Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Old, Stone Trail-marker

                                                     An original acrylics painting, on canvas panel
                                                     18 X 24", unframed
                                                      $1,200.00 - ( plus $35.00, pack and ship )

                                                            ( click on image to enlarge )

     When the early frontiersmen in our country first began to push their way westward,
to settle the fertile lands beyond the mountains, it was fairly easy for trail blazers such as
Danial Boone, to mark the route through the Cumberland Gap.  There were plentiful
stands of trees on which they could leave their ax-marks, to show the way.
     Decades later, when the U.S. Army was charged with taking control of the wide-open,
prairie lands, in the middle of the continent, the new trail-blazers had to find different ways
to mark their routes.  The absence of trees often meant resorting to some more
traditional, Native-American methods of trail marking, such as the stacking of stones.
One stone stacked on another might be considered accidental or natural, but a stack of
three stones left no doubt that it was done with purpose.
     One of the early scouts who helped the army mark routes across the plains, was an
Indian-trader by the name of Jesse Chisholm, the son of a Cherokee woman and a man
of Scottish decent.  He had a trail which led from his southern trading-post on the
Red River, to his northern trading-post near Kansas City.  After the Civil War, the
Chisholm Trail became legendary, as the route used by Texas cattlemen to drive their
cattle to rail-heads in places such as Kansas City, Abilene and Wichita.

     This painting is intended to represent a view out on to the wide-open prairie, unfenced
and unplowed, where the Chisholm Trail might well have crossed the land.  The old,
broken slab of field-stone is not intended as a specific marker, with a specific purpose.
Its history can be left up to the imagination of the viewer.  The question of its purpose
helps to add a bit of mystery.  The stone could possibly mark a trail, or a land claim.
Or, on a more melancholy note, it could mark the final resting place of a wagon-train
pioneer, who was destined never to reach the promised land.  A  loved-one who,
sorrowfully, had to be left behind by his or her grieving family, knowing that there was
little chance that they could ever make a return journey to that lonely place on the trail..

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Hay-wagons Don't Come Here Anymore

                                             An original casein painting, on illustration board
                                             11 X 14 inches
                                                This painting is in a private collection now

                                                     ( click on image to enlarge )

     My last posting on this blog. was about a casein painting ( Racing The Hoop ),
and while I was looking at it again I was reminded of other paintings in the files, which
were done in that medium, that I still enjoy using, and which I should use more often.

    I have not seen this painting for years.  The photo above was a snapshot which was
emailed to me a couple of years ago, so the photographic quality is low, including some
light-reflections in the image.  However it was interesting to see the picture again. The
painting seems to have held up fairly well over the years, but it could use restoration
touches in some areas.  Perhaps I should have used a bit more protective varnish on
the painting, or else had it framed it under glass.

    The subject of the painting was an old barn which I used in a number of different
paintings, in a variety of different mediums.  Looking back through this blog, I see that
I have previously posted a picture of one of those paintings, done in transparent water-
colors, as a winter landscape, when the old barn was dressed in snow.   That painting
was called Awaiting The Thaw, and it may still be available, but I would have to check
to make sure.

    That old barn represented a period in America which we all tend to look back on
with a good deal of nostalgia, the time when our country was still an agrarian society,
with millions of small, subsistence farms.  In those days the barn would have been
echoing with the sounds of horses and squeaking wagon-wheels, as the farmer and
his sons filled the loft with loose hay, to provide winter fodder for their livestock.

    Those days are long gone now.  Even as far back as the late 1950's and early
1960's, when I painted that old barn, it was no longer in use, as its builders designed
it to be used.  Horses and horse-drawn farm-implements were things of the past,
and the tractors which replaced horse-power, often did not find accommodations
in old barns.  The small, family farms were already being absorbed into the large,
mono-culture agriculture businesses we have today.

     The barn was destined to be demolished and the surrounding land redeveloped
by an expanding university.  Nothing ever stays the same, of course.  Change is
inevitable, but I am often left with the question of whether or not some of our
redevelopments are actually true improvements.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Racing The Hoop

                                           An original casein painting, on heavy watercolor board
                                           20 X 24 inches
                                                     This painting is in a private collection now

                                                      ( click on image to enlarge )

     The past several postings on this blog have featured paintings that included birds
which live on or around water.  Birds have always served as subjects for artists, from as
far back as the frescoes and wall paintings of the ancient world, right up to the paintings
of the modern masters.  Waterfowl in particular, both domesticated and wild, have always
played a big role in our lives, as a food source which also had beauty worthy to be painted
and enjoyed.  That memory reminded me of this painting, from several decades or more
ago, of a boy and his pet duck.  There must be millions of paintings of boys with their pet
dogs, but the boy and bird relationship is probably much less frequently portrayed.

     Most people are aware of the fact that animals and birds imprint on humans, if they are
raised by people from birth, and they may often become inseparable from their human
parents.  I had an aunt who once had some geese on their farm, including a gander which
was a gentle pet with her, but which was an aggressive watch-dog with anyone else.  And
I recall an elderly, neighborhood couple in the city, who had a pet duck which patrolled
the inside perimeter of their fenced yard, and quacked with territorial authority at anyone
who passed by.on the sidewalk.

     This hectic electronic age, which rules our lives, may make it difficult for some people
to think back to a much simpler time ( even before radio ) when children's toys were
nothing like the expensive electronic gadgets which kids play with these days. Hoop
rolling was a popular game, which most likely would have occurred often, on fields
next to schoolhouses such as the one in this painting.  I chose to depict the little, frame
schoolhouse where a famous,New England school-teacher once taught children, before
the American revolution.  ( I hope the school still survives.)  That teacher gained fame
because of what he said, shortly before the British hanged him as a spy.  His statement
was, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country!", and his name was
Nathan Hale.  Perhaps Nathan's patriotic words were echoing in the boy's mind, as he
and his duck raced the hoop down the hill.

    The photo of the painting is old and blurred, but perhaps it still conveys the essential
elements of the diagonal actions in the composition, intended to provide a feeling of the
movements of the wind, the clouds, and the boy with his duck.

Friday, June 30, 2017

The Twilight Enchantment

                                               An original acrylic painting, on gesso primed masonite
                                               15 X 17", unframed
                                               $600.00,  ( plus $25.00, pack and ship )

                                                   ( click on image to enlarge )

     There is no more graceful image in all of nature than that of a mute swan, gliding
effortlessly across the still surface of a lake, during a perfectly silent, evening sunset.
That quiet interval of tranquility, as the diurnal world prepares for sleep, and the
nocturnal world begins to awaken, can be trans-formative for appreciative observers.
     This painting was an attempt to capture a feeling of that magical wonder, as the
glowing, red ember of the sun is just dropping below the horizon, but is still casting
its final, fading rays.

     I was somewhat reluctant to post the photo of this painting, because it is not
accurate enough to give viewers the full sense of the painting.  Digital photography
of paintings, which have a high degree of contrast between a very light subject,
and a dark background, are particularly difficult.  The light, subject matter often
turns into a formless, white blob, and the dark values become washed-out and
     In this instance, the photo failed to capture all of the feathery detail of the
swan, as well as missing the full depth and richness of the darker passages.
However, perhaps the photo does at least, convey a feeling of the original image.


Monday, June 12, 2017

An Evening At The Teahouse

                                                   An original acrylics painting on canvas
                                                   16 X 20"
                                                    (This painting will not be available from this site
                                                      until it is returned to me from an exhibition, but
                                                      as with most of the paintings in the blog, giclee
                                                      fine-art prints are available. )

                                                   ( click on image to enlarge )

     The structure of this painting's composition is based on strong, opposing, diagonals,
which are intended to create the feeling of a figure in motion.  The heavy lines of the
geisha's kimono are a bit of an homage to Van Gogh and Gauguin and the other post-
impressionists, who admired and collected Japanese, wood-block prints, which also then
influenced their own work.   The glow of the lighting of the scene, is intended to convey a
feeling for the look of a geisha performing in the light of lanterns, as they would have done
in the old days.

     I seldom document the progress of my paintings as I am working on them, however I
did have a camera at hand while I was working on this one.  So I did take a few pictures
along the way, starting from when I first laid out the bones of the structure, and then on
through several shots of successive layers of color overlays and glazes.  For those
viewers who may be interested, I am now adding a few of those quick snapshots to this
posting.  They may help to reveal more about the early stages of creating the painting.

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Storm Chaser ( Gull #4 )

                                                  An original acrylic painting, on stretched canvas
                                                  18 X 22", unframed
                                                  $400.00, - ( plus $35.00, pack and ship )

                                                      ( click on image to enlarge )

     This is the painting which was completed as a scene of an American herring gull.
The bird is portrayed flying into the wind, as if on patrol over the shoreline, while a
passing, summer squall is moving out to sea.  These sharp-eyed scavengers never fail
to spot a freshly, beached oportunity to grab a meal.

Ivory - In The Headwind ( Gull #3 )

                                         An original acrylic painting, on stretched canvas
                                         18 X 22"

                                                     ( click on image to enlarge )

     In my previous posting, of the seagull on the beach, I talked a bit about the problem
of trying to create a genuine feeling of movement, to the birds in paintings, especially
when the birds are painted as if in flight.  All too often, the birds appear to be simply
suspended, as if on wires.   This painting may have a little of that feeling of suspension,
but the use of the very active sky and sea as background,  helps to convey a general
feeling of a bird aloft, sailing on the sea winds.

    When I did this painting, it was my intention to paint an ivory gull, and keep it as such,
because it seems to me that there is always something more symbolic about white birds.
However, most of the people who live in the lower forty-eight states are not familiar with
ivory gulls.  Far more are only familiar with the American herring gull.  So, I finally gave in
and changed the bird to a herring gull.  That is the reason that this version of the original
painting is not available.

     For those who enjoy the image of the ivory gull, giclee, fine-art prints of the painting
are available, as is the case with most of the paintings I have posted on this blog.