Tuesday, December 30, 2014


The last picture in this series, at least for now, is Super Cell.  It has one of those huge rotating black clouds that engender tornadoes in the background.  In the foreground, a couple of "beautiful people" sit on a beach, wearing rose colored glasses, reading fashion magazines or obliviously listening to an iPod.  They are also oblivious to a child who does see the approaching storm cloud and tries to scream a warning that they can not hear.  The figures in this painting all come from photos that I cobbled together and put different hair and clothes on. It is consistent with the other paintings in the group in that someone sees that the world is a mess and someone else can not.  Or maybe they just choose not to see it.

oil on canvas - 30"x34"

Saturday, December 27, 2014


Shoot.  I had a lot of names for this one but I finally settled on Shoot.  This was a concept driven piece.  I mean I had the idea and then tried to figure out how to execute that idea.  In my head there had been one or two adults sitting in easy chairs watching TV and drinking beer.  They would have been seen from behind with the TV in the distance with images of war on it.  In the foreground, boys would have been playing with guns.  I could never figure that out to my satisfaction but after using the stars and stripes in Collateral Damage, I thought of using them in Shoot as well.  I dispensed with the easy chairs and the grown ups and emphasized the TV.  The images of the boys came from a series of books that I have, each one featuring photos from one decade of the twentieth century.  These were from the fifties.  It is surprising in our culture how many pictures there are of kids with guns.  These two were playing with guns, but in a lot of the images the kids are using real guns, fighting in real wars.  This painting is slanted, I guess, toward a middle class American point of view, but I hope it implies those kids in the real wars and also the commonplaceness of brutality "as seen on TV" and also how it is romanticized in our culture. 

Monday, December 22, 2014


State and Main was a project long in the making.  Most of the time (a couple of years) was spent in thinking about it. I knew that I wanted a group of children playing in a street as if that street were a beach with the rising ocean waters rising up to them.  This time, it is the children who carry on as usual, as each generation does, while the adults suddenly become aware of their peril.  I tried out many arrangements for the city street and sky line and none of them seemed to work until it occurred to me to make the line of buildings curve as they might if they were falling into the sea. The characters in this picture came from many sources.  The little girl in pink started out as my granddaughter. Some of the others were came from my collection of black and white photography books.  Others were made up.  I thought that the iceberg floating in the distance was a nice touch, representing the melting ice caps. And the greenish sky gives the whole thing an ominous tone. Now that I have discovered the power of tiny white dots in representing foamy water, I might go back into this painting and add some.  54"x40"

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.