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.

Monday, November 26, 2007


On the Beach clay monotype

In art, much more so than in medicine, I have learned to recognize the ebb and flow of the nonphysical forces affecting my life: creativity, enthusiasm, energy, ambition, and self confidence, to name just a few. This is understandable, since making art is such a private, personal matter, usually accomplished alone, dependent on the ideas and energy that each artist is capable of bringing to the task. Medicine, on the other hand is very outer driven, with the demands and the pace of the work established by the unpredictable problems that confront the physician.

Recognizing the shifting nature of these numinous forces makes it easier for me to trust that my loss of self confidence where I think most of my work stinks, or the sudden lack of enthusiasm and ambition for anything and everything related to my studio are temporary and will soon pass. As a result, I no longer waste time and energy trying to fight these downturns and instead look for other ways to spend my time; there is an abundance of busy work that I can find to keep me occupied until the creative juices begin to flow again.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


A pair of barns oil 10x30

Acrylics, watercolors, soft pastels, oil pastels, clay monotypes, and mixed medium, somehow were not enough for me. I just HAD to take out the long neglected oil paints buried somewhere in the bottem drawer of one of my cabinets.

I am an impatient painter, and have enjoyed acrylics because I can work fast and intuitive. Paradoxically I found that I enjoy working with oil because I can paint slowly and deliberately. Go Figure!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mrs. Garowski and mom

March, 2002

Mrs. Garowski is dying, and based on what I saw when I visited her at home today I expect it will occur fairly soon (weeks). It was only a few weeks ago that she was in the office and we talked about hospice; the most recent tests had revealed a progression of her disease in spite of the chemotherapy and we both agreed that further treatment would be futile. She and her husband were ready for hospice care, but she asked, almost pleadingly, would I still be seeing her, and of course I said I would, and I did, this afternoon. The change in her condition was dramatic and I promised I would be back soon.

Driving home my heart was heavy, mourning not only for her, but for what I was giving up...the opportunity (and the privilege) to serve Mrs. Garowski, and others like her. I feel I have the gift to do this work, but with equal certainty feel it is time for me to move on to other work, and this makes me sad. It also makes me determined to apply myself fully and honestly to the work ahead.

Seeing this elegant lady on her deathbed also reminded me of mom, and her last weeks and days with us. And I realize once again how, even in her death, she gave to me. My mother taught me about dying as no one else could have, and as a result of that, I I have been able to give more to my patients. May God shine brightly on mom and Mrs. Garowski and may my new work be worthy of both of them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

ON WRITING (journal entry 2002)

It seems that all I want to do lately is sit here with the computer on my lap and lose myself in the task of drawing out my thoughts and transforming them into words. Now this is not a bad way to spend one’s time if the thoughts are right there, waiting to be harvested. When you have to dig and scratch through your mind to find something to write about...well then things become a bit iffy.

Usually that is not a problem for me, especially these past few months when my mind has been so preoccupied with our pending move. I am existing in a temporary state, suspended between the past and the future, and my reaction to this is to want to move within myself, reflecting on almost every aspect of my life that has brought me to this point.

But it is not just a need to be pensive that brings me here. I am finding increasing satisfaction and pleasure in the craft of writing...finding the right words and the right sentences to express my thoughts and ideas. I am supposing this is a result of my studio being so disrupted, the writing compensating for my inability to paint and filling a creative void. Sounds good.

And another thing! for years I have faithfully kept my journal, writing in long hand with pen and ink, scorning the use of the computer. Suddenly I find myself thinking...”it may be time to replace the pen with the lap top”. The more I use it the more I enjoy it, not just the flexibility it gives me, but also the ergonomics of the keyboard and the act of typing. Also, my writing is getting increasingly difficult to read; there are some words and lines I have written that even I can’t read! Currently I am thinking that I will switch to the computer after the move to Paducah. That would be a good time to make such a change.

This was written in 2002, just months before our move to Paducah. Later in the year I tried using the lap top for my daily journal and did not like it. I missed the ergonomics of the fountanin pen and paper which I found better suited for journaling. I use the computer for all other writing.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Where am I 16x17

Bricks & Pipes 7x13

What do you expect? 5x10

Saturday night was the opening reception of my exhibit at Paducah’s Yeiser Art Center. The works were, with a few exceptions, watercolors depicting the alleys and backs of many of the city’s downtown buildings. After working on this body of work all year, it was exciting to see it exhibited in Yeiser’s spacious gallery. There was a large turnout and the comments were very complimentary. Most of our art districts artists were there, and their praise was especially affirming. (Over 50 artists from all over the country have moved into the Lowertown neighborhood of Paducah as a result of their Artist Relocation Program. See

After abandoning watercolor for more than 5-6 years it was a worthwhile and enjoyable challenge to work once more in this medium. I found myself capturing the enthusiasm I feared I had lost.


During my ER days I became acutely aware of the days of the week. Each day brought me closer to the end of my 3 month “tour of duty” when I could then begin 3 months in my studio. Also pushing the days into my consciousness was the weariness due to ever changing shifts; because I covered vacation time I had no regular schedule, and could never get into a routine. As a result the midnight shifts were particularly hard.

My feelings were of course were copiously recorded in the journals in a series of “days of the week” entries. Here is one of the many sketches dedicated to categorizing the days of the week.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


I know, I said I was finished with this series, but apparently there was still more to do. So, I will no longer make any declarations like "mission accomlished" but will let time tell the story.

Here is the latest, and the largest of the series, Windows #12, 48x36".

Friday, November 16, 2007


From: Have I Told You Today That I Love You

Do Not Be Afraid! Be open to new ideas and new directions and don’t be afraid of change. What is right for you now may not be so tomorrow. Don’t allow yourself to be trapped or locked into circumstances that you know to be wrong for you. Sometimes the forces aligned against you to change or move on will be extremely powerful and resourceful, but never invincible. Windows of opportunity can be very small, and often the greater the opportunity the smaller the window. Sometimes it will take all of your self-reliance and courage to move through those windows, but you can do it. Do not be afraid! If there would be one lesson for you to learn now it should be not be afraid of who and what you are, and what you are called to become. Don’t be afraid of change, remember, it is your world. .

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Windows #9 18x24

Windows #8 24x24

Windows #4 16x16

Last week I posted an image of a new painting I have since called Windows #1. It came about totally unplanned and captured my attention enough to continue to work in this series. The first 3 pieces were 12x12", the next 3 were 16x16", followed by 2 24x24s and one 18x24". I am currently working on a 48x36 piece. Two weeks ago there was nothing in my head even resembling these paintings, and I now have 9 paintings in this series. Isn't it wonderful being an artist!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


A New York City Skyline of my own design A rewarding experience, but certainly not relaxing.

I’m sure I am not the only artist to hear the comment about how relaxing making art must be. I heard this ad-nauseum when I first left my medical practice to pursue a career in art. Of course I wanted to scream.. “NO!!! IT IS NOT RELAXING!! IT IS WORK!!” The difference is that it is good work, and like all good work, there is an element of stress and anxiety involved. These are, for the artist, as garlic is for the Italian cook. They make the art worthwhile, they give it that something special that cannot be defined, but easily recognized when present, or absent.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Recycled work

The Third Time acrylic 24x24

Like so many artists, I have from time to time recycled a painting or two, either by making adjustments to the original image or totally painitng over it with a new image. For obvious reasons this is much easier to do with oil and acrylics than with other meduiums. It is difficult but not impossible with a completed pastel and with watercolor Iv’e had best results by “enhancing” the painting with pastels, colored pencil, ink, and/or acrylics.

The painting above is titled The Third Time because it is the third image on this panel, each one completely different from the one it replaced. The previous paintings, #1 and #2 are shown below.

painting #1

painting #2


From an emergency room journal

Saturday, November 10, 2007


The Mother of all years

Dr. Kenneth Goodner, the chair of the Microbiology Department, was affectionately referred to as KG (NEVER to his face!) As freshmen all we heard from the sophomores in the fraternity house was KG did this, KG did that, KG said this: KG stories were notorious. He was totally off the wall and unpredictable, every medical students worse nightmare. So, it was with tense anticipation that we entered Dr. Goodner"s world of microbiology to learn all about the life and habits of “germs”, and how to identify them by looking and by testing.

A KG classic: We are given a slide hosting an unknown microbe. The slide is treated with a “fixative” that is dropped on the unknown (marked with a check on the end of the slide), heated briefly over a flame, and examined under a microscope. On more than one occasion the slide is marked on the wrong side, so the unsuspecting student fixes nothing and then proceeded to char the unknown specimen with the flame. The lesson? Do not take anything for granted!

The class would break down into small groups for conferences and oral testing. My first question from KG was, “who has the most influence on public opinion? This is in a microbiology class!!! I answered, “the press”, and was told no, it was Arthur Godfrey, as he made a mark in his little book. Or, he would as a true or false question, and if the first student’s answer was wrong, he would as the next student the same question.

But I must admit, KG provided some much needed levity in a demanding semester. And he did leave us with one bit of wisdom that I have never forgotten. He advised that everyone should become an authority on at least one subject, no matter how trivial, and as the years passed I came to appreciate that more and more. (To support this admonition KG invited every student to participate in the annual microbiology hobby show, where we all displayed the objects of our passionate interests, and you can be sure that we all had one.)


Art emergency kit

No artist's studio should be without one of these.


The Art Spirit by R. Henri
Letters to A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke....MUST read for every artist!

One jar to hold all the rejection slips.
One jar with 2 extra R sides of a brain.
One bottle of pills to thindken your skin
One extra heart
two bottles of hootch!

Friday, November 9, 2007


NYC Blue pencil-watercolor mid 80's

On a previous post I wrote about looking back at a body of old work. It began a process that seems to have taken on a life of its own. What began as an effort to find some "busy work" to do has become a serious endeavor.

Washington St. pen-ink-markers 1978

In the beginning, the late 70's and well into the 80's, my interest, no, my fascination, was with the urban environment. I loved painting the shops and markets in the older sections of Wilmington Delaware. The textures, colors, and the history of those places pulled me to them. As I aquired more facility with the medium, my interests expanded, as did the scope of the work, steet scenes and skylines began to replace the single store front or corner store. Architecture itself became a focus of a lot of my work. I found my inspiration in Wilmington, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, as well as other smaller cities and towns.
In 1985, after almost 20 years of living in the city, I moved to a small farm in nearby Maryland. Soon afterwards this new environment began to insert itself into my art. Even as I continued to paint the city, rural landscapes and barns began showing up on my drawing tables and for the next decade I painted both the urban and rural environments.

I’ve been fascintated by this experience, seeing so many of these old paintings in one concentrated dose. (I have scanned about 40 slides over the past several days.) My reaction to them has been mixed. Although they all show a fairly basic level of technical facility, there are some pieces that appear overtly simple and somewhat crude, there are others that I find pleasing and capable of withstanding the test of time. To be sure, they are all naive and perhaps even primative, but it is precisely this freshness that supports them.

Over the years my work has evolved in style, subject, and media and I am pleased with these changes. But, looking back, I find myself wondering, does all of this :growth” represent progress? Have I lost something along the way? Specifically, have a lost the feshness and enthusiasm that motivated me over 20 years ago?

Perhaps this is just one more issue to throw onto the pile of issues which artists must deal with.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A LIFE IN MEDICINE -7 - laying on of hands

Prostate exam! Me!! NO WAY!!

At some point in this mother of all years we were taught the fine art of the physical examination. This was accomplished by dividing the class into small groups that met separately. The female students were discretely assigned to their own group, after all, this was 1962. Doing our very best to look cool and professional, we fumbled with otoscopes, stethoscopes, and hammers as we made our way over each others body. We practiced on ourselves before we were turned loose on some unsuspecting patient. I looked into my partner’s ears, eyes, nose, and throat. I felt, or at least tried to feel cervical and axillary lymph nodes, and thyroid gland, and of course he reciprocated. We thumped each others chest and palpated abdomens, doing our best to outline the liver and feel the spleen. As far as the genitalia were concerned, I don’t know if we skipped that or if I’m just repressing a bad memory. The rectal exam? That’s another story. Our preceptor asked for a volunteer on which he could demonstrate the technique, (was he serious!?!?) After a period of uncomfortable silence one of our group, who shall remain nameless, reluctantly stepped forward, and before we knew it, he was on the exam table in the knee-chest position with his bare butt up there for all to see. Like a trooper, he allowed the preceptor and each of us to perform the appointed task. The first prostate I ever felt belong to my brave classmate. I often wonder what would have happened if no one volunteered.

We mastered the very basics, the finer points of the physical exam would have to wait for our 4-6 week rotations in the specialty clinics next year.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


4th and King st. watercolor 1979

Roccos ink and markers 1978

I recently found myself in one of those “there is nothing I feel like painting” moods, and as I usually do, began looking around the studio for some busy work to keep me occupied. I’m not sure how it happened, but I ended up looking through some very old slides of my earliest work, dating as far back as 1978. (It was not until 1981 that I officially launched my art career.) At that time I did not know how to paint and my work consisted mainly of ink drawings. Later I began using markers, and then watercolor. Even then, my skills were quite limited; I couldn’t paint trees or skies so they were simply omitted from my paintings.

Here are a few examples of that work. I apologize for the quality of the reproduction, the slides were old and my skills were far from developed.

A LIFE IN MEDICINE -6- the apartment

To understand the apartment it is necessary to know that it existed to serve one simple purpose. It was a place where Gene and I could study, sleep (when possible), and occasionally eat. That’s it! In our entire year there we had one “social occasion”, and that consisted of a few classmates and student nurses, and as I recall, it was very subdued gathering. The most exciting moment was when my girlfriend called me to say hello and one of the student nurses answered the phone.

What little cooking we did consisted of whatever frozen delights my mother provided, plus generous amounts of Dinty Moore stew, a very faithful staple.

We were not especially neat, and house cleaning was not a very high priority for either of us. As a result considerable dust collected throughout the place in the course of the year. But we did wash dishes and managed to keep critters out of the apartment (at least that we saw). Neither of us had a desk. Studying consisted of reading text books, notes, more books, and more notes, and then repeating the process indefinitely. To accomplish this, we each had a large, well used and previously owned easy chair with accompanying side table to hold books, notes, ashtrays (we both smoked so there was an added environmental element in addition to the dust. Did I mention the dust?) and coffee cups. The chairs faced each other from opposite corners of the living room.

I don’t recall having sheets for the beds. My sleep wear for the entire year consisted of scrubs and a single sweatshirt. The daily dress code consisted of slacks, oxford shirts, tie, (in those days, narrow), and a sport coat. We scoffed at overcoats, so the walk to the college was much brisker during the winter months.

Burned into my memory are the all nighters we pulled for our final exams in the first and second semesters of that year. The year was 1962, before the 60’s that everyone remembers, and the drug culture it brought. So it was easy for me to obtain Dexedrine from a pharmacist friend (it was not controlled then like it is now). We would start studying in the early evening, take our pill around 11 PM, and work through the night fortified by coffee and cigarettes. After taking the morning exams we would crash all day and start all over in the evening. We did this for 3-4 nights at the end of each semester. After the last all nighter that spring I promised myself I would never do that again..and I haven’t.

If I close my eyes, I can see Gene sitting in his red chair, almost obscured by clouds of dust and smoke, broken intermittently by his arm reaching out for the cup of thick, muddy coffee that was always there.

Monday, November 5, 2007

New Work

Windows #2 acrylic on panel

Taking a break from my landscapes I began playing with paint on this panel. The result was a background that I wanted to preserve, but still in need of a subject. I eventually came up with this, the second in a series of 6 panels. Sometimes you just don't know where you will end up...and that is what is so captivating about making art.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A LIFE IN MEDICINE -5- the second year

I'm gonna be a doctor!

Seasoned by the first year, my classmates and I were prepared for the avalanche of material we were expected to assimilate during this overwhelming year. This was undoubtedly the most demanding of the four years because of the voluminous amount of material which included: pathology, hematology, pharmacology, laboratory medicine, and microbiology. Like the first year, we were kept busy all day every day with labs and lectures. All of this was rendered palatable by one small course inserted in the midst of everything else, we were taught the fundamentals of the physical examination where we were to use, for the first time, the symbol of our trade, the stethoscope.

There is a lot to remember about this most memorable of the four years at Jefferson, the first of which is the apartment I shared with Gene Doo. We decided to move out of the fraternity house and found the apartment at the end of year one. While Gene returned to his home in Honolulu for the summer, I moved into the apartment and made it a “home” for us. I spent the summer working in one of the ENT labs being paid for doing basically nothing. As I recall I wasn’t paid much. Our apartment was about two blocks from the fraternity house so we could easily continue to get our meals there. It wason E. Pine St. in what was to become a very fashionable neighborhood in Philadelphia’s Society Hill. But in 1962 Society Hill existed only in the minds of the city planners, and rents were still affordable. It was on the second floor, and consisted of a kitchen, bath living room and 2 small bedrooms. Now, almost 50 years later, I remember little of our day to day life in that dusty abode, but certain memories persist, fodder for my next post.


Architectural drawing #11 9x15"

Serious art. From the moment I decided I would leave my practice and pursue a career in art I was consumed with the notion that my art be serious. My biggest fear was that I would be seen as a doctor dabbling in art and indulging his hobby and I was determined to avoid that characterization. This would require a lot of work, because at that time my art consisted of pen and ink drawings with a little color provided by ink and/or markers. I quickly learned of the fugitive nature of the inks and set out to learn about watercolors. For the next 12 years watercolor was my only medium. Eventually I moved on to mono types with clay, pastels, acrylics, oil, and mixed media. I now work in all of these.

In 1981 I left my 9 year old private medical practice to be an artist. For 12 years I worked part time in emergency rooms as I pursued my new career. In 1993 I went back into private practice (an itch I just had to scratch!). In 2002 I retired completely from medicine. Twice I had to write letters to my patients telling them I was leaving, each time a difficult and painful task. I was breaking up relationships based on mutual trust and respect I spent years establishing. I was leaving them to Paint!? I felt then, as I do now, that my art has to be worthy of the sacrifice of abandoning medicine for art.

Serious art. Does anyone know what that means? Can art be serious, or is it the artist that has to be serious? Does that mean there is art, and there are artists who are not serious?
Can a non-serious artist create art that is serious?

Friday, November 2, 2007


In the 27 years since I began dividing my time between medicine and art, this is the first time I have attempted to write about how these 2 endeavors effect one another. And as unbelievable as it may sound, the first time I’ve really thought about it with any seriousness.

I left private practice for part-time work in an emergency room. For 4 years I alternated 3 months of full time ER work with 3 months in my studio. During that time I was acutely aware of the conflicting demands on my psyche. In the emergency room it became necessary to mentally and emotionally “close down” in order to deal with all that a busy city ER required of its staff. In contrast, during the 3 months in my studio I felt the need to open myself to all of the sensory and visual delights that were feeding my creative needs. The conflicting impact of medicine and art during those 4 years was easy to identify. Beyond that, the relationship between the two becomes more compatible.

I have never been aware of any conflict between my art and the practice of medicine (other than a desire for more time to paint). I applied myself to both in the only way I knew how, without any conscious effort to be anything other than myself. The ER experience did not repeat itself when I worked in an urgent care facility or when I returned to private practice 8 years later.

The difference, especially in my practice, was the relationship with the patients. In the practice there was an established, emotional bond between the patient and me that would often become a long term relationship. I encouraged and nurtured that relationship by being open and receptive to their needs and fears, and being present to them, honestly, without hiding behind my role as a physician. And this is the way I see myself functioning as an artist, openly and honestly responding to my encounters with the world around me, finding creative inspiration from these encounters. In a similar fashion, the most gratifying part of medicine has always been my encounters with the patients, easing their fears and concerns, providing hope and comfort, or simply gaining their trust. Art and medicine both require openness, sensitivity, and compassion.

A dear patient and artist once told me, “the doctor is not an artist, the artist is a doctor”.