Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cotton Candy Painting

"Where do your ideas come from?"...This is the question most often asked these days (used to be "What does it mean?"). I think it is safe to say that painters are image junkies, always on the lookout, radar up, for visual input to be added to our mental hard drives.'s the answer to the question based on the image above.
I picked up the circus tent from a music score my daughter was carrying around for her voice class, ("Annie Get Your Gun"). It was a small illustration on the cover. I copied it into my sketckbook and began doodling possible was coming up.
Couple months later...I was sitting in the stands at a Braves baseball game, just chillin'. My eyes caught the guy selling cotton candy, he was good, instead of just standing there, he would run from the top of the aisle down to the bottom, with the confection piled onto a long pole, clouds of pastel sugar bouncing in the
Now I had my two main elements, drew those onto the canvas. Next, what to add?, color choices?, mood?...etc. basically trial and error from here on. The couple was needed, balloons, very peaceful scene, so at the last minute I added the animals, borrowed from Edward Hicks.

Above:Circus (Cotton Candy) 35x30 oil canvas 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dream Police

Red Line Gallery in Knoxville, Tn. has a show opening Nov. 5th. called "Small Hidden Doors", curated by Lara Dann, the theme..dreams and their interpretation. I will be showing the 2 paintings you see in this post.

I've never been a big sleeper, 6-7hrs. is about all I am good for, but once I'm out I am gone. As a kid I was a bit of a sleepwalker and had bouts of "night terror" (not fun), but dreams or night travel as I like to say, are a feature of sleep I have always enjoyed. I don't try to analyze them, to me it's just a show, sometimes elaborate and lucid, other times misty and..well..dreamy. I have never painted my dreams but painting is a lot like dreaming, there is a freedom in the process of "making stuff up" similar to the subconscious storyline of dreaming. A painting has it's own truth, as does a dream.

Police hardly ever enter my dream world or my "waking dream world" for that matter..hmm..always loved this song by Cheap Trick.

Top:Night Travel (1) 11x12 (17x18 Fr) oil panel 2011
Bottom:Night Travel (2) 11x12 (17x18 Fr) oil panel 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Summer Roundup

This summer has been very active, with few "studio" blog posts, so.. thought I would restock the image bank for those of you whose only exposure to my paintings is this blog. These slipped through the cracks, enjoy.

Froze my %&@# off at the Braves game last Friday night and my big box of Luzianne ice tea bags is just about empty..looks like summer is done.

Top: Campfire Song (Moon) 14x12 (20x18 Fr) oil pane
Middle: Sunny Stage 18x16 (24x22 Fr) oil panel
Bottom: Baptism In Song 14x16 (20x22 Fr) oil panel
Below: Velvet Moon (Sunday Evening) 18x20 (22x26 Fr) oil panel
Redid the cake painting, found it a nice home in Nashville

Friday, September 2, 2011

Nashville Skyline

If you "googled" the Dylan album and ended up here, scroll down..

My show opens tomorrow at the Arts Company in Nashville, this will be my 5th exhibition with Anne Brown and the gang. Anne has an insightful blog post about my work, read it here, also "Nashville Arts Magazine" put me on the cover of the September issue (my second cover, thanks Paul), check it out here. See ya.. gotta pack... oh? the Dylan album..

"Nashville Skyline" was the "gateway drug" to becoming a Dylan fanatic for people my age (54). When he was putting out the classic '60's disks we were preocuppied with the Monkees and Beatles. Somehow "Skyline" got on the radar of my 13 year old ears. FM radio was cranking up then and the stations were an eyeopener, "Lay Lady Lay" was played often. I bought the album a couple of years later, wore it out (that Cash duet!!). "Blood On The Tracks" was next, I was hooked..still am.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Acorn Man

This is an image that has been bouncing around my sketchbook for a year. Like many of my paintings, "Acorn Man" started as an idea for a sculpture (sculptures I never make), which is not a bad way to envision a picture. What kept me from putting him in a painting?..well... humor is a consistent element in my work, would this be skating too close to "silly" though? But it is summer, right, not a time for "heaviness" and this was going to be the last painting for my upcoming show in Nashville so, what the heck. I kept the landscape pretty bleak to counter the cute, kinda like a last man standing image. "But that squirrel?.. man" Hey, I like painting squirrels, couldn't resist.

Above: Keeper Of Acorns, 28x25, oil/canvas 2011
I noticed my face contorting weirdly while painting his face.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Art In Chicago

A recent visit to Chicago confirmed something I have suspected for years; when it comes to the aesthetic enjoyment and the appreciation of viewing art, "context is everything". Well "duh" you might say, but many would argue that great works hold up regardless of placement. To make my point and to keep this post brief I have a few very bias opinions on what I observed at Chicago's Art Institute: Cubism, esp. paintings by Picasso and Braque (1910-15), couldn't look at them, they seemed to disappear from the walls (they look stunning at MOMA and in Paris), even Matisse caused a shrug (heresy!) accept his large "Bathers By The River". The Picasso that stopped me was his huge "Mother and Child", a neoclassical painting of heavy-set figures on the beach, amazing. Highly conceptual, contemporary art takes a hit in a museum such as the Institute (this work needs a whole separate building to do it justice). I tried reading the wall text that explained the photographs of curtains.. but there was a Poussin waiting in the next wing, sorry. What worked the best?, (besides the obvious, Seurat, Hopper,etc.)..late Philip Guston (above), almost a full room of them, not fussy or too cerebral, just raw paint, power and emotion, perfect for Chicago.

Top:Red Box, Philip Guston 68x96" 1977
Middle:Looking at Nighthawks

Below:An abstract painting of mine from 1985, relatives had it hanging in their house in Chicago, hard to believe I painted that, I must say, it looked pretty good there by the kitchen, nice to see it.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Springs Mills Art Show

This drawing is the first piece of art I put on display publicly. Every year the Springs Mill textile plant in Lancaster, SC sponsored an art exhibition, at the time ('73) if you brought work they would hang it. Prize money was awarded and the show drew decent crowds, (kind of a big deal in the SC Piedmont art world). At 16 I felt I was worthy. Mom had the piece framed and we drove it over. Wandering around the "salon style" exhibition weeks later, I had my first experience of those thoughts that enter the mind when you put your art on display; "Why did that win a prize?", "They hung mine too low!",,,etc. Makes me chuckle to think of that kid, get used to it pal.

The next year I entered a drawing of an antique coffee grinder, now I was a veteran, play it cool. Found my piece and there was a red dot beside the name tag. I looked at my parents "What does that mean?", A prize? No, those have stars, did a quick check around, didn't see any other dots. I was getting anxious, maybe I did something wrong? It was a bright red. Went to the entry desk and the smiling lady said "That means the work has been sold". What!! A month later a check came in the mail, $50, free money, I was hooked.

Above:"Ouch" (clever title, huh? love the weird perspective.)
I wonder if that coffee grinder is still on a wall somewhere?

Monday, May 9, 2011

The James Kalm Report

"Why do young artist's leave Atlanta?", this was a recent topic over at the BURNAWAY website, a discussion that appears locally about every 6 years. I always enjoy reading the debate because it reminds me of the conversations I would have with studio chums back in my 20's, "We need to be in New York!", some left, all were tempted.
Those romantic notions have long passed for me, but I still enjoy taking a look at what is being shown in the galleries "up there", which brings me to James Kalm (aka. Loren Munk). James and his digital camera take you inside the scene, filming openings, art fairs and museum shows. James is an artist and gives you that perspective, zooming up close to the work, commenting on materials, technique and occasionally interviewing the artist, not much art critique but that is fine, I just want to look. There are hundreds of posts on three different YouTube channels. Enjoy a certain artist's work?, chances are good he's covered it.
To bring this post full circle, there is a great interview with retired UGA professor, Jim Herbert, who moved from Athens to Brooklyn four years ago.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


The sharp contrasts associated with this celebration are enough to make your head spin;Calvary/Easter bunny, chocolate/spiced ham, jelly beans/boiled eggs, life/death/life. As an over analytical/literal kid, these contrasting emotions were the cause for a lot of head scratching.Now, as an adult, I understand metaphor, its all good, accept for those pastel Easter eggs. I double up on the dye tablets, gives them a more"Baroque" hue, less "Candyland".

Above: Finished this painting last week, the Dogwood has a long association with Golgotha, thought this picture had the spirit of the season.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Yonder Wall

The first four months of this year have been productive. The studio wall that was empty in December has begun to show some life and I have felt a calm burst of creative energy as of late. Can't point to any reason for this, nothing has changed materially in my world, so... I guess, in my head something has grown or broadened, that is vague, so how 'bout this.. "time" has been less of a factor in the painting process, that means, the eye and mind are not as distracted by what's ahead or the outcome. If I focus on what is before me at the moment the outcome/future will take care of itself, an ageless philosophy, that in practice, is so difficult for us humans.

Above:This painting got pretty literal as it developed, I am debating whether to break it down for you viewers, maybe next post?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Business Noir

The "Businessman Series" was an idea that came to me while sitting in traffic on Ga400, I looked over at the cars around me and everyone was urgently talking on their cell phones, dressed for work, just yacking away, (I kinda felt left out of the world they were involved in). Got back to the studio and started sketching out what I had seen on 10x9" gessoed paper, cartoony images that I would fill in with paint, it was cathartic fun. For the next 5 months (Jan-May 2001) I would start the day drawing up a few "cards" and work on them during breaks from paintings.

Moving from cars to the office, I began to feel that these were morphing into a homage to the work place of my Dad's generation ("Mad Men" without the ladies and fashion sense,,, a darker, lonelier version). As a kid, visiting my dad at work was always a surreal experience, I would stand outside his door and look in, he would be behind the desk on the phone, cigarette smoke billowing around a desk lamp, like some Wizard from Oz. Who was that dude waving m
e in?

Before I ran out of steam I was lifting images from the Wall St. Journal, and the characters were beginning to have a contemporary feel. What has happened in the world since then, I could never have imagined. Now, spiritually, I don't think I could get into this kind of exercise, the humor in "power" just isn't there for me.

I first showed these as a group (108 pieces) at the Arts Company in Nashville, October 2001. They have been boxed up in the studio here for a few years and now I am sending them back to Nashville. I thought this would be a good time to finally photograph the remaining 90 pieces and give them some internet exposure.You can see the rest of them, here on flickr.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Happiest Color

Yellow? Orange?...nope, it's Cerulean blue, the color of Disney skies and Vacation Bible School posters. I rarely use this pigment but I wanted to do a painting that had a light-cheerful vibe, just for the heck of it. Also, the image I had drawn out seemed to call for this kind of treatment. Cerulean was the base for a majority of the color throughout the painting. I did dull the blue just a bit with Raw Sienna and Raw Umber. Did my mood shift while using this hue?...kinda, due mostly I think to the airiness of the atmosphere, no heavy,brooding skies in this one.

Top:Song In The Wind 18x16, oil panel, 2011
Bottom:Detail (I think that's the best hair I've ever painted)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Studio Debris

This is what happens when you get a new camera and don't feel like cleaning the studio, instead of throwing junk away... take pictures of it! I ask myself, is there anything redeeming in this exercise of "navel gazing".. possibly. Many years ago an artist was visiting my studio, instead of looking at the paintings I noticed he kept walking around the space poking at my stuff, checking out my books and various knick-knacks. Lifting papers to see what was under them,as if looking for some secret that would explain my creative process or who I was. So..I decided to make it easy for you, go to Flickr and poke around.

Top: one of my wood sculptures
Middle: a stuffed Gar, harpooned from the Lake Wiley Dam by my late brother
Bottom: a mini water well, made by my neighbor "Dusty"

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Big Picture

This is a one of those paintings that while I was working on it I could imagine it being much larger, huh..? It's like this, all the elements in this picture; horse, ocean and clouds we associate with grandness, expansiveness, the mind opens up before a scene such as this. So..I kept thinking, this would probably work great on a much larger scale. Timothy commented once "you do small paintings that read like big ones", I know what he means. I often ask myself do these need to be huge?..maybe, maybe not.

Above: Trojan Horse, 16x14", oil on panel 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Illustrator Donald Moss

A good bit of the artists I admire (past and present) have spent a portion of their careers doing illustration work. Some like Edward Hopper looked down upon this period, never understood that. I admire great illustration, yes there is a different spirit involved but one that is no less enlightened or skilled than "gallery" painting.

While looking through those old SIs (see below) I came upon this spread by Donald Moss using Magritte as a template to illustrate a golf story. Donald worked at Sports Illustrated for over 30 years (50's-80's) and often used surrealistic/pop references in his illustrations, he was one of my favorites as a teen (uhh...duh).

Above: Donald Moss, SI June 11,1973, "Oakmont", Donald passed away last May, he was 90.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Super Bowl Betting

90 million dollars, that's the legal amount wagered on the Super Bowl today, add what gets put down in the office pools, between friends and with the local bookies and that number jumps to 8-9 billion $'s, that's a lot of scratch. Besides the score, you can also put money down on various "prop" bets, such as; The coin flip, heads or tails? What will Fergie wear for the halftime show? What color will the Gatorade be that gets dumped on the coach? Use your imagination, there's a bet for it. Me?? I am taking the Steelers and the points, (that Gatorade is going to be yellow).

What's a Super Bowl without Joe Namath?? lame. Here's "Joe Willie" pimping Dingo Boots, I wanted a pair of those so bad as a kid, had to settle for Hush Puppies "D-boots".

Above:I got a huge stack of SIs from the '70's, spent some time with them yesterday, Joe's pants look like they were made out of a bath mat, I want one!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Scott Belville at MOCA GA

"Trust", Scott Belville's exhibition of new work is up now over at MOCA GA here in Atlanta (through March 19th). Scott's got great technical skills and a fine color sense but his narrative take on the Southern psyche is what keeps me looking. If you enjoy what you see on this blog (we're fishing the same streams, just catching different fish) be sure and check out Scott's work today.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

2011 The Optimist Theme

Finished the above painting yesterday. As I was working on this picture variations of this painting/theme would pop into my head and I would jot the ideas down in my sketchbook. The theme being; a floor with a character in front of a backdrop. These three elements allowed for many possibilities, the backdrop could be anything; a scene, a painting, another character or object. What would be "real" and what would be an illusion? I thought "This could be fun, let's see how far I can take it", so I decided to do a series of paintings using this theme as a premise. I'm optimistic, let's see what transpires.

Above: The Last Optimist, oil on panel, 14x12, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Week Of Ice

Atlanta is returning to normal after the "Snowpocalypse" of this past week. Several inches of powder topped with 2 inches of ice shut the city down for 4 days, schools were closed all week. I tend to follow the family schedule so I stayed out of the studio and in the house till Thursday, its not like I needed a break or anything but I got into the spirit of the event; sledding on Monday (baking sheets work great but hard to steer) , movies on the tube (Ground Hog Day, Terminator Salvation) , games (Taboo). Not a bad week, no injuries and quality family time but man, what has happened to those mild Atlanta winters we have grown accustomed to?

Top:Grant Park
Bottom:The Atlanta Cyclorama, North view

Saturday, January 8, 2011

2011 Back To Work

After a 2 week break I was able to get back in the studio this week. As the holidays approached I knew I wasn't going to be working much so I left a picture unfinished on purpose, which allowed me to ease back into painting mode once the "hub-bub" was over, a slow but smooth transition.

Meanwhile... Nashville Arts Magazine used my Red Velvet Cake painting to illustrate a recipe of said cake by one of Nashville's top foodies, Nancy Vienneau, (check out her wonderful blog). The blurb appears in their January issue. That painting has a life of its own.

Above: as yet untitled 28x25 oil on canvas

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Day "Greens"

Out of the studio, back at the stove. They say... "Eat greens and blackeyed peas New Years Day for a prosperous upcoming year", don't know about that... but it does give me an excuse to have two of my favorites for supper. Yes, cooking fresh greens are a hassle but worth the trouble, here's what I did yesterday.

Gather the following; 2 bunches collard greens, washed thoroughly, remove middle stem and chop to bite size pieces, 6 strips turkey bacon, 1 large onion and about 5 cloves garlic finely chopped. First, cook bacon in a large pot till crispy, take bacon out and add 2 tbsp. olive oil, saute chopped onion and garlic (about 4-5 minutes), chop bacon and add to pot. Now add liquid, I added 1/3 cup white wine, heat that till boiling, stir, let cook another minute to reduce wine, add chopped greens and 1/2 cup water or broth of choice. That's basically it. Note: you want to steam the greens not boil! Now, you can add the seasonings you prefer; salt, pepper, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, tbsp hot sauce, splash of vinegar, whatever you like. Let all this cook for about 5 minutes, look in pot, greens will start to wilt, when this occurs stir it all up, cook another 5 minutes and stir again, keep repeating this process till all greens are cooked (they will be limp and turn a dull, dark, brownish green). Now taste... more salt, pepper, liquid,,? you decide. After adjustments keep cooking over low heat, about 20-25 minutes. That should do it, grab a fork and dig in, your riches are assured for another 365 days.

This looks like a great recipe for collards, courtesy of the "Diva", gonna try this next year.