Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Yes I really have been painting

My wonderful niece Becca noted that this blog was pretty damn stale. (Actually she was much nicer about it than that, but I can read between the lines.)

I have actually been painting with even an occasional modicum of success. I'm going to post a bunch of things today without much comment just to prove that I'm not just sitting around watching TV, eating chips and burping on the couch.

The second one is my 2007 holiday card. If you don't get one of the cards it's because I don't know you or I don't have your address. The Satyr (top right)is in flux but he really is a bad man.

The rest are either good or bad, small or large, finished or unfinished, acrylics, oil pastels or mixed media, on canvas, plywood, mat board or paper. Nearly none of them have names. Go figure.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Two in one day!


After ages between painting posts, I'm posting two today.

This one came together nicely, no struggle. I worked on it over a week or two. I like the colors. Looks like I need to rephoto it though.

Hmmm... untitled so far. Acrylic on canvas. 18 x 24
Posted by Picasa

Well depression sets in...

I started painting at least partially because of depression. It helped me a great deal. As I've come out of depression I've painted less and also less successfully. I'm going through rather a bad patch recently and I've been painting more and to better effect.

Here's one I like so far. It started out as just a painting but then, on a whim, I added some collage and it helped. Then I played with some shapes and it started to talk to me. It wasn't necessarily a pleasant conversation.

Oh and it's not finished...I don't think.

Tentatively called Depths. Acyrlic and collage on canvasboard. 14" x 18"
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 19, 2007

State of the Heart released!

My dear friend Maggi Grace has finally seen the release of her wonderful book on her extraordinary "medical tourism" mission to India. It is a moving tale and one that I hope will open some eyes to the reality and politics of health care in the US.

Find info on the book here. You can buy it here or even better at your local independent bookstore.

I attended a standing room only reading and book release Friday and I've included a photo. Find more photos here.

By the way, the art in the background is Maggi's too. She's truly multi-talented.

Monday, August 13, 2007

It's been a long time coming...

Okay, so I'm not posting regularly. That's because virtually everything I've been producing is crap. While I try to turn things around I'll post some pix from my recent long trip to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I'll start with the amazing sunsets (or as Phillip whose cabin I stayed at calls them: Zen sunsets). Click on the pic to see the whole thing on Flickr. More pictures here.

Oh to be back in 70 degree weather (21 degrees for you Canucks).


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Another interpretation of the Haw River storm

I've been stuck again. Nothing works. So I went back to the series on the Haw River storm and made a smaller piece. I like this one. I think the use of dry brush helped define the clouds better than I've achieved before.

Haw River Storm #3. Acrylics on matboard. 13.5" x 10.5"

Monday, May 14, 2007

What life was like

Virtually all of you my age have a personal connection to the tragic loss of a child, whether the child of friends, family or your own. I am a lucky parent but too many friends have lost a child in childbirth or to illness, accident or other tragedy. Each loss has filled me with grief and I can only imagine how parents and siblings must feel.

I thought of this yesterday as I was driving around taking some landscape photos. I stopped at a church on Sax-Beth Church Road just inside the Alamance line in Orange County where Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina are located. I walked over to the old cemetery and began looking at the tombstones.

There is a large family plot for the Pickard family, I suspect the prominent family that owned the land surrounding beautiful Pickard Mountain.

Within the plot, side by side, lay three marble slabs.

The first one reads:

The second reads:

The third:

Three children, all born a decade apart and none lived more than a year. Sigh.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

It's complete

Down below in a post titled "I've started a new piece" there is a photo taken through the famous window at the top of the stairs. The painting based on the photo is finished now and will be making its way to Louisiana as a Mother's Day present.

It was fun to make and turned out reasonably well. The photo is, as usual, not very good; the bricks are much too red, the blue isn't dark enough and its crooked and poorly cropped but it's the best I could do. I'll try for a few more shots tomorrow before I go to UPS and see if I can do better.

It's a big piece 48" x 60" or so on one of the 2" deep canvases.

Haw River Night. Mixed medium, acrylics and collage on canvas. 48" x 60"

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The storm redux

A second take on the storm.

Haw River Storm #2. Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 24 (I think)

Okay, so here is the picture on which the canvas is based. The black part is the wall surrounding the "window" at the top of the stairs. It is really red brick but with the lighting it shows up as black.

Monday, April 30, 2007

The opening at the top of the stairs

In the landing area outside my 3rd floor loft there is an opening, a window of sorts, that overlooks the Haw River. (See the picture below in the post entitled "I've started a new piece".) The view can be astounding like the other day when a storm rolled in during the early evening hours. The clouds were a beautiful blue-gray varying from light to nearly black. I took a bunch of pictures, many framed in various ways by edges of the opening. This is a piece based on one of the photos where the top of the opening is the framing.

Oh yeah, it's not finished....

Haw River Storm #1. Acrylics on canvas. 24" x 16"

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Inspiration move me brightly

Inspiration move me brightly
Light the song with sense and color
Hold away despair
More than this I will not ask
Faced with mysteries deep and vast
Statements just seem vain at last
Some rise, some fall, some climb
Some rise, some climb, some crawl
To get to Terrapin

So begins the Terrapin Station section of the Terrapin Station Suite. Robert Hunter's lyrics are always wonderful and perhaps nowhere better than in this beautiful song. I start all my diaries with the opening of the Suite:

"Let my inspiration flow, in token rhyme suggesting rhythm
That will not forsake me, till my tale is told and done"

My tale is not done, but something unknown suggested rhythm and thus this piece was born.

Inspiration Move Me Brightly. Acrylics and ink on canvas. 24 x 30

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Say hello to no commuting!

Okay, so Sax to Carrboro is a little commute but it's a cinch compared to the daily trek across the Triangle I've endured for over 8 years.

And why, dear reader, are my driving days numbered? Retirement? Won the lottery? A sugar mama? Nope. It's a new job. I'll start working with my friends at RTS next week. I'm looking forward to the work, the people and the sweet location right across the railroad tracks from Weaver Street Market.

Mostly though I chose RTS because the employees there own a good chunk of my art that is actually hanging on somebody else's wall. A built in market.

People at Commerce have commented on my big smile lately. To the right I've posted a silly self portrait with a goofy smile. It is something of an unusual self portrait in that it looks nothing like me (except for the beard part). Go figure.

Me and a Hat. Acrylics and ink on watercolor paper. 9 x 12

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I've Started a new piece

Mom wants something big. This is what I'm going to paint. Can I do it?

Who knows?

Saturday, March 17, 2007


I have been enjoying various Abstract Expressionists and it is showing somewhat in my painting. I guess the impetus for this sort of "stones in a river" theme came from the view out of my window.

This first one started as a collage piece and I gradually added paint and inks. It is more subdued and I like it better. It was actually the second one so it's called...

Stones #2. Mixed media, collage, acrylics, ink on mat board. 23 x 18

This is one of the those pieces where I like parts of it and not others. I keep playing with some of the stones, particularly the bottom right and left and the top left. We'll see if I can ever get happy with the whole thing.

Stones #1. Acrylics on mat board and maybe some inks. 20 x 16

Sunday, March 04, 2007

I'm not as prolific as I was

But then again I'm not depressed and manic anymore either. I'll keep the less productive and happier version of me. I'll also keep a certain person who's part of making me less productive but much happier.

I've been enjoying the abstract expressionist paintings of Joan Mitchell. I'm looking forward to seeing a couple of her things at the Corcoran and other museums in DC in a couple of weeks. I'm sure pictures don't do her work justice; there's just too much texture. So she's inspired me recently and here are a couple of examples.

The first is a fairly big canvas that happened pretty quickly. I doubt it's finished.

"Out of Control" Acrylics on canvas 24" x 30"

This next one has evolved. It's much closer to being finished and I like it better than "Out of Control". This is definitely one where 2d just doesn't show much.

"They Filled the Sky" Acrylics on canvas 24" x 18"

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I've been busy

This first one is based on a Man Ray photo of Meret Oppenheim from 1933. The background is based on an old beat up Oriental rug I have. I'm not sure whether to leave Meret in just Conte pencils and charcoal or color her. What do you think?

Meret on a Rug. Charcoal, Conte pencils, acrylic on watercolor paper. Approximately 14" by 11"

This next one is pretty much a throwaway. I was looking for paper and found an old charcoal drawing I had done. I started to play with it and this is what happened. I find it interesting if flawed -- which it is.

Study in Blue and Green

Watercolor paper. Charcoal with acrylics. 9" x 12"

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A couple of new paintings

Neither of these is finished (I think). On the right is a new one in a series influenced by Jean Dubuffet. The colors don't show up very well in the photo. I don't like it as much as the "Sunbather" but anyway...

"Black Sand Nude". Acrylics on matboard with NC sand. Approximately 17" x 11"

The bright one below is done with a new type of acrylic paint that makes blending much easier and more controlled. I'm still getting used to it. This one is definitely not finished.

"Red Hot Chili Peppers". Atelier Interactive acrylics on canvas. Approximately 16" x 12"

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Why Saxapahaw?

A month ago I moved to Saxapahaw, an unicorporated community 15 miles west of Chapel Hill/Carrboro in neighboring Alamance County. The town is named after the Sissipihaw Indians who used to live in this area. It was something of an impetuous decision adding 15-20 miles to an already long commute to Raleigh for the real job. My work day now starts with me leaving my loft at 6:40, driving 17 miles to the park and ride, catching the bus to Raleigh, another 30 something miles, arriving at 8. If I catch the 5:40 bus back I make it to Sax at 7, for a 12 hour day.

Why, you the average, sane person might ask, would I do that? Well my third floor loft is in an old converted cottom mill with beautiful redone maple floors, a 15 foot ceiling and 2 big windows looking out over the Haw River (photo above). I watch the sun rise and set over the river, I walk along it listening to the river running over the rocks and see Venus rising bright in the west.

A big heron lives here and today, home because of the weather, I saw wood ducks and mallards (I think) and several other species of birds. At dusk I saw what I assume is a beaver swimming upstream. Maybe a river otter.

30 years ago the Haw ran red, yellow, blue or green depending on what dyes the textiles mills were using that day. Now, 10s of thousands of North Carolinians have lost their jobs at those mills but 100s of thousands of plants and animals have benefited. The river is now a haven for canoeists and kayakers and flows (reasonably) clean.

Soon I'll have a kayak and I'll be able to put in right by the mill. There is great camping downstream on islands and bank areas. So I accept the commute and the lack of civilization. And I paint.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Getting in the paint mode

I've read that many artists start each painting session with some exercises to get themselves into a "painter's mode". I've taken to grabbing a book of Man Ray celebrity photos and just doing a quick drawing. It makes me practice more realistic work and calms me. I still end up working on mostly abstract and/or non-representational stuff but the structure of the portrait seems to be a good starter. I take 5, 10, maybe 15 minutes.

This one is of a young Ernest Hemingway. That left ear is a problem. ;-)

Conte pencils

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

When I'm Stuck I Steal

...or borrow or copy, whatever you want to call it. I look through my art stuff and find an artist whose work intrigues me and I'll try something similar. Most of them are dead anyway.

Alexander Calder is known for his mobiles but he went into a gouache stage (gouache is a type of opaque watercolor) and I really like the results. So I did a nice, bright, happy piece ala Calder. It's pretty big, 22" by 30" or so.

"Little Blue Leaf"

Mixed media, oil pastel crayons, gouache and acrylics

The second is a take off on Serge Poliakoff, a Russian painter of the 20th century. It's called "Some County in Iowa".

Mixed media, oil pastel crayons, gouache on matboard, 15" x 18"

Monday, January 29, 2007

I have had a helluva time...

...getting a decent photo of the 2 pieces here. The first is small, 6 x 6. The second is just so dark. But I promised I'd post something so here it is.

The little one with planet earth is called Revelation 11:18. Look it up. The hands are from a Robert Mapplethorpe photo. Irony.

Mixed media, collage and acrylics on canvas

The second is called, okay I don't have a name. I sort of like it and I'll try to get a better photo.

Mixed media, Tibetan rice paper, ink, acrylics on canvas, 16" x 12".

Monday, January 22, 2007

It's been too long...

...since I posted something here. I've been in a painter's funk. Nothing turns out right. I have failures and disasters laying everywhere. After 6 or 8 months of constant painting it seems the muse deserted me.

I finally decided to say screw it. Just paint. No preconceptions, no goals, no timelines. Just me the paper and the paint. So finally I have a couple of new things that show promise and one piece finished that I'll photograph and post tonight.

The walls of my new loft are full of my work. It is strange, for me at least, to be surrounded by things I created, paintings, photos and furniture too.

Just so that there is something visual in this post, the photo is of a small family burial plot in southern Virginia. The tombstone on the right, for a child who died after 16 days, says "Budded on earth to bloom in heaven."