Thursday, May 23, 2019

"Man and Wife"

9 x 12"
oil on panel


My new painting features the iconic portrait American Gothic by one of my favorite painters, Grant Wood, in the Art Institute of Chicago

The viewer usually assumes the couple in the painting is man and wife although it was meant to depict a farmer and his spinster daughter.  The models were Wood's sister, Nan, and his dentist, Dr. Byron McKeeby, both Iowans.

Fun facts about American Gothic ~

~ It was an instant success, entered into the 1930 exhibition at the Art Institute and purchased by the museum.

~ The little, white cottage still stands in Eldon, Iowa.  I've been there.  The second floor window is 'carpenter gothic' style, which Wood found pretentious for such a humble home.

~ The dentist, Byron McKeeby, felt obligated to pose for Wood as he was a worthy patient who enjoyed sugar on most everything.  Even lettuce.

~ Both models and the house were all painted in separate sessions.

~ Iowans weren't thrilled with how they were portrayed to the world, as this wasn't how they saw themselves. One farm wife was so mad, she threatened to bite Wood's ear off.  Wood insisted he was a loyal Iowan and meant no offense, only a homage.

~ The artist's signature is hidden in the farmer's overalls.

The importance of American Gothic is, in Wood's own words, to celebrate the nation's fortitude and spirit during tough times.  It brought rise to Regionalism, or American Scene painting, making fellow artists like Thomas Hart Benton and John Curry and Grant Wood famous.  Personally speaking, all three of these painters are favorites of mine.

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


Saturday, May 18, 2019

"The Parents"

6 x 6"
oil on panel


Took a needed break from show pieces to loosen up a bit.

A view from the second floor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, looking down on a couple taking a breather on the bench of the main lobby.  

Please click here to the auction page.  Auction ends May 28th, 9 pm ET.


Thursday, May 16, 2019

"Ageless"

10 x 10"
oil on panel


Honestly, I've had my head in painting so much, I've neglected to show anyone what I've done for my upcoming show.  So here's the new one, featuring Johannes Vermeer's famous portrait, Girl with a Pearl Earring, which, after traveling far and wide in multiple exhibitions, now hangs permanently in the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague.

The Dutch artist, Johannes Vermeer, painted only 36 known works in his lifetime.  Like many of his fellow artists/peers, he depicted scenes of ordinary, domestic life doing mundane tasks - except for Girl with a Pearl Earring, of course.  It is intimate.  It is personal.  Much like da Vinci's Mona Lisa, her identity is a mystery.  While a young woman probably sat for Vermeer, it is thought to be mostly imaginary, focusing on what the artist was known for - painting expertise and representing light.

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


Friday, May 3, 2019

"Prophetic"

9 x 12"
oil on panel
sold


Now that my computer is back and running, my internet has waged a battle with me for days.  Meanwhile I paint.

This is the first piece I did for my upcoming show The Ladies - Amy Sherald's portrait of Michelle Obama.  My admiration for Ms. Obama goes a long way and for her to have chosen Amy Sherald, the first female African-American artist ever to paint an official First Lady portrait, was so right.  Side note - President Barack Obama chose one of my very favorite artists, Kehinde Wiley, to paint his portrait, also the first male African-American artist to do so.  Both paintings reside in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

A little bit about Amy Sherald - she's 45 years old, born in Georgia and now lives in Baltimore.  Her paintings mainly depict race and identity in the South, something she developed while studying at Clark and Spelman in Atlanta.  I saw a brand-new exhibit of her paintings while I was visiting Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and her portraits are bold and just fantastic.  

Please click here for a larger view.


Friday, April 26, 2019

"Birth Day"

8 x 10"
oil on panel


I completed another for my upcoming show The Ladies - featuring Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, painted in 1485.

The painting depicts Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, arriving on the island of Cyprus - born of the sea spray and blown in by the winds (Zephyr and Aura on the upper left).  She stands on a giant scallop shell, symbolizing purity and perfection like a pearl.  The woman on the right side welcoming Venus is thought to be one of the Graces, the Hora of spring.

Botticelli's painting was most likely commissioned by the Medici family, hung in their Villa of Castello back in the 15th century.  It currently hangs in The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

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


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

"Ancestry"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


The first thing Brett said when he saw this finished painting was "they have the same slumped shoulders".  I didn't even notice that until he said so.  As if the portrait was of a distant relative of the woman viewing her, hence the title.

A little background of the woman in the painting, Madame Moitessier.  Marie-Clotilde-Ines de Foucauld, at the age of 21, married a super-rich banker and lace merchant twice her age.  Life was comfortable for the couple in French high-society and soon Marie began looking for an artist to paint her and her daughter's formal portrait.

Ingres was approached by an artist friend who passed on Madame Moitessier's request for a portrait and he was so smitten with her "terrible and beautiful head", he eagerly accepted the commission.  Portrait of Madame Moitessier was one of two paintings Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres did of the French woman - one seated and this one standing.  Why is Marie's daughter is not in the portrait?  Ingres found her "impossible" and eliminated her from the composition.

The Portrait of Madame Moitessier hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.


Saturday, April 13, 2019

"Looming Large"

9 x 12"
oil on panel


For an upcoming Figurative group show in May, at the Shain Gallery, I chose one of my personal favorite portraits of a man larger than life - the Tuscan general, Alessandro dal Borro, painted by Charles Mellin.  

Alessandro was well known for his obesity, which in his time, was considered a status symbol.  Born in 1600, he studied math, joined the military, was victorious in the battlefield during the Thirty Years' War, fought against the Turks and fought for Spain and Venice.  His demise was an injury received fighting Barbary pirates.

Charles Mellin was a French painter who spent his artistic career in Italy in the first half of the 1600's as the official painter of the ruling family, completing religious scenes with an exception of a few commissioned portraits.

Portrait of a Gentleman hangs in the Staatliche Museen in Berlin.

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


Thursday, April 11, 2019

"Rosie"

9 x 12"
oil on panel
sold


I'm working on paintings for my upcoming show The Ladies - after all, we're living in a time where women feel more empowered in this country.  Each painting will feature iconic women in different eras, different purposes, different ages and different sizes.  You may recognize some of the women and you may enjoy learning something new about these ladies. 

I'll start with Rosie the Riveter, an iconic working woman portrayed by the illustrator Norman Rockwell, painted in 1943 for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.  The magazine was distributed on Memorial Day, May 29th, featuring Rosie taking her lunch break with her rivet gun on her lap and her lunch pail under her arm, with a copy of Hitler's manifesto, Mein Kampf beneath her feet.

The purpose of Rosie the Riveter was to recruit female workers for defense industries during WWII.  The aviation industry had the greatest increase in female workers, previously closed to them.  Before the war, just 1% made up the workforce and in 1943, that rose to 65%, so the Rosie campaign was a huge success.  

Rockwell's Rosie the Riveter is in the collection of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Please click here for a larger view. 



Monday, April 1, 2019

"Time For Church"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


I was lucky to have seen an exhibit last year - at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art - featuring many of Georgia O'Keeffe's works.  Yes, several close-up flowers that are so familiar were there to please the masses but I'm more enamored with her buildings in New Mexico and New York City, including Cebolla Church.

O'Keeffe lived in the same county in New Mexico and often passed through the small village of Cebolla.  Her painting is of the Church of Santo Nino, a stark, simplistic adobe building - but with a pitched roof unlike the typical flat-roofed adobe structures mainly because Cebolla gets more snow in the winter than the lower areas of the state.



Friday, March 29, 2019

"Stand Beside"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


I felt it was a must to paint a possible companion to Stand Aside - showing the left half of Henri Matisse's Bathers by a River.

Here is how the two look together...



Matisse's painting hangs in the Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago.




Sunday, March 24, 2019

"Stand Aside"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


I really appreciate taking a break from painting larger pieces for a show, a show taking place four months from now, and painting these smaller ones - working out some ideas rolling around in my head.  It also helps me earn a living while I'm working on paintings no one will see until August.  So thank you for considering a bid or two on these smaller pieces.

You see the right half of a large painting by Henri Matisse, Bathers by a River.  I love this Matisse.  It hangs in the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Matisse considered Bathers by a River "one of five most pivotal works of his career."  You may remember my past post regarding Dance and a Russian art collector commissioning Matisse to do three large pieces for his mansion - this was one of three presented to the man and also the one that was rejected.  The collector settled for Dance and Music.

So Matisse held onto this painting for about four years - a time when he was really getting into Cubism.  With renewed ambition, he made changes in composition, the faceless, oval heads of the figures, divided the canvas into four panels of color and loved the results.   He essentially simplified four nude figures besides a river (the blue panel) and positioned in the tall grass (the left half you don't see here) with a snake appearing as a threat - reflecting Matisse's concerns about the climate of war going on around him.

Next, I am going to paint a companion to this one - including the left half of Matisse's wondering painting.



Saturday, March 23, 2019

"Rush Hour"

12 x 9"
oil on panel
sold


Robert Lange Studios is hosting a group show, opening May 3rd, titled Perfectionists - inviting 25-30 artists "based on their intensive, realistic approaches to their work".  I'm psyched to see the paintings in this show.

My contribution is Rush Hour - the above-view of the main floor in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, with the hustle and bustle and staying-put of museum visitors.  The tough perspective alone was the biggest challenge, something I had to get just right.

Here's a few close-ups....






Please click here for a larger view. 





Sunday, March 17, 2019

"See and Be Seen"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


There is a dual result in Rene Magritte's The False Mirror.  The viewer looks through the iris of this large eye, passed the black pupil and into a blue sky with floating clouds - and yet, this eye is looking at the viewer.  How totally surreal.

Part of me, as an artist, generally loves surrealism in art for its representation/realistic quality and the other part of me feels like I'm always asked 'the meaning'.  Frankly, that annoys me.  I'm more inclined to relish the vision in front of me that a painter found interesting or particularly beautiful and had to paint it.  Magritte thought the opposite.  Surrealism as an art form was what he most enjoyed.

Rene Magritte was in his 50's before he realized fame and recognition.  Born in Belgium at the end of the 19th century, not a whole lot is known about his youth.  Magritte worked in an advertising agency for a time then involved himself in several exhibitions with like-minded artists such as Salvador Dali, Juan Miro, Picasso - all stunning the art world with Cubism and Surrealism.  When his gallery closed, he returned to advertising for a stable income - the influence is more than evident in his paintings, notably This Is Not a Pipe which could easily have been an ad for a tobacco shop.

The False Mirror hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.


Thursday, March 14, 2019

"Going Dutch"

9 x 12"
oil on panel


So right after I finished the smaller study Go Dutch, I started on a more-realized composition along the same lines - featuring Rembrandt's Self-Portrait, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

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


Sunday, March 10, 2019

"Go Dutch"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


I know I've been quiet on this blog but I've finished two larger paintings during my absence - one for a group show coming up titled Perfectionists - a painting that took me 5 days to complete.  Yikes.  That rarely happens.  The other for a show of mine coming up.

So... I needed to get small.  Loosen up.  And I had just read about the famous Dutch artist, Rembrandt, who's work is on exhibit "like never seen before" and thought of his Self-Portrait at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  Rembrandt did roughly forty self-portraits during his lifetime - this done in 1660 at the age of fifty-four.  This self-portrait admits his age with a furrowed brow, double chin, wrinkles and pouches under his eyes - it's beautiful and honest.


Thursday, February 21, 2019

"Red Neckwear"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


I have an affection for this Picasso portrait of Pedro Manach.  I especially love the pose and the black outlines of the figure.  

Picasso was a young 20-year-old on his first visit to Paris in 1900 - one of his paintings was exhibited in the World Fair show of Spanish art.  It is then he met the industrialist and art dealer Pedro Manach and it was then he signed his first contract that gave Manach his paintings for two years in exchange for a monthly income.  Not a bad start for a young artist.

Pedro Manach hangs in the National Gallery of Art in DC.




Tuesday, February 12, 2019

"Performance Art"

8 x 10"
oil on panel
sold


A woman admiring Mary Cassatt's The Loge with Edgar Degas' Before the Ballet beside her.  Both are hung in the National Gallery of Art in DC.

Please click here for a larger view.


Monday, February 11, 2019

"Join the Party"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


I was enamored with At the Moulin Rouge from the first time I saw it at the Art Institute of Chicago. It was that haunting face on the far right, as if she was looking at me through a window seemingly inviting me in to join the party.  

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec painted Paris' nightlife like no other.  Caricatures who he knew well, like Jane Avril in the center with the flaming-red hair or the dancer May Milton who stares at you with her painted face.  The painting is two joined canvases, said to have been severed by Lautrec's dealer after his death - hoping the separate canvases were more saleable.  The entire composition was eventually restored.


Monday, February 4, 2019

"Waiting Room"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


On the third floor, in the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, you'll find the Picassos.  And a bench to rest on.  I happened to know where all the benches are.

The Red Armchair depicts one of the many women in Picasso's life - Marie-Therese Walter was 28 and married when she met the artist and he was smitten with her.  Notice her face is both the frontal view and profile in one shape, a new motif of Picasso's, maybe hinting at the double-life the model was leading, carrying on with the man.

Notably, Picasso used an industrial house paint which he had first used 10 or so years earlier.  The colors are brilliant and almost enamel-like, and here he mixed the paints with oils and produced a wide range of surface textures which you can see up close in The Red Armchair.


Sunday, January 27, 2019

"On Her Pedestal"

9 x 12"
oil on panel
sold


It's always nice to see a woman placed on a pedestal.

The marble sculpture Dancer with Finger on Chin was completed by the Italian sculptor Antonio Canova in the final years of his life, around 1822.  One of his most recognizable pieces is Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss, housed in the Louvre in Paris.  We are lucky to have the one featured above in our National Gallery of Art in DC.

Canova displayed his talent for sculpture at a young age, by 27, he established his own studio producing works for Venetian nobility.  He went on to Rome, taking advantage of the popularity of the neoclassic style and becoming quite successful.  He received important commissions from the popes, Napoleon and many English aristocracy.

Next time you find yourself in the West Building of the National Gallery of Art, stop and admire this woman on her pedestal.

Please click here for a larger view.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

"Sweet"

6 x 6"
oil on panel
sold


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.



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
sold


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.



Monday, January 7, 2019

"The Picasso"

6 x 6"
oil on panel
sold


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.




Tuesday, January 1, 2019


~ Wishing you a happy and healthy year ~