Monday, October 14, 2019

"Intoxicating'

8 x 10"
oil on panel


I've said this before and I'll say it again, the most perfect painting ever created is John Singer Sargent's Fumee d'Amber Gris (Smoke of Ambergris) which hangs in the Clark Museum in Boston - painted in 1880 and inspired by Sargent's trip to North Africa.

The painting depicts a woman creating a tent with her veil, catching the smoke and fumes from the smoldering ambergris in the silver censer.  Known and used for its unique aroma, ambergris was used in some religious rituals, also thought to have aphrodisiac qualities and be a safeguard from evil spirits.  Sargent's painting is a combination of Moroccan objects and customs he observed while in Tangier and Terouan.

In 1887, in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Henry James wrote, 'I know not who this stately Mohammedan may be, nor in what mysterious domestic or religious rite she may be engaged; but in her plastered arcade, which shines in the Eastern light, she is beautiful and memorable.  The picture is exquisite, a radiant effect of white upon white, of similar but discriminated tones.'

You ask what is Ambergris?  A fascinating write-up about Sargent's painting and a deep dive into exactly what this mysterious element is can be found here.


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

~ thanks to Stefan Draschan for his photo reference.


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

"Late Night"

6 x 8"
oil on panel


Feels good to accomplish something again.  What a week.

From the Art Institute of Chicago, a woman taking a long look at Edward Hopper's iconic painting Nighthawks.

Please click here to the auction page.  Auction ends October 18th, 9 pm ET.


Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Unexpected Pause


My internet service including email has been out for 7 days and should be restored by the end of the week. I apologize for not responding to several emails or posting new work - I've effectively been stranded on an island.  Cross your fingers and I'll be back in the real world very soon.

Update - I'm up and running with new internet service. Almost finished a small painting. See it here tomorrow evening.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

"A Bird's Eye View"

9 x 12"
oil on panel


You are probably aware there is currently a film out based on Donna Tartt's novel The Goldfinch, largely revolving around a 1654 painting by the Dutch artist, Carel Fabritius.  The actual painting resides in the Mauritshuis in the Hague, Netherlands.  In 2014, it went on a world tour and landed in the Frick in New York around the same time Tartt's best-selling novel won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction.  Over 61,000 people visited the Frick just to see Fabritius' painting.

The real story behind the painting The Goldfinch - the artist, Carel Fabritius, lived in Delft, was a well-known artist and a student of Rembrandt's and in 1654, a gunpowder factory next to Fabritius' apartment exploded.  Ninety-thousand pounds of gunpowder exploded five times in what was known as the Delft Thunderclap.  The explosion killed over 100 people, including Fabritius and destroyed a quarter of the city.  The artist was 32 years old.  Six paintings were retrieved from his apartment, including The Goldfinch.

Interestingly, the real painting's history has some similarities to the novel, although the author said she never knew about the Delft Thunderclap event and chose a painting that would appeal to a child and small enough to carry.  Also, at the time of the artist's death, he was working on a portrait of a local church deacon, Simon Decker, who had the same name as the main character in Tartt's novel.

Hanging next to The Goldfinch is Self-Portrait by Fabritius' painting teacher, Rembrandt. 

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


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

"A Look Inside"

8 x 10"
oil on panel


Believe it or not, and it's been my observation, that a lot of museum visitors in the Art Institute of Chicago take a quick glance at The Bedroom by Vincent van Gogh and then move on to the next painting.  It baffles me.  There is the exception of youngsters - they are frequently drawn to the most colorful of artworks, understandably.

The Bedroom, one of three versions van Gogh painted, is an important one - in that it's more personal.  It was his space.  A room he had moved into in the "Yellow House" in Arles, France.  It was the first time Vincent had a home of his own.  And like a lot of us, he enthusiastically painted the walls and chose his decor and painted several pieces to hang on the walls of his new bedroom.  He painted the walls a lilac-blue,  a brick-red on the floor boards, a yellow on the bed and chairs, an orange for his dressing table, a blue for his washbasin and trimmed the window in a dark green.  He chose a pale yellow-green for his pillow cases and sheets with a deep red bedspread.  As viewers, we would consider his choices of colors a bit frenzied or over-the-top maybe.  To Vincent, it seemingly was heaven, a calm sanctuary he could call his own.  That is why I think it's an important painting by van Gogh.  He saw the world, the wheat fields, the sunflowers, the starry night sky in vivid, saturated colors that most of us don't see.  That's a gift.

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


Thursday, September 12, 2019

"Seeing Red"

5 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


I thought this different view of a different one of Ellsworth Kelly's Chicago Panels made a potentially good companion piece to Umbrella Stand you see on the post before this one.

I love the subtle colorful reflections on the marble floor in both scenes.  And note what I mentioned in the post below, that Kelly's inspiration for the six Chicago Panels was observations of various birds, this red panel presumably from a cardinal.

From the second floor in the American Art Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago.



Sunday, September 8, 2019

"Umbrella Stand"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


On the second floor of the American Art Wing in the Art Institute of Chicago, the galleries are surrounded by hallways flooded with natural light and on the walls hangs six brightly-colored, geometric shapes called the Chicago Panels by Ellsworth Kelly.

Ellsworth Kelly's success came in the 1950's.  He could fit into the categories of Minimalism, Color Field and Pop Art with his focus on shapes, forms and colors - intending for viewers to 1 - enjoy public art and 2 - to think of art in terms of the spaces where it occupies.  He took real-life observations and mimicked those subjects in an abstract way.  

As a kid, Kelly was a loner, had a slight stutter, spent most of his time as an avid bird watcher and was heavily influenced by John James Audubon. He wanted to study art, his father wanted him to sway more to technical training - he entered military service in the early 40's and used his G.I. Bill to study at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston where his mind opened up to Surrealism and modern art.  There he went to Europe for more studies for six years, returned to New York, stumbled a bit until his concepts found the right time and the right place and took off from there.  In the case of the Chicago Panels, each brightly-colored panel represents a bird - the yellow panel possibly a goldfinch - so you can easily see those years of bird watching kept with Kelly all his long life.  He lived to be 92 and died in 2015.





Wednesday, September 4, 2019

"Polished"

9 x 12"
oil on panel
sold


If you've been to the Art Institute of Chicago, you know Gustave Caillebotte's enormous painting Paris Street, Rainy Day - it's one of the museum's treasured Impressionist paintings.  I've featured it in many paintings of mine in the past years.  Paris Street is currently on loan in Berlin and The Floor Scrapers made the long trip from the Musee d'Orsay in Paris to Chicago to take its place.  You must grasp how very lucky we are to be able to see this painting - to my knowledge, it has never left France.  Ever.

Gustave Caillebotte was an unusual artist in that he was lucky to have been born in a wealthy family whose father owned a textile mill that supplied military needs to Napoleon's army.  Gustave got a law degree by the age of 20, trained as an engineer and served in the Franco-Prussian War which devastated France.  So presumably, he pitched the law and engineering to study art, as several artists of the time did.  He inherited the family fortune at age 26, spent a number of years collecting his fellow artists/friends' paintings and squeezed in about 500 paintings of his own while collecting orchids, building and racing yachts before he died at the age of 46 from heart disease.   Interesting enough, Caillebotte never sold any of his paintings (he didn't have to) and his brother donated all of his work to private collectors and museums all over the world.

A little more about The Floor Scrapers - Caillebotte completed it in 1875, submitted into France's most prestigious art exhibition, the Salon, where it was unanimously rejected by the snooty judges because of its depiction of working-class people doing their job without all of their clothes on.  They deemed it a 'vulgar subject matter'.  Of course the same snooty judges deemed Degas' paintings of a woman washing clothes as 'vulgar' too.  Art critics disagreed, calling the decision 'a very bad mark for the official jurors.'  So there.

Please click here for a larger view.




Thursday, August 29, 2019

"Sitting Idly By"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


I've shied away from painting artists set up in the museum, painting a chosen work of art.  I don't know why.  This gentleman's choice was a great one, a portrait by John Singer Sargent, Ellen Peabody Endicott (Mrs. William Crowninshield Endicott) - a daunting challenge for any artist studying Sargent's paintings.  

Ellen Peabody was born into a wealthy, Salem, Massachusetts shipping family - grew into a socialite in Boston, married William Crowninshield Endicott who served on the Massachusetts Supreme Court and became President Grover Cleveland's secretary of war.  Although it's not confirmed, at the time of the sitting, Ellen was possibly in mourning after her husband's recent death, explaining her black dress and somber expression. 

Sargent's portrait hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.


Friday, August 23, 2019

"Don't Go"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


There's an expected aftermath which happens after I finish a solo show.  Keep in mind I painted every single day for over four months, no lie, to achieve the grouping I first imagined.  Then there's varnishing. Then framing. Then shipping. Then traveling to the opening. Then attending the opening.
So when it's all done, I take a few days off and get back to painting.  Then it fails. Rinse and repeat. Three paintings wiped and tossed aside.

I did paint my neighbor's dog though.  That was fun.

Today felt a little different.  Yay.

From the Sculpture Gallery in the American Art Wing in the Art Institute of Chicago, the marble sculpture The Lost Pleiade by Randolph Rogers seemingly calling back the young woman walking into the shadows.


Thursday, August 8, 2019

"The Ladies"


My opening was this past Friday night for The Ladies - and I have to thank everyone at Robert Lange Studios for another amazing night.


A lady looking at my ladies.


More ladies looking at my ladies.


Men came to look too.



Below are all the paintings included in my show, just in case I forgot to post a few.


sold






sold




sold


sold 

 
sold

 
sold


sold


sold


sold


sold






Click on the painting's title for a larger view and purchase/contact information.

I thank anyone who took the time to come to my opening or stopped in the gallery to see the paintings.




Friday, July 26, 2019

"His Hunch"

6 x 8"
oil on panel
sold


The Art Institute of Chicago has several paintings by Vincent van Gogh but his Self-Portrait is special.  The size is unusually modest and you'll notice he adopts George Seurat's pointillist technique - one he saw in Seurat's fabulous A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.  Every single stroke is slashed on in little bits, the background is speckled with blues, greens, oranges and reds on top of a teal/blue surface.  The face is intense with multitudes of flesh, teal, oranges, reds, ochers and whites.

It's a small painting but an enormous treat for visitors.



Wednesday, July 24, 2019

"Hat in Hand"

6 x 6"
oil on panel
sold


It is always a pleasure to loosen up and enjoy a more-painterly approach to a painting.

A gentleman resting on a bench on the second floor in the American Art Galleries in the Art Institute of Chicago.



Monday, July 22, 2019

"That's a Wrap"

3-3/4 x 10"
oil on panel
sold


I had this leftover, odd-size panel and I'm sorta obsessed with saris - I think many are so beautiful - and I snuck in this new painting for an auction.

The large painting in front of the woman is #61 (Rust and Blue) by Mark Rothko.



Monday, July 15, 2019

"Ladies in Waiting"


The four paintings here will be included in my upcoming show The Ladies - women resting on a bench between looking at the exhibits, a common sighting in any museum.  It can be hard on the feet.  Especially after a couple of hours of walking through the galleries.

For a larger view of each image just click on the titles.


6 x 6"
oil on panel
sold


6 x 6"
oil on panel
sold


6 x 6"
oil on panel


6 x 6"
oil on panel




Sunday, July 14, 2019

"Blowing Off Steam"

9 x 12"
oil on panel


The painting I featured is one that stops me in my tracks every time in the Art Institute of Chicago - The Puff of Smoke by Gifford Beal.  The beautiful, billowing smoke is the first thing that blows my mind and the source of that smoke is hidden below eye level but it doesn't feel necessary.  The location is on the Hudson River at Newburgh, New York so it's presumed the steam is coming from a passing train.  And the palette - cool, silvery tones feel like a frigid day.  I just love this painting.

Gifford Beal was an American painter, born in New York City in 1879.  Cool facts, his brother became an accomplished artist as did his niece, who married Duncan Philips who founded the Philips Collection Museum in Washington, DC.  Gifford was a painter of everyday life, landscapes along the Hudson River and Rockport, Massachusetts, where he spent summers much like his other artists friends.

Check out Gifford Beal's work done in his later years, in the 30's - noticeably looser, using different medias other than oils, joining in on the Regionalist artists of that time.

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



Sunday, July 7, 2019

"Throwing Shade"

7 x 5"
oil on panel
sold


I live vicariously through painting....


Monday, July 1, 2019

"Rose Above"

9 x 12"
oil on panel


Another painting here to add to my upcoming show The Ladies - featuring one of, literally, hundreds of women John Singer Sargent painted.  The commissioned portrait Lady With the Rose was Charlotte Louise Burckhardt, the 22-year-old daughter of wealthy parents.  Louise's mother was an old acquaintance of Sargent's and had plans for her daughter to marry the artist, but after a brief, two-day affair, they decided to remain friends rather than love interests. 

The Sargent portrait hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

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


Sunday, June 30, 2019

"Lady Like"


6 x 6"
oil on panel
sold


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
sold


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
sold


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
sold


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

"Stopover"

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
sold


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
sold 


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.