Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Vermilion Stripes

                                              An original oil painting, on canvas panel
                                              24x18", unframed
                                              $1,800.00, ( plus $25.00, pack and ship )

     Back in the late 1950's, abstract expressionism had conquered the New York
art scene and the art world in general.  Abstract expressionists were the artists that
the major, commercial galleries wanted to show, and they were artists that the
art critics wanted to talk about.  Many art students of the period, were so dedicated
to the "noble ideal" of art for art's sake, that they would sneer at any artwork which
was being painted in a representational manner, as being a sell-out and a cheapening
of one's talent for the sake of money.  It was a time of ultimate artistic freedom for
young painters, and although my own work didn't include a great many canvases
in which I deliberately avoided creating any recognizable imagery, that kind of
experimentation of just thinking about colors, gestures of the brushstroke, and the
balance of shapes and texture, was sometimes a useful practice for me.
     This painting dates from that period, and I see now that it combines some of
the abstract expressionist spirit with my ongoing admiration for the paintings of the
post-impressionists.  Much of the paint was applied directly to the canvas with a
palette knife, combining or blending the colors on the painting's surface, and
sometimes using the heightened color palette of paints straight from the tube,
such as the bold slash of the vermilion stripes of the fabric on the right side of the

     The still-life objects, consisting of an old, fireplace bellows with crumbling leather,
an old ceramic jug with the traditional brown glaze on top, and two, dried ears of
corn in a brass container, seem to be unrelated items in some ways.  However.
the overall manner in which they were painted gives them a unified relationship
beyond their original functions or purposes.  As with the abstract expressionists,
it's all about the love of paint.
                                                           ( click on image to enlarge)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

White Violets From The Strawberry Patch

                                                      An original acrylic painting on Masonite panel
                                                      8x6", unframed
                                                      $200.00, ( plus $10.00, pack and ship )

    All violets are not blue and all violas are not musical instruments.  The viola in this case
is one with white blossoms, which are a bit smaller than the flowers of its more colorful,
viola cousins.  The heart shaped leaves are also smaller, but the plant stands higher, and
it has a more extended, blooming period than the other violets which grow in this part
of the country.
     One of the eternal chores of having a garden is the job of weeding, and disciplined
gardeners tend to call  wild-flowers weeds, if the plants sprout and grow where they
are not wanted, such as in the well ordered and tidy rows of edible produce.  So, when
these unwanted migrants venture out of the fields and woodlands and into our gardens
and lawns, they are most often pulled up, mowed down or sprayed to death.  But
sometimes the wild-flowers can manage to win a reprieve and escape the gardener's
ill will, for a time at least, because they offer a bit of floral bribery, to try and keep their
places among the food bearing plants.  Such an immigrant plant is the violet, which,
contrary to the lyrics of the old, popular song, is not a bit shy, when it comes to
springing up in unwanted locations.

     For those who are long-time gardeners, gradually over the passing years, along with
the loss of youthful energy, comes the understanding that we never really owned the
garden; we only borrowed it for a time.  Mother Nature is the real owner, and she is
a much more tolerant steward of the land than we are.  She scatters her seeds with
equal opportunity for all.

                                                           ( click on image to enlarge)


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Back On Old Mount Adams

                                                        An original oil painting on canvas panel
                                                        20x24" unframed
                                                        $2,000.00 - ( plus $25.00, pack and ship)

     Mount Adams is a very old, residential, district, which rises up sharply to a high
elevation along the top and steep sloping sides of a hill, bordering the eastern side of
Cincinnati Ohio's central, downtown area. The lofty elevation of the hill provides sweeping
views, down to the central city and along the Ohio River Valley.

     In the early to mid 1960's, when I first saw Mount Adams, it still had the feel of stepping
back in time, to visit an old European, hill town.  For many decades, the district of mixed
nineteenth century homes had been bypassed and ignored, as the city had expanded far
out to the suburbs. A large freeway had even been sliced right through the hill, to
speed up the traffic, to and from the newer, suburban, housing communities, which also
served to further isolate Mount Adams.

     However, by the time of my arrival, Mount Adams had been rediscovered.  Artists
were attracted to the quaint charms of the little streets, which curved up and down the
steep terrain, lined by the houses which were like visions from the past.  Mount Adams
rapidly became the hip place to be, for the younger generations.  Night spots began to
flourish, and more people wanted to live close to this new, lively, social scene that had
developed there.

     That newborn popularity (and the new opportunities for profit), were what attracted
the investors who began buying up the uniquely, quaint, old homes, in order to
"redevelop" Mount Adams.  But unfortunately, as it usually does, the redevelopment
consisted of tearing down rows of the charming, old houses, and replacing them with
bland, modern, apartment buildings, thus destroying the very qualities which had drawn
people back to the hill in the first place.  Such was the case with one street of houses
which I depicted in a painting I showed in a previous posting, which is called
Ten Ten Celestial; those houses were long ago destroyed and replaced by an
apartment building.  
     I have not revisited Mount Adams in the years since I finished this painting of a steep,
little intersection.  Those tidy, little nineteenth century dwellings, had been huddling there
together through many decades of historic changes, but it was uncertain how much longer
they were going to survive.  The flickering sunlight and shadows, filtering through the
breaking clouds in the painting, seem to forecast greater changes yet to come.

     I don't know what that area looks like now, but my guess is that most, if not all of those
houses have been demolished and replaced with boring and uninteresting structures.
This is a painting of another time and another place, which will not be seen again, except
in someone's dreams.
                                                               ( click on image to enlarge )

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Stranger In A Strange Land ( Lost and Found, No.4 )

                                         An original mixed-media painting, on illustration board
                                         4x6" unframed, ( mat size, 9x11")
                                          $70.00, - (plus $7.00, pack and ship)

     This is another selection from the series I worked on during recovery from my
recent surgery.  All of the pieces in the series featured the same lost and forlorn
Disney animation character as their center of interest.  In this case, he is befriended
by two other little characters who also traveled far from their places of origin, many
years ago. They had been recently discovered in the back of a dusty but cozy and dry
bookcase, rather than suffering the tougher journey experienced by the Snow White
dwarf figure, which washed up in my street's curbside gutter last year, like a refugee
from a sad shipwreck.

     Both of the little animal figures were travel souvenirs.  The bear was purchased in
a California Redwoods park, in the early 1940's, when my brother and I were small
boys.  One of us chose the bear and the other chose a squirrel figure of similar size.
The two animals were molded out of pressed wood, which was probably redwood
sawdust, to make them more authentic souvenirs from the park.  The squirrel and the
bear must have been played with a little bit, because they both suffered some slightly
chipped toes and ears.

     The little rabbit figurine was chosen decades later, in one of those generic, Indian
tourist-trap, souvenir shops of the American Southwest.  It was most likely produced
by the thousands, someplace in the orient, so it has no particular relationship to the
town or the state where it was sold.  It was probably purchased because of the ease
of transporting such a tiny figurine home, rather than chosen simply for its perky
personality.  It is less than an inch tall.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Taking Flight

                                         An original mixed-media painting, on illustration board
                                         20x30" unframed, ( mat size, 26x36" )
                                         $2,200.00, - ( plus $30.00, pack and ship )

     This painting dates from several decades back, at a time when I was trying to
capture the impression of movement in some of my work.  Birds in particular, with
their multi-positioned, moving wings, were favorite subjects for me then. The multiple
layered effect of the shifting rhythms of the feathers, as the wings folded or spread wide
or high, seemed to provide endlessly changing, abstract possibilities.

     As I look at this painting now, I can still recall the vigorous, expressionist manner in
which I began applying the paint and colored inks, striking hard, as if the the very
forceful method of the work itself would somehow convey the feeling of movement in
the subject I was painting.. I can see that I even went so far as to vigorously scrape
and scratch linear movement  into the surface.  I doubt that I have attacked a canvas
with quite that high degree of expressionist enthusiasm since those days, but maybe
it would be revitalizing to try it for a change.

     For this painting, I imagined a pair of great horned owls being disturbed from their
perch, perhaps by an intruder with a flashlight, and thus suddenly taking flight, in an
explosion of flapping wings and flying feathers.

                                                 (Click on image to enlarge.)

Ghosts Of Old Friends ( Lost and Found, No. 16 )

                                                    An original mixed-media, on illustration board
                                                    3.5x5" unframed, (mat size, 8.5x10")
                                                    $65.00, (plus $7.00, pack and ship)

     This one was a more surrealistic, second version of a previously posted piece 
called Old Forgotten Friends (Lost and Found, No. 15).  In this version, I played
around with creating shadows which couldn't exist but are perhaps visually intriguing.
The Surrealists, such as Dali and Magritte, were famous for creating impossibly 
long or exaggerated shadows in their work, which they sometimes used to describe 
contours of land or walls, for example.  But in the case of this little painting, it is the 
central shadow of Mickey Mouse which could not exist, because he was only a 
two-dimensional, cover-illustration on the front of the little, children's card-game box.  
So.any actual shadow would have been that of the box, rather than that of the spirit 
of Mickey.  

     Disney himself was fond of using shadows for great effect, particularly in his more
spooky or eerie animations.  The one which comes to mind is the sorcerer's apprentice
section, of his Fantasia film, in which Mickey borrows his master's magic wand, as well 
as some enchanted spells, without knowing how to control the power he unleashes.  
This of course, ends in disaster, with hundreds of marching brooms, and hundreds of
monstrous, marching shadows accompanying all, including Mickey.

     Back in the days when that film was being made, Mickey was three-dimensional
only in the minds of his animators.  They would have been amazed to see the great
dimensions which Mickey would eventually achieve, in the world of business and
entertainment, and the long shadow he would cast..  Mickey was truly the mouse 
that built an empire. 


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Donald's Game ( Lost and Found, No. 17 )

                                    An original mixed-media painting,  on illustration board
                                    3.5x5" unframed, ( mat size, 8.5x10")
                                    $40.00, - ( plus $6.00, pack and ship )

     In my previous posting, I mentioned last fall's finding of two sets of long-
forgotten, children's, card games.  Since one tray of the little "libraries" of game
"volumes" was made up of games named for Disney, animated characters, they
seemed to fit in quite naturally with the little lost-and-found series which I had
been doodling around with at the time, while remembering days long gone by.

     Back in the nineteen thirties and forties, before the arrival of television killed
off all the local, neighborhood movie-theaters, movie-going was a weekly or
twice-weekly habit for the American public.  Those theaters were where a full
evening's entertainment, including a double feature, newsreels and cartoons,
could be enjoyed for the price of a small coin.

     Often times, the cartoons being shown in the theaters in those days, were
Walt Disney cartoons, featuring Walt's alter-ego Mickey Mouse, and Donald
Duck.  Mickey and Donald were the bread-and-butter stars of Walt's animated
short films, and their contrasting personalities also made them the yin and yang
of the cartoon world.  Mickey was ever the smiling, gentlemanly optimist, but
mercurial tempered Donald was forever erupting into tantrums, when his plans
or schemes went awry and backfired on him.

     The Donald Duck card game is labeled volume one, of the little, six volume
set of games licensed by Disney.  I couldn't very well have painted a tribute to
Mickey without also having done one for Donald, and this was it.