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.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ruby Ballerina

                                                      An original mixed-media painting, on illustration board
                                                      10 X 8", unframed, (mat size 16 X 14")
                                                       $135.00, - (plus $15.00, pack and  

                                                         ( click on image to enlarge)

     This is another example of the series of color studies I did of a ballerina, using
various gem-stones as references to suggest the changing colors of stage-lighting,
which can do so much to create and enhance the ethereal magic of the ballet.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Pears For Toulouse-Lautrec

                                               An original acrylic painting on stretched canvas
                                               15 X 19", framed - ( 12 X 16" canvas )
                                               $850.00, including frame, ( plus $35.00, pack and ship )

                                                         ( Click on image to enlarge )

     This painting, done in a fairly post-impressionist manner, still defies any photographer
to capture a completely accurate feel for its primary, visual characteristic.  That is the
result of the fact that it was entirely, under-painted in metallic gold, so that the luminous
qualities of the overlying colors appear to change, as the painting is viewed from different
angles and distances.
     I haven't used metallic paints or foils a great deal, in my art work, because they often
tend to compromise the illusion of depth in paintings.   But they work fairly well in the
style of the post-impressionists, who favored bold shapes, lines and colors, and the
flattened  depth-of-field, of the Japanese, wood-block prints, which they so admired.
Metallic elements can also be useful in work which is deliberately primitive in design,
 having no genuine perspective or sense of scale, and instead, using flattened patterns,
shapes and traditional themes, to create a feel for the history of an area.  I once did a
series of such paintings, designed to give a feeling of the art and history of the Eastern
Mediterranean countries, and which I printed as a Christmas card collection.
I have posted several of those paintings in this blog in the past ( such as Silent Night
and Glad Tidings Of Great Joy ), but again, the metallic elements do not show up well
in the photos.

     The burnished-gold, molding I selected for the frame, carries out the rich theme of
the painting without being overly elaborate.  This photo of the painting in the frame,
may give viewers a better idea of the visual effect of this gilded presentation of pears.


Emerald Ballerina

                                                   An original mixed-media painting, on illustration board
                                                   10.5 X 8.25", unframed
                                                   $135.00, ( plus $15.00, pack and ship )

                                                          ( Click on image to enlarge )

     This is another of  the jewel-toned color-studies I did in preparation for a much
larger painting of the ballerina.  In this one I was imagining the stage lighted for what
might be a setting from a forest scene, during a performance of one of the classic
romantic ballets, perhaps in a composition by Tchaikovsky.   I think it does capture
some of the evanescent and ethereal feel of a dancer poised in the glow of enchanted
stage-lighting, the magical, shimmering colored-lights which bring fairy-tales to life.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Still Waiting For The Music To Start Again

                                                    An original acrylic painting, on canvas
                                                    28 X 22", unframed
                                                    $2,600.00, - ( Plus $40.00, pack and ship )

                                                          ( click on image to enlarge )

     This painting may become the cover art for a children's book, depending on
whether or not the writing will be finished, and the book can find a publisher.

     This subject of a carousel horse, found seemingly abandoned in an old, decaying
barn, presented some interesting challenges for the composition.  The unusual
placement of the center-of-interest required a comfortable degree of informal balance,
and since this is a completely imaginary barn, there was the problem of creating a
believable, deep perspective.  The painting also required three different kinds of
light sources: a bright, warm sunlight at the front opening, a cool, shadowed light
from the opening on the far side of the barn, and a muted light source from an
unseen opening in the barn's loft.

     Perhaps this nostalgic look back at a salvaged part our childhood memories
will stir some blog viewers to recall their own innocent, cotton-candy days, of rides
on the merry-go-round, and reaching for the brass ring.

Amethyst Ballerina


                                                      An original mixed-media, on illustration board
                                                      10.75 X 8 ", unframed
                                                      $135.00, - ( plus $15.00, pack and ship )

                                                          ( Click on image to enlarge )

     This is another of the jewel-toned color-studies I worked on in preparation for
doing a larger painting of this subject.   In this one, the composition places the figure
closer to the picture plain, and the color palette is a bit softer and more subdued
than  in some of the other studies.
    Perhaps it is appropriate that the amethyst is the birth-stone of February, the
transitional month, after the brilliant colors of the Autumn foliage have faded away
into the misty, lavender tones of the winter season, and before the winds of March
begin to signal the floral displays of Spring.
     I will try to get more of the color-studies photographed and posted in this blog
before I post a photo of the larger painting.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Topaz Ballerina

                                                   An original mixed-media painting, on illustration board
                                                   14.5 X 12.5", framed - (10 X 8", unframed )
                                                   $210.00, including frame, ( plus $30.00, pack and ship )

                                                         ( click on image to enlarge )

     In a previous post, I mentioned that I had done a number of different color-studies
of this subject, prior to doing a larger painting of the ballerina.   I was trying to decide
what colors would best express the feeling of the stage performance.  I used a different,
dominate jewel-tone in each separate study, and in this case, I chose the colors of the
November birthstone, the topaz.  ( I believe jewelers say that the topaz is a symbol of
friendship, as if the stone is not expensive enough to declare a deeper emotion on the
part of the giver, but it seems to me that the gift of any expensive jewelry could simply
be considered a gift of friendship, and that true love can be expressed in any price
range, for those who can value the giver more than they value the price-tag of the gift. )

      I liked the results of this study enough to custom frame it, in a handsome, antique
gold molding with a linen liner, which I have included with the painting.  The photo
below is not perfectly accurate, but it gives the look of the frame molding.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Waves Of Sand And Time


                                                      An original acrylic painting, on canvas panel 
                                                      24 X 18", unframed
                                                      $1,800.00,  ( plus $30.00, pack and ship )

                                                         ( click on image to enlarge )

     Shifting sands have symbolized the passage of time, and the brevity of life, 
since ancient times, especially so following the invention of the hourglass, to
measure the passing hours of our days.  The old philosophers and religious
teachers warned us that our lives, like our houses, must be built on a firm
foundation, and not on an insubstantial bed of sand.  But time eventually turns
even the foundations of our finest plans and dreams, into grains of sand.

     This painting is the story of another life and another dream which has been
lost to unrelenting time and tide, and the shifting, wind-blown sands.  An old,
fishing boat which was once the pride and joy of its owner, gradually wore out
and deteriorated over the years, to the point that it could no longer be repaired,
and so it was abandoned to the dunes.  Now the shifting sands and beach grasses
are capturing this faded relic of a forgotten man's enterprise.   A passing seagull 
looks down at the derelict  boat as if expecting to see the old fisherman cleaning
his catch-of-the-day, and tossing away some tasty fish-heads.  But the fisherman
is just a fleeting ghost.

     The composition of this painting is one which is often referred to as a Zed
( or letter Z ) composition,  using a pattern of overlapping triangles and diagonal
lines which zig-zag up from the bottom of the picture-plain to the top, thereby
leading the eye of the viewer to proceed up from the foreground, to the middle-
ground, and on into the distant background.
                                                                   Gene McNerney



Monday, March 21, 2016

Sapphire Ballerina


                                                An original mixed-media on illustration board
                                                10 X 8", unframed, (mat size, 15 X 13")
                                                $110.00, - ( plus $15.00, pack and ship )

                                                           ( click on image to enlarge )

     This is one of a number of different color-studies I did of this subject, in
preparation for doing a larger painting of the ballerina.  In each case, I used a
different, dominant color of jewel-tones, as I decided what color would best
express the feeling I wanted to create in the final painting.
     A great deal of the fairy-tail magic which we see on stage during a ballet
performance, is created by the carefully arranged blends of the stage-lighting.
It is that evanescent glow of color washes which is a challenge and pleasure to
try and capture.
     Whenever I work on this kind of painting subject, I can't help but think of the
artworks of Degas.  He was certainly the master-painter of dancers, whether they
were on-stage, or waiting in the wings, or in rehearsal.  But we can all explore
the same subject matter in art, without necessarily imitating the work of those
who have mastered it before, in there own particular style.   Perhaps I will
photograph more of these color-studies, and post them in this blog.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Freeze Warning

     Spring officially arrives this weekend, according to the calendar and the passing
of the vernal equinox.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature does not always agree with our
time schedule, and she is a particularly fickle and temperamental  regulator of the
weather here in the middle of the country.  The center of our continent is where the
cold, dry air from the north is forever battling the warm, humid air coming up from
the gulf, which creates our dramatic weather changes and storms, including more
tornadoes than anywhere else in the world.  This spring is another example of the
fickle nature of our weather.  We began with an early warm-up, which soon started
the growing season in earnest, turning the lawns green and convincing the flowering
trees, shrubs and spring bulbs, that it was time to put on their show.  They were all
in full bloom when we got the news yesterday, that we would have a few nights of
below freezing temperatures, along with some snow showers.
     Such betrayals of our promising springs are a fairly common occurrence in this
region.  Everything is beautiful one day, and the next morning it is all brown and lost
for another year.   The loss becomes all the more poignant as we reach an age which
makes us question how many more shows of spring we are likely to see.
     I did go out last night and stumble around in the twilight, picking a few daffodils,
tulips, forsythia and magnolia blossoms, to look at them a bit more closely again
before they were gone.  Today I photographed some of them.  Perhaps I will use
them as subjects for paintings, or perhaps not.  Life and Spring are both unpredictable.
Mother Nature doesn't offer us any guarantees.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Tired cowboy, ( composition study, No.3 )

                                            An original charcoal and pastel drawing, on Strathmore paper
                                            14 X 11" unframed - ( mat size, 19 X 16" )
                                             $75.00,  ( plus $10.00, pack and ship )

                                                           ( click on image to enlarge )

     Art collectors sometimes enjoy seeing the preliminary drawings and studies
which artists use, to work out problems of composition in a painting, before the artist
starts on the canvas.  This is one I did for the previously posted painting called
Saddle Weary.  This drawing is a bit more fully developed than most quick studies.
In this one I was working on some ideas about the color and the lighting of the subject,
to create a more dramatic use of shadow, and better contrast of tonal values.

     A finished painting is a final summation of an artist's efforts to express something
about his subject, using all of the skill and craftsmanship at his command, to make it
look effortless and natural, with none of the difficulties showing.  A preliminary
drawing such as this one perhaps lets the viewer have a glimpse into the mind of the
artist at work, looking for some solutions to the problems he poses.  But of course
there is never one perfect solution, there is only the constant quest.  Leonardo da Vinci
said that he continued his studies in bed in the dark of night, retracing in his mind, the
outlines of the forms which he had previously studied, particularly those which had
appeared the most difficult to comprehend.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Saddle Weary

                                                      An original acrylic painting, on stretched canvas
                                                      20 X 16", unframed
                                                      $1,400.00 - (plus $25.00, pack and ship)

                                                        ( Click on image to enlarge )

     Oh, yes!  The heat, the dust, the thirst, the stubborn cattle and the long hours
in the saddle: that's the life!  Right?
     Little boys who run around wearing cowboy hats, chaps, and holsters with toy
six-guns, while twirling their lariats, often proclaim that they are going to be cowboys
when they grow up.  But, very few of them retain that idealistic view of the cowboy
life, as they gain a more mature perspective.
     The rugged, heroic figure of the cowboy, and also that of the noble Indian, are
central to the mythology of the American West, and their images have always been
the heart and soul of Western Art.  They have been romanticized in books, paintings,
and finally the movies, from way back, as far as Albert Bierstadt,, James Fenimore
Cooper, and Thomas Moran, up to Owen Wister, Frederic Remington and Charles
Russell, and beyond, to the present day.  They have become so embedded in our
mythological, American narrative, that we will probably always continue to elaborate
on the fantasy, rather than look honestly at the reality.  But maybe that is what art
is all about.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A New Spring Emissary

                                                 An original, acrylic painting, on gesso primed masonite
                                                 5 X 7", unframed
                                                 $115.00, - ( plus $10.00, pack and ship )

                                                          ( click on image to enlarge )

     Many of us across this country are now experiencing bouts of cabin fever, especially
so in those areas where the record-setting, winter storms have impacted so heavily on
lives and property.  Those storms have also kept many people snowbound in their homes,
often without electricity.
     I have full empathy for those folks.  A few years back, we had a similarly disastrous
snowstorm here, which destroyed many, ornamental trees and shrubs in the garden and
left me without power for a week or more.  ( I showed photos of that disaster March 11,
2013, in a posting called Snow-bound. )    And, as for this winter, this metropolitan area
is not out of the woods yet.  Our deepest snowfalls of record tend to hit us in March.

     But perhaps this little painting will help to serve as a reminder of the joys of the
spring and summer to come, after this winter too has passed.  In just a few months
we may be watching the magical, other-worldly creatures we call butterflies, fluttering
and drifting about, over our, sun-lit fields and gardens.