A new record

Holy smokers, it’s been over a month since I last posted. I think that’s some kind of record, although I’m not going to take the necessary time to be sure. Enough time passing already!

So here’s the finished painting, Sky Pads 25.

These colors new to the series. Variations on blue and orange will always work out somehow.

I had quite a few decisions to make during this painting’s progress. Here’s a quick summary since it’s been so long that even faithful followers of this blog will have forgotten anything previously written about this piece.

The background initially took me aback. It came out quite differently than I expected even though I had no definite plan except for choosing the colors. The colors themselves chose to blend in intensity and combinations that I could not have predicted. As usual, I went with what I got anyway.

Mulled over the colors for the pads. In the original source photo they are variations of green and yellow. For whatever now long-forgotten reason that combination didn’t set me on fire vis a vis blending or complimenting the background. So I settled on a deep blue-green instead. The interesting part is that in a few places the paint of the leaf layers blended itself into the paint of the background–even though the background was a couple of weeks dry–and took on a more subtle dusty blue cast. Ya, so go with it again.

The most dangerous part was just after each painting session. I was never immediately thrilled with the results, but I knew I was going to keep on pushing through. As it happens, I paint with my canvas flat on a table. That’s a horrible perspective from which to make a judgement. So when I’m done for the day, I prop it up against the wall without looking at it and go into another room to clean up me and my paint tools. That usually takes a few minutes, and those few minutes are long enough for me to be away from the work and be ready to look at it with fresh eyes. When I returned to this one in its proper upright perspective I was amazed at how good it really looked. Every single time. Some sort of transformation while I was gone. I’m still looking around for signs of secretive helpful elves.

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It’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it

I had a bit of a start on Sky Pads 25, but had to interrupt it–

Sky Pads 25 with poured paint background and the very early beginnings of the first pass defining the pads

I had a bit of considering to do when picking the color for the pads. There was no turquoise in the background and I wasn’t sure if a brighter blue like that would clash with the softer background tones. So I started out with some trepidation but by the time I was interrupted I had told myself I made a good choice.


My commission presented its own array of choices. I had two photos to work with:

Always thankful for Photoshop™, I took the woodsy photo and stretched its dimensions both horizontally and vertically and also altered the perspective to keep the effect of the trail heading off in the distance. I also had to recreate some of the trail and shadows to make up for moving the horse a bit more to the center. Once the horse was moved, I could cut out the nice sleek horse from the grassy photo and size it on top of the first one to make an approximation of the proposed painting.

Composite photo after adjustments

When I sat down to paint, I looked at all those leaves and had many second, third, fourth or more thoughts about them. One thing I was not going to do was paint every single one of them. I opted to mimic the rhythm of their patterns and leave that suggestion for the viewer’s eye. I also warmed up the background a bit to make it more autumn and less winter. I think it worked, and made a nice memorial portrait for the rider–who probably spent more time with this view of her horse than any other.

Aquabord© painting of Eli combining the two photos. 5″ x 7″.

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Time to call a carpenter

Just a couple of quick notes because I must move on…to Sky Pads 25. I’m running out of room, which is another way to say that sales aren’t keeping up with production. But let’s not go there for the moment. I’ll be working on getting someone to build racks across one wall of my studio, which should take care of the issue at least temporarily.

The only differences between these two are in the darkest areas. The photos look pretty similar, but the painting in real life really pops now. Click on either painting to open the gallery for a larger view which will make the dark/light differences more visible.


Sky Pads 25, poured paint background

#25 will be much more tranquil–I think. The background reminds me of gentle foam washing up on a beach instead of the rippling, pebbly water of #24. I still have to do the drawing for #25 and transfer it to the canvas, so it may be quite a few days till you see me again.

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Almost ready to go sailing

Almost there, but still not quite.

In the meantime, here’s another ink drawing from the archive so I don’t feel like I’m not at least peripherally participating in Inktober…

Blue Sky "On the Run"

 “On the Run”, from a photo by my friend Lauren Goodman Aster

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Never say die

I wasn’t impressed when I went with the first iteration of lily pads in yellow. It really looked like there was no “there” there. I consoled myself by remembering that this is what often happens on the first pass, even though I really thought perhaps it had no salvation. But rules are rules, at least in my habitat, so I made no decision except to keep moving along. Thankfully the second pass in red added some depth and shape to the pads. They will need at least one more coat, the last one being some shade of violet. And if you look at the second pass, maybe my last comment about this painting (think “flotilla”) will start to make sense.

On a totally different topic, I know a lot of artists are really enthusiastic about the annual “Inktober” event. If you follow a bunch of artists on social media you’ll see them putting out an ink drawing a day this month. Since I lack sufficient enthusiasm I’m just going to cheat and post an occasional ink drawing from my past, when it seems like I had a whole lot more time on my hands than I do nowadays. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it!

Here’s a cute one of Charm (my mare) and her filly Revelation. This was before I bought Charm, sometime in 2013.

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Best gallery show ever

Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph, Michigan is a lovely building set on equally lovely grounds. I can’t find even the tiniest nit to pick with its presentation titled “Resiliency” and the reception they held for it on this past Friday. Of course I’m totally biased about the presentation because you’re looking at the view everyone entering the gallery saw at first sight–a wall of paintings by yours truly.

Here’s the first wall a visitor to the Art Center sees as they enter the gallery area. This group is lined up to see a performance in the next room, which is why they aren’t fixated on my art😊


Here’s one of the outstanding artworks in the exhibit, it’s called “Through a Purple Patch” by Martina Nehrling of Chicago. I hope you get a sense from the video of what it felt like to walk alongside this 21′ long painting!

There was some gentle, soothing music to accompany the art too. The keyboard was right next to my wall of paintings. I couldn’t have asked for better lighting! And best of all, unlike some group exhibits I’ve participated in where they mix up the artists’ paintings like a giant stir-fry, Krasl kept each artist’s work in a separate group so you could stop and study it (or whatever else you felt like doing after reading how it applied to the “resiliency” theme).

There was a half-hour talk given before the reception officially opened, explaining the theme and the relationships of the art to it. I wish I had a summary of it, but I was too busy just listening…so here’s a very brief statement I cribbed from Krasl’s website:

This exhibition was inspired through dialogue between Krasl Art Center and Spectrum Health Lakeland (SHL). In 2016, the latter completed a Community Health Needs Assessment in which mental health emerged as the most urgent need throughout Berrien County. The same year, KAC committed to inspiring meaningful change and strengthening the community through visual arts as its new mission. Combining KAC’s expertise in art, and SHL’s expertise in wellness, Resiliency is a collaborative effort to improve individual lives and community in our area.  Using the visual arts as a platform, this exhibition provides applicable tools for guests to craft their own resilient practices and gain empathy for others.

And look how this concentrated grouping of prints by John Gutoskey of Ann Arbor, Michigan lets them reinforce and build upon one another!

A marvelously effective grouping of this artist’s work. The only difficulty with gallery opening receptions is trying to get photos without a big crowd in front of the work. But if you show only the work it can look like nobody was there! At least this way you know we had a good sized crowd.


To top everything off, this reception had the best assortment of hors d’oeuvres ever. I can’t call them “snacks” or “refreshments” because they were way above and beyond such a mundane description. “Pumpkin Beer Cheese Dip”–who knew???

Who has ever seen a menu like this at a gallery opening??!!

And every bite was mm-mm-good!

And not to worry, not only mm-mm-good but all the plastic was collected to be recycled…that’s my kind of style!


PS: I did get into the Midwest Museum of American Art show too, but did not win a prize. Oh well. Here’s a photo of my entry. I think the lighting brought out a lot of the nice color variations in the painting, which is now my latest fave.

Sky Pads 23 at the Midwest Museum of American Art 41st Regional Competition in Elkhart, Indiana

Posted in art, exhibit opportunity, gallery show, Krasl Art Center, landscape, museums, oil paintings, Sky Pads | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

The age of forgetfulness

In all the busy-ness of the last few weeks I totally forgot I was going to let you in on the (almost) 30-year saga of one of my early paintings. I did Echo Park XI in 1990 as part of a 16-painting series of lotus plants in a small eponymous park in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Here’s what it looks like–

Echo Park XI — 36″ x 46″

A friend of mine from way back–Dave–stopped by for a visit years later when I lived in the Chicago area sometime in the 2000’s. As an avid art fan and collector he of course wanted a tour of my studio. It turned out this was his favorite of what I had on hand at the time. Keep in mind it was already over 10 years old. He wasn’t up for buying it, but I kept the compliment somewhere in the deep recesses of my mental file cabinet.

Fast forward to summer 2019. Painting is now nearing its 30th birthday. I get a chatty email from him in July reminding me of the annual Lotus Festival in Echo Park (https://www.laparksfoundation.org/laparks_events/2019-lotus-festival/) which of course prompted me to remind him that I knew it well, having painted the lilies many times. With no thought of a sale I also mentioned that I still had what I remembered to be his favorite, #XI. Turns out he was in the market and interested. I told him I could give him a good price but the shipping on such a large painting could be a deal breaker–Michigan to California, a bit over $200 and I throw in the shipping box for free. He went for it as I promptly fell off my chair.

So I did the FedEx thing and sweated its journey until I knew it arrived safely. Then I waited, hoping for a photo of it in its new home. What I got was even better–a video! Here you get to see the curved staircase by the floor-to-ceiling windows leading past other art works in his collection to the top landing by the front entrance door–and there it is! The whole place is filled with art, so this entryway makes a nice prelude to the rest of the collection.

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