Sunday, December 30, 2007


MIXED MEDIA aprox 24x24

Ester is right. I've been thinking too much. All I've been able to do all day is hang around the studio looking for busy work. I finally gave up, came in the kitchen and have started a large pot of gravy, aka "sauce". This one has italian sausage and chicken thighs, and will cook for several hours leaving a heavenly smell throughout the house. At that point I won't give a damn about the studio. Maybe after the pasta, wine and whatever, the muses will decided to come back.

The mixed media above was done about 3 years ago on thick coldpress illustration board witn a pastel background and scale lumber and other "stuff" around the studio. the foreground is pastel over acrylic molding paste applied to 1" blue foam insulation which was glued to the board. The entire structure is about 1" in relief.

Happy new year to all who see this post. To my growing family of bloggers, thank you for your comments and for sharing your work with all of us.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Windows #13 16x16"

So, after 48 hours of thinking about the window paintings, what conclusions have I reached?

These paintings are all about fields of color separated by artificial boundaries and contrasting values. The “windows” and the foreground provide the boundaries and the separation, as well as creating an asymmetry to the composition. These are the real subjects of the paintings.

The trees are used as objects to hold the separate elements together, as well as adding to the value contrast and enhancing the overall composition. Although they may be the center of attention, they are not the primary subject. In fact the trees have generally been rendered in a rather generic manner and devoid of much detail.

After the first few paintings I began thinking about what I could use in place of the trees, considering architectural subjects and abstract shapes. But in the end, always came back to the tree because: 1. it worked, and 2. I liked the organic element which made sense because of the degree of realism in the rest of the painting, especially the foreground.

Where do I go from here and how will these paintings evolve?

I will probably continue in the same vein, exploring different compositions, colors, and other variations, looking for ways to improve the work while allowing it to offer its own direction. At the same time, I would like to try inserting more abstract elements, completely or in part, in the paintings which may lead to a separte series, distinct fromt he windows. The next several months could prove to be quite interesting.

This has been an interesting exercise for me; I usually do not dissect my work in this manner and have found it to be quite helpful. Thank you Teri.

Friday, December 28, 2007


Windows #18 24x24

For the past 2 months I have been working a series I call “window” paintings, many of which I have posted to this site. Slowly they have been evolving, but have generally retained a consistent theme and composition. I have enjoyed painting them, and have had hopes of using them to get the attention of one or more galleries.

Then it happened! An artist neighbor/friend, whose work and commitment to her art I greatly admire and respect stopped by the studio to see what I’ve been doing. Of course I proudly showed her my new work, and Teri, without hesitation, proceeded to offer her honest and critical opinion. She complimented me on what she felt was good and interesting in the work, but quickly moved on to discuss and question what I was going to do next; where was the work going, why, what was I trying to say? And isn’t time to stop using those trees?

That was late yesterday afternoon, since then I have not stopped thinking about our conversation and about the work. She has made me confront questions that I have been managing to avoid, and to think critically about the purpose of my work. Some of these issues I had already, in a small way, recognized, but for the most part her visit triggered a train of thought that might not have otherwise occurred

One broad question: How do we find the right balance between rational thought and intuition in our work, or, is it even necessary that we do? Trying to answer this only raises more question; what motivates the work, who are we painting for, and on and on and on.

One specific question about the window paintings; what am I attempting to do or say with these images? And, how about those trees!?

My attempt to answer that will be my next post.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


It's over, another Christmas has come and gone. As usual I find I need a few days to "decompress" from all of the food and wine. I kept my gallery open on Christmas eve day and it was with mixed feelings that I sold my latest "windows" painting, #17, posted here on 12-21. Usually I have no qualms about selling my work, but I REALLY like this piece and was hoping It would be around for a little while, but that was not to be.

Over the years there have been only two other paintings that I wish were still in my possession:

Jersey Barn-pastel - 30x40" now hanging somewhere in Aspen CO

Philadelpha Art Museum watercolor, aprox 16x40 now somewhere in Baltimore, MD

Sunday, December 23, 2007


The battle between the two sides of my brain...The R is enticing me to let myself go and follow my instincts and intuition, letting the work itself lead and direct me. The L side agrees, to a point, but strongly asserts the need for an overall “game plan” to provide guidelines and help keep the focus on a clearer goal.

An immediate problem arises...what is that goal? The R side tells me, it is to become the best artist that I am capable of becoming. Once again the L agrees, but adds that ever present drive for commercial success and professional recognition.

Obviously a compromise is needed-in which I follow the R side of my brain, but temper it with selected wisdom from the L.

After the last six months of work it is clear to me that the significant advances in my work are directly the result of the intuitive and imaginative approaches I have been taking in the studio.

I wrote these words 4 years ago, but they remain ever appropriate. I selected the following paintings to reflect Right sided art, Left sided art, and comprimised art. How valid this is remains questionable, but it is a fun exercise.

Right sided acrylic 30x40

Left sided Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art watercolor 30x30

Combination Right & Left Architectural drawing mixed media 12x12

Friday, December 21, 2007


Windows # 17 acrylic 18x36"

I did my first “windows” painting almost 2 months ago, and yesterday completed number 17!
I joke that after the first painting it was like eating potato chips, I couldn’t stop. Not long ago I posted that I thought I had painted the last one: how wrong was that!

I guess I have always been attracted to the idea of “themes” or series. Almost all of my solo exhibits have been based on a theme or a specific subject (victorian architecture, corner stores, local landscape, barns, etc.), whether it was watercolor, clay, pastel, or acrylic. By working on a series, one gets the chance to grow with each painting, exploring a number of options, mood, contrasting colors or values, or composition, all within a consistent framework. You quickly learn that you cannot duplicate the previous work, just like you cannot repeat a sketch: they are each an individual effort of expression. But by adhering to a few basic guidelines, the artist can “stretch” and expand his or her vision, and because of the guidelines, see, or measure their growth.

The challenge is, to know when to stop and move on. At this time, I don’t think I am finished with this series.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


watercolor 30x14"
I started this painting about 7-8 years ago, completing the drawing and the sky. I removed from the file drawer last week and completed it yesterday. It shows the Philadelphia skyscraper, Liberty Place, the first building to rise higher than William Penn, sitting atop city hall.

acrylic on canvas 24x24"
Also completed yesterday is the latest in my "Windows" series (#16). Just when I think I'm finished with them, another seems to pop up.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Last week, or was it the week before, I was TAGGED. My wife has since given up on me, convinced I will not follow up as directed. But, I am a thoughtful, deliberate man and need to think things out very carefully before I respond to the challenge of revealing 5 things about myself, and then tagging five other bloggers.

1. I was 6’2” tall before I married Patience. ( I am now 5’ 5”)

2. I can milk a cow

3. I really am the friggin polyanna my wife calls me.

4. I am an armchair model railroader

5. At one time I wanted to be saint. Honest. Or a minstrel.

Now, I have to tag 5 other bloggers. With apologies, I submit:

Monday, December 17, 2007


As I’ve mentioned before, I had to teach myself how to work with watercolors, and I did so using what I have since clalled my coloring book approach. This entailed starting with a clean ink drawing, and then applying the wc neatly within the lines, without working wet in wet or graded washes, two of the more difficult skills of wc painting. Avoiding skies, trees, and everything else except the subject, almost always a building of some sort, the painting, by default, became a vignette.

As my vision expanded and the subjects became more complicated, I learned to become more creative in composing the painting, maintaining the vignette approach. Eventually I learned to paint skies, trees, and whatever, but still in the vignette format.

The following paintings show a progression from earliest to later work, from about 1980 to 1990.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Met Life building wc 10x24
I guess it was all the "looking back" at my old urban paintings that did it. Whatever the reason, I find myself in the thick of urban landscapes and watercolor. This painting is new, just completed this week and is what I refer to as my Interior Skylines. I am currently working on a piece I started about 7 years ago and will post it as soon as it is complete.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


It's time for a bit of frivolity! I was adamant that only an ink pen or felt tip pen could be used in my sketchbook-journal.

Friday, December 14, 2007


What can you do when the entire world seems like it is pressing down on your life, squeezing out all of the joy and worth that has accumulated over your years?

Where can you find the help to do that which only you alone can do?

Where can you find a friend when there are none around, when you feel utterly alone?

Where can you turn when the loss is too great to bear, or when it seems so unfair?

What can you do when the problems you face are so utterly overwhelming?

Where can you find a reason to live a life that you want to end?

Why do certain sounds, images, smells, or words have a way of piercing our shell it enter deep into a place within us, evoking emotions that have now words? Where is it? What is it that is buried so deep within.

There is some music, even that in foreign tongue, that reaches that place within me.

What does it mean to know something in your heart, and not in your head? Or is it our gut that knows. Our hearts, our guts, or how about our souls? We have names for these “places” that we cannot know.

I am sometimes embarrassed that I know no other language except english, but if I did, I wager there would be other names in other languages, all describing this same place.

Here is what I think about this place:

It is certainly not anatomical, but is numinous, existing in or around everyone, perhaps only a confluence of emotions. But is is real, in the sense that it can be felt or experienced.

It is in this place that we fully understand what we are, and what we are to become.

Everyone experiences or finds this place in their own unique way. For some it is a source of inner strength and resolve; for others a way to cope and recover. It is here that some people find their God, a source of spiritual enlightenment and joy. I imagine there are as many different experiences as there are individuals, with many sharing some basic similarities (Jung;s Collective Unconscious?)

My own experiences have given me an unshakable belief in the existence of this spiritual sweet spot.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I love pasta, all shapes, sizes and in all sauces!! I love pasta with fish sauce, with meat sauce, with vegetables and with nothing but olive oil and garlic. Growing up with pasta on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and all holidays, I don’t think I’ve every met a pasta that I didn’t like (excluding all canned pasta.)

Fortunately, I also love to cook pasta, and although we don’t have the rigid schedule of my childhood years, I’m certain we eat pasta a minimum of 3 days a week, and usually more. Even more fortunately, my dear wife Patience, a bona fide Anglo, not only loves pasta but can cook pasta as creatively as anyone.

I enjoy looking through the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry to see what is available, than putting something together for another pasta dinner.

Because my memory has become a thing of the past, I began recording these concoctions (I am reluctant to call them recipes because nothing is measured of closely timed.), and the guests that were there to share them. Did I mention that we live in a community of friends where dinners are freely shared?

Here is one of my “recipes”, and, as with everything I do, there is plenty of flexibility in the ingredients.

scallops, shrimp, orange roughy
angel hair pasta
tomatoes-whole, or diced
white wine
garlic. shallots, 4-5 anchovie fillets (finely chopped)
basil, paprika, parsley
red pepper flakes
heavy cream

saute garlic, shallots, anchovies, red pepper flakes and parsley in olive oil and butter. then add the seafood and cook on high for several minutes, adding paprika and basil for about 5 minutes. Lower the heat and add white wine and simmer for about 10 minutes. add the tomatoes and cook uncovered for about 20-30 minutes to reduce the volume of liquid. Add cream-about 1/2 cup- and stir till thickened.

Mix thoroughly w the pasta and serve.

served to T,P, Char and Jay on 12-7-04

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Absent significant groans and moans, I am charging ahead with more dots! There is still opportunity to express your dismay at this pitiful display by a dottering old artist.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I loved working with markers. They allowed me to introduce color into my earliest art work. Unfortunaely they are so fugitive they cannot be used for any sustainable work, but they are great for quick sketches (is there such a thing as a slow sketch?) From markers I graduated to ink, and quickly thereafter, watercolor.

Here are a few early sketches/paintings circa 1978-80.

Echo Books about 5x7

Monday, December 10, 2007


Pastel from 7-8 years ago aprox 14x18

Another moment of clarity? It has always been so obvious, and indeed known to me, albeit at a cerebral level. But this morning, while walking Fat Charlie, it “came to me”, out of nowhere. It was one of those moments when the obvious suddenly became a eureka moment, and I knew in my heart for the first time, what I’ve known in my head for a long time.

If I want to take my career as an artist to a higher level, if I want to reach a "higher" market and better galleries, then I have to take my work to a higher level. It sounds so obvious, and yet I have not kept that simple thought in my consciousness, instead I have been plodding along, waiting for my work to evolve on its own, without much conscious effort on my part. (Experience has taught me that the work will evolve itself, without a great deal of conscious effort on my part, but at its own pace.) That has to change if I want to move forward; I have to be more proactive.

That means I must be willing to take risks, and not seek the familiar and comfortable zones I have created for myself. The challenge will be to stay true to my self and continue to paint from my center, even as I push forward with how I see and interpret my subjects and how the work is executed.

I should strive to make each painting contain at at least one element that represents an improvement or a lesson learned from the previous work. A lofty goal, and one that won’t be easy to meet consistently. Like so many self admonitions, this too will have to be revisted repeatedly.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


The first inconvenience store. mixed media aprox. 26" high, 12" wide, and 6" deep

I just realized that in all the stuff I’ve been posting I have not included a single shadow box! I don’t do them very often, for a number of reasons, but they certainly reflect “mixed media” more than anything else I do. They had their start when I was working on my model railroad back on the farm in Maryland. They are more fun than anything I else that I do, but they raise havoc in the studio, every tool and every bit of junk I've collected over the years end up all over eveyrthing!



King St. Markets mixed media aprox 20"X3"x4''

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Josephine and Spartaco

I am 68 years old, and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of my parents. (My mother died in December, 1991, and my father in the autumn of 1995.) I don’t know if this is unusual for someone my age, if it is because I was an only child, or if it is because I am such a sentimental softy. I suspect the real reason is because they were such remarkable people, and that they gave me so much. Ironically, with all the writing that I do, writing about them is very difficult for me. Perhaps because I’m afraid I will not do them the justice they deserve.

What follows is one way around this obstacle.


I believe that I am the person I am because of my mother and father.

I believe that what I have accomplished of any worth, and may yet accomplish, is due to my parents.

I believe that anything of value that I may pass on to my children is simply what my parents gave to me.

I believe my parents taught me about love. They taught me about tolerance and forgiveness, and they taught me about humility. My parents showed me that a person of worth treats everyone with the same respect and warmth and that your behavior toward others is not determined by their socioeconomic status.

I believe that the greatest of the many gifts they bestowed upon me was a sense
of self worth and self esteem, which have allowed me to take the paths I have followed in my life.

I believe that my life is a reflection on my mother and father, and therefore attempt to conduct myself in a way that will honor them. I want to be worthy of the gifts they gave me.

I believe all of this with every fiber of my being.

Friday, December 7, 2007


I started my blog 5 months ago with the intention of using it to promote my book, HAVE I TOLD YOU TODAY THAT I LOVE YOU, as well as providing me with a format for my writing. I have been writing in my journal for years and I thought the blog would help me discipline myself to write for public consumption on a more regular basis. To some extent this has been the case. But I find that it is my art that has been the predominant focus of the blog, more than the writing or the book.

Reflecting on this has led to a number of lines of thought:

There is the pressure, strictly self imposed, of posting something everyday, whether it be an image, writing, or both. Because I have so much material to draw from, I could easily post a piece of art work or a journal sketch. Since it is difficult to have a polished piece prose (I could not resist that) ready on a daily basis, the art became more prevalent.

Once I began looking at other blogs, especially those related to art, I found them fascinating, informative, and inspiring, and this re-enforced my tendency to focus on the art.

In the beginning I wrote that I hoped to post 2-3 times a week. Now I fret if I miss a day!

So where does all this rambling lead me?

1.I still want to promote my book and will, from time to time post excerpts from it.
2. I will not worry about how often I post, once a day or once a week
3. I will allow the blog determine its own direction.
4. I will stop all this navel gazing. (And if anyone believes that I have a bridge I want to sell them.)
5. And I will continue to post my art and hope other bloggers enjoy the work as much as I enjoy theirs.

These windows are like potato chips, I can't stop! Acylic on panel (a discarded cabinet door) 18x18"

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Delancy Place watercolor 12x60" '07

For 15 years my only medium was watercolor. In retrospect that was not surprising, living in Wilmington, Delaware, in the thick of the Brandywine tradition of the Wyeths where watercolorists greatly outnumbered the oil and acrylic painters. That was in the ‘70s and ‘80s. For the past several years I have been working in no less than 5 different mediums plus mixed media, two of these occasionally, and the rest on an ongoing basis.

I sometimes have misgivings about this practice, thinking that I’m spreading myself too thin and that galleries and dealers want to see more consistency in an artist. But I’ve come to realize that the only consistency that matters to me is the quality of the work, not the medium or the “style”.

My choice of a medium is determined by the subject and purpose of the painting, watercolor for urban landscapes and architectural portraits, acrylic for large, colorful, imaginative landscapes, pastels for tonal, moody rural landscapes, oil for more traditional landscapes, and clay mono types for abstract and otherwise nonrepresentational work. Oil pastels fall somewhere in between all of this, and the mixed media-collage-constructions are in a class my themselves.

Because of this approach visitors to my gallery will comment on my differen” styles”, but it is not a matter of my consciously choosing a style. It is the choice of the medium that dictates the resulting image. I cannot do with one medium what I do with the others. Does that make any sense?!

Hill Top series II clay mono type 15x32".

There is no guarantee that this will be the case 6 months from now, but hey, that’s what is so great about making art!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Blogger L...... recently wrote: " I can't tell you how often I don't paint something that I REALLY want to paint because I think the subject matter is a bit trite.”
I’ve been thinking about that ever since, primarily because I have made similar decisions in the past, more than once, and I know that it is wrong. Somewhere I read or heard that it is the artist’s task to transform even the most mundane or trite subject into fine art. That being the case, there is no such thing as a trite subject, only trite art.

This is not to imply judgment on such art: it would be more appropriate to label such art “less than the very best”. I suspect that every artist’s portfolio contains an abundance of such art, a testimony to unbridled efforts to achieve that level of “fine art”.

This same blogger posted a small, simple painting of a Christmas candy cane, elegant in its simplicity and color. I don’t know if it would be considered great art, but It is pure visual delight to behold. I think she is a wonderful artist and hope she continues to paint the trite and the not so trite. I have not identified this artist because I don't have her permission. Hopefully she will so others can enjoy her blog.

Here is an example of one of my “ less than the very best” paintings. I still think the idea is a good one, but technically I did not succeed.

Red Barn pastel 20x30"

Monday, December 3, 2007



You have a personal destiny. Everyone does, but only a few have the wisdom and courage to come forth and claim their own. Molded in part by the souls that have come before you, it is uniquely yours, and it is your task to identify, own, and nurture this destiny. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by self-doubt, false modesty, or a misguided sense of responsibility and/or obligation. Only you can determine what is best for you. Only you can establish the agenda for yourself and select the paths to be followed. Do not forsake your dreams. No dream is too big or too small. If you believe that something is possible, then it is. If you don’t think it is possible, then it is likely it never happen. Trust yourself, and you can create opportunities to give life to any dream.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Don't ask me why, but for some reason I became fascinated with "dots" during the ER days and filled page after page with mindless musing over this mundane mark. It has always been my intiention of sharing them with you and I've finally got up enough nerve to do so. Unless I receive a storm of protest, there will be more from time to time.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art wc 24x36

Unitarian Church wc 20x30

Frank's Banks wc 18x40 circa 1985

bank deatail

Frank Furness was an architect in the heavy Victorian style of the early 20th century. He practice in Philadelphia, PA, and many of his buildings are still standing in the city and surrounding region. I have always been drawn to architecture, and in my early years painted several “Furness pieces”, some of which I will show in today’s post. Once again I apologize for the quality of the images, they were scanned from some old slides taken in the very early 80’s.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Fall oil 6x36" 2007

Wheat field acrylic 12x48" 2006

St. Michaels wc 12x38 circa 1985

the Other Side wc aprox 12x48" circa 1980

Borrowing a football phrase to describe my interest in the exagerated horizontal format - two of my favorites are the 12x48" and 24x48" canvases. I like the space they provide, allowing me to create the both a sweeping dimension to the horizon and/or an envirnment to provide context for my architectural subjects (usually barns).

I first began using this format during my early days of painting city streets in watercolor, before moving on to working on canvas. Here are several exammples of the early and more current work.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lessons from life....Medicine

Intensely Orange Oil Pastel aprox 15x30

This morning I awoke with this single thought in my head: what have I learned in my 68 years of living that is worth noting? I have pondered this question before, but this morning it insinuated itself in my mind and could not be dismissed. So, I have tried to address the issue, and plan to do so in a series of small posts over time, starting with my experiences in medicine.

During my years of training, which consisted almost entirely of inpatient medicine, it was easy to imagine that life was over run with disease and illness. Only after going into private practice did I appreciate that most people are not sick, and do not have low blood counts, abnormal renal studies, or abnormal electrocardiograms.

In the years that followed I began to see the randomness of disease and illness. Yes, there are habits and behaviors that we can adopt to maximize our well being, but still there are no guarantees; we are all vulnerable to the vagaries of genetics, circumstances, and chance. Thus I have learned to appreciate my good health, and that of my family, and not take it for granted.

I have also seen the amazing resilience of the human machine and its ability to compensate and/or overcome a variety of physical and emotional assaults. This has led me to believe that good health is more than the absence of disease and illness, but also includes the ability to heal and or compensate in the presence of either.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Philadelphia City Hall watercolor 40x24

Philadelphia Art Museum (Rocky's steps) watercolor 245x40

Union Station in DC watercolor 24x40

I am continuing the slow process of reviewing slides (and scanning into my computer) of all of my old work, having a kind of private retrospective. In doing so I can see not only the progress and evolution of the work, but also aspects that have been lost along the way. I have always considered this to be a natural process; the more facility and comfort we gain technically, the more our vision and interest grows. In my case, the simple watercolor paintings of the urban landscape were replaced by large, imaginative rural landscapes and barns and fields replaced the corner stores and markets.

But I find myself still fascinated by those early subjects, and now the struggle is to find the time to do “everything”, which of course is one I cannot win. But that won’t stop me from trying.

Today I have posted examples of my “architectural portraits”. I am a fan of the Beaux Art style.