When I am working I like to put any image in my head, I do not look at it while I am painting, but let it live in the back of my mind. This painting by John Singer Sargent has been with me since I began painting the tree tops
I taped down sheets of gesso'ed paper to my 7' X 3' table.
I have a vast collection of cloud studies and sketches of trees. I thought it would be interesting to work on all 14 at the same time and be able to do the same or similar image and composition over and over, to be able to see across the table and have a bigger conversation, with more voices. I always have a dialog with every piece, but in a singular way and not a group discussion.
The above painting is the first one to be finished (#1/14). You can see it's place, missing at the table.
This may not seem like much, just a man drawing a line down the left side of the paper, but for Dennis this is BIG. Dennis's stroke recovery has moved ahead in one big leap, about a month ago, with better eye contact, and now being able to walk with the walker, unassisted.
While I was visiting him this week I pulled out the pad and said "draw" and without any instruction he moved to the left side of the paper and made lines in red and green. "Bravo Dennis"
This was a portrait commission of Chef Ophelia Horn (Waine Ann Deegan), painted to go on the wall of her next restaurant.
She has passed away and I do not know where the painting is now. I wish I had a better copy of it.
Below is the more naturalistic study for the painting before I created and stylized her and the environment. All the props were of her choosing from her personal collections.
This is a painting from around 1988. It was purchased and lives on a farm in Wisconsin. Special thanks to Robert Fripp, Steve Reich for the inspiration.
The subjects are actual portraits of two friends, a musician and a dancer/choriographer, but placed into a setting of my own design.
Are you someone that knows your Dharma? Do you know why you are here? Deepak Chopra discusses this as a conversation that he has had with his children, about making the effort to find out why you are here and then pursuing it.
I don't feel like I truly know my Dharma.
I am jealous of Chopra's children that they had a parent thoughtful enough to bring up this subject and help guide them. I do hope that I have done a better job.
In this gap between blog posts (too long), I have been going through old portfolios and pictures and making notes of my journey (and cleaning the studio)!
Admiral Bird & The Fox
Acrylic on Canvas 36"x24"
There is quite allot of work in between these two paintings and several costly trips down a few dead ends, but on paths that often held some gift or prize to take, much like some video game...
I was looking through some old portfolios when I came across these. They are 20 years old and they were painted when I made a serious effort to go out into the landscape and plein-aire paint, after being a studio artist up to that time.
Acrylic on Paper 16"x20"
I still really like mowed lawns and trimmed parks. It allows for strong graphic patterns from shadows to hit the ground without having the under brush brake them up
Acrylic on Paper 16"x20"
I found a park not far from my house. I was living in Lancaster PA at the time.
It had been a 90 acre Mennonite farm, but half of it was in flood plain and could not be effectively developed, so the owner had sold it to a group that promised and built the most beautiful park and arboretum. The owner was now 90 years old and regularly walked the park and often sat with me while I painted.
Acrylic on Paper 16"x20"
This park had Mill Creek for a border on the East and South sides and a working Amish farm for the entire Western border.
I painted this while a Amish boy and a horse mowed, and raked this pattern into his field.
Acrylic on paper 16"x20"
I have continued to paint evergreens. This Hemlock always looked like an upside down tornado ready to tear up the lawn.
Recently I brought home some of my pastel drawings so I could photograph them. I left them on the bed and my housekeeper saw them. My house, is in Upstate NY and it is all about Landscape. Those are the paintings that are on the walls and the only art work, of mine, that she had ever seen. She a very quiet person, almost shy, but she asked me if I could do a drawing of her Mother. I knew that she has not seen her mother in more than 12 years!
It is the nature of this American life, it is on the news. Whether it is NYC, LA, Chicago or places in between, and in my Upstate NY community, we have an emigrant population. Except for the politics and paperwork it is no different than my Italian and Irish grandparents. They did what they had to do. They never returned to their native countries, nor saw their parents or relatives ever again.
I asked for some pictures and she gave me several, including a book that her brother had made.
As I studied the pictures in the book, the caption under one of the pictures, of a very nice stucco house, with flowers and wrought iron, really got to me,
"This is the house I built with the money I made washing dishes at Denny's"
A smiling man was pictured with his very proud Mom.
So I tried my best to divine and capture all the love and memories.
Today I went into Central Park with a limited pallet of color. I was hoping to find some good dappled light. I brought Flash paint, in blue and white and English red, but I also brought some florescent yellow! I was taking no chances!
The ramble is a maze in paved and gravel paths that wander aimlessly, but delightfully, around small streams and ponds and rock formations. All the rock formations look natural, but one is surprised to find out that most all rocks groupings in the entire Central Park have been placed there by the Park creators.
I painted today with the artist Daniel Bethume from Santa Fe. He is now living and working in New York.
Today, Dennis and I worked with puzzle blocks.
He does this kind of work when he is downstairs in the rehab room, but we added some good conversation while he figured out how to mate the blocks together.
Part of the discussion today centered around "patience".
It is difficult to understand, with my health brain (or at least I think it is healthy), what amount of healing it will take to fix Dennis's broken brain. It is confounding just how articulate Dennis is right now with lengthy discussions on serious topic... which then, regrettably, triggers my expectations of him.
I resist making "Child" references related to Dennis, but it helps me when I need to remember that I did not expect my then 4 year old to act like a 6 year old! Well! At least for two more years! "Patience"
My blog title today includes 001 which states with some optimism, that I will indeed reach a triple figure. My friend Alex gave me 480 sheets of paper for Christmas, that is how optimistic he is!
I do enjoy not having a ridge artistic life and I am able to flow with new and interesting projects and events, but I also respect that if you are to achieve that "higher level" it takes tenacity and "stick-to-itivness"!
The landscape around my house and studio, (5 miles away) are at their prime right now (between Thunderstorms) and I do not need to get in a car to travel to any other amazing spot, actually I believe that even if I were locked up in prison I could find something interesting in the dust in the corner of the cell, but on such a beautiful day why go there!
I am off to NYC in an hour and I am bringing the paints so maybe I will get a couple of new painings out of Central Park.
I had a great time with Dennis today. It is primarily the left side of his brain that took the most damage from the stroke, so we can still have a fine conversation. His speech has greatly improved. Today the rap was all about Art as an object/product vs. Art as a representation for a conceptual idea...with some of his interesting anecdotes from his days being around Andy Warhol and working with Tinkerbell.
I brought my Hundertwasser book with me, so I could show Dennis a higher expression of the very simple graphic drills that we are doing.
It has been a regular effort to keep that left hand involved and you can see it is off the table right now. Today I am understanding with much more clarity that Dennis is NOT seeing very much of the left side, and it is not about actual vision, but perception. Can you see that he did not draw the circles on his left side of the paper?
I have mentioned it in the past, but these graphic drills are something I have been developing from my study of "A Method for Creative Design" by Adolfo Best-Maugard
Today is the second art therapy session with my friend Dennis W.
Ten months ago he suffered a series of strokes (59 yrs old). He is now in a wheelchair, in a rehab center, but alive and with ever increasing possibilities for a recovery.
Dennis is an author, and a screenwriter of significant note, and now, like a lightning strike, he is NOT! On my first visit some months ago, when we atleast knew he was not going to die, I asked him, "What do you need?" and he knew I was talking to the creative person, now locked inside his own body. His halting response was "repetition".
I am an artist, not an art therapist. I do have some teaching experience and I have been a qualified martial arts instructor. What could be more repetitious than the punching and kicking and endless practice of Katas.
So now I knew how to structure the time; 20 minutes "Basics", 20 minutes "Lesson" 20 minutes "free sparring" (free drawing)
The first lesson was more of an assessment session and I was encouraged that Dennis could "draw a straight line", LOL. So we drew a whole page of them.
Today the same and then adding circles and squares; Pick-up a marker, take off the top, draw the line, put down the marker and pick a new color, etc. etc. etc.
I do hope that I can keep Dennis interested enough, as we need to add the left hand to the process. His left hand is only about 60% useful right now
I am pleased that today, he was able maintain his interest and concentration long enough for me the make this sketch of him.
In a few weeks I will post some of his progress.
My local crows have been communicating! I wish I had a clue about what! They are not scolding or dive bombing. Likely it has something to do with my feeding them the mice I trap in the basement.
I live in a farm house and mice are just part of it. When we bought the house the previous owners had been away for months prior to the sale and the mice had real taken over. Even after I got that under control, and also got the Red Squirrel out (cute but nasty critter). A mouse or two is just country life, so I put down some traps, but thought I would start to put the catch outside and always in the same spot, on a big rock, when I do this I do not see any crows, but obviously they see me. Sometimes I see them come down and take it. I only catch one mouse a week, maybe two.
Over the past two years I have noticed a change in the crows behavior.
Last summer two adults would bring a young crow (nearly a full size crow) to the yard and feed and talk and I guess, "play"!
The crows no longer fly away when I come out and often hang out in one of two trees and watch me.
This week they are calling to me, directly. Interesting
I like to walk. Sometimes living it the country actually limits your ability to walk, (no shoulder, pick-up trucks driving fast, dogs, etc). I can find some interesting things really close to the house. This is a small painting, only 12"x12"
Can you see the little postcard through the easel? Much of my influences come from Abstract Expressionist painters
I was born in the Bronx, NY in 1950. By 1955 everyone was making plans to get out of there.
The Cross Bronx Expressway was then a huge trench that was being cut into the end of my street. Bryant Avenue was made into a dead end, with us on the wrong side of it.
There were many problems in the Bronx, but all of it was of little concern to me, I loved it. I played on the sidewalks, rollerskated and went to the Bronx Zoo, all the time.
If you did want to leave, you had two choices; go to NJ or Long Island. My parents chose NJ and we moved to Winfield Park in 1957.
Winfield was a conveniently located community, within computing distance to Manhattan for my Dad. My parents did not want to lose their NYC connections, family and friends, etc..
I started to enjoy this new place. It had a woods and a river that nearly surrounded the town. This wooded area was all County property. During the WPA era they had built ball fields, parks, bridges and dams (waterfalls), and these picnic houses, throughout the system. Winfield had two picnic houses and waterfall.
My two paintings are of the same picnic house that still stands, next to a little-league baseball field that is gone. Most kids in town spent some time in and around these structures. Teenagers found them an ideal dry place to hang out, just far enough way from adults.
Carved Beech (Picnic House)
9"x5" Acrylic on Paper
Both of the paintings are gifts.
The first painting is actually payment for an Astrology chart that my friend Forest M. did for me in 1971. He did a great job on the chart and I never got to return the favor till now.
The second painting is for my friend Leo L. Leo's nickname then was "Buddy" and it is his named carved into that tree, though long grown over, I was still able to see it and then enhance it. He was one of the older guys in the neighborhood and was also my summer camp councilor one year. In High School, Leo was really big, 6'8". He was an excellent guy to have as a friend... especially if there was any trouble.
My friend Alex and I launched my web-site last week and as with all challenging projects, things happen to make it go... easier (?), so my computer fries the video card. UGH! $$$, and of course, 6 months past apple care.
Oh Well! We were unstoppable and here it is. I still want to tweek it a bit, but I am happy. Please visit when you get a moment, I posted a link in the sidebar
I have a murder of crows in the neighborhood. A small group that hangs out behind my house and then they all get together up the road, about a half mile away. Most of the time I see them harassing the Redtail hawks that live across the field, but somethings they go crazy, just inside the woods and when I can get close enough to see what is exciting them, it is usual an owl. This can be the best time to see an owl. We have several kinds and I have spotted Barred Owls and Barn Owls, Screech Owls and everyone's favorite The Great Horned Owl. The Great Horned Owl is here, but not a common visitor to my property. They like sycamore trees and the small stream about a 1/4 mile behind the house. I can hear their distinctive hoot.
Holly and I get to go to a big, sit down, Christmas dinner for 30. My group has allot of grown children living their lives on their own now, so it is really nice to all be together and sharing the event, later in the afternoon, after all the phone calls and presents.
Our host, Annie and Murdock did an amazing job with Turkey and Duck and everyone else was assigned a side dish. We also do a Secret Santa event. This year a couple of friends (guests) asked me to produce small paintings for their two gift assignments and I was happy to do it since I knew the receivers.
Above is "ManFriday", my friend Diana's Lurcher and below is Wes's Gloves. Wes is a Dressage rider and coach. The paintings are 6"x 9" acrylic on paper.
Both are slices of bigger images that were in my collection.
I do not think that Diana's hand was the original focus, but became most important and Wes's hands were everything.