Sunday, June 30, 2019

"Lady Like"

6 x 6"
oil on panel

I was working on a grouping of "ladies in waiting" so to speak, for my show, and decided not to include this one after all.  Instead, I'm putting it on auction.

A sharply dressed woman waiting on a bench in the lobby of the Modern Wing in the Art Institute of Chicago.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

"With All Due Respect"

6 x 14"
oil on panel

Today, as the U. S. Supreme Court has announced several important decisions, it seems like the right day to post my new painting, another for my upcoming show The Ladies.  It featured a portion of the large portrait The Four Justices by Nelson Shanks.  And with all due respect to the other three women Supreme Court Justices - Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Gaga and Sandra Day O'Conner - I wanted to highlight Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The artist, Nelson Shanks, was a world-renowned painter of classic, realism portraits - commissions for John Paul II, Princess Diana, President Ronald Reagan, Luciano Pavarotti, Justice Antonin Scalia, President Bill Clinton and Margaret Thatcher to name a few.  He got the big jobs.  He was also on the faculty of the Memphis Academy of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Art Students League of New York, the National Academy of Design and he and his wife opened their own studio for teaching classical realism.

You will see several Presidential portraits by Nelson Shanks in the National Gallery of Art in DC, including The Four Justices.

Please click here for a larger view.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

"On Her Toes"

6 x 10"
oil on panel

This new painting will be included in my upcoming solo show The Ladies.  How could I not consider one of Amedeo Modigliani's paintings for this theme - an artist who painted and sculpted, almost exclusively, the female figure in portraits and nudes.  Featured here is Reclining Nude, 1917, which hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Amedeo was one of those tortured artists, tragically dying at the young age of 35 from tubercular meningitis.  Yes, his life was short but impressive, as he created sculptures, drawings and paintings that are easily recognized as his work - elongated faces and bodies, blank eyes - a style that modernized the human figure.  His nudes were hugely controversial and in his first and only solo exhibition, there was such a crowd around the gallery that a policeman took notice and promptly ordered them taken down in the first two hours of the opening. Of course, that news led to good publicity for the gallery and added to Modigliani's reputation and success.

Modigliani was fluent in reciting poetry and painted many well-known writers and poets.  He loved to draw, obsessively sketching everywhere he went - key to future paintings and a means for a meal or a few bucks.  He wore the poverty-stricken, bohemian artist to a tee.  He discovered drugs and believed the only path to creativity was through defiance of social norms and leading a chaotic life.  Despite all that, he was amazingly prolific, sometimes drawing over 100 sketches in a day.  At one point, he completely put painting aside and spent the next 5 years devoted to sculptures.  My mother, who was a painter herself, experimented with wood carvings that were totally inspired by Modigliani's work.  So, essentially, I grew up with many a magazine clipping or postcard or book of the artist's works all around me.

Please click here for a larger view.

Friday, June 21, 2019

"Painted Ladies"

12 x 12"
oil on panel

Another painting for my upcoming solo show The Ladies - featuring the very famous Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Pablo Picasso.

The painting's original title was Le Bordel d'Avignon or The Brothel of Avignon, depicting five nude prostitutes from a brothel on Avignon Street in Barcelona, Spain, a city where Picasso spent part of his time. The title was changed during an exhibition in 1916, when an art critic referred to its present title in order to hide the shocking subject matter from the public - despite objections from the artist.

Picasso completed the painting ten years prior to the exhibition, inviting fellow artists over to his studio to view it.  There were mixed reactions, notably Matisse hated it, saying it mocked the modern art movement.  Important to mention that a rivalry between Picasso and Matisse had been building for quite some time, so maybe a tinge of jealousy was involved.

Why Les Demoiselles d'Avignon is so significant in 20th Century art is that Picasso painted it on the heels of his African Period and on the cusp of Cubism.  You can see the influence of African masks and abstraction in shapes.  The painting was eventually sold eight years after the exhibition to a private collector who promised Picasso he would donate it to the Louvre when he died - although his will said otherwise.  The Museum of Modern Art in New York City bought the painting in 1937 from the collector's estate for - wait for it - $24,000.

Please click here for a larger view.

Sunday, June 16, 2019


8 x 10"
oil on panel

For my upcoming solo show The Ladies, I had to include one of my favorite artists, Edward Hopper.  A theme that Hopper painted, anonymous hotel/motel rooms is a subject that has lingered in my head for years.  He had the advantage, in his day, of what we call retro now - stark, mod motel rooms unlike the comfy, dark and plush ones which don't really make for an interesting painting.

Hopper painted Western Motel in 1957 when mobility and road trips were the new thing, especially out West.  I really love the car parked outside and of course the lighting.  The woman with her bags packed, no personal objects in the room, makes me think she's waiting for someone.  Or not.

Edward Hopper was one of America's great painters - born and died in New York, trained as an illustrator.  He painted everyday scenes around him, urban mostly - snapshots of trains in the city, people he could see through apartment windows, isolated figures on a quiet city sidewalk on Sunday morning.  He's famous for Nighthawks of course, an all-night diner with a few patrons.  

A brilliant artist like Edward Hopper was shaped early in his life, parents who introduced him to the arts, attending theatre, concerts and museums and supported his artistic interests.  As a young man, he was quiet and reserved, six feet tall in his early teens.  He spent his days sketching, observing, building model boats he watched on the Hudson River - even built a full-sized catboat and thought he'd be a naval architect.

Hopper, instead, pursued commercial illustration, married Jo, who worked with him in the theatre painting backdrops for plays.  Something you can clearly see in his future paintings.  He had an impact on filmmakers like Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock.  Think of the spooky, old house on the hill behind the Bates Motel in Psycho.  He inspired me as a kid and still is in my head when I come up with compositions and subject matter.

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

Thursday, June 13, 2019

"Out in the Open"

5-3/4 x 12"
oil on panel

A long time ago I visited the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, one of my favorite museums, and saw Romaine Brooks' Self-Portrait for the first time.  I instantly fell in love with that painting.  It was monochromatic, moody, intriguing.  It was one of the first prints I ever framed for myself.  Still have it.

Romaine Brooks painted the Self-Portrait in 1923.  She lived most of her life in Paris and at the age of 36 she exhibited her work in a gallery for the first time, quickly establishing herself as an artist.  She was a leading figure in the bohemian, expatriate, counter-culture of Parisian life - sporting her androgynous look and going against all conventional ideas of how a woman should present herself and behave.  

Leading up to her more-independent years,  Brooks had led a young life filled with turmoil - a daughter of wealthy Americans, parents divorced, father abandoned the family, raised by an abusive, alcoholic mother who gave her to a poor family living in a New York City tenement.  That family tracked down her grandfather, who sent Brooks her to boarding school.  Understandably, at the age of 19, she left it all behind her and moved to Paris.  There, she had a child who she placed in a convent for care, fled to Capri, lived in poverty, had a nervous breakdown, returned to New York to care for her dying mother who left her with a large inheritance, making her and her sister independently wealthy.

The unbelievably fascinating life of Romaine continued for her entire life - love affairs with famous women writers, actresses, political activists, aristocrats - maybe sympathetic to Fascism, maybe not.  She was famously non-monogamous, thrived on being with people yet had long bouts of solitude.  She was complicated. Yet, because France had decriminalized homosexuality as early as the late 18th century, she was able to live her life as a lesbian out in the open and on her own terms.  Brooks lived until the age of 96, buried in Nice, France.

My painting will be included in the upcoming show The Ladies, opening August 2nd at Robert Lange Studios in Charleston.

Please click here for a larger view.

Monday, June 10, 2019

"To Tell the Truth"

8 x 10"
oil on panel

I have some catching up to do posting my new paintings that will be included in my upcoming solo show The Ladies.  I finished my 12th piece yesterday, a few more to go. Whew.

One of my personal favorites is the one above, To Tell the Truth, featuring Alice Neel's Self-Portrait. That painting was a five-year process, completed on her 80th year - painted in a truthful manner.  She was in an art world when Abstract Expressionism was hip, yet she carried on with these bold, expressive, sincere portraits that spoke to people.  Including me.

I discovered the artist, Alice Neel, when I read her obituary in 1984 - then proceeded to find any books I could on her life and her paintings.   She was born in 1900 and is known for her many portraits of friends, family, poets, artists, celebrities and even strangers.

Alice Neel started painting in her 20's and didn't receive the recognition she deserved until her late 60's and early 70's.  She had a fascinating life that's worth reading about - she had lovers and husbands and children mixed with tragedy, nervous breakdowns, travels all over the globe - she connected with people, loved and lost, had numerous, life-long friends - a full life.

I admire her for living her life as she wanted and painted what she desired.  My favorite quote of hers - "You should keep on painting no matter how difficult it is, because this is all part of experience, and the more experience you have, the better it is... unless it kills you, and then you know you have gone too far."

Please click here for a larger view.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

"Wonder Women"

9 x 12"
oil on panel

I always hoped, since I first saw Wayne Thiebaud's paintings in the 80's, that I could meet him in person and praise him for being one of my biggest influences.  He resides in California and now that he's 98 years old, I'd say there's a slim chance.

I'd put Thiebaud's subject matter in three categories - ordinary object such as wedges of pie and various, colorful foods, tubes of lipstick, shoes, etc - landscapes that include elevated views of California land and exaggerated cityscapes of San Francisco - and figuratives of family members and friends like the one I feature in my painting Two Kneeling Figures.

What sets Thiebaud apart is what you really can't appreciate unless you see it in the flesh.  The thickness of paint, the brush strokes and swirls and the edges.  Oh those edges.  Pop Art artists like Warhol used hard, mechanical edges but Thiebaud uses loose, multi-colored, almost vibrating edges that make my jaw drop.  And that is why his work has been such an influence.  He puts the fun in the process and that's something I always try to remember.

For my upcoming show The Ladies at Robert Lange Studios in Charleston.

Please click here for a larger view.