Sunday, December 26, 2010

White Christmas

Atlanta experienced it's first "White Christmas" since 1882, on that day 128 years ago, a third of an inch of snow was recorded, yesterday we got over an inch. OK... that's not a lot but we can't be too picky here, besides, it was fantastic to watch it fall out the window while making dinner. See you next year folks.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Art Reviews And Christmas Trees

Atlanta's cultural sage and "wise man", Jerry Cullum, has a fine review of my current show at TEW, read it here at Art blogs have filled the gap left by the major newspaper's decreased coverage, (was it ever that much?). These bloggers' (see toolbar on right) thankless job is much appreciated by those of us out here making the stuff. Early in my career I believed a good review would propel me to stardom and riches but I quickly realized that tastes could not be swayed by words, art's too much a personal choice for that.

That cute kitty introduced in my video, is wrecking havoc on our Holiday decorations. Last year our extra large Christmas tree tipped over, breaking most of the ornaments collected over the years, now this little terror. It's hard to be angry though when it's so entertaining to watch.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dali In Atlanta

When I was 13, I received for Christmas a paperback book about Salvador Dali, it was my first "art book", not much text but great full color illustrations. Up until then my artistic output consisted of still-life and landscape themes, with an occasional copy of an album cover or Mad magazine character. This book changed everything, how?, It sounds simple now, but at the time it never occurred to me, "I could make things up", art didn't have to reflect the outside world, concept trumped copying. I was hooked, still am.

Most artists I know have been through a "Dali is a fraud" phase (mine lasted from 1979 to1991, those prints!). If you are still in yours, get to the High Museum in Atlanta before Jan. 9th 2011, it just might change your mind

Photo by Laura Watson, Creative Loafing

Saturday, December 4, 2010

TEW Galleries Opening

"Qu'ils mangent de la brioche"

Last night was my opening at TEW and...yes, I baked 2 Red Velvet cakes for the patrons. My painting of said cake was on display and at the preview party Thursday evening, everyone I talked to made a comment or told a story that featured this dessert. So..why not bring the real thing. As the artist at a show I am always asked "What does it (painting) mean", but what I enjoy is hearing their thoughts, and sometimes they will offer insights that go way beyond what I had in mind.
How was 'biz"...well it's not 1998 or even 2008, the Atlanta market is very cautious these days, looking longer before making a choice, come on, hop off the fence, its ok.

Some of my ole college buds were in town for the SEC Championship game (Go Cocks!) and stopped by the show, haven't seen some of these knuckleheads in 30 years, what a nice surprise, (please, no collect calls from lock-up guys).
Left to right: "Tall Ted","Squeege", "Sal", "Cig"(me, don't ask), "G-helmet Do"

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Good Stuff

So... this is what happens when an art dealer discovers the "Flip" video camera and Apple's iMovie software.

Timothy and I shot over 3 hours of interviews and "action" scenes, all to be whittled down to a 12 minute film. At first I tried to get involved in the decision making process; what to film or cut, what music to use, etc. but I quickly backed away, let him have fun. This was going to be his interpretation of what I do and am, which is always the case, whether its a critic writing a review or an author doing an article. The message gets spun as it leaves its source.

I did film all the scenery footage, holding the camera in one hand while riding my bike around the neighborhood, uhh...not safe, glad my health insurance was current. "The Good Stuff", where does that title come from?, watch it to the end. I just want to I really talk like that? Yikes!

Watch the video here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

This Little Piggy Went To Market

This will probably be the last painting to be included in my December exhibition at Tew Galleries, finished last week, it was the culmination of a process that started over a year ago. 365 days, that's about what it takes for me to create a new body of work for a show. Kind of daunting when you look at it that way, which is why I don't, to me its just a chunk out of a long line, a line that will continue next week when I start my next painting.

I brought 10 paintings to the gallery yesterday, they needed to go to the framer, who happened to be there at the time. I watched as they discussed moulding choices (an artist really shouldn't witness this process). I had to step back and let the march to the market begin, my job was done.

Above: The Piglet oil panel 16x14 2010
Below: Tim, Corky and Rannel (center) a framing wizard.
I mentioned in an earlier post about filming a promotional video for my show, watch a short intro here, more next time.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Sky Is Falling And Other Madness

I put this painting into my "pictorial pun-puzzle" category, (a companion piece to my blog header above, it would be fun to do a set of these, hmm..). It started as just a man holding a sign with a cloud backdrop, but during the drawing phase I just kept adding things. First a chicken, then a briefcase with mini clouds, the costume is old-timey how bout a wood sidewalk, it needs an ocean for more depth, put it in. I had an Abe Lincoln beard on my man but painted it out, thought it was too much. What does it mean?...a comment on climate change?...a response to all the election hysteria this past month?..take your pick, I just enjoyed painting it.

If you are curious about what the art biz is really like, check out Jim Kempner's (NYC art dealer, above) web series, "The Madness Of Art". Even though its lighthearted, clever and funny, each short episode holds more truth than most of us would like to admit.
Above: The Sky Is Falling 16x14 (22x20 fr) oil on panel, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010


As a kid, "The Outer Limits", was my choice for quality sci-fi on TV. The beginning of every show had this famous intro, (really messed with my 8 year old head). YouTube has all the mind-blowing episodes, start here, watch one and you'll be hooked.

Above: A selection from my "Outer Limits" bubblegum card collection.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Wonder

I started this blog with the purpose of examining what I do as an artist, to take a step back and explain in words, (to those who might be interested), what goes into making my pictures. For a brief moment I place myself in the audience and ask "what just happened". This past week my Atlanta dealer was interviewing me, I was trying to give thoughtful insights into what was up there on the wall, after an hour I sighed and said "You are asking me to explain a narrative that started almost 40 years ago, a painting is just one sentence in a novel". This kind of response is a cop-out, I know, but most of what I do is second nature, I really don't think about it much, one step has led to the next and the path gets blurred by the "now". There are times though when I am caught off guard, I will look around my surroundings as if waking up from a dream and wonder, "How in the heck did I get here?".

Above: Tulip (The Wonder) 28x25 oil canvas 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Boiled Peanuts

I spent the last week filming a video that will be used to promote my next show and I am tired of talking about "art", so... how bout peanuts.

Fresh dug peanuts (only use "green peanuts" for boiling) have a short shelf life, 3-4 days tops. This fact, kept this delicacy confined to the Southern peanut growing states until refrigeration was invented. By then no one else was interested so the soggy, salty legume, stayed home. The Fall is prime peanut season and I have boiled up about 10 lbs of 'em over the last month, (a batch lasts 2 days in our house). In 2006, the Governor of South Carolina declared, by law, that "boiled peanuts" were the State's official snack food, you should try some today. Here's my recipe: 2 lbs. green peanuts washed, 4 tablespoons salt (might need more, taste when almost done), put in pot, add water to cover the peanuts by 2 inches, boil the heck out of them for about 2 hours, taste, keep cooking if needed, when done (you'll know) let sit in brine for several hours. If you are adventurous, add some garlic cloves, fresh jalapenos or red pepper to the pot at the start. Next, grab a beer or sweet tea, and dig in.

Last Sunday we drove out to the State Farmers Market (needed more peanuts and some pansies), happened upon this vendor's mum display, wow, delicious how can I work this into a painting?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Is This What I Had In Mind?

Not exactly. As I composed this painting in my sketchbook I could visualize exactly how I wanted it to look. This is not unusual, most times before I apply paint I have a color scheme mapped out in my head. This road quickly starts being modified as I progress. So far, this painting has been puzzling, that yellow is being difficult, it's not the easiest hue to coordinate (uhh, make look pretty).

After a week it's starting to come together, the sky (the anchor for most of my pictures) has about 4 layers, and with a little tweaking should be fine. The key is the tulip, I got something in mind for that, I am curious to see if I it holds up. I have set up a challenging premise (for me) with this painting, if I can pull it off, could be nice.

Above: Tulip (The Wonder) oil canvas 28x25. I am psyched to paint that couple in the foreground.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fall And Orange

"Don't use orange in your paintings, it's a hard color to decorate with.", I have heard this phrase many times by those in the know, here in Atlanta. Lucky me, it's not my favorite color anyway, but occasionally I get a craving (usually in the Fall) and I reach for that ancient tube of Cadmium Orange. "What about that sage advice?" you ask, well...every painting of mine that has contained the offensive hue has sold.

Is it me, or does this guy have a strange resemblance to Springsteen, circa 1987? Bruce as a pumpkin rustler.

Top: Pumpkin Lake, 18x20 oil on panel 2010

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Red Velvet Cake

The more I worked on this painting the more I realized that this picture was not about a piece of cake but about a deep longing, nostalgia is always out of reach.

I cribbed the landscape from this vintage postcard I found at my parents house. I've got a stack of them, all from the 30's and 40's, collected by my Dad's Mom and Aunts, I look at them quite a bit. In my next painting I'm using the boat, it's going to be hauling a giant pumpkin. Is it Fall yet?

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Back to painting on board this week after 2 months of canvasses. I also returned to using acrylics for the underpainting (I kept the ones out I used for the violin). Four layers of an ultramarine-raw sienna wash were first applied and then the loose painting you see above. This initial step knocks back the bright white of the gesso ground, since I paint in thin layers the underpainting allows me to start building the color and light right from the get-go. This will be a moon lit scene, with a piece of Red Velvet Cake hovering over the lake, this should be fun.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

ReTune Violin

This week I finished painting the violin (see post below) for ReTune Nashville, once I decided on a concept the process was all fun. I had to hold the violin while painting so I switched to acrylic paint, wow! does it dry fast, it took a few hours to turn off my oil painting methods and adjust to the new technique, not much blending with this stuff.

This is the back, that's the Ryman Auditorium for the top of the ark, with musicians exiting below. To paint the tiny details I used an old brush I found that had about 4 hairs left, worked surprisingly well.

Foam egg cartons make a great palette for acrylic paint.

The benefit is Saturday, October 23rd. in Nashville, go, buy something.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Land Of Roses

Last week brought the first subtle hints that Fall was on the way, lower humidity and softer lighting. The sluggishness that seeps in during the summer was starting to lift, time for production. Yesterday I completed the painting you see above. This was one of those pictures that leads you along as you work, you do "this" and now you have to do "that", very natural. There was no conflict between what I thought I wanted and the reality that was before me, (hmm...that's probably not a bad way to live life).

Above: Land Of Roses, oil on canvas, 40x35
Bottom: Detail (it took me about 4 hours to paint this dude's face)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

ReTune Nashville

ReTune Nashville is a an organization that provides relief for uninsured musicians affected by the Tennessee flood. They have come up with a really cool and unique way to raise some cash; take flood damaged instruments and have artists turn them into artworks, then auction the pieces off at a benefit concert (Oct. 23rd.). Anne Brown at the Arts Company contacted me and asked if I would be interested in participating?... you bet! I got the above violin several weeks ago, put a coat of gesso on it, now I am ready to start painting, got a great idea, check back and see how it turns out.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

In Production

Started this painting last week, just about a quarter of the way through. The roses are going to get a "creamier" look, less pink more pale frosting, like the ones you see in the Martha Stewart magazines. Worked on the landscape all day Friday, don't know if it was the color or the setting but it was a very calming process. For over a year now I have been studying the landscape painters of the 1800's, Inness and Bierstadt in particular. Never paid much attention to them in the past but their mythical take on American scenery has my interest. Wonder what effect this will have?
Above:Land Of Roses, 40x35 oil on canvas

Saturday, August 7, 2010


This was my second trip to Graceland, the first being over 13 years ago, and a funny thing has happened since then, irony has left the building. Gone are the snickers in the Jungle Room and the finger pointing at all the "tacky" elegance, this was a museum now and not a sideshow. The covetousness was palatable as the tour progressed, "Man, I would kill for that sofa, outfit, ring, etc."

On the day we went the southern drawl was outnumbered by a variety of foreign accents, all fellow pilgrims, there to soak up what we could of the Elvis phenomenon. You either get it or don't, I understand, but if you are not a bit moved while standing in the final "Trophy" room as Vegas Elvis sings "An American Trilogy" on the big screen, well....

Top:living room table top, William Eggleston took a similar photo
Middle: Living-Music room, Peacock stained glass and 15ft. white sofa
Bottom: Long live the King
I have more photos on flickr check them out here

Plan your trip now and be sure to stay at Days Inn Graceland, guaranteed fun, also dine at Central BBQ for your Memphis Q fix.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dogwood Apparition

The new painting (above) was started about a month ago, the idea was to have the background resemble a black and white photo, with the action and dogwood providing the color in the foreground, sounds simple, right? The problem was with the gray tones, the formula for that color was a mix of; ultramarine blue, chrome green, raw sienna and burnt sienna. With that many colors in the recipe it was nearly impossible to duplicate the hue on a consistent basis. I could have changed the formula but I loved the gray this combo produced. By week three I had it down and painting progressed smoothly. I might have to make a few adjustments but for now I think its finished. What next?... after staring at these muted tones for so long I am craving a big gaudy clown painting... "hand me that cadmium red".

Above: Dogwood (Apparition) oil canvas 40x35

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Even with my AC window unit cranked the studio rarely gets below 85 degrees during the day, which is not too bad, but what really bothers is what this heat does to paint. Hot atmospheric conditions wreck havoc on what gets mixed on the palette, within a couple of hours my colors are usually a gummy mess. This gets scrapped off and mixing begins again. If I am applying a glaze it will start setting up within minutes, gotta work fast. The subtleties of oil painting can never be learned from a book, experience is the only way. There are times when the paint seems to have a mind of its own and I am just a sorcerer attempting to coax magic from tinted dirt.

Above: The Magician (20x18 Fr) oil panel 2008, (one of the rare paintings of mine that has an interior setting) available at TEW Galleries Atlanta

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The $10 Tomato

Every year about this time "I swear I am never planting a garden again". Calling what I attempt to grow "a garden" is a bit of a stretch, for the past several years mine amounts to a few tomato plants and some herbs. Our small city lot has been taken over by decorative shrubs, the studio and shady trees, no space for crops. This was not always the case, in the '90's I had a nice 5 by 16ft. fertile plot where, depending on the year, yielded tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and okra. That space was abandoned several years ago, no sun. My new strategy?, large pots I could position depending on the sun, accept for the herbs, not much success. This year I bought one super-duper hybrid tomato plant, quality potting soil, plant food and was determined to get fresh tomatoes. With careful watering it was looking good. I had about 12 fruits in various stages of development when I picked the one you see above. Came out the next morning, destruction, squirrels had decimated the plant, green tomatoes, flowering tops all gone, thus my $10 tomato, and it was delicious.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

4th of July

Americana (noun plural): materials concerning or characteristic of America

I get what this holiday is all about,The Declaration Of Independence and the founding of a nation. That's cool, but what really floats my patriotic boat are the features unique to this land and the spirit that surrounds this concept of America: Coney Island and Graceland, the Grand Canyon and the Okefenokee Swamp, Jazz, Hip Hop and Rock n Roll, Norman Rockwell and Jeff Koons, Eastwood and De Niro, Ella and Beyonce , cheesesteak and corndogs.....,this is a long list. It's not always pretty (understatement), and when the monuments have all crumbled Little Richard will still be playing in outer space, "a wop bop a loo bop a wop bamm boo". They don't "hate us for our freedoms" they hate us because our bar-b-que kicks ass. And those outside the borders that look upon us with fondness and support?, it's because of that list above. You will know this great experiment is in decline not when we stop making Chryslers but when we can no longer produce a Steve Jobs or a Bob Dylan.

Top: One Man Band, 24x22 oil on panel 2007 (private collection, I think)
Bottom: 2009 fireworks Centennial Park, Atlanta
Today? I'm going to the Braves game, fireworks will follow, might have to bust out Dad's red, white and blue stripped polyester pants.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

Above: That's me in front with the big watermelon head, brother Jimmy standing and Dad, chillin' in the backyard, Asheville, N.C. July 1957.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Wall

Leaving the studio Thursday night I glanced back at the wall where new paintings go and with a reassuring nod thought to myself, "not bad". I have been working toward a fall show and that night I felt the first indications of an emerging theme. "What is that theme?" you ask,'m not sure, could be the color palette or the imagery (which has a late 1800's flavor with a surreal twist). At this stage I have no desire to "lock-down" an artist statement, ugh.. those things are the worst, intuition drives the train and the paintings are beginning to feed off themselves, that's what you want.

A few posts back I brought up the subject of, value and art, that week over at "" Matthew Bown published a fascinating article on the same topic. It's a long read but if you are into this kind of discussion be sure and check it out.

Top: the wall
Below: Morning Developer, 32x23 oil canvas 2010

Saturday, June 5, 2010


To put it mildly, this oil spill (gusher) in the Gulf is a hot mess."Save the Planet;" that slogan has always puzzled me, the Earth takes care of itself, and nature shows us who the real boss is time and time again. It is humans that are in trouble, because what is the environment but a reflection of the state of Man? From the looks of it we're not doing too good people. We treat our natural resources as if they were a cross between a "big box chain store" and a toilet, The Gulf of Mexico?, a giant dipstick. No one is sure what the future impact this spill will have, at the moment I'm not very optimistic.

Street artists have been quick to express their views, above is Agent Provocateur's "Slick Dude" stencil.
Speaking of street art, and to lighten things up a bit, go see Banksy's film, "Exit Through The Gift Shop" before it leaves the theaters. Documentary or hoax?, who cares, it's great fun. Watch the extended trailer here (the cool song that opens the video is by Richard Hawley, nice).

Top: Man With A Fish, oil on wood, 2005 (private collection)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Barnyard Scene

Finished the above picture last week, hard for me to believe but my first painting featuring a pig. I like pigs and most farm animals in fact, but my experience with them has mainly been through the anthropomorphic creatures encountered in storybooks and TV shows, (Wilbur in "Charlotte's Web" and Arnold Ziffel of "Green Acres" being two favorites). The pig is a loaded symbol for sure, waste, greed, pity, humor can all be projected onto this animal. In the sketchbook mine started out as the typical "top hat with cigar" variety, I kept playing with this version until I got the idea to put a chicken on it's back. Now I had a slim narrative, no more hats, breakfast. The bacon strip was added last, tough decision. The kid's thought it was weird, but to me it added a bittersweet quality and stretched the narrative just a bit, so it stayed, plus I really wanted to paint some food. Whadaya think?
Above: Friends Contemplating The Future (that was the working title) 20x22 oil on panel 2010

For a brief moment, when I recently walked by this church sign in the neighborhood, I thought they were promoting a Bar B Que fundraiser or something, had pigs on my mind I guess.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


A recent article in the Wall St. Journal highlighted the winners and losers of the spring auction season, some artists trending up, some down. The soaring prices at auction are a fantasy to those of us out here in the suburbs of the art market, (a fantasy that is hard to shake). This Friday, collectors in Atlanta, Nashville, Dallas, New Orleans... went to openings and purchased works of art. They won't express it openly but in the recesses of their mind there is the notion that what they bought will increase in value, maybe even spectacularly. Over the years dealers have mentioned to me the whispered complaints of their clients, "Why isn't my collection worth more?". A touchy subject indeed, so lets be honest, 99.90% of art produced and sold, in any market, will likely end up just being wonderful decor to be passed down to lucky family members, but don't let that thought stop you from buying. My advice to the "local-collector", avoid the trendy hybrid, educate your eye to spot an original and most importantly, buy from the heart, passion versus investment strategy. A work of art you love is life enriching, (believe me, that is valuable). Your tastes will change and so will the ever evolving art market, plus, you never know...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

UGA Grad

This Saturday over 40,000 friends, relatives and proud parents crowded into Sanford Stadium to honor the 225th graduating class of the University Of Georgia, the first ever under the lights. A beautiful day, an entertaining commencement address by Alton Brown and a fireworks display to end the ceremony, our daughter, Bailey, had become an alumnus of UGA.

Top:The Processional
Above:3+ hours later, fireworks

The happy grad. A job?, that is a discussion for another day.