Archive for May, 2009

Song of Searching Sunday.  Busy.  Reading the Sunday paper before starting work and there’s a short moment of sadness that enters from out of the blue.  Can’t place it. It’s just there.

As I sit and think about it I can only describe it as the kind of feeling that I got watching Ricky GervaisExtras  television series, where each show, though often hilarious, ended with a truly bittersweet or downright sad moment, always punctuated by the song Tea For the Tillerman from Cat Stevens.  I often found myself laughing with tears in my eyes.

It’s that kind of feeling this morning.  Here’s the song to complete this episode,,,

Read Full Post »

The UnityI’ve mentioned in the past several days that I’ve been busily preparing work for a show, getting all the little detail work in place so that I can deliver the show next week.  This is always a hectic time and  always leaves me kind of frazzled.  This year is no different.

During this process I am not painting and in its absence there are feelings of doubt that arise.  For me, the act of painting is a sort of balm that soothes my insecurities and anxieties, giving me a sense of refuge in the work.  When I’m not able to get to  my painting, these anxieties are allowed to once again come to the surface.  

I begin to question the validity of my work.  I question my ability to continue on in such a sometimes egocentric endeavor.  I begin to doubt that my work has any tangible value in anyone’s life.  I am filled with doubt.

Then on a day like today I come into the studio and check my email and there is a message from a young lady telling me how she and her now husband came across my work in the window of the Principle Gallery on their first date years ago.  She shared with me how they bonded over the work and they saw the same symbolism in the work that related to their feelings.  They now have two children and she wanted to let me know how the paintings have played a part in their lives.

My doubts vanish.  My spirits are lifted and I feel once again a sense of usefulness in my small place in the universe.  She may never know how much her note has done for my day or even the next few days.  It’s a reward that far transcends any other that comes with my work.  I wish everyone can find such a lift, to find such a purpose in their own lives, their own work.  

My day has gotten much brighter…

The piece above is titled after such a feeling.  I call it The Uplifting.  It is part of the show at the Principle Gallery that opens on June 12.  I love the unity of the two trees against the dramatic texture and color of the sky, as though they, the trees,  are braced together to endure whatever comes their way.  One lifting and holding the other…

Read Full Post »

Off the Mainline

If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path.  Your own path you make with every step you take.  That’s why it’s your path.

           –Joseph Campbell


I’m very busy this morning as I’m getting ready for the show that opens June 12 at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA, so I thought I’d make this a simple post.  I like the quote from Joseph Campbell and thought it went well with the accompanying painting,  a new piece titled Off the Mainline.  It’s a piece on paper and has a wonderful glow as I look at it here in the studio.  There’s real vibrancy in the color and texture which, if you’ve read this blog in the past, is something that I strive for in my work.  It has a real spark, a sense of its own life.  I think it’s very strong.

Like the quote above, the painting’s title  insinuates that not every path necessarily goes down the main road, that there is true meaning found in following your own path and daring to leave the main route.  A simple concept but one that’s often hard to realize…

Read Full Post »

Pieter Bruegel- Tower of BabelI am totally in awe of the work of Pieter Brueghel the Elder, the patriarch of the great Flemish family of painters.  There are so many paintings of his that I could show that would be equal to those I chose for this post but I find these particular pieces striking.  There is great richness and depth as well as a tremendous warmth in his colors.  I always feel enveloped in his paintings as though they wrap around me like a blanket, particularly his peasant pieces.brueghel_hunters in the snow

This piece above  depicting the Tower of Babel has always excited my imagination beyond the actual biblical story.  I’m always reminded of the Gormenghast Trilogy from Mervyn Peake when I see this image and wonder if it had any influence when he was formulating the story for his novels.  The scale of the building and the way it dominates the composition is breathtaking.
The Fall of the Rebel Angels

His earlier allegorical works seem to have been heavily influenced by Hieronymous Bosch and have incredible energy.  He had an ability to take multitudes of forms and scenarios and bring them together in a way that had great rhythm, lending almost an abstract quality to the overall scene.  I find these paintings quite beautiful despite their sometimes jolting imagery.Pieter_Brueghel_The_Triumpf_of_Death

I could look at his work for hours and even writing this short post is taking a long time because I just want to stop and look at his work.  I find it truly inspiring and wonder how it will find its way into my own work someday.  Somehow.  Maybe…brueghel fall of icarus

Read Full Post »

2009Here’s another new painting.  It has a very bright and optimistic feel which I believe is the right atmosphere for what I see in this piece.  Like many of my pieces with the fields with rows , this has a certain symbolism for me.  I see the rows running to the center as representations of labor, of working toward ones aspirations.  I see the red tree as a sort of dangling carrot.  A reward for effort and perseverance.  It’s a recurring concept behind my work and something I try to keep at the front of my mind as a reminder of the need for patience in my efforts.

In the houses I see a reminder that one’s toil and efforts might go unnoticed by those around you.  Everyone has their own field to work.

I call this piece A Shining Reward which is a bit obvious after giving my read on the piece.  But if the shoe fits…


Read Full Post »

FarmerI’ve just put the final details on a couple of paintings that will be part of my solo show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.  The show opens June 12th and I’m scheduled to deliver the work to the gallery a week before so I’m in the final stages of preparation.  This is my tenth one-man show at the gallery and before that I did two shows as part of a group of painters from the Corning , NY area that was dubbed the Finger Lakes School.  

I particularly remember one moment from the first show with that group.  There was a pretty good crowd and several of us from the group mingled, answering questions and such.  I had a small break in the conversation and I heard a female voice from behind ask her companion where we were from.  Her friend answered that we were from the Finger Lakes region in New York.  He  said it was a pretty rural area with a lot of wineries and farms.

“Well, you know, they do look like farmers,” she replied.

I think I did a spit take.  Over the years I often think back to that lady’s comment and sometimes laugh.  Maybe we shouldn’t have all worn our overalls and straw hats that night.  It just reminds me how people judge others by that initial glimpse and how often  they end up being wrong.  Actually, I’ve come to the conclusion that, in the end, I would prefer being mistaken for a farmer than an artist anyhow.  Offhand, I can think of more positive attributes for the farmer.   So, if you can make it to the opening look for the guy who looks like a farmer…

That brings me to a song, You Can’t Judge a Book, that was originally written by blues great Willie Dixon and made popular by Bo Diddley.  My favorite version was from Long John Baldry, one of the pioneers of the British blues/rock movement in the early 60’s and a guy who had real panache, but I couldn’t find a version online.  But while searching I came across an interesting jazzy version of the song from Ben Sidran.  Give a listen  and enjoy…

Read Full Post »

In Flanders Fields

997-339 A Little Night Music


In Flanders fields poppies grow

Between the crosses row on row

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.  Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch;  be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

-Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (1872-1918)

Canadian Army, WW I

Read Full Post »

The Shining

National CemeteryIt’s  Sunday on the Memorial day weekend and I take a moment to just think about the people who have served and sacrificed for our country in the armed forces.  On a day like today you have to put aside your political views and remember the people who rest now beneath those shining white slabs in the  national cemeteries.  Forget disputes over whether this war or that war was justified.  Just remember those who have fallen, just a moment for those who have sacrificed in such a selfless manner.

So it’s pretty silent here and I think of a song from Badly Drawn Boy, The Shining.  It has a quiet feel and opens with the warm tones of a French horn.  Enjoy…

Read Full Post »

Call Ethereal It’s a Memorial Day weekend and on this early Saturday the sun is mottling the yard of my studio, filtering through the new foliage on the trees.  Beautiful day.  A stray cat came wandering up the driveway.  Nice size cat, dark striped tiger.  I watch him as he stops to drink from the small creek and wonder where he belongs, if  he’s someone’s pet on an adventure or a stray.  We don’t get so many strays as we once did, probably due to the coyotes that criss-cross our property.  This guy doesn’t get a very warm reception either.

As he comes around the bend in my drive I see two turkeys coming from the opposite direction. Seeing the cat, they pick up speed and begin trotting towards him.  The cat turns and walks back down the drive, acting very cool about the whole thing.  The turkeys continue and get near him and he dives into the brush to one side and the turkeys continue on down the driveway.  At this point I go out to see if he might be friendly enough to approach me.  As I get out there, I see a doe, one that I simply call Mama Deer (she is a great mother to her fawns, very protective)  trotting through the woods towards the spot where the cat has entered the brush.  She stops and begins to stomp her front leg and I hear her loud snort.  She takes another step and this poor cat pops out of the brush and heads back down the driveway in a slow trot.  Mama continues over towards where he was, just to make sure he doesn’t double back.

I doubt that this poor guy will be back.  Too bad…

This painting is called Call Ethereal and is another piece for my 10th solo show opening June 12th at the Principle Gallery.  I like this piece very much and feel it really captures the essence of the Red Tree.  I get a feeling of both contemplation and epiphany from this piece and having this dual feeling excites me.  I think it’s  very strong.  Hopefully it will find someone who will have something akin to my feelngs for this piece…

Read Full Post »

OnceYesterday I wrote about a personal commitment in my work.  It actually set off a bit of a word association when the other night I saw a few minutes of a film I hadn’t seen in many years , The Commitments, the story of an Irish band that plays old school rhythm and blues.  It’s a nice film with a lot of humor but the part that caught my eye was seeing the band’s guitarist and realizing it was Glen Hansard who starred in and wrote most of the music for the Irish film, Once, a couple of years ago. He won an Oscar for his songwriting on the film.  Even though it isn’t a film I would necessarily urge everyone to see there was something about Once that I really found engaging even though I can’t really define it.  Maybe it’s just the affability of the characters.  I found myself really rooting for the two main characters and liking the music as well.

 Now the word association comes with the following clip from the film where the two main characters have rented a recording studio to record a demo with a back up band assembled  from street musicians .  The technician at the studio hasn’t much interest in them as they start.  They play the song, When Your Mind’s Made Up, building layers of sound and tempo with each refrain.  What I like about this scene is the technician’s recognition as they play that this was something real, something authentic built on their commitment to the music.  I’ve seen that look when someone has underestimated you then realizes there is more than meets the eye.  

Anyway, take a look and give a listen…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: