Thursday, January 17, 2019

"Sweet"

6 x 6"
oil on panel


I was in the De Young Museum in San Francisco and a boy shrieked when he saw the painting of Superman by Mel Ramos - hardly able to contain himself.  When I saw, in person, Wayne Thiebaud's painting Dessert Tray in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City,  I didn't shriek but I felt the same excitement.  I l-u-r-v-e this painting.  I love every painting Wayne Thiebaud has done.

And it must be said, it was a total joy doing this new painting.

Please click here to the auction page.  This link will engage at 9 pm ET this evening.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

"Overdressed"

10 x 8"
oil on panel


In the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, it's been my observation that most visitors find Henri Matisse's Dance a joyful and buoyant work of art which encourages a rest on the bench to take it all in.  I think Matisse would be pleased.

There are two versions of Dance - MoMA possesses the earlier painting, done in 1909, a 'study' of the final painting done a year later, which resides in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.  A Russian businessman and art collector commissioned Matisse, a long-time associate, for a piece to be hung in the staircase of his Moscow mansion.  Eventually the collector bequeathed it to the Hermitage - the 'study' was donated by Nelson Rockefeller to the Museum of Modern Art.

Please click here for a larger view and purchase/contact information.


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

"Composed"

12 x 12"
oil on panel


The two museum patrons are viewing two of the most influential men of the late 20th century - the award-winning musician and composer, Philip Glass and the artist who painted his portrait, Chuck Close.

Chuck Close and Philip Glass have been close friends for over 50 years.  Phil was painted in 1969, when Close was making his inaugural series of large-scale, black and white paintings of faces.  He took an 8 x 10" photograph of Phil, overlaid it with a penciled grid, and blew it up onto the canvas - showing ever skin pore, whisker and wrinkle in an intimate close-up of his subjects.  Just fantastic.

For those who don't know Philip Glass, he was recently a Kennedy Center Honoree, a National Medal of Arts Honoree, a 3-time nominee and winner of a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA Award and a nominee for three Academy Awards for Best Original Score - and there are dozen more relating to his composing and musical achievements.  Glass is a giant.  




Please click here for a larger view and purchase/contact information.



Monday, January 7, 2019

"The Picasso"

6 x 6"
oil on panel


In 1963, the great Pablo Picasso was commissioned to create a public art sculpture by the architects of the Richard J. Daley Center in the loop in Chicago.  Picasso completed a maquette, or a small-scale version, featured in my new painting.  The cost of the 50-foot sculpture was $351,959 (equivalent to $2.7 million in present day) - paid for thru foundations and gifted from the artist himself to the city of Chicago.  The maquette resides in the Art Institute of Chicago, also gifted by Picasso.

The Chicago Picasso, known as The Picasso, was dedicated in 1967 by the Mayor Richard Daley ...




... and met with mixed reactions.  The famed journalist Mike Royko ripped it to shreds in his newspaper column, saying "The fact is, it has a long stupid face and looks like some giant insect that is about to eat a smaller, weaker insect.  Its eyes are like the eyes of every slum owner who made a buck off the small and weak.  And of every building inspector who took a wad from a slum owner to make it all possible."  Quintessential Mike Royko.

Mayor Daley responded, at the dedication, saying "We dedicate this celebrated work this morning with the belief that what is strange to us today will be familiar tomorrow."

And it is familiar to anyone who lives in Chicago or has visited - or has watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off or The Blues Brothers.  It's a well-known "meet me at the Picasso" spot, enjoyed by the public with a farmer's market surrounding it in the plaza and many seasonal affairs.  So there Mike Royko.

Please click here to the auction page.  Auction ends January 17, 9 pm ET.



Tuesday, January 1, 2019


~ Wishing you a happy and healthy year ~


Friday, December 28, 2018

"Girl Talk"

5 x 7"
oil on panel
sold


I'm planning out an upcoming solo show that will feature the ladies of the art world.  Not so much the artists but the portrayals of women through the ages.  One that first came to mind on my now-long list of possibilities was Edward Hopper's Chop Suey - which, by the way, just broke a record in a Christie's art auction.  Painted in 1929, Chop Suey became the most expensive work of pre-war American art, selling for nearly $92 million.

Chop Suey is quintessential Hopper for a couple of reasons.  Hopper loved the spaces of restaurants, not so much the food - hence, the empty table except for the teapot.  Hopper was famously uninterested in food and known to eat his meals right out of a can.  Chop Suey restaurants were the rage in the 1920's, mostly frequented by young, working-class women dining together.  Another usual subject matter of Hopper's.  He and his wife went to this particular restaurant often, The Far East Tea Garden, once located in the Upper West side of Manhattan, no longer there.  Hopper's wife posed for all three of the women figures in the painting, also a usual habit.

Fun fact - Chop Suey means 'odds and ends' in Cantonese.




Your Moment of Zen

The infectious Sister Wendy and Bill Moyers.  

RIP Sister Wendy.







Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas

"Catching Snowflakes"
Jamie Wyeth


~ Merry Christmas ~


Monday, December 17, 2018

2019 Calendars are still available!



My calendars are SOLD OUT.



Sunday, December 9, 2018

"Poolside"

6 x 6"
oil on panel
sold


My new painting, a study for a larger piece, was both a blast and challenging.  David Hockney's Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) is vivid and patterned and awe-inspiring.  I am thrilled for David Hockney, who is still alive and well and producing fabulous paintings - at a recent Christie's auction, his painting started with no reserve at $15 million and fetched $90.3 in the end.  So deserved for its recognition and worth.

Hockney is known for his brilliant pool paintings of course.  This was inspired by two photographs next to each other on his studio floor.  A double portrait.  Hockney worked on it for about a year - looking at a due date of just four weeks until he had to ship it off to New York for an exhibition.  That lead to working 18 hours a day for two weeks just to get it done.


Friday, November 30, 2018

"Pondering"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


In the Art Institute of Chicago, there are two paintings and three sculptures by the French artist Jean-Leon Gerome, much to my delight.  Most of Gerome's paintings are crisp, exact, realistic scenes from Morocco and northern Africa locations, many are based on Greek mythology and if there is a more perfect example of Orientalism in art, Gerome is it.  Featured in my new painting is Portrait of a Woman.

~ Don't miss my earlier post below - my 2019 Mini-Wall Calendars are now available.



Tuesday, November 27, 2018

"Tough Love"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


This marble sculpture by Horatio Greenough, Love Prisoner to Wisdom, is one of my very favorites in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Essentially, the owl behind the chained Cupid symbolizes wisdom.  So.... prudence is restraining reckless love.  Think before you jump in.  The woman viewing the sculpture is seemingly pondering the message.


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

"Bare Necessities"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


The brave artist Alice Neel, who lived to the age of 84, was largely unknown in the art world until the early 1970's, when she was in two retrospective exhibitions.  "Life begins at seventy!" she said of her new found recognition at the age of 72.

In 1975, Neel began, what took five years, to complete her Self-Portrait, one of only two.  Referring to this unconventional and somewhat shocking portrait, Neel said "the reason my cheeks got so pink was that it was so hard for me to paint that I almost killed myself painting it."

Alice Neel painted dozens of portraits of her lovers, friends, family, artists, poets and even strangers. They are all delightful.  Her total acceptance of her own aging body and laying it out there for all the world to see is most admirable.




Saturday, November 17, 2018

"Good Morning"

9 x 12"
oil on panel


The very same day I was finishing this new painting, the news came that the Edward Hopper painting Chop Suey had sold at the Christie's auction for $91.9 million.  That made me so happy seeming I worship Edward Hopper's works of art and I especially love this recognition of one of our country's treasures.  Yay.

Whenever I'm in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, I beeline to the Hopper paintings.  The one featured in my painting is Cape Cod Morning, done in 1950.  What grabs me about this piece is, within the bay window where the woman is looking out in anticipation of something, it's a whole separate painting within the actual, fairly simplistic composition of the sky, trees, grass and siding of the house.  I just love it.

Please click here for a larger view and purchase/contact information.


Saturday, November 10, 2018

"Blue Heaven"

12 x 12"
oil on panel


My new painting Blue Heaven will be included in a group show titled All The Blues held at the Vendue Hotel in Charleston SC - opening to the public on November 15th.  The show features work from 24 artists, all using ranges of blue as the predominant color.  My painting features The Flying Fish, by the Russian-French artist, Marc Chagall.

Chagall once said "In our life there is a single colour, as on an artist's palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love."  Chagall is known for his dream-like scenes, filled with memories of his childhood in Russia and symbols of his Jewish faith.  In The Flying Fish, the newly-married couple represents love and passion, as do the red roses that surround them - the rooster was commonly known as a symbol of fidelity though it could be a memory of Chagall's early life in the village of Vitebsk - the upside-down house represents imbalance or doubt - the floating fish holding three candles references the Jewish religion and said to be a tribute to his father.  

It is impossible not to love Chagall's distinct style and thoughtful compositions.  This painting hangs in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York.

Please click here for a larger view and purchase/contact information.

~ View all the artworks included in All The Blues show here.


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

"Checks and Balances"

5 x 7"
oil on panel
sold


Our United States Capitol Building in Washington DC.  A place where, hopefully, checks and balances will occur again.





Monday, November 5, 2018

Vote!


A REMINDER TO VOTE TOMORROW.

"Undecided"
Norman Rockwell - November 4, 1944




Thursday, November 1, 2018

"Iron Fist"

8 x 6"
oil on panel
sold


I started this painting on Halloween evening, right before I went inside the house and watched The Pit and the Pendulum with Vincent Price.  I savored the day.

I first saw Blind Pew, by N. C. Wyeth, in the Brandywine Museum of Art, which houses three generations of Wyeth artists - N. C. the father, Andrew, the son of N. C. and Jamie, the son of Andrew.  I worship all three.  I grew up nearby Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and my mom always welcomed a road trip to this area, she made countless pen and ink sketches of the old stone buildings and countryside.  It was an artist's haven and inspiration.  I'm sure that was around the time I knew I wanted to be an illustrator like N. C. Wyeth.

The blind beggar, Pew, is a minor character in Chapter 3 of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.  Pew knows Billy Bones is a boarder at the Admiral Benbow Inn and wants the map to Treasure Island.  Pew was a member of Captain Flint's crew of pirates and had since squandered away his share of pilfered riches, leaving him to beg and thieve.

Pew knocks on the door, terrifying the keeper of the inn, asking to see Billy Bones.  Pew takes the man's arm as they climb the stairs, Jim realizing the old man has a strong grip. An "iron fist".  Pew delivers a warning to a passed out Billy Bones.  Later on in the book, Pew returns to the inn with a group of buccaneers to ransack the inn and find the map to the treasures, but it is nowhere to be found.  A fight ensues, they take it outside in the moonlit road.  And the tale goes on.

Blind Pew is one of many illustrations in the Brandywine.  They're surprisingly huge works of art and treasures.




Wednesday, October 31, 2018

"The Long Game"

9 x 12"
oil on panel
sold


My new painting features a couple viewing two glamorous portraits in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  

On the right, quite possibly, is the most perfect painting John Singer Sargent ever produced (my humble opinion of course).  Mrs. Hammersley was the wife of a banker and known fashionista elegantly posed on a French sofa with her stunning, red silk-velvet dress taking your eyes down to the bottom left corner.  The edges of the fabric shimmer in lavender and rich reds.  Her netted, sparking collar is the sweet spot - tiny daubs of gold and white dance over it, making you want to touch it.  Mrs. Hammersley was included in an exhibit in London in 1893, ten years after Sargent's scandalous Madame X nearly ruined his reputation as a portrait painter.  Mrs. Hammersley received raving reviews and essentially restored the artist's career as a painter of the wealthy.  After Mrs. Hammersley's death, her husband kept the portrait until he was forced to sell it because of financial difficulties - a common ending to the many once-wealthy clients of Sargent.

On the couple's left is Mr. and Mrs. Anson Phelps Stokes by Cecilia Beaux, also an American painter.  The couple was painted in an unconventional way with the wife more prominent in the foreground and her husband behind her.  Anson Stokes was an extremely wealthy man - a merchant, real estate developer, a banker, a silver mining tycoon, a warship designer and avid yachtsman (he owned 4 yachts), and a house on Madison Avenue in New York City. The couple left the city and moved to Staten Island when (gasp!) non-millionaires moved in.  His wife, Helen Louisa Phelps, yes Phelps, were both related, descendants from George Phelps, who came to America in the early 1600's.  They had nine children, the oldest wrote for the New York Times and died in 1970.  

When Anson died in 1913, it was reported he was worth around $620 million dollars.  After his estate was settled, it was determined he was actually worth about $19 million.

Please click here for a larger view.

~ Happy Halloween



Tuesday, October 30, 2018

"Christina"

8 x 6"
oil on panel
sold


Today I just chose to feature one of my personal favorite paintings, by Andrew Wyeth, Christina's World.  It is moving. It represents human dignity.  In a word, it is perfect.


Saturday, October 20, 2018

"Posturing"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


I've been to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art twice.  Both times, I stop at this portrait of Anne Page, by Dennis Miller Bunker, and soak it in longer than most paintings at the museum.  It's restrained, low in key, fairly neutral in color - no frills, just elegant.

Dennis Bunker is an artist you don't hear too much about.  He was born in New York City in 1861, an innovator of American Impressionism, hung out with some of the most famous painters of that time - John Singer Sargent, Wilmer Dewing, William Merritt Chase to name a few.  His circle of friends was crucial as an artist but none as beneficial as Isabella Stewart Gardner, a valuable patron of artists.  There is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, established in 1903, which owns some of the most outstanding works of art in this country.

A friend of Bunker's set up a date with Anne Page and the artist, thinking they'd make a good couple.  Bunker was smitten from the first encounter, wrote to his friend "She seems to have the same charm that some of your other friends have. I mean your female friends. I am quite at a loss when I try to define it and I begin to think it a bit out of my line. I don’t know that I am entirely comfortable in the presence of such natures, they seem too fine for me.”  

Bunker wrote Anne poems and long letters and eventually had her sit for the portrait you see above.  Although the two never formed a romantic relationship, they remained friends throughout his short life.  Bunker fell ill, just two months after he married, and died of meningitis at the age of 29.



Saturday, October 13, 2018

"Dawning On"

9 x 12"
oil on panel
sold


The Song of the Lark by Jules Breton is near and dear to many who have seen it in person at the Art Institute of Chicago.  It's also one of those paintings that speaks to nearly everyone, in some way.

Breton was a French realist artist during the second half of the 1800's, known for painting classic scenes of what was familiar to him - the French countryside, the workers in the fields, rural life and some pretty cool religious festivals added in the mix.  Breton found greater success in the mass production of prints of his paintings, along with other French artists of the time. The subject matter was wildly popular in his native country as well as England and the United States.  

The Song of the Lark stands out as a symbol of life's challenges for many.  The pheasant girl, with the sun rising behind her, dirty clothes, bare feet - her shoulders back with her chin up, determined to face whatever lies ahead.  It says life ain't easy but it's worth living.

Please click here for a larger view.


Saturday, October 6, 2018

"Boo"

6 x 6"
oil on panel
sold


On this soul-sucking day,  I thought of one of my favorite paintings Automaton by Jamie Wyeth.  The definition of automaton is an android or robot, but also refers to a person who seems to act in a mechanical, unemotional way.

The Wyeth family celebrated Halloween with great enthusiasm every fall.  Beginning with the patriarch, N.C. Wyeth who had a large stash of costumes with swords and pirate hats and spooky masks for his illustrations - and his children relished the chance to dress up and pretend they were the buccaneers or ghouls taking over the family farm.  I wrote up a post about the Wyeth's love of Halloween here, back in October 2015.



Thursday, October 4, 2018

"Day Labor"

8 x 10"
oil on panel
sold


The painting featured here, The Cotton Pickers, being viewed by a woman in the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, is a historically important one painted by Winslow Homer in 1876 - a time in American when the Civil War had ended a decade earlier and the period of Reconstruction was nearly at an end.  Reconstruction attempted to end the Confederate nationalism and end slavery and give newly-freed slaves their civil rights and equality guaranteed by three new Constitutional amendments.

Winslow Homer was born in Boston in 1836, and at the age of 19 he apprenticed at a newspaper, then as a freelance illustrator and lithographer for nearly twenty years - tapping into a hot art market for urban and country social scenes (think Currier & Ives).  

In 1861, Harper's Weekly hired Homer to illustrate Lincoln's first inaugural address then stayed on with the magazine, as a battlefield artist, when the Civil War began a year later.  In 1874, Homer returned to Virginia, where he had spent time during the final siege of the war, and took a new direction in his subject matter, wanting to portray the lives of rural, black Americans - mindfully in contrast to the caricatured portraits he and other war correspondents took part in.  

That's where the importance of The Cotton Pickers came in - painting blacks in more heroic terms. Not the denigrating ways of the past. European artists nailed this representing their nation's peasants and field workers and Homer brought the same respect to our nation's black population. The two women stand in a cotton field, still laboring as they did before the Civil War, aspiring for a better life despite the Jim Crow laws preventing them from true equality. It's a very poignant and profound painting.

Please click here for a larger view.


Tuesday, September 25, 2018

"Tell Me More"

8 x 6"
oil on panel
sold


This was taken from my time at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, during a special exhibition of Georgia O'Keeffe's works as well as others.  The show was so well thought out and presented for the visitors, paying close attention to what works married well with each other and the colors of the walls surrounding the pieces.  I relished that.

One of the paintings included was O'Keeffe's Petunias, done in 1925.  When you think of Georgia O'Keeffe, you equate her with Southwestern subject matters, some Manhattan scenes, and mostly close-ups of flowers.  She was widely known to have lived in New York City when her career was taking off and promoted by her husband Alfred Stieglitz - then later in New Mexico.  You might not know, during the early years, her and Steiglitz spent their summers at the resort of Lake George, about 35 miles from the Vermont border.

During those years, from 1918 to 1934, at Lake George, O'Keeffe painted over 225 pieces.  The time and surroundings at Lake George played a significant role in her development as an artist.  There she painted many of the flowers you may be familiar with - poppies, petunias and canna lilies - poplar and oak trees - the brilliant autumn colors of nature - all those she became so sensitive to from long walks through meadows and gardens.

Stieglitz and O'Keeffe owned 37 acres, lived in a hilltop farmhouse that included a 'shanty' as her studio and a darkroom where Steiglitz printed his photos.  In the late 50's a developer bought the property, has the structures burned in a practice fire drill and built a hodgepodge of ranch houses that remain to this day.  

People still go on their pilgrimages to find where O'Keeffe lived, only to be disappointed to find a suburban subdivision.