Wednesday, October 31, 2007


In recent days I have been visiting the blogs of other artists, and my efforts have been rewarded with the delightful images from a variety of sketch books. It is always inspiring to see the infinite number of ways each of us views our world, and rewarding when these experiences are so aptly documented.

So, today's post will be about the artist’s sketch book. My transition from medicine to art began in the mid 70’s with a small sketch book I carried with me to a medical conference in Boston, years before I was aware that such a transition was in my future. Walking out of the conference after the first hour, I spent the next 3 days walking the streets of boston and Cambridge, filling me books with drawings of the city streets. This was to be a practice I would continue for many years, and it was to become my lifeline to the world during some rather dark times. Those familiar with my blog will have seen the many drawings and notes I have selected to share.

The sketch books, later just “the books”, were with me almost 24-7. It was my way of training my eyes to see, to learn the craft of drawing. I imposed one rule on myself, I was not allowed to use any instrument other than an ink pen (my faithful Parker 45, alas, no longer available.) or a fine point black marker. I did not want to be tempted to use and eraser: with the pen I was forced to commit myself. I can honestly report that I rarely broke that rule, and when I did it was usually with colored markers. Eventually my books became as much of a journal as a sketchbook.

Years later, as my artistic interests evolved, I became strictly a studio artist, and the books were replaced by larger books in which I recorded small exploratory thumb nail sketches for future paintings. Pencils were now allowed!

I would enjoy hearing from others about their own experiences with the sketch book; do you have “rules” for yourself, do you draw or write every day, what size books do you use,?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I thought the best way to end this series of work in various mediums is with several examples of mixed media work. These are usually done on panels or heavy weight illustration board, and incorporate, among other things, wood, metal, paper, pastels, acrylic, and an endless variety of doo-dads found in my boxes of junk (saved for just this pupose.)

Out to Dry

Power Plant mixed media 24x48

Ome More Time mixed media 24x36


Where am I? wc 16x16"

Grace wc 7x10"

Union Square wc 20x40"

I launched my art career almost 30 years ago as a watercolorist and for many years it was my only medium. My earliest interests were urban landscapes and architecture, and being self taught my approach to this medium was dictated my desire to depict crisp and reasonably accurate renderings of the archicture before me. To achieve this I devised a way, using various sized drafting tapes to create the hard edges I wanted. My early work was done on 180 lb. cold press paper which I pre-stretched before painting. Recenly I have turned to 300 lb. paper.

Monday, October 29, 2007


High Plains Hills pastel 40x30"

Gray Smokestacks pastel 20x24"

Alone pastel 16x26"

In soft pastels the pigment is held together by a loose binder, and the result is a pastel that is softer and chalk-like. (think of the sidewalk chalk children play with.) They are known for the vibrancy of their colors. Traditionally they are created on a textured or sanded surface that will hold the pigment.

My own approach to pastel painting is sightly different. I work on cold press illustration board that has had a mono- chromatic acrylic or watercolor wash applied. Keeping it flat, I create the backgorund using the powder from grated pastels, building up layers like one would do with glazes on an oil painting. This requires repeated use of a fixative spray which dulls the color somewhat, but that is in keeping with my intent. The foreground and the main subject are then rendered in a more direct, traditional manner, the repeated use of the fixative providing the necessary tooth needed to accept the pastel.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Oil Pastels

Purple on Purple 11x14"

Orange Green Landscape 12x26"

Golden Landscape 5x4"

Oil pastels are bacically expensive crayolas; the pigment is bound in a wax binder. The paintings shown here were done over clay mono types that were printed on a non-woven fabric support. The pressure from the crayon results in some of the superficial fibers being pulled out, creating a unique and pleasing texture. The completed painting is then fixed and covered with a high gloss finish.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Clay Mono Types

Nocturnal Landscape 8x16"

Green-purple strokes 16x16"

Three 41x32"

Since I've been writing about working in multiple mediums I thought I would take a break from all the verbiage and post some examples of this work. I have already posted several acrylic paintings on canvas, and some ink drawings from my journals. Today I’ve chosen several clay mono types to show you.

The clay monotype is a variation of the traditional monotype technique and was developed by an artist named Mitch Lyons.

A slab of stoneware clay 3/4 to 1 inch thick is pressed into a firm framed base mounted on a solid support table or bench. The surface is smoothed and leveled with the edges of the frame and is allowed to dry overnight to a “leather hard” consistency. There is no “correct” size: it can be small and portable or permanently situated in the studio. This clay base will act as the “plate” in the creation of the monotype. My current clay plate is 30x40” and is almost 5 years old. By keeping it covered with wet paper and plastic drapes it will last indefinitely.

Liquid clay-slip-is produced by mixing water and kaolin powder in a blender to a light pancake batter consistency and several coats are then brushed onto the clay slab. This slip also becomes the paint by the addition of pure pigments, dry or liquid, and is used to create the image by its application to the clay slab. The final result is a flat slab of clay in which the image is imbedded.

A moistened support, fabric or paper, is placed on top of the clay and pressure is applied using a roller or brayer. The support becomes impregnated with a thin layer of the clay resulting in a transfer of the image.

All the materials used in this process are archival and the pigments share the same light fastness as other tradition pigments.

The resulting one of kind images have characteristics unlike those produced by any other method. The variety of techniques that can be used in this process is limited only by the imagination and curiosity of the artist.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wrestling with my art...2

Am I blessed or cursed with an insatiable desire to work in multiple mediums? For the past 10 years I have worked, often simultaneously, with clay mono typing, pastels, oil pastels, watercolor, acrylics, oil, and mixed media. It is not unusual for me to have 2, 3, or even 4 pieces of work in progress, each in a different medium. When asked which is my favorite I answer, ‘the one in which I’m currently working’.

Visitors to my gallery are surprised when they learn all the work is by one artist because the “styles”, and frequently the subject matter, are so different. The truth is, I do not consciously choose a style. The style is like ones handwriting, it basically selects itself, and with my art, it is the medium and the subjects that determines my approach. My architectural paintings in watercolor are primarily very tight and constrained, while my larger acrylic landscapes are usually very loose and intuitive. The pastels fall somewhere in between the two.

I enjoy working as I do, and will probably continue to do so. But my enjoyment would be much greater if I could learn how to stop second guessing myself. With nauseating regularity I ask myself, “am I limiting my development by spreading myself over too many mediums, and, wouldn’t I have a better chance at gaining gallery representation if I limited my work to one or two mediums”? When I prepare a portfolio to send to a gallery I have to decide what medium will I show them, the landscapes on canvas, ot the abstract clay mono types, or perhaps the pastels on paper. (It is my understanding that when reviewing portfolios galleries look for consistency in an artist’s work and are less impressed with a portfolio of work showing a wide variety of style, subject matter, and media.)

It has been 5 years since I left my medical practice and have been able to devote all of my time to art. In the past few years I have grown increasingly comfortable with my approach to my art and spend less time second guessing myself, at least as it relates to working in multiple mediums. But fear not, I have an abundance of other questions and issues with which to wrestle, and they all make for future postings.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wrestling With My Art...1

I would like to talke a break from medicine and spend some time on the stuggles associated with a life in art. It should be obvious by now to regular readers that my writing habits mirror my painting habits, I move from place to place.
Living in a growing community of artists has its advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side is the camaraderie, support, and inspiration it provides. On the downside is the risk of getting caught up in the art of others and losing site of your own purpose and goals.

Early in my career as an artist I was steadfast in my resolve not to look at what the other artists were doing but to remain focused on my own work. That was good advise then, and still is, but in retrospect I can see why it was easier to heed at that time.

My newly acquired skills and creative impulses were quite narrow and focused, and I had no desire to do anything other than what I was doing. Also, I was being very successful and felt no need to change. The situation is very different now. I find myself interested in a wide variety of approaches to my art, both in technique and in subject matter. The simple drawings and paintings of the past no longer satisfy me. I am interested now in more interpretive and abstract expression. In addition, my goals are greater; I want to reach a higher level of success, artistically and commercially, both regionally and nationally with significant gallery representation. Finally there is the limited commercial success I am currently enjoying which calls everything I do or don’t do into question .

Thus I find myself somewhat confused and unsure about what my artistic goals are, or whether there even are such a things. Looking at it in another way...when am I painting from my center, honestly following my heart, and when am I just chasing after some elusive goal by painting what I think will get me there? Or...when am I painting for myself as opposed to others?

I have been surprised at how vulnerable I have been to the influence of the other artists at this stage in my career. But then I have never had such intimate exposure to so many for so long as I have here in Lowertown. The challenge has been to receive the creative inspiration that is all around me, without allowing it to distract me from my own creative voice. Doing that has required a lot of work on my part, especially during the first few years here. At this time, I feel I am able to do so, and the only battles I have now are with myself.

(revised from a 2003 journal entry)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Here I sit, pen in hand...

I refuse to be held responsible for anything in my journals during my emergemcy room years.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A LIFE IN MEDICINE - 4- The remainder of year 1

Although gross anatomy and neuroanatomy were the most dramatic (and fragrant) of the first year studies, there was a lot more waiting for us. School officials were gracious enough to provide us with a second semester filled with physiology, biochemistry, histology, and embryology. Each course was a combination of lectures and labs, although we were now moved to the main college where we could mingle with real doctors and those mighty upper class men. In our numbed minds anyone who survived the first year deserved the prefix “mighty”.

As we were quickly learning, the material presented to us was not as intellectually challenging as it was overwhelmingly voluminous. There simply was so much to learn!
At that time Jefferson was routinely dropping the bottom 10% of the class after the first year. Officials vehemently denied this, but 176 bright students were accepted into our class, and the pathology labs in the sophomore classes had seating for 157 students. You do the math. I was fortunate enough to be smack in the middle of the rankings. In fact my early average each year was 81.something or other. I was consistent if nothing else.

Feeling somewhat battle tested, we approached the second half of the year with more determination than apprehension. The lectures were long and generally un-inteteresing, and the labs seemed like a wasted of time. Nevertheless we grudgingly memorized the Krebbs Cycle, learned to recognize microscopic pancreatic tissue from adrenal tissue, and became familiar with our bodies efforts to maintain moral osmolarity in in the blood.

Hearing a steady din of stories form the sophomores about the travails of the second year and the absurd antics of one Dr. Kenneth Goodner, affectionately or not so affectionately known simply as KG, we plodded through the semester, with mixed anticipation for the next year.

next...Year 2

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A LIFE IN MEDICINE - 3- Getting To Know You

There he was, lying on our table all wrapped up and ready to serve us. It would be weeks before we would see his face; we only exposed the area we were studying, and the head and neck was scheduled for late in the semester. Although we did not name him, to me he was Roadrunner, one of the few cadavers with almost no body fat for which the 4 of us were very grateful.

Before any work was started we were instructed to keep all tissue refuse from our dissection separate from the moist paper towels that were used to prevent the cadaver from drying out. After each session the scraps were collected and saved, and at the end of the session they were cremated and a formal service was held. Some of the cadavers were unclaimed bodies from the city morgue, but just as many were bodies that had been willed to the college.

In the course of the semester we studied the body one area at a time, starting with the upper extremities and ending with the head and neck. Fifty years later the details of the day to day events of that semester, with rew exceptions, are lost to me. One exception was our efforts to dissect the perineum (the anatomical name for the “crotch”).

In order to properly examine and study this area it is necessary for the body to be in the dorsal lithotomy position, which means lying on its back with knees bent and legs apart. If you recall I pointed out that our tables were flat and rigid, unlike most doctor’s examine tables. Thus we had to improvise in order to carry out the required dissection. Creativity ruled the lab, and for us that meant suspending the legs with the canvas strips from the overhead light, and stuffing paper towels under the buttocks to raise it off the table. This was a common method which usually worked. One of us had to be responsible for holding the cadaver steady. It was not unusual during this time to hear an occasional loud thud, followed by mumbled curses, as 4 students struggled to get their cadaver from the floor and back on the table. Not everyone was blessed with a roadrunner.

next...More year one

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A LIFE IN MEDICINE - 2- Gross Anatomy

Nothing identifies a medical student more than gross anatomy. In our new, stiff white lab coats, armed with the dissection kits dutifully purchased during orientation, we were about to meet our cadaver the first time. In teams of four, we began what would become an intimate 4 month affair with our new friend.

But first, a few words about the Jefferson Medical College (now the Thomas Jefferson University), As one of the oldest and largest medical schools in the country it was, and to some extent still is, steeped in tradition. Our class broke two of those traditions. Ours was the first class to include women, and the first to use closed circuit TV in the anatomy lab, allowing 176 students to view a professor’s dissection simultaneously. One of the traditions that was not abandoned was the black lab coats worn by the handful of professors that oversaw our laboratory activities.

Someone had the wisdom to locate the gross anatomy labs in a separate building from the main college (more about this at another time.) The Daniel Baugh Institute of Anatomy (DBI to those intimate with the place) was an older building located about 4 blocks from the main college. It housed 2 steeply inclined lecture halls, faculty offices, one student laboratory, taking up the entire second floor, and a morgue in the basement. During orientation the students were given a tour of the building. To reach the morgue one stepped into a small elevator that could hold perhaps 4 people (upright!). which descended ever so slowly into the cavernous basement, and when you stepped out the first thing you saw was a stone lined hallway leading into an arched doorway, through which the caretaker’s office and “lab” was located. Sitting on a desk which was surrounded by shelves and boxes of bones and body parts was a simple vase with fresh yellow daisies. It was surreal! And as first year medical students vulnerable to all sorts of myths, fairy tales, and whatever, we believed the rumor that the caretaker’s daughter died at a young age and that her remains were kept somewhere in this morgue. But enough of this; it’s time to visit the lab.

The anatomy lab, a large, austere room of about 30x100 feet looked like it was built and equipped in the early 1900’s. Except for the new closed circuit TV, it resembled something out of a Charles Dickens novel. It contained long rows of plain, flat steel tables supported by steel, pipe legs anchored to the floor. Suspended by a chain above each table was a single florescent light with two 48” bulbs. The table had no moving parts.
Lying on each table was a stiff cadaver wrapped tightly in 6 inch strips of sepia canvas. The entire room was sturated with a formaldhyde-like aroma. (Several years after we graduated Jefferson built a new basic science hall. And sometime afterwards DBI was converted into residential condominiums.

next...we meet our new friend

Friday, October 19, 2007

A LIFE IN MEDICINE (The first in a series)

My medical career began in September of 1961 when I joined 175 classmates and walked into the gross anatomy class at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. That day marked the beginning of 4 of the most incredible years of my young life (I was 22 years old). Three years earlier I made the decision to study medicine with no idea of what that would mean in terms of the actual body of knowledge and the science that I would be required to master. How quickly I found out!

I have always considered the years in medical school as part of my career, and not simply as a time of preparation. Each year brought new experiences and a new sense of wonderment and appreciation of what we were becoming and the world we were about to enter.

The first year was devoted to the basics: gross anatomy, neuroanatomy, histology, embryology, biochemistry, and physiology. There were new words to learn, new behavior to adopt, and new expectations to be met, challenges we gladly accepted; with few exceptions, we were all grateful for the opportunity to be medical students. It was 1961 and we were expected, no, required, to attend classes and labs with shirt and tie, a dress code that did not change for the next four years, Suddenly my world was severely constricted to labs and lecture halls, classmates, and study groups, and books, books, and more books. Anything outside of this small world was lost on me and I was to discover some 8 years later that between medical school, internship and residency, and military service with the marines, I essentially missed the “60”s” and all that it represented.

Along with 1o other freshman, I chose to live in one of the medical fraternity houses that were present at that time. In 1961 this center city school had no campus, and the only common student gathering place was a large, plain, and totally un-inviting room in the basement of the school. The fraternity houses provided what little social life there was. But more importantly, they provided the first year students with daily contact with upper class men, a valuable source of information, advise, inspiration, and counseling. Phi Alpha Sigma was one of the few houses that maintained a kitchen with Lil, the wonderful cook who provided us with 3 meals a day five days a week. On weekends we were on our own.

next...Gross Anatomy

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dr. Doo Doo at work

Dr. Doo Doo's least favorite room was the Gyn room. There was no telling what one might find waiting for him there!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Where are all the physicians?

I was scheduled to have an out patient procedure at 3:10 PM. I sat in the waiting room for almost an hour before being called back. In the procedure room I was asked to undress and lie down, covering myself with a paper sheet. After being prepped by the nurse I waited for another 40 minutes for the doctor to arrive. He immediately began a rapid, impersonal monologue about some of my test results, without one word of apology for being over 90 minutes late. I made it very clear to him on our first visit that I was a physician, but that was apparently lost on him because today I was Mr. Renzulli, and the recipient of a quick, basic spiel of why I might benefit from a surgical procedure (as a layman I would not have understood just what he was proposing). I made it clear to him I preferred a trial of medical therapy, and he agreed, but then left without prescribing the medication.

The man was a technician, and I was nothing but another procedure to him. There was absolutely nothing personal in the entire encounter. He remembered nothing about my first visit and never bothered to refer to a chart. He did not give me the courtesy of addressing me as a colleague, and actually spoke down to me. Even worse, without a medical background I would not have understood my condition or my options.

Obviously I am so very out of date! The opportunity to care for a patient is a privilege!
Medicine is a noble calling that is being transformed into an impersonal, technical, market driven occupation, devoid of any nobility.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A 50th High School Reunion

Writing about the reunion weekend is proving to be more difficult than I imagined. First there were my mixed emotions to deal with. On the one hand I was eagerly anticipating the gathering of old friends and classmates, and on the other, I was surprised by the anxiety I felt as the reunion drew near, would anyone remember me, would I have something to talk about, and if I did, who would I talk to? (I have always been uncomfortable mixing with others in “small talk” in large crowds.) Underlying all of my anxiety was the fact that I remember so little about my school years, and being from Landisville, I rode the bus home everyday after school and had little time to hang around with the other kids.

Needless to say, my anxieties were totally unfounded. I remembered, and I was remembered, I found things to say and classmates to say them to, and in the end, had a wonderful time.

Reunions are great events, especially 50th reunions. Last weekend I looked past the balding and/or bald heads, the faces lined with the years of living and all the joys and sorrows that brings, the expanding belt lines, and deformed joints. Instead I saw everyone as they were when I last saw them, young, beautiful, and full of promise. And that is the image that will remain with me, as long as I am alive.

I saw my friend Stanley. To say we were friends is a bit of a stretch, because I can't remember anything that we did together. But, I remember very clearly that whenever we were together, we laughed and had fun, and that I suppose is the essence of what our relationship was, we made each other feel good and it was no surprise that nothing had changed.

I talked with classmates from Landisville who shared all 12 years of school with me, including some that I had not seen for 50 years. I desperately wanted to see them at least once more in my lifetime, and I did!

I saw some folks that I always wished I knew better when we were in school, We talked, and I still wish I knew them better.

I heard and read abbreviated biographies and realized how much I underestimated some classmates with my adolescent standards in the late 50's. I was impressed with their many accomplishments.

And, I saw the “girl” on whom I had a crush since first seeing her in our 10th grade biology class. The truth is I have had this crush for 50 years! She was as beautiful as ever, no, even more so. We talked, and we shared a dance, and when I left the reunion I knew that my 50-year crush was justified.

For the privilege of this amazing weekend I am forever grateful to Addie and her committee who did such a great job making it happen.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

New Work

Pastel 24x30"

I have been away from home all week, currently in New Jersey enjoying my 50th high school reunion. Hope to have more to say about this in the near future.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The end is near

By the end of my 3 month stint in the ER Dr. Doo Doo would be just a bit frazzled and looking forward to 3 months in the studio.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

from my book

Care About Others

Your relationship with others will be as varied as the people you encounter and will be determined by many factors, not the least of which will be your own personality and psychological style. But regardless of who and what you are, there are certain basic tenets that I would urge you to follow. Be respectful of others, regardless of their position in our socio-economic conscious society. Be your real self with both the room maid and the hotel manager. Be tolerant of ideas, beliefs, and behavior that differ from yours; no one has a monopoly on the truth. With grace forgive the weaknesses of others and do not judge what you may perceive to be their shortcomings. Forgive first offenses. Overlook minor slights. Enable and nurture; be one who helps other achieve their own selfhood. Act in such a way that others will feel better for knowing you. Be honest toward others. Do not present yourself to be other than who you are. And do not deceive or use others to achieve your own way or goals. Be gracious and humble about your own accomplishments and success and be mindful of those blessings you have been given. You did nothing to be born into a loving and supportive family and to have the economic advantages so many others lack. Do not be so quick to take credit for what you perceive are you own accomplishments, more often than not there were many forces not of your own doing, that helped shape them. Do not take credit for God’s grace.

Monday, October 8, 2007


I’m not sure how long I’ve been aware of this feeling...probably for several years. It began gradually, and has slowly extended into all aspects of my life. Things that I used to do or manage routinely, almost without thought and effort, now seem to require and inordinate amount of thought and energy, to the extent that they sometimes loom before me like insurmountable problems: keeping up with routine household business affairs, simple household repairs and maintenance, studio chores, keeping up with my mailing list, correspondence, etc.

As we get older, do our diminished capacities and resilience contribute to this phenomenon? Or does accumulated experience and wisdom cause us to see problems and obstacles that we overlooked with youthful naiveté? In either case, age is a factor, as it becomes in so many other aspects of our lives.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Meet Dr. Doo Doo

In those days of round glasses and more hair Dr. Doo Doo became my faithful alter ego as I coped with the emergency room and a new life/career at the same time.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Italian or Italian-American

I have never been to Italy, I cannot speak Italian, and both of my parents were born in this country. Yet I answer yes, when after hearing my name someone asks, “ are you Italian”? It would be more accurate to say I am a second generation Italian-American, but after reading this post perhaps you will understand why I feel the way I do.

My grandparents were born in Italy and immigrated to America as young adults. Salvatore Renzulli left his wife and 2 young children in Italy to find a better life for his family in America. Initially he lived in Philadelphia, but within a few years purchased a small farm in Landisville, a small farming town in southern New Jersey, about 30 miles east of Philadelphia. Shortly thereafter his wife Angelina and their 2 children joined him.

Emma Rondinelli arrived in America about the same time. Her journey was the mirror image of Salvatore’s, settling initially in Landisville, but later moving to the community of Italian immigrants in Philadelphia where she eventually married and started a family and lived in the same neighborhood for the rest of her life.

As fate would have it, Salvatore’s son, Spartaco, met Emma’s daughter, Josephine. Sparks flew, they ran off and got married in Elkton, Maryland, and 10 months later (honest – it was 10 months) yours truly arrived. My father, one of 8 surviving children chose to take over the family farm, where I was to spend the first 18 years of my life. Our household consisted of my mother and father, my grandfather, me, and from time to time a number of aunts and uncles who made the farm their temporary home.

The small farming community in which I grew up was settled by Italian immigrants at the end of the 19th century. The farms were small, 20-40 acres, but farmers often got more than one crop from the same land in one growing season. As one might expect from farms in the Garden State, they grew tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, and peppers, as well as corn and eggplants.

Our neighbors, friends, and my school mates had names like: Genoni, Sciliano, Mattioli, Bruni, Marandino, Gallo, Berti, Pellagrini, Zorzi, Palmonari, Tromello, Tomasselo....well, you get the point. Children growing up in this rural community usually heard three spoken sounds in their homes, Italian, broken English, and English. My grandfather spoke to my father in Italian and to me in his broken English. My parents spoke to each other and to me in English (unless there was something I wasn't supposed to hear). Sadly, I never learned to speak Italian.

The widows with their gray or white hair held up in tight buns all wore black dresses and black stockings, and the men in their crumpled pants and shirts, with drooping mustaches smoked gnarled, smelly stogies. Every family had at least one “Zia” (aunt), and at all family gatherings everyone kissed everyone else on the cheek, accompanied by a big hug, when arriving and again when leaving.

My grandfather and father drank wine at every meal; it was made every year from the grapes in our vineyard and kept in 5 or 6 wooden barrels in our cellar. When the pigs were slaughtered, family and friends would join my parents and grandfather to make sausage, salami, and prosciutto, which could be seen hanging in the cellar or garage along with the hot peppers tied together to dry, and the garlands of garlic.

My mother made spaghetti (we called them macaroni-never used the word pasta), ravioli, cavetelli, whichwe ate in one form or another every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, and every holiday. On Sunday morning she made gravy (sauce is another word we never used) for the big mid day meal, with enough left over for at least one more meal. A special treat for ‘brunch” was a thick slice of bread and one or two meatballs spooned from the pot of gravy on the stove. Of course the bread was Italian bread, but to us that was simply “bread”...sliced or white bread was “American bread”.

I was raised in a local culture that was saturated with the customs and practices of Italian immigrants and first generation Italian-Americans. My childhood years sounded, smelled, and tasted Italian (basil-oregano-garlic)!

As a young adult I left that town, and my home, and never thought twice about what I was leaving behind. Now in my late sixties I genuinely mourn the loss of those experiences and cherish the memories.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Available now at


The author is a physician and an artist, and indeed this book is lavishly illustrated with his bold, colorful, imaginative paintings. But in his words we see a father dedicated to the task of passing on to his children the wisdom and values he holds so dearly. His writing, grounded firmly in personal experience, is clear and succinct, each message confined to a single page. His comfort and confidence in each subject is evident, whether it be claiming a personal destiny, finding God, or dealing with love, marriage, and friendship. Facing each page of the father’s reflective text the reader is treated to one of the artist's vibrant illustrations. This small book belongs on the bedside table of everyone embracing the challenge of finding their own unique path in life.

Parenting Adult Children (can we still do that?)

The question on my mind is this: What does it mean to be a parent to adult children; what is our role, our responsibility (do we have any?), and our place in their lives? Are these issues that we, the parent determine, or are they determined for us by the adult child?

I don’t presume to have the answers to these questions, but I think about what I try to be, and what I hope I am to my children.

A source of unequivocal and unconditional love and respect.

A reminder of a shared history and the important role of the family their lives.

A tireless supporter and cheerleader for all of their endeavors.

An inspiration and a muse, to uncover and nurture their creative potential.
An example of how they can pursue their dreams and aspirations without fear. .

A source of comfort and assurance whenever they need it.

The more I think about this the more I realize that this list could go on forever, as it should!

What do you think?

Monday, October 1, 2007

My Studio Today

My Studio

from a 2002 journal entry - before we arrived in Paducah

In the very beginning, when I allowed myself to fantasize about living the life of an artist, the studio was front and center in those dreams. It would be a magical place, saturated with a spirit of creativity, adventure, and excitement, a place where ideas and aspirations could become reality. I imagined a large space filled with paintings and drawings in various stages of completion, walls covered with sketches and notes to myself, shelves overflowing with paints, brushes, and art books, and an enormous pile of clutter, all there as an inspiration for work yet to come. And of course there would be music, music for the soul, to nurture all that wonderful work.

I have had the good fortune to see all of this come true in two studios that have served me very well in the past 20 years. They were quite different in terms of size and location (the first one a small space opening directly onto a city street, and the second much larger, looking out over several hundred acres of rolling country side) but each one fulfilling all of the above criteria. And now I find myself planning for my third, and most likely final studio, and once again my mind is filled with images and ideas of what it will be.

Physically the new studio will share most of the characteristics of its predecessors, albeit arranged somewhat differently. Two differences will be the addition of a gallery on one end and a small workshop on the other. But the biggest difference will be non-physical...the new studio will represent the destination of the journey that I began so many years earlier. This will be the place that provides the opportunity to truly claim my destiny, the place to do the work that I have pursued for so many years. It is here that I will or will not become the artist I hope to be