Monday, September 29, 2014

Do The Mermaids Bring The Storms?

                                               An original acrylic painting, on illustration board
                                               20 x 30", unframed, - ( mat size, 26 x 36' )
                                               $2,200.00,  plus $40.00, ( pack and ship )

     The title of this painting is in the form of a question, as it might be asked by a small
child, who has seen and heard many video and literary references to the existence of
of the popular, mythical beings who live in the sea.  People have been creating disastrous
legends and folk tales about encounters with mermaids since men first began to venture
forth on the sea, to fish or to voyage to distant lands in search of valuable trade goods.
And, even as late as the voyages of Columbus, a number of mermaids were reportedly
seen to frequent the waters of the new world.  From Hans Christian Andersen to Walt
Disney, little mermaids have become a staple part of pop culture, thus reinforcing the
tales of ancient mythology, even as we have changed them from nightmare creatures,
luring men to their deaths, into fantasies for children's bedtime stories.

     But some of the old folk tales survive, to be passed down from one generation to
the next, such as the Greek legend of Alexander The Great's sister Thessalonike.
After her death she was believed to have become one of the immortal mermaids who
lived in the Aegean Sea.   Greek fisherman on passing ships were cautioned on how
to respond to her when she called out to them, "Is King Alexander alive?".  The correct
answer to her question, is said to be, "He lives and reigns and conquers the world!"
On hearing this answer, the mermaid calms the waters and bids the ship farewell.
However, if the wrong answer is given, she is said to become enraged, and stirs up
a terrible storm to doom the ship and all aboard.

     This painting is another from the series of fountain paintings which I have referred
to in previous postings, such as Neptune Rising, and A Sunrise Visitor, all of which
have the art objects of a well known shopping district in Kansas City, as reference
subjects on which I have based some new works, from time to time.. In this case,
the fountain features two large, carved, marble, mermaid figures, which are said to be
over three hundred years old, and which are blowing jets of water from their horns.
They were first installed here in 1930, facing each other from opposite ends of a
rectangular pool, and I first became acquainted with them in that configuration back
in the 1940's.  The fountain pool was restyled in 1968, into a larger, modified-trefoil
design, with a circular, fountain spray added to increase the water display.

     I chose to depict the fountain at a time of an approaching storm, with the mermaids
caught in the flickering light from the thickening clouds, with one mermaid in sun and
one in shadow.  And in between the two, old, worn figures is a very young one, asking
the question, "Do the mermaids bring the storms?".

                                                         ( click on image to enlarge )


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Neptune Rising

                                                         An original acrylic painting, on canvas panel
                                                         24 X 30", unframed
                                                         $2,800.00, - ( plus $40.00, pack and ship)

     In some of my previous postings, such as Raffaello's Boy, and A Sunrise Visitor,
I have referred to a unique shopping district here, dating back to the early 20th century,
and designed to have the character of a southern, European village.  The original
developer of the area purchased numerous art objects and sculptures to enhance the
architecture, and as I mentioned before, I have sometimes found those well-crafted
artworks useful as subjects for drawing and painting.  This painting, is on a more
generous scale than those I mentioned, and it is also based on another of the fountains
which grace the district.

     I chose to show the fountain at sunset so as to soften the architectural features of
the structures in the background, in order to let viewers concentrate on the fountain
rather than the shops behind it.   That time of evening would also probably be
appropriate, to the Roman mythology, which says Apollo's golden chariot is sinking
beyond the western horizon, and now King Neptune may rise from the sea, pulled
by his troi-ca, while brandishing his trident at all those who would risk embarking
on his stormy realm.

                                                              ( click on image to enlarge )

     As for the sculpture itself, it dates from 1911, and is credited to the Bromsgrove
Guild Of Applied Arts, of Worcestershire England, a company of artists and designers
best known for creating the main gates at Buckingham Palace.
     After arriving here to his new home in the early 1950's, Old King Neptune first arose
from his permanently landlocked, watery pool in Kansas City, in 1953..


Friday, August 22, 2014

Bambi's Game ( Lost and Found, No.18 )

                                          An original mixed media painting on illustration board
                                          3.5 x 5" unframed, ( Mat size, 8.5 x 10" )
                                         $65.00, ( plus $7.00, pack and ship )

     Fall is rapidly approaching; it will soon be the season of the harvest, and the hunt.
Deer hunters will be headed to the woodlands, and little girls will be accusing their
fathers of trying to shoot Bambi.  That reminded me of one of the pieces from the
Lost And Found series which kept me quietly occupied after heart surgery last year,
when I was trying to move as little as possible.  The title Bambi's Game, refers to one
of the "books" of children's card games, sold in the 1940's as a set of six, Disney,
licensed, card games, in a "library shelf" collection..  I had discovered that set and a
similar set, tucked away in the back of a bookcase, and untouched for decades.

     The rules for playing the Bambi Game, as with all the other forgettable, little games,
are simplistic little systems of exchanging or gaining cards, and are not actually based
on Disney's films.  If the Bambi Game had been based on the movie, from what I
remember of the story, it would have been a game of life and death.  Bambi's real
games were the tough lessons he had to learn by experience, about how to avoid
being burned alive in forest fires, and how to avoid being killed by hunters.

     When it comes right down to it, the toughest lessons we all have to learn in life,
are those that we must acquire by experiencing life as it comes, taking the good with
the bad, and moving on as we are best able.  Hope springs eternal..... for Bambi,
and for the rest of us.

Raffaello's Boy

                                           An original acrylic painting, on archival, watercolor paper
                                           30 x 20", unframed,  ( mat size, 36 x 26" )
                                           $2,200.00,  ( plus $30.00, pack and ship )

     A previous posting, in this blog, was of a painting I called A Sunrise Visitor.
It was a  painting of one of the fountains, in a unique, local shopping area, built in
the early twentieth century, in the style of a southern European village, and which
has a reputation as the nation's first shopping center. In that posting, I mentioned
that I had often used the various, imported, antique sculptures and fountains of that
shopping district as subjects for drawings and paintings.  This painting of another,
well-crafted fountain, was from that same area.

     The fountain was sculpted by Raffaello Romanelli, and is a combination of
bronze and Verona marble.  A joyous, little toddler splashes in the upper bowl,
while being squirted by a cooperative frog.  In the classical tradition, the bowl is
being supported by a faun, seated on a porpoise (which looks like a much more
menacing creature than a porpoise) and both are perched on the marble pedestal.

     I don't know if Romanelli used his own child as the model for the boy in the
fountain, but it seems likely that he would have used his own family members as
subjects for many drawings, and three-dimensional works as well. The fountain
was purchased in 1929, following the sculptor's death in 1928.

     I can still recall seeing the fountain when I was a child in the 1940's, in the
years when it still had its own corner plot of green space, with a background of
flowers and shrubs.  But in the ensuing decades, the escalating, property values
in the district have pushed the ever-expanding commercial development closer
and closer to the fountain.  As it stands now, there is barely room for it next to
a growing restaurant, and the eternally laughing child has been practically priced
out of a home.

     One of the old rules of commerce never changes----money always takes
precedence over art.

                                                        ( click on image to enlarge)


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.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Old Forgotten Friends (Lost and Found, No. 15)

                                     An original, mixed media painting, on illustration board
                                     5x7", unframed - (mat size, 10x12")
                                     $80.00, - (plus $7.00, pack and ship)

     Last fall, I began the chore of digging through decades of the accumulations of
possessions which seem to define one's life, in preparation for an estate sale of some
sort.  In the process, as I was rummaging through the book cabinets which flank the
living-room fireplace, I ran across things which I hadn't noticed in many decades.
Tucked behind some dusty, old sets of encyclopedias, I discovered two sets of
children's, card games, which haven't been played with since the mid 1940's.
     There are six games of miniaturized cards in each set, boxed up to look like six
little books, on two little, library tray-shelves, six to each tray.  There are printed foil
labels on the front of the trays which identify them as Library of Games, and
Mickey Mouse Library of Games.  The first set has some of the more commonly
played children's games, such as Old Maid, and the second set also has six games,
but each is named after one of the animated characters which helped to create the
Disney empire.

     The third "volume" of the Mickey Mouse set of games, was named for Mickey
himself, and featured him on the cover of the little box.  Since I had been doodling
around with my Lost and Found series at the time, it became logical to include
Mickey in one of the series, along with the little Snow White dwarf which started
me down memory lane in the first place.


Friday, February 28, 2014

The Old Red Top ( Lost and Found No.19 )

                                                 An original, mixed-media painting, on illustration board
                                                 3.5x5" unframed, - ( mat size, 8.5x10")
                                                 $45.00, ( plus $6.00, pack and ship )

     This is another of the miniatures which I used as something to occupy my time
while I was remaining still, during recuperation from heart surgery.  The little red
top I included in this one, was one of several tops which were passed down to my
brother and I when we were boys, from a time-worn, toy collection which our
father and his brothers played with when they were boys.

     In this new electronic age, the old days of simple, hand-made, wooden toys
must seem like very ancient history to today's generation of children.  Tops such as
this one must look like odd little curiosities to them, and I doubt that any of the kids
would have any idea of how to play with them.

     Ancient history it may be, but I can still remember hours devoted to seeing how
long we could make the tops spin, by carefully wrapping the top's string around them
before we launched them.  The more tightly the string was spiraled around the top,
the faster it would spin when it was thrown with great force, while still holding on to
the end of the string.  Then, like things which had come alive, the tops would hop
around a bit when they first hit the pavement, but they would quickly right themselves
to stand on their points and spin as if determined to drill their tips into the concrete.

     But sooner or later the tops would loose their high-speed velocity, and they would
begin to wobble a bit, and then spin in arcs, as they struggled to maintain a vertical
stance, before finally toppling over and rolling to a stop.

     There is a metaphor in that for us isn't there?  We spend our lives spinning along
at top speed, until we finally begin to loose our momentum, and then we start to wobble
a bit and loose our balance.  And usually when it about over, that wonderful spin
turns out to have lasted for a much shorter time than we were hoping for when we began.      

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Wintry Blast

                                                        An original oil painting on stretched canvas
                                                         48x24", unframed
                                                         $3,000.00, (plus $60.00, pack & ship)

     I pulled this painting out of storage because I thought it made an interesting
contrast to the painting in my previous posting called The Winter Solstice.
The two paintings are examples of how views of very, similar subject matter,
can be developed into two such widely divergent works of art, not only in size
but also in technique and style of expression.  The small, mixed-media painting
is a more traditional viewpoint, of the serenity and beauty of new-fallen snow at
first light of day.  By contrast, the big oil painting is an expressionistic viewpoint
of the more violent aspects of winter weather, showing an old pine tree, sagging
under the weight of ice and falling snow, creaking in the wind, and perhaps even
snapping and breaking its branches.  It shows a different kind of icy beauty than
the peaceful serenity of The Winter Solstice.

                                                             (Click on image to enlarge.)

     There is a bit of a double meaning to the title of this painting.  A "blast" can
refer to an enjoyable painting session, while working in the abstract expressionist
manner of just cutting loose with a large brush and letting it attack and dance the
paint onto the canvas, balancing stroke against stroke, and passage against
passage, until a satisfying whole is achieved.