Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Tallgrass Indian Summer

                                                 An original acrylics painting, on stretched canvas
                                                 12 X 24", unframed
                                                           ( click on image to enlarge )

      Most Americans are familiar with the unexpected weather stretches, which are
commonly called Indian summers.  That name generally refers to an unusually warm
period of days, in late autumn, following regular nights of deep freezes, which have frosted
and bleached the landscape, and put the earth to sleep for the winter.  But now that the
global weather system is becoming ever more erratic, and unpredictable, unseasonable,
weather conditions, which we used to think of as rare, are becoming every day events.
We see the results of these, increasingly deadly, weather events in our newspapers and
on television every day now, and many of us experience the traumas first hand.

     Right now, the states along the eastern side of our country, are experiencing record-
breaking, torrential rains and flooding, forcing people to evacuate their homes and
businesses, and causing severe economic damages.  While at the same time, in our
drought-stricken, western states, the record-breaking, uncontrollable, wild fires, are
sweeping over thousands of acres of land, consuming hundreds of homes, as well as
the people who are getting trapped and are unable to escape the intense fury of the
deadly, fire storms.    California used to have a period of the year which they referred
to as the fire season, but global warming has changed that.  Now they say the fire
season is the whole year long.

     The American Plains Indians had a name for the uncontrollable and unstoppable
wild fires, which sometimes swept across the prairies, in great, long waves.   They called it
Red Buffalo, because of the similarities to the uncontrollable and unstoppable nature of
the enormous herds of bison, which could sweep across the land and over everything in
their paths, in a massive tide of horns and hooves.

     The Indians considered themselves to be a part of the earth and everything on it.
For them, the concept of taking ownership of the earth, and then polluting and spoiling it
because of greed, was unthinkable.  It would not have occurred to them, to ruinously
exploit their mother earth for nothing but monetary profit.  But unfortunately, we have not
been such good custodians of the earth.  Every day we are pumping more and more
green-house gasses into our atmosphere.  And now comes word from our administration,
of plans to cut back on the new standards of control for auto-exhaust, air-pollution,
in order to increase car sales.   Perhaps this administration needs a first-hand, up-close-
and-personal encounter with the Red Buffalo.            


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Last Toll Of The Old School-bell

                                                    An original acrylics painting, on gesso primed panel
                                                    18 X 10, unframed

                                                          ( click on image to enlarge )

     Several postings on this blog, have expressed thoughts about our difficulties related to
weather and climate problems.  There is an old saying that says everyone talks about the
weather, but nobody does anything about it.  But unfortunately, that is no longer true.  We
are doing a lot about our weather, and almost all that we have done is wrong  -- wrong for
our spaceship Earth, and very wrong for us.  As global warming increases, our weather
extremes will continue, producing ever greater "natural disasters" every year.  And the
financial catastrophe of trying to escape from things like rising sea levels, will be an over-
whelming burden for our future generations.

     In my last posting, I talked a bit about the early pioneers who settled on our treeless,
western prairies, and the kinds of physical and emotional adjustments they had to make,
in order to survive.  And now I wonder what kinds of adjustments lie ahead for all of us
to face.  The old school-bell is tolling for us all, but we're not listening.
     The preliminary painting I showed in that posting, had this old stone school-house, in
the prairie grasslands of the Flint Hill of Kansas, as its subject.  I have shown it here, in a
more fully developed version. I imagine that this will probably be the final one.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

They Dreamed Of Trees

                                            An original acrylics painting, on gesso primed, wood panel
                                            10 X 18", unframed
                                            $300.00, - ( plus $30.00, pack and ship )

                                                               ( click on image to enlarge )

     Several of my recent posts on this blog, have discussed some of the issues we are
facing, with the changes in our weather patterns, here in the middle of the country.
These problems are undoubtedly going to intensify, as global warming continues our
glacial meltdown.  The experts have warned us, that the frequency and intensity of
our weather extremes, are only going to increase, and the evidence becomes more
easy for us to see and feel, with every new weather-related disaster.  Our descendants
may have to live on a planet that we would not be able to recognize, if there is still
a planet then, where life is possible for them.

     That thought is a reminder of some of the physical and psychological difficulties
which the early pioneers faced, when they first arrived on the treeless prairies of
the western territories.  Those early settlers had no woodlands to provide lumber
for them to use to build houses, or wood to burn for fuel.  So, they had to build their
shelters from the very earth itself, making sod-houses or even burrowing into hill-sides
to escape the winter's blasts, while burning buffalo chips for their fuel.  And then, in
the blistering days of summer heat-waves, such as the one we are experiencing now,
they were faced with that vast, wide-open panorama of the cloudless sky, without
a tree in sight, to offer them life-giving shade.

     This painting is based on another example of settlers using what they could find
as building materials.  Perched on the rise of that prairie hill, is an old school-house
built of stone.  There is a portion of the tall-grass prairie lands, called the Flint Hills,
which was never plowed because of the stone content of the soil, so the native
prairie survived as ranch-lands, and early ranch-houses were sometimes built of
stone as well.

    The days are long gone, when school boys rode their horses to the old school,
but perhaps the prairie winds still echo with the sound of the old school bell.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Some Scents Of Spring

                                                   An original acrylics painting, on canvas panel
                                                   20 X 16" unframed
                                                   $400.00, - ( plus $35.00, pack & ship )

                                                            ( click on image to enlarge )

     Now, as I look at this painting again, I see that I should have included an object
of easily identifiable size, in order to provide a good idea of the scale of these items.
The bouquet is actually a small bunch of wild-phlox, blossom-clusters, with some pink
azaleas, which happened to be blooming at the same time, in our area.
     The cat is an equally, small-scale object.  It is one of the little, hand-me-down,
cat figurines, here at the studio, which have very undistinguished, porcelain pedigrees.
( They were probably cranked out by the thousands, in Japan, following the second
world war. )  However, they do come in handy, as still-life objects, so they sometimes
come and go, in my paintings, about as silently and aloof as their real-life counterparts.

     The title I have given the painting, is a bit of a word-play, with a duel reference to
flower fragrance, and our crazy weather this spring.  The scent of the flowers in this
little bouquet, was not strong, but a cat would no doubt be very aware of its presence.
I even considered calling the painting Scents And Scent-ability. ( My apologies to
Jane Austin, for the bad pun, on the title of her novel Sense And Sensibility. )
The other reference to word-play, is that the usual pronunciations of the words scents
and sense, can sound the same, so the title can sound like Some Sense Of Spring.
Taken that way, the title expresses the wish for a normal weather pattern in our area
of the country, where we were not given a real taste of spring this year.  We have
jumped abruptly from long lingering, winter blasts into mid-summer heat, months
before such high temperatures normally settle in on us.
     Mother Nature does enjoy her cruel jokes.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Daffodil Dreams

                                                An original acrylics painting, on canvas panel
                                                20 X 16". unframed
                                                ( This painting will be in an upcoming exhibition at
                                                Buttonwood Art Space, and will not be available
                                                on this site until that show closes. )

                                                            ( Click on image to enlarge. )

     Daffodils are a member of the narcissus family, which according to ancient Greek
mythology, lined the banks of the River Styx, where Hades, the god of the underworld
ruled.  This year, in the American heartland, the flower's long association with death,
seems to have held another, prophetic warning about life's unpredictability here.
Spring may not have died, but she certainly went AWOL.  Winter has held claim on
us, right up to the onset of summer weather.  Here in the center of the continent,  the
Arctic cold fronts, and the warm fronts coming up from the gulf, are constantly battling
for control, and the people and their tender plants suffer from the fall-out.  So, with
Mother Nature being so fickle, it is always a toss-up, as to how much of spring's
annual, flower show will survive.  April even served up a couple of snow-falls and
deep freezes for us, after flowers and trees were already in bloom.

    A majority of the people in this country are not native Americans, they are the
descendants of immigrants from other lands, as are our daffodils.  But these bulbs
have proved to be a hardy breed.  Early pioneer women, who traveled from the
east coast, to settle the Ozarks, carried the bulbs with them, and planted them in
front of their cabins, to have a touch of home.  Now those early, crude cabins are
gone, and the worn-out land has often been reclaimed by woodlands, but each
spring, the bright, yellow flowers sprout up again, to mark the place where hopes
ran high.

   The daffodils here at the studio, were well budded-out when they were twice
blanketed by snow-falls.  I was quite surprised, when I saw that many had survived
the bitter onslaught, and opened up, bright and cheerful, after the snow melted.
Such loyal endurance seemed to call for a painted tribute to the ongoing magic
and mystery of these mythological, fellow travelers.   This painting was the result
of that call.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Tulips Sit Where Two Lips Sipped

                                               An original acrylics painting, on canvas panel
                                               16 X 20", unframed
                                                $400.00, - ( plus $35.00, pack & ship )

                                                            ( Click on image to enlarge. )

     Some viewers may find the little, tongue-twister title of this posting a bit silly, rather
than mildly amusing, but I'm hoping that a majority of them will fall into the latter group.
( I suppose that is an ego thing. )  But there is a kind of logic to the choice of title, if you
consider the original cause of the impulse to paint these tulips.
     Imagine, if you will, a scenario in which the gardener of the house has just finished his
morning coffee, and decides to go out for a stroll around the garden, to take a look at
some of the weather damages to his tender plants.  As he walks, he decides to save the
last of the storm-ravaged tulips, and bring them inside, where he then plunks them into
his coffee mug, still sitting on the kitchen counter.  And then, having saved them, (at least
for a few, last days of fading glory), he decides to use them as subjects for a painting.
After all, he is well aware that he may not have the opportunity to see them bloom again
next year.
     Something very much like that happened here, but with a much, less interesting
coffee-mug, and with a more interesting, morning beverage.

     The painting is an impressionist piece, emphasizing a strong interplay of light and
shadow, rather than a simply doing it as a botanical study.  Whenever possible, I like
to give still-life paintings, a feeling of mystery or unknown potential, so that the viewer
might ask, what more there is, to the story of these objects.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Echoes From Neptune

                                                An original mixed-media, on paper
                                                18 X 12", unframed

                                                            ( Click on image to enlarge. )

     Recently, I ran across this little, composition study, among a stack of  things I
had put aside long ago, as being simply practice or experimental pieces, or perhaps
things I considered unfinished.  I can see now that, as I worked on it, I was thinking
about creating different kinds of directional pulls, of lines and shapes, but I didn't
continue to use these same simple objects, in a more finished painting.  Even so, I find
something appealing about the color palette of this little study.  The brightly-soft glow
of the salmon-pink lining of the white sea-shell, seems to make the harmony sing a bit.
Perhaps it may make some viewers recall childhood memories, of holding sea-shells
up to their ears, to hear the sounds of the ocean.