Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sketch for Second Set of Panels

I have been feeding the local Jays, black oil seed in the Droll Yankees squirrel-proof feeder. The Blue Jays are almost too heavy for the weighed perch, but the squirrels now have to feed off the ground. The Jays have been coming in groups like this and making their usual ruckus and also that rare yodeling call. I thought the flurry would make some good ceiling panels

The Branch Outside My Window

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Little Different-Ceiling Panels

Happy Holidays to all of you! Today is a most amazing "after storm" I have not experienced this since I lived in Illinois many years ago. Last night it snowed, and shortly after that it got colder and the wind started to blow. Now today it is sunny, but the wind has not stopped. We are drifted in.

Fire in the stove and Christmas leftovers...all is good.

I am working on some ceiling panels for a children's surgical center in NYC.
I have two more sets of panels, that will have more birds. 
I want to create the effect of "looking up" and them "looking down".
It is just the perfect day to be at the table with sketchbook, trapped in the house.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Looking Up-Miami

48" X 60" Acrylic on Canvas
I wanted to post this before it traveled. It was delivered to the art mover in NYC on Monday morning to go to it's home in Miami. I have been working on it all month.

Drawing Session November '10

Last Wednesday I went to the drawing session again. This time, and on purpose, I left my charcoal and pastel and conte' at home.
I only packed pens, brushes and ink and some 70# Bristal paper.

The session is run in the usual way, with the fast gesture pose and then longer and longer poses. I feel that to get the most out of the time I should push my own envelop, but since it is only the second time, I am not completely in the groove yet.
I was hovering over the paper as the 30 seconds were ticking by when one of my fellow bloggers came to mind "Firefly Workshop".
I splashed some ink wash around in a random, but educated manor till I could find her, then took the pen to it. As you can barely see, I even rotated the paper through some of these fast poses.

This second one I fell back to the way I would draw with conte', but the marker fought back! I quickly went for the brush and ink. Interesting, but if not for this blog entry I would likely file it, maybe in a round file. 

Now that I had the brush and ink in hand and I was intent not to fight it. I think some enjoyable things started to happen. The model took one of those poses like a Michelangelo "Sibyl"

Monday, November 1, 2010

Life Drawing Oct '10

Here are a few of my drawings from a life drawing session. I have not drawn in a group for a couple of years. I used to do it all the time.
Life drawing is a very physical activity. I like to draw standing up at a drawing table. This session was three hours.
I think of it more, like going to the gym, than as art making. I know many artists that can take figure drawing out to a high level (Phillip Pearlstein).
My eyes feel differently after even one session. I am normally right handed, but after several sessions, my left hand will start to hold chalk and draw, even without my realizing it.
I have heard that many art schools have eliminated their life drawing class. It is a changing art world! 
If you think about drawing as a tool, then I remember what my Dad's tool box looked like with wrenches, a hand saw and no electric drill.  My toolbox has battery operated drivers, saws and cutters and a laser level!?! So I do understand. 
An artist now produces art with new tools and skills.

But I really enjoy drawing like this! It has been an important part of my training. (I can give credit to Anthony Droege for teaching it to me, and in one intense semester). I feel it is necessary, for the way I see, and think. 

Something will be a lost when no one draws the human form from life anymore.

This is really just a short entry on a subject that could be pages. 
I will continue to post my drawings from these sessions.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Admiral Bird and The Fox

My friend Diana K. commissioned a painting of her "Admiral Bird", a Cochin Rooster.
Diana had seen some of my chicken paintings from earlier in the spring. She told me how the Admiral had protected her free-range chickens against the fox on several occasions.
When I first saw the Rooster, he had no tail at all, having lost it in his latest encounter with the fox.
I live in Up-State NY, in fox hunt country, mostly an equestrian event, chasing fox and coyote on horse back. There is a lively market for sporting art on this subject including many fox paintings.
I liked the idea of presenting the fox in a different role, but one that it is really known for. The fox in the hen house, the bane of the farmer!
The interaction between any two individuals,  be it animals or humans has always fascinated me. You can use the distance between glaces as a real compositional element.

When I finished the painting, I thought it would be most enjoyable to present the painting to Diana at my studio, and invited some of my friends.

My studio is not a public place or an art gallery. I really had to think about who I would invite and decided that I could only have friends who have been to my home or people that already owned some of my works. They are the only people I could feel comfortable showing those unfinished or unbaked works that live and linger around the studio.

Sharing the finished Admiral Bird, before it went to live on Diana's wall made for a great day.
My wife Holly put out a most beautiful spread of wine and cheese.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Old Drawing

In the summer of 1971, as a beginning art student. I would draw portraits outside, at fairs and festivals. I drew in vine charcoal, on newsprint and sprayed them with hairspray. I think $3. - $5. was my going rate. I really loved to draw and I could stand and draw for hours, without a break.
A portrait, from that time, has resurfaced. A very special drawing too. This is John K., my best friend through High School.
It is the best I could draw at that time. What I am most pleased about, is that I did capture the "likeness" and "spirit".
Later I moved away from the pressure of "likeness" and concentrated on trying to draw the best "head" that I could, but spirit is and will always be the most important.
Speaking of spirit; This drawing was sent to me by John's son, who I have never met.
John died of kidney failure in 1977 after a life with Nephritis.
I really could go on and on...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Concours d'Elegance

I know I have been talking allot about cars lately, but since I bought the Porsche 944, it is the current interest (the new tires arrived today)!
It was a delightful coincidence that I have gotten to go to two amazing car shows, two weekends in a row. This weekend, we were at the Concours d'Elegance in Westport, Connecticut.
Holly and I are venders at these events, with our "Tailgates" business. We sell high-quality picnic stuff.
After we set up, I set out with my sketchbook.
The first problem I experience is the Sun, I just cannot sit or stand in the Sun for very long, even with hats and sunscreen. Most of the wonderful cars are parked for viewing in a big field. Saturday was beautiful,
The next issue is the crowds, I am actually shy and drawing in public is initially difficult, fortunately, once I start to draw it goes away.
I was busy drawing, when a man asked if I could just turn around and take a look at his Indian motorcycle, and would I draw it. It had been a New York City Police motorcycle that he had restored.
The last piece is a Maserati Ghibli SS and was owned by the chairman of the  Concours event.
I am pleased that I am able to draw what I see and in a reasonable time. These drawings each took about forty-five minutes or less.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Drawing From the Limerock Race Weekend

 Last weekend was spent at Limerock Raceway for three days. One of the attractions was Vintage Race cars! On Saturday, the park was filled with amazing cars, old and new. I wandered around with my pad and sketched the Lotus and Cobras and of course some Porsches! The park had Porsche only parking too!
I struck up a conversation while standing next to this old delivery truck and sketched the truck while talking. As I drew, the owners of the truck showed up and stood behind me, watched me finish the drawing and then bought it. That made a good day better!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Plein-Aire Painting Today

On Saturday, Holly and I went to Limerock Raceway, across the state line in Connecticut.
It is very close to my house, only a half hour away, but in all the time I have lived here, it has been off the radar. Somehow, now that I have this Porsche 944, I seemed to have permission. I was delighted to see that on the very day, the 944's were racing.  Actually, I have never been to an Auto race track, ever. Porsche, Lamborghini and Corvettes at 100 plus miles an hour. Wow!
So back to being an artist. I get to the studio this morning and parked the car next to the barn and looked at it for moment and decided that it was the perfect subject to combined the enthusiasm. I went in and brought out my flash paint (vinyl base Gouache) and some 70# bristle board. I had to work fast as a thunder storm was threatening.
I want to do more of this.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Crows Over Goldenrod Meadow

I had a opportunity to buy this 10 acre plot a few years ago.
It was beautiful and cleared and had Goldenrod growing in the fields and as I walked it just before sundown all the crows were returning to their roosts and flew over, and of course, cawing all the way.
Their presence seemed like an excellent element to tie together earth and wind

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Sorry that it has been awhile since I could write!

I got through the car adventures and everything is either fixed or sold and now I have something new. Well! Not that new.

I often do, or have things happen on the 9's. So while I was 59, with only a week to the birthday, I bought this 1983 944 Porsche. It is more of a "Bucket List" item than a mid-life crisis. LOL! Already having fun on the local twisties.
During all of this, my wife and I started a new business supplying high end Picnic and Tailgate gear. We launched it this past weekend. Included in the line is the top piece.
It is an interesting new direction for me and is one of a pair of trays that I painted and worked over with gold and copper leaf, painted over that and then did an epoxy pour over all of it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Challenging Day in the Country

Some feel that they are in control, or need to be in control of everything in their life. Some believe that fate, luck and chance are really in charge.
I tend to believe in a balance of both of these ideas, so long as "in control" is really an act of intention and fate, and luck are connected to Karma. This morning I am sorting out just how easy and/or difficult this belief is to understand.
 At 9:00 AM this morning I hit a deer at 65 mph on the NYS Thruway. I broadsided it in the center lane! I was not hurt, and managed to get the car to the shoulder without getting hit by any other cars. I regret that I have probably totaled my wife's car! I was able to drive it back home, though the front of the car is a mess
I was on the way to see a client that I have done some design and production work for, and though I cannot turn down any work right now. I have expressed my intention to develop my fine art career and limit my commercial work. I did not expect to be so forcibly stopped!
It was a bad day for critters! The trooper told me that three deer and a bear were killed, this morning, on the same stretch of road, but I still feel singled out!

I am also aware that the "Trickster", "The Coyote" may have a hand in this. So right now, as I type, alive and unhurt, and NOT at the meeting with the commercial client, I am asking myself, "What do I need to rethink and rededicate"? What can I create that is new?

"How high can you jump Dan?"

The painting start, above is one of my views, usually with several grazing deer.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Beautiful Morning

I had trouble titling the entry this morning and it is indeed a beautiful morning. One of my bird feeder broke and spilled all the seed on the ground, but that has brought Turkeys into the yard and six of them are working of the pile.

Do any of you read Robert Genn?
He is a Canadian artist, a landscape painter and I will admit that I never heard of him till a friend subscribed me to his newsletter. It isn't really a newsletter, he writes you a personalized note twice a week. This morning's note was brutal;


May 25, 2010

Dear Dan,

Yesterday, Keith Wright of Melbourne, Australia wrote, "Nothing is as hopeless as trying to justify a lifetime as an artist. I have painted for over thirty years and have little to show for it. I have a studio full of paintings and a wife who denigrates my career. I have no money, no sales, no hope. You may even say, 'His paintings are bad.' But I have no ego and little belief in my abilities. I always thought one day my work might be in demand. I know I don't paint for others--it's an addiction within myself. But the indifference to my work has gradually worn me down. I'm now being treated for depression. I can no longer believe in myself because no one else believes in me. A lifetime wasted. I should feel bitter but I'm beyond even that. I have loved my art but it has destroyed me."

Thanks, Keith. We've taken the liberty to put a few of your works at the top of the current clickback. I'm sure some of our readers will pass along their opinions. As in all cases where artists mention depression, I encourage them to seek help. Looks like you are doing that. While I'm deeply sorry for your predicament, I also recognize that it is, in degree, universal. While feelings of hopelessness may be part of the game, there is still the blessing, the power to create. At times like this, we can think of Vincent van Gogh.

"One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul and yet no one ever comes to sit by it," said Vincent. "Passersby see only a wisp of smoke rising from the chimney and continue on their way." This statement--even though his letters are often full of flights of optimism and joy--is the grim outlook of many of us. Success or no success, joy or no joy, we are alone. And it is to this private struggle that we must consign our energy, our focus, and our lives.

Vincent tells us that one needs only to listen to the voice of nature to be fulfilled. That only the beautiful mind is needed. The idealist in us finds this to be true. The pragmatist doesn't. Vincent himself could not live up to his own standards. He too was depressed. "What am I in most people's eyes?" he asked. "A nonentity or an eccentric and disagreeable man." Truth is, when we're able to kiss off the expectations laid on us by ourselves and others, we have the chance to overcome. 

Best regards,


I could have written Keith's Hopeless paragraph! Whew!
I choose not to! I could wax on about it for a long time and I also choose not to do that to you.
This morning, while I drink my coffee. I am taking inventory of those choices I have made, the successes I have had, and outcomes that are still unfolding, while watching my birds enjoy one seed at a time.
The top Pepper painting is heading to a show/sale next week.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Looking at Spring

I have been paintings these small long landscapes for more than a year with the idea that I would paint all the seasons. I will continue with this plan, but it is interesting to see the challenges that can present themselves. I just finished this one.
Spring and Autumn change before your eyes.
Once the leaves fall off the trees, Winter can look the same for months. Summer can also remain the same if you do not including specific blooms of flowers. Georgia O'Keeffe thought that summer in the east was green from her toes to the sky. She did not care for it.
Spring changes by the minute! Everything is so accelerated! Fall is the same, one days temperature change can make a huge difference.
This spring has been crazy! Half a week in the 80's, now I have been stoking the wood stove for the last two days.
In this painting, I tried to get that new leaf leanness and shimmer, there for only a day

Saturday, May 8, 2010


 72" X 72" Oil on Canvas

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Swords and Art

Reading things Japanese, remind me of how difficult it is to think differently.
I have enjoyed reading Yukio Mishima, till I got to "Sun and Steel". I realized I was in a very alien mind. This was fascinating to me,  after I got over feeling stupid!
I have had more success with "A Book of Five Rings". A manual for the swordsman. I may die in my western life, never truly understanding the "Void"
What I do love about Musashi's writing is that instead of making it real, from metaphor as we do in the west. Musashi gives it to you real, then you get make your own metaphor.
If I replace the sword with my paint brush in this paragraph, it still works!

The new sword holds interest for me greater then some macho weapon to fantasize with... OK! It also does do that too!

Monday, May 3, 2010

New Acquisition

Today I made a trade. My friend had admired several paintings over some time and I had made note of that. In turn, I had admired a sword that was hanging in his study. I have trained with Japanese weapons and can handle a bokken sword, but in the most elementary way.
I have had and lost several opportunities to own a good Samurai Sword. When my friend moved, I found out that he had put the sword on consignment!  Both of us respect our individual need for cash and the best price, so there was no conversation about the sword. Then I found out that the sword did not sell. I felt compelled to make him an offer of trading it for the painting that I knew he liked and he accepted! 
The story is that the sword was recovered from the wreckage of a Zero after a  kamikaze attack in the pacific. A great provenance, but not a pre-war sword.
The painting is a small acrylic on paper and I am very comfortable with the mutual values.

I am curious about the quality of the blade. It is extremely sharp and I could not resist taking a swipe at one of the branches of a shrub. An effortless cut! Wow!
I want to have it x-rayed and take off the sheath. I have promised my friend to renegotiate our trade, if the blade proves to be more than the standard Japanese army issue, but right now I am delighted.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Roosters and Chickens

Here are the first of several paintings about Roosters and Chickens that I will produce till Friday. I do not own any and it would change if I did, because I know I would see more of their nuance. I spent a half a day at my friends farm with her chickens. I produced five right away and I like these three. They are drawn from a life, sort of, I did get a hold of a stuffed Rooster, tried to give'em some life! I also like that they remind me of Richard Scarry drawings from his childrens books that I read to my kids.
So I see that they have an animated and illustrative quality that I often see in my work and is strongest when I am first beginning.
Today my neighbor came over with the gravel for my driveway...and now it is noon.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pastel Drawings

I have not been drawing portraits for awhile, but I thought I would post some of the most recent and favorites

A Little More about Melancholy

I did not  sign or date this drawing, but I know that it is at least 15 years old. It is pastel on paper.
I have drawn several hundred of these and I have managed to keep many and I have a box full of them. This drawing was supposed to be a gift for a friend, of his wife. Upon completing the drawing I saw such sadness in it, this melancholy, that I have been talking about.
I did not SEE it, it came out of my hand.  I was not able to give the drawing to him. I am aware of this effect in my drawing, I just did not expect it from this sitter. I was surprised, (or maybe not surprised) when I heard that she was recently separated and is seeking a divorce. The story seemed to have been there, years before.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


 Good Morning! It is a beautiful morning, sunny and bright and I feel great. I have allot to do and I am happy about it. 
So why in the middle of my morning chores, am I compelled to stop what I am doing (did not even make coffee yet) and sit here and write about melancholy?
It is about NOT knowing the answer to this, that I am writing!
Melancholy might be called "functional depression" It is a sadness that you can hide, you can walk around with it, somethings for years. In truth, you cannot hide it and you cannot function well. The Greeks built Saturnine Gardens, to acknowledge it and let the soul rest from it. I heard a definition of depression was "being stopped", but you do not stop with melancholy, you just carry it around with you.
I have always been tuned in to OTHER people's emotional states. I had a mother that could do this and trained me, UGH! It is a good skill for an artist, but rough on the "day to day". Sometimes I do not need or want to know what people are feeling, in a restaurant or grocery.
I have had to re-train myself, to be able to press the mute button. When I was younger, I did it with drink. That works, but the cost is high and the effect is short. I have found my solution through mediation that is built into martial arts training. I have learned to use that mental mute button, but that does NOT stop all that emotional info from pouring in anyway.
Sometimes I am overwhelmed. The studio is where it all comes out, I often see the studio as a battlefield, a place where it all gets processed. It can make my studio a highly charged and scary place. I do not think it matters if I am painting in an expressive way or a still life with a Lemon. I acknowledge this and would not have it any other way!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Saving Stuff

In the last few entries. I was talking about how I have made a living being an artist.
I have also posted current, finished work.
The work I am posting today is in the realm of the "process". I made these yesterday.

I have been going through my old work. I have noticed that there is a theme inside the portfolios. They are filled with all my ideas, many more ideas than just my old drawings of limited skill, they are in there too.
Most of these idea pieces, never reached fulfillment, for a thousand reasons. When I did have that idea I would go immediately to the studio and make it. Painting it or do a drawing or something. I am revisiting this crow idea now. I pulled out a painted sketch of crows from 1988 after a particularly vivid dream.

I save odd things. I am not a hoarder and I am generally neat, but I like interesting stuff and often create small dioramas on window sills or secret corners.

When my parents were alive, they loved to go to estate sales and garage sales and then send me boxes of stuff! Arriving with love, most of it was junk. In one of the boxes were some ill-cut gold place mats. I kept them (12+ years), did not know why, till yesterday.
I started to paint right on the gold vinyl with flat paint, black and interference blue.
Like a crow going down after some shiny thing, I am a sucker for metallic, iridescence and dayglow. Crows are dream elements for me, so the more visual candy, the better.
These photos are not showing the gold edges gleaming through.
Painting crows right now, come from a renewed interest, after reading "Crow Planet" by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. My break time spent watching crows in flight and, as they constantly chase the resident pair of Redtail hawks across the field.
This is all building up to something, so back to the studio with better paper and gold paint.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Good Bye Winter

I think that last snow just wore me out. So even though the current storm is raining and the wind is howling, trees are fall down. I believe it is spring. I saw the tips of the tulips coming up.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jan's Summer View


Last summer, in July, a friend from Mexico came to visit.
July in Up-State NY is clear and lush. My birthday is on the 25th, the Cicadas have just started their welcome buzzing a week before and it is usually hot. Mexico is also hot, but really dry.
My Mexican friend lay in the grass, walked on the grass and reveled in the "green" that went from his toes to the sky. When he came into the house and saw my paintings, he got what I was trying to do and commissioned one for his home in San Miguel Allende.
Here it is finished, 60"X36".
I am a studio painter, but I do enjoy my plein-aire painting time ...and I have put in my time, but it was so nice to put my mind and heart into summer, while the snow was falling.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010