most of the "clowns" that young people are exposed to these days are clowns
in name only; they think that a silly costume, face paint and noise makers, are all it takes
to be funny.  A genuine clown has enough acting and mime skills to create a character
who communicates visually, and sometimes verbally, with his audience, to carry out a
theme or story, in common with, or recognizable to all.

     One of the best at his profession, was Emmett Kelly.  I have a personal memory of
seeing Kelly perform, over a half century ago, which I will try to relate in a future posting.
Glancing back through previous postings, I only see a couple of selections using artful
performances by mimes or clowns as subjects, (Silent Laughter, and Put On A Happy
Face).  So, I will try to get more of them photographed and posted in the blog.