Tuesday, December 16, 2014


The conception for they passed with noses in the air came from two directions.  First, the poem - King John's Christmas, by A A Milne has been a part of my life and has been in my head since early childhood.   The title of this painting comes from it. On the other side, I like to look at black and white photographs of people and use those photos as source material for practicing color portraiture. While doing this I ran across a photo of a group of men in top hats in a car.  Also, I stumbled across a photo of lady in a huge hat.  Each of them had an expression of  "I'm so much better than everybody else that I need not concern myself with them or their doings",  I wanted to put them together somehow.  I reversed the orientation of the man, put a different hat on the woman, gave them both bodies and different clothes and then set about constructing a background.  They just seemed to naturally fit in to a landscape of destruction and devastation.  So I painted it and here it is

Saturday, December 13, 2014


In Teach Your Children Well, I had a different approach.  Rather than starting with people in poses and putting them together, I started with an idea and found people to put into it. I knew that I wanted a picture of an innocent child being influenced by an unsavory part of the culture.  In this case, military glory. So I had to set out to find the posers. Since I don't have much knowledge of what a soldier looks like in battle, carrying a gun, I turned to tv and movies as a source because that is such an abundant source.  I found a tv series called Over There and rented an episode on Netflix. I actually watched it even though it was the sort of show that I hate every thing about. Using a screen capture app, I went through it frame by frame and collected a lot of images that I thought would be suitable, finally settling on this one. So I had the soldier and the sand.  Once again, a picture of a grandchild appeared in my email that fit in perfectly.  The child was a girl, sitting on a rock and not holding a toy gun.  I had to look on the Internet again for the image of a toy gun.  It turns out that there are more realistic toy guns on the market that I could ever have imagined. So I changed her into a boy, put the gun into her hands and sat her down on the sand.  I think this picture has a sort of dream like quality which I tried to achieve by blurring the soldier a bit.  It differers from much of my work because it is simple in structure. It is my favorite in this group, though.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Collateral Damage - a painting about politics

Collateral damage was first conceived as a live model portrait study done in one of the painting groups that I have been attending for the last thirteen years.  The young man just sat down in front of a flag that someone had put up and the result was the small painting, theirs not to reason why.  Everyone thought that it represented a young innocent being dragged off to war.  They I saw a photo of a politician in a magazine and made the tiny portrait red white and blure.  I wanted to develop them into a bigger painting and I thought of having the politician shielding the eyes and mind of the young man.  I had two of my friends stand and pose like this, one with her hand in front of but not touching the eyes of the other.  I don't know what any guns look like, so I had to look at the Internet for that,  since the soldier is an victim in this picture, I wanted more victims and the models for them were supplied by pictures that my son had emailed me of my adorable grandchildren.  The mother figure, I just put in and I feel the she is the weakest link.  I may take here out.  That is possible, you know, even after years have passed.  I wanted to symbolize the USA with the flag, so by this time, it was an easy leap from amber waves of grain to hills of the stars and stripes.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

What a difference a color change makes

These are three incarnations of the same painting.  The first picture was taken after about thirty minutes of work from a live model.  I think it looks fresh and complete, and I might very well have stopped there.  The second  is the same painting after three hours of work.  It may be more refined but it is not particularly better, in my opinion.  I used the orangish tan back ground because it was close in color and tone to the original canvas color, which I thought was working pretty well. In the third example, I have decided that the warm background wasn't working, so I changed it to green.  I don't know if this is better or not. It is different and it contrasts with the skin tones, but that neutral background seems kind of pointless to me.  It might be better if I made it very dark - black, even.  Or put some objects in it. Or just moved on to another painting.  This is all practice, after all.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Oil on canvas  -  34"x30"  -  2013.  I am entering this painting I a show at Studio Place Arts in Barre, Vermont.  The theme of the show is "Amore".  I feel like this one fits that theme.  The dominant woman, like a modern day Carmen, uses one man to taunt another.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Some of my work will be shown at Catamount Arts in St Johnsbury VT as part of the Second Tuesday group show. Second Tuesday is an art discussion group that has been meeting for more than twenty years. Paintings from my series "Breaking Through" and "Atlantic Beaches" will be on view.
Breaking through, is the first group of little paintings that I have done that are purely abstract.  they seem to be about breaking through the cobwebs to some inner, yet hard to reach passion.  I think I will pursue this series and make some bigger ones.
Atlantic beaches is about dead things on the beach.  Dead jellyfish.  Broken shells.  Bits of seaweed. As part of my larger "Small Things" series (I'm up to about 135) these are a celebration of and homage to tiny things under our feet or right in front of our faces that all too often go unnoticed.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Persephone climbing up out of the Underworld - Resurrection

I am posting views of the same painting - one of them upside down.  Which one is upside down?  I don't know, because I can't decide which way is up.  After being stuck for months in an un friendly place, Persephone has finally seen her chance to get out of the Underworld.  I have depicted her doing this under her own steam.  She doesn't need anyone to lead her out anymore.  She can do it on her own.  I think that this series is drifting away from the classic myth and is becoming a metaphor for my life and, indeed, for the lives of all women who find themselves stuck in an unfulfilling life without knowing quite how they got there.  We have to realize that we can climb out and create a new life.  It will take luck, commitment and perseverance.  In this painting, Persephone reaches for the winter dead tree and as she touches it, new life springs forth.
But which way is up?