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
weak.
     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.











Sunday, April 30, 2017

Racing With The Waves ( Gull #6 )




                                              An original acrylic painting, on gesso primed masonite panel
                                              20 X 16", unframed
                                              $350.00, ( plus $35.00, pack and ship )

                                                          ( click on image to enlarge )


     Anyone who has ever watched the feeding habits of shorebirds, scavenging along
on beaches, is familiar with their patterns of movements.  As the waves are receding,
the birds hurry onto the wet expanses of sands and pebbles, in search of freshly
exposed tidbits of marine life.  Then, as the next waves advance, surging back up the
beach, the birds hastily retreat, to avoid the incoming breakers.  And so, it continues
in endless repetition, to the rhythm of the waves.

     This painting of an ever-hungry gull, was an attempt to capture some of that
feeling of observing the active movements of birds on the beach.  As I look at the
painting now, I would call it impressionist, but with expressionist aspects.  The
vigor of the paint application, has a freshness and spontaneity which helps to convey
that feeling of movement.  When I was painting the bird, I also made a very conscious
decision to have the tips of the wing and tail feathers extend just slightly beyond the
edges of the picture-plain, which is also an attempt to create the impression of an
active bird, moving quickly forward.


The Day The Earth Shook ( Lost And Found # 24 )




                                                       An original mixed-media, on illustration board
                                                       5 X 7", unframed, ( mat size, 10 X 12" )
                                                       $110.00, ( plus $15.00, pack and ship )

                                                           ( click on image to enlarge )



     Sooner or later, for each and everyone of us, the day will come when we experience
a life-threatening event, which becomes a sharp reminder of our individual, human
mortality.  For me, that event was a combination of a couple of heart-attacks, followed
by difficult, open-heart surgery.
     After my stay in the hospital, I was brought home, and as i was emerging from the
car ( moving very slowly ) I happened to see two small objects which had been washed
down the street by heavy rains, while I was away.  They were a small, plastic figure of
one of Disney's Seven Dwarfs, and a single well-used die.  That trivial discovery seemed
somehow prophetic to me
     During my convalescence, as I tried to avoid moving as much as possible, I worked
on a series of miniatures, which included those two, found objects, along with other things
which had once been treasured, but then long-ago forgotten and lost.  I called those
miniatures my "Lost And Found" series, which is perhaps symbolic of the fact that, in
the end, we are all destined to lose everything, but that we sometimes receive a bit of
an extension or second chance, before we have to say goodbye.  My extension has
lasted for several years now, and I am grateful for each new day.

     The little painting which I have posted here, from that series, was the one which
included an old, broken pocket-watch, that I found shoved to the back of a drawer,
where it had remained since the 1940's.   The hands of the watch are set at five
twenty-nine, which was the exact moment of the detonation of the first nuclear
weapon, on the morning of July 16, 1945, in New Mexico.  Ever since that earth-
-shaking day, life threatening events have been multiplying for all of humanity.  The
question now has become, not one of our individual mortality, but one of whether
or not the whole, human race is going to survive, especially with all of the unstable
people who now have control of nuclear weapons, including our own chief executive.    

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Little Bit O' Heaven



                                                  An original acrylic painting, on stretched canvas
                                                  10 X 20",
                                                  ( This painting will not be available from this site
                                                     until it is returned from an exhibition, but giclee
                                                      fine-art prints are available.)


                                                       ( click on image to enlarge )





     The title of this painting, is taken from a line in a very, very old, popular, Irish-American
song.  I realize that by doubling up on that word "very", I risk sounding like Donald Trump,
trying to hide from the truth, by bolstering his falsehoods with doubled-up adjectives, in an
effort to sound more emphatically persuasive and believable, but in truth, I doubt that the
old song has been heard on any major, broadcast network in well over sixty years or
more.
     I have not done an internet search on that old song, so I do not know who wrote it,
but I do know why. The song was written to satisfy the market for songs which appealed
to the nostalgia and the longing, which the Irish-Americas felt, for the land they had to
leave behind.  It may not even have been written by someone of Irish heritage: that was
not a prerequisite on tin-pan alley.
     The song is the story of all the various ingredients, which went into creating that
perfect land, across the sea, including that bit of heaven, which were all then gathered
and somehow blended, until finally "They called it Ireland".  The song was a standard for
Irish Tenors, who sang it on music and variety shows, on radio and television, right up
through the early 1950's, until the ratings system destroyed diversity in broadcasting.

     The painting is probably as much of a cliche as that old song.  We like to think of
Ireland, as a land of picturesque, green hills, dotted with charming, white-washed,
stone cottages, with thatched roofs,  and also somehow, the eternal folk-tale of the
pot-of-gold at the end of the rainbow, always becomes a part of the mental image.
( Did any treasure-hunters ever stop to ask which end of the rainbow, was the
correct location of the gold? )
     But, of course,the true picture of Irish history is a much sadder tale.  I don't know
where that old expression about the "luck of the Irish" came from.  In all the dark
years of the past centuries, good luck rarely visited that land.


    The structure of this painting's composition is based on several very broad "S"
curves, which intersect at the center of interest, where the old road descends into
the valley and to the hills beyond.



     This painting is now custom framed, in a richly toned, molding, with a
fine, white-linen liner.










Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Tale As Old As Time




                                                   An original acrylic painting, on canvas panel
                                                   10 X 8", unframed
                                                   $250.00, ( plus $9.00, pack and ship )


                                                          ( click on image to enlarge )





     The vast majority of mankind's art and literature, created in the last twenty five
hundred years, have not survived the ravages of time.  Much of the treasury of wisdom
and beauty which was created in ancient Greece, in particular,has come down to us
only in pieces or fragments.  They suffered through too many centuries when such
creations were deemed unworthy of preservation, or deliberately destroyed by the
forces of ignorance and religious intolerance.
     One of the better survivors, was the collection of fables, written by a slave named
Aesop, who is thought to have lived in Greece between 620 and 564 BCE.  Perhaps
his little tales survived all through the years, because they fit the long tradition of oral
story-telling, in the days when most people were illiterate.  Some of the succeeding
story-tellers, even began adding some stories of their own, so that, now, scholars
have classified which of the tales actually came from Aesop's time, and which ones
came much later.
    With the invention of the printing press, the popularity of Aesop's Fables bloomed
and spread around the world.  They have been told and retold in all the art forms,
including drama, song and film, in endless variations.  One of the tales, the fable of
The Tortoise And The Hare, is cleverly depicted in a little Italian figurine, which I
sometimes use as a subject for still-life paintings, such as this one I have posted
today.
     The old story of this improbable foot-race between two such unequal contestants,
still rings true for many of us.  The over-confident rabbit has a good time, enjoying
himself with all manner of distractions, always thinking he would have plenty of time
to get to the finish line before his pathetic opponent, while in the end, it is the
 slow-but-steady tortoise who wins the race.
     As we all grow older, the more we all come to realize how short is the time
 of our race, and how very close we are to our own finish-line, looming up ahead.


     In my last post, I mentioned the use of over-lapping planes, in the composition,
to create depth of field.  So, I am posting this painting, to show how something as
simple as a pile of old books can accomplish that, because of all of the different,
rectangular shapes, receding from the picture-plane. A book pile can also be a
useful subject for drawing practice.  It can be a challenge because of all the
perspective complications, with so many different vanishing-points.


     This painting is now available custom framed, in a handsome, heavy, hard-wood,
molding, with a fine, linen liner, for $325.00, plus $30.00, to carefully pack and ship.



 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Forgotten Quest




                                                  An original oil painting on primed panel
                                                  15.5 X 25.5", unframed
                                                   N.F.S.





     Some viewers of this blog may find this painting interesting.  Others may find it odd.
Perhaps we can say that it is oddly interesting.
     When I pulled this painting out of storage the other day, I hadn't looked at it for many
years. The major reason I thought that it might be something interesting to post, was a
story which I recalled as I was wiping some dust off of the painting, in order to get a
better look at it.  That simple task triggered the memory of a story told by David Douglas
Duncan, ( the American photographer ), from the time when he had his arrangement with
Pablo Picasso, to publish a book of Picasso's previously unseen work.
     Evidently Duncan had permission to roam freely through Picasso's villas in southern
France, looking into the many rooms which were packed full of Picasso's work, in order
to choose which paintings he wanted to photograph.  As he was in one of the rooms,
sorting through the stacks,he found a bold, black and white piece he wanted to use, but
which was so dust-covered that he couldn't get a clear photo.  So, he gave it a simple
wipe-down with a dust-cloth, and to his immediate horror, he saw that he had ruined
one of Picasso's own original Picassos, because it was done in charcoal and had not yet
been fixed.
     Duncan's fearful apology to Picasso, must have been accepted, because the incident
didn't seem to destroy their friendship, and the publishing collaboration was successful
for Duncan.
   
     As for this painting, it is from a time when Abstract Expressionism was in its supreme
ascendancy, and the art critics were embracing the modernist masters with enthusiasm.
Literal, figurative works became passe, and sensitive landscapes were dismissed with a
sneer, as "calendar painting".  That art tyranny has eased now, but abstraction remains
a strong influence, and rightly so.  Artists need to constantly explore new approaches
to expression and composition, or they risk repeating the same painting, time after time
like simple, craft work.
     This composition was an attempt to create depth of field by the use of overlapping,
translucent planes, on which there could be progressive figurative or botanical images,
in varying degrees of recognizable form.  However, it was never fully developed.
As it is now, it would only be worthy of note by the critics, if my name had attained the
monumental fame of an artist like Picasso.


Friday, February 17, 2017

The Box of Old, Love Letters




                                         An original acrylic painting, on gesso primed panel
                                         10 X 13", unframed
                                          $200.00,  ( plus $20.00, pack and ship )

                                                 
                                                   ( click on image to enlarge )



     This is traditionally the month in which we declare our undying love for our spouses
or our significant others, although the expressing of our abiding love should really be
demonstrated every day, rather than waiting until the compulsory day arrives.  After
Saint Valentine's Day has passed each year, I tend to wonder how many people were
fortunate enough to receive a hand-written declaration of love, from the most important
person in their lives.  In this fast-paced, electronic age, such letter writing is a dying art.
So, the various commercial interests profit greatly from our reluctance to spend the time
to express the depth of our feelings. The florists tell us to "Say it flowers.", the candy
makers tell us to "Say it with chocolates".and the jewelers tell us to "Say it with diamonds."
 (The word "it", in all these promotions, presumably stands in for the words "I love you".)
And then, for the last-minute, frugal or desperate valentine, there is always the heart-
-shaped, greeting card.
     We should make it a practice, to put our love in writing on a regular basis.  Elizabeth
Barrett Browning said it dramatically, with her poem How Do I Love Thee ?, but we
don't have to be poets.  Life will be sweeter for those who will simply and sincerely
write what they feel, and give those little day-brighteners to their own, true loves.
Those little love-notes mean more than we know.


     This painting looks back to a different time.  Someone who, long ago, had received
love letters on a regular basis, and then carefully locked them away, has now opened
the box, to read them again, and relive treasured memories of true love.  Although the
pages may be yellowing with age, and the ink may be fading, the words can still warm
the heart.  The painting doesn't offer any clues as to whether this was a lost love, or an
unrequited love, or a love which became a life-long union, with many more of these
written expressions of enduring love.  I'll leave the rest of the story to the imaginations
of the viewers.

   



     This painting is also now available framed and ready to hang, in an attractive, gold
molding with a linen liner, for anyone who would like to "Say it with fine art".

                              The price with frame is $250.00, ( plus $30.00,  pack and ship )





Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Season Of Long Shadows




                                         An original acrylics painting, on gesso primed panel
                                         12 X 15", unframed
                                          $210.00, ( plus $25.00, pack and ship )

                                                            ( click on image to enlarge )



     This painting was done in a fairly impressionist style, to try and capture a loose,
fresh feel of new-fallen snow.  There is a special beauty to this season when the
earth sleeps beneath a cold, white blanket, but as we get older we fail to find winter
as enjoyable as we did in our youth.  We tend now, to wish for an end to the bitter
season, and yearn for the brighter and warmer days of spring, as soon as possible.
     Groundhogs have nothing to do with advancing spring for us, of course, but the
sun is indeed returning from its winter solstice, and heading north toward the equator.
     Every day now, the shadows across our landscape grow shorter and our days
grow brighter.  Unfortunately, the same can not be said about the rough days ahead
for our nation and the world.  Without a wise and thoughtful captain at the helm of
our ship of state, the shadows grow deeper and darker, and I fear we are facing
many stormy seas and disasters ahead.



     For those who prefer to buy art framed and ready to hang, this painting is now
available custom framed, in a wide-contour, weathered-molding, which compliments
the painting, and is appropriate to the subject.  Framed as shown, the cost is
$300.00, plus $30.00, to pack and ship.


     As with most all of my work, which is shown in this blog, prints are also available.
A fine-art, giclee print of this painting, on archival, 8 X 10" paper, is $15.00, plus
$8.00. pack and ship.



                                 




Some Cheer Amidst The Chill




     There are a couple of hibiscus plants here which are so old they are more like potted
trees with strong trunks, rather than tender plants.  I don't recall exactly when they were
acquired, but I am guessing it must have been about forty years ago.  They are more than
just hardy, they are true survivors, because they have suffered much neglect over the
years. It seems like I am always too preoccupied with  multiple other things, to give them
the kind of proper watering and feeding they would need to flourish. And yet I don't
discard them, despite the fact that it has become more and more of a struggle for me to
carry them outside every summer.  I'm not sure how much longer I'm going to be able
to continue the yearly moves.
     The double-flowered blossom shown here, is from the plant which produces variegated
peach-toned flowers with red-violet centers.  It has been continuing to bloom this winter,
even though I had to cut it back very severely last fall, before I brought it back inside.
     A simple thing like a blossom, with its miracle of design and color, can sometimes help
to lessen the gloom of winter, and take one's mind off of all the regressive, political turmoil
going on in the nation and the world now.
     Perhaps that is why I continue to keep the hibiscus.  The blossoms are a reminder that
I am still alive, with things to accomplish, and things to enjoy.    Like the character George
Bailey, in Frank Capra's classic film, It's A Wonderful Life, who has been shown what a
dismal place his world would be if he had never been born, but then he finds his little
girl's rose-petals in his watch-pocket, and realizes that he is still alive, with all of the good
things in life to still be appreciated.
     So, perhaps the hibiscus trees and I will make it through another year together.  But
who knows?  Only time will tell.