Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Some of the most enjoyable work occurs when I work on these small panels and canvases. I begin with little or no preconceived idea beyond the presence of a horizon. My selection of color at the beginning is very arbitrary, often whatever jar of paint is open or close by. After manipulating several layers of paint I acquire some sense of direction as the image begins to emerge. It remains an intuitive effort until the very end.

These paintings serve at least 2 purposes: they are available at modest prices for folks who enjoy original art, and they offer me a way to explore ideas and techniques that may be applied to larger works. I find it so much easier to be loosey goosey and fearless on a 12x12 canvas than on a 30x40 one.

Each piece...$300



Orange tree line

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Experimaental pastel #5 aprox 12x18 $300

Dreams and aspirations.
Following the dream and taking risks. I know something about this. At age 39 I decided to leave my private medical practice and work part time in an emergency room so I could pursue a career in art (I had no formal training). At age 53 I opened a medical practice in a converted barn on our farm, and at age 62 moved 950 miles away from family and friends to Paducah Kentucky to be one of the first artists to sign up for their artist relocation program. I made each of these decisions, and many others, without fear or trepidation because I was confident that they were the steps intended for me...I knew that as much as one can know something.

But now, six years later, when I think about these moves I wonder, could I do that today? Does our spirit respond to age the way our bones and joints do? Does it tend to get a little slow and more inclined to remain comfortable and secure rather than jump ahead into the unknown. The earlier decisions were made knowing there was the security of the “somedays” to fall back on if needed. As previously noted, they are only a shadow of their formal selves now.

However, once again there is another component to this issue. Although taking risks to pursue dreams becomes more difficult and perhaps more stressful, there is a new resource now available thanks to the years... experience, and, if we pay attention to our past, experience brings us another resource...wisdom. Together they can help guide us through the transitions and changes faced in these later years. We are better equipped to assess risks and have a more realistic notion of the consequences of our actions. Perhaps my spirit and my personal aspirations have been buffered a bit by the years, but they remain intact, and I strive toward them a bit slower, with deliberation and determination that these same years have provided.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Dark Sky Oil pastel 14x10 $225

Last night as I revisited the folk music of the early 60s on You Tube, I was immediately transported back to my college years (1957-1961). I thought of myself then, as compared to now, and how the years have transformed my psyche. The phrase, the heaviness of years, came immediately to mind and has been with me ever since. And, as I am inclined to do, I began exploring this idea in my journal. My initial thoughts were how age effects our ambitions, aspirations, and willingness to take risks, along with other less than desirable effects: becoming stuck in our ways, afraid of change, fearful or suspicious of anything new, confusion about the evolving culture of youth, and the uncertainty of the extent of our future. How depressing!

But even as I was writing this bleak scenario of aging, which carries a modicum of truth, I realized it was only one side of the coin; there is an equally compelling argument to make for the benefit of age. The weight of the years is well balanced.

The uncertainty of the future. I have found the loss of the “some days” of my youth difficult to deal with. As a younger man I could always cling to the notion that someday my dreams would come true, my aspirations achieved. The future was limitless. Beginning some time in my mid 60s this changed, the future was narrowing and the “some days” began to diminish to a barely visible point. Disastrous? Perhaps, but there is another side to this coin. With a diminishing and unknown future, one is forced to focus on the present. For someone who tends to spend too much time thinking about the “tomorrows”, this is a positive step, with each birthday I move one year closer to learning to live in and appreciate my “todays” instead of relying on the “tomorrows”. In the end, it is the journey, and not the destination that matters.

to be continued...

Sunday, April 27, 2008


On occasions I find myself rummaging through the drawers of clay mono types looking for ideas or inspirations, hoping to see something I may have overlooked in the past. This usually happens when I'm in the throes of inertia, unable to pick up a brush and start something new. One of the results of trying to harness this restless and unfocused energy has been a series of collages created from the clay prints.

Behind Black collage aprox 10x10 $150

Orange Moon collage aprox. 10x7 $125

Friday, April 25, 2008

FINISHED!!! (I think)

Here it is...the last installment of the resurrected urban landscape. It will remain on the easel for further review, and be subjected to the harsh but honest eye of my wife. I am reasonably satisfied with the final results, considering the starting point. There are several things I would do differently if I were to do this again, but I learned a lot from this exercise, and find myself anxious to take on another urban landscape

stage one

stage 12

end stage?

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Picking up on a post on Linda Blonheim Art notes I thought I would share my own feelings about the subject.

Like Linda, commissions always elicit a degree of anxiety in me, the result of the pressure to please the patron. After too many years of painting commissions, this has not changed one bit.

However my approach to pricing is a little different. I don’t charge more for a commission than I would for a comparable painting done on speculation but do take into account who is commissioning the work, and allow myself the same leeway in pricing as in art done on speculation. I value my time and my work, but I also consider the value of acquiring a new patron and new exposure (if that is the case) and consider this in my final pricing.

One thing I do before accepting a commission is to inquire about their budget and advise accordingly. I will agree to color selection in general terms, i.e. warm or cool palette, and in addition make it very clear that the painting will be done in my “style”. Nothing makes less sense to me than someone who knows and likes my work asking me to do something totally foreign to what I do. I ask for a deposit when dealing with institutions, businesses, and/or someone I do not know and have had only one transaction that was less than satisfactory to both parties.

Occasionally I will accept what I call a “soft commission”. When someone sees a painting of mine that they really like, but the size or the price doesn’t fit their need, I will offer to do something very similar in their size or budget without a commitment on their part. as long as it is something generic that I feel I can sell elsewhere.

Obviously each artist must have their own formula and guidelines for pricing commissions. We do what we feel we must do to succeed in reaching our goals.

Delancy Place, Philadelphia. 18x60
This was a recent commission where I set the price a bit lower than what I would ussually charge because I wanted the exposure that would come with one of my paintings in the home of the buyer, an art collector in a major city. As result a second commission was forthcoming.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


This past week, while working on the 2 "upstream" paintings and rehabilitating the NYC piece, I started work on a 4th canvas. It is a rather simple concept and composition but I'm fairly pleased with the result. It felt good to be back into the work once again after several weeks of ABP - anything but painting. I plan to start another canvas so I'll have something else besides the NYC piece, which is a real struggle for me.

For the Birds acrylic on canvas 30x24" NFS

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Upstream #2 is completed. The horizon has been lightened to add more depth, and the foreground water darkened a bit. The last touch was to add some yellow to the reeds in the foreground of the marsh. The difference in the overall value of the paintings is the result of my less than outstanding photography skills.



Monday, April 21, 2008


It may not look it, but I feel I'm making progress. Yesterday, after several frustrating attempts at painting the skyline I was ready to give up. I couldn't get the colors and the values I needed for things to "work", and in disgust I picked up the palette knife and began smearing on the paint. And to my great delight, that was working, and once again I felt there was a future for this piece. There is still much to do, but my confidence is back and I'm looling forward to the next stage.

Resurrection #2

Resurrection #1


Patience leaves this morning for the Whippet Nationals in Eugene Oregon. Last night, for her send off dinner, I prepared the following dish. I would like to say it was just for her, but, alas, I was also thinking of myself. She will be gone for four days, and my usual fare when she is away is hot dogs and baked beans. I’m not feeling sorry for myself, because the truth is, I love hot dogs, and the only time I eat them is when she is gone. In any event, we ate “high off the hog” last night.

As I’ve stated before, I don’t do recipes, and what follows is a general can’t go wrong with it! I used frozen artichoke hearts and frozen precooked and peeled shrimp.

Tortellini w shrimp, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, in cream sauce

This was a spontaneous dinner as a send off for P’s trip to Oregon tomorrow, and we both agreed it was easily a 15 on a scale of 10 !


garlic, shallot, fresh finely chopped parsley
red paper flakes
olive oil
sun dried tomatoes
white wine
lemon juice
heavy whipping cream
Old bay seasoning

Sauté the garlic, shallots, parsley with pepper flakes in olive oil. Add a little white wine and lemon juice along with the artichoke hearts (frozen), finely chopped sun dried tomatoes and . Cook for about 5 minutes then add the shrimp and a sprinkling of old bay seasoning When the wine is cooked off add a healthy pad of butter and the cream. Stir frequently for several minutes then add the almost cooked tortellini, stir and cook for another 1-2 minutes and serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Following up on yesterday's post, here are the 2 new paintings. The first is completed, the second needs more work to create a greater sense of distance in the foreground.

Upstream #1 acrylic 16x20

Upstream #2 16x20 "WIP"

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Yesterday, after several weeks of busy work and/or no work I found myself back at the easel working on 4 canvases. (I like to have 2 or more works in progress so when ever I get stymied on one or have to wait for drying time, I can move on to another.) Three are new pieces and one is a previous unfinished disaster I’ve decided to rehabilitate. Two of the new canvases are the same composition, painted with slightly different palettes - don’t ask me why because I really don’t know.

Today, The disaster!

Acrylic on canvas 24x48"
The painting is from a photo I took in NYC years ago, looking across the East River to Brooklyn, under the bridge. For a number of reasons it never "worked", meaning I couldn't do it. That was about 2 years ago. Yesterday I felt I knew what had to be done, and began resurrecting the painting by repainting the sky. The next step is to re-do the architecture. I will keep you posted on my progress

Friday, April 18, 2008


I don’t walk barefoot. Not in the house, and certainly not outside. The bottom of my feet are soft, and they have been that way for as long as I can remember. My wife walks barefoot, and I’ve always thought that was appropriate for anyone living on a farm, in fact it seems that walking barefoot is almost an obligation for someone growing up on a farm. Some of my neighbors did. Our farm was in south Jersey, where the soil is sandy and much so that The only mud I ever saw was in the bottom of mud puddles as they dried out after a rain, and that did not take very long. So why didn’t I walk barefoot? Because of the goddamn cinders! Hard, sharp, multifaceted weapons that my father would buy to spread in the driveway and the lanes leading from the house to the chicken coops. I wanted to walk barefoot, and tried to do so, more than once, but always met the same fate. I would hop gingerly for 4 or 5 steps, always thinking that this time would be different, but it wasn't, and I would return home in defeat (no pun intended). Why he used those cinders I’ll never know. It wasn’t that we had problems with drainage or wet land. The land where we lived was as flat as my laptop. It never occurred to me to ask him.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Josephine and Spartico

Family has been on my mind a lot lately, and in filling out the application for a passport today I had to go look at some documents relating to my parents. One thing led to another and I ended up looking at some old journal entries, one of which I am posting this morning, written in November of 2001.

How can I put into words all that my mother and father meant to me? There is no doubt in my mind that everything that I am, everything that I have accomplished, and everything that I may accomplish, I owe to them. I was blessed with a mother and father and a large, warm extended family that provided an unending source of love and nurturing. I had the good fortune of growing up feeling good about myself, something that sadly is not afforded to all children.

I want to write about them, but can’t. Although my mother as been dead for 11 years, and my father for 7 years, I still cannot bring myself to try to put their lives to words. There are none I can call forth that will do justice to who they were and to all that they meant to me.

Mom.....wise and perceptive...especially regarding people...imensely loving...caring....bold and courageous....unafraid of the unknown....uncomplaining....encouraging...putting others’ needs before her own, to a fault.

Dad...warm and above everything...passionate about politics, gardening, and anything Italian....always a the left of liberal...anticlerical.

Neither of them pretentuous...they were real and unassuming with no need to pretend or to impress...everyone was treated the same way-with warmth and respect.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Gray Landscape Oil Pastel 7x10"

It is getting increasingly difficult to be the optimist that I am. This morning my usual routine was cut short because I could not bring myself to read the “papers”. ( Every morning around 5-5:30 I enjoy about an hour of very quiet time before P and the Ws get up. It begins with the NY Times and the Washington Post on line, then a check on e-mail followed by blogs, and ends with my journal.)

As much as I enjoy reading political news and commentary, I find it’s becoming too distasteful! The “news” is now about who said what, what words were used, and what do they mean? Or who's supporter or aide said this and who is calling for an apology. It seems every candidate wants every other candidate to apologize for something. This election campaign is ridiculously too long; it is now not only boring but embarrassing.

If that isn’t enough to knock off the rose colored glasses how about the hedge fund manager that made BILLIONS, not millions last year, while the rest of the country flounders as a result of wall streets sight of hands. Or the news that a major drug company “helped” researchers write the results of their studies; isn’t that a surprise.

I consider myself a thoughtful tolerant person who tries to see all sides of an issue, and who thinks the best of people and circumstances. But not today! Today I would be happy to see all politicians, political hacks, political commentators and columnists, and hedge fund managers and slick, greedy wall street operators taken out to see and dumped onto some desolate island to spend the rest of their lives together.

There, I’ve said it. Tomorrow I feel like my old self again, maybe even sooner.

Early Light Oil Pastel 10x10"

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


OK, I will admit it publicly, I am a incurable procrastinator. I put off doing things I know I will have to do, and that I only make things worse by putting them off. Every year, I swear on 15 bibles and 7 family graves that I will complete my tax prep by March first! And every year I get this done later and later. This year was the absolute worst. Every night for 10 weeks I went to bed telling myself that all I had to do was spend maybe an hour getting things together for the accountant (I had already completed most of the work), and every day I managed to avoid it. Yesterday I had no choice, and I spent less than an hour completing the task, and flushed with embarrassment delivered the package to my accountant. If I could, I would have paid someone to do it for me. The receptionist was wonderful, telling me no problem, they were used to this behavior, and they would do their best for me.

Today at 4 PM they called to say the tax returns were ready, and just like that I can now find something else to stress over!!

Wild Eyes clay mono type. I thought this would go with " procrastination", don't ask me why.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I don’t know where to file this document, under cooking or La Famiglia. Four days ago my cousins Joan and Danny, and Joan’s husband Angelo, arrived in Paducah with 3 coolers filled to capacity with fresh broccoli rabe. They left New Jersey the day before to make this 16 hour trip to visit Patience and me. The timing of the trip was determined by the readiness of he broccoli rabe in the field. Being very insightful, they realized when I drooled and trembled all over on my visit to NJ last spring at the sight of broccoli rabe growing in the field behind their home that I loved that green delicacy. The only place we can find it here is 21/2 hours away in Nashville. How lucky am I to have such thoughtful cousins! In addition to the B R they brought salami, capocolla, and prosciutto from Giovanni’s deli back home. I have been in culinary heaven since then.

And what a delightful visit it was, Thursday night we had broccoli rabe, sausage and portabello mushrooms for dinner. Fridays lunch was salami, capocolla, prosciutto, and cheese with fresh bread, and dinner was penne pasta with broccoli rabe, with sausage and chicken on the side. Saturday we went “local”, with brunch at the Stranded Cow, a favorite Lowertown cafe, and dinner at home with some take out barbecue pork and ribs.

Oh, and in between the eating and drinking (did I mention the wine?) we visited with one another and made the rounds of the Lowertown galleries and of course the Quilt museum and the river heritage museum.

The cousins left this morning, and in their honor we feasted on open face sandwiches of leftover pork barbecue guessed it...broccoli rabe and mushrooms.

Cooking the broccoli rabe is fairly simple. The leaves and smaller stems are sautteed in garlic and olive oil, either directly (my personal preference) or after blanching (softens the characteristic bitterness of the plant). The garlic is cooked briefly, with or without red pepper flakes, the broccoli rabe added to the pan and covered, and cooked over moderately low heat with occassional stirring. Attention is needed to prevent overcooking...the leaves turn dark green and/or the garlic is burnt. The resulting greens can be served alone, as a side dish, or over pasta,drizzled with a little extra olive oil.

The cousins...Angelo,me, Danny,and Joan who will kill me when she sees this photo.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


A few more houses...

Stone Mill house Delaware
West St. Wilmington Delaware
San Francisco Purple

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Three more house portraits from my "archives".

This was a commission from a friend and former patient.

I will never forget my amazement when I first stumbled upon this house, hidden in an off the beat path in New Castle, Delaware. I just had to paint it.

Friday, April 11, 2008


I've been painting houses throughout my entire art career, both on commission and on speculation. If you enjoy the visual delights of architecture there is no way to avoid this enterprise. I am most comfortable working with watercolor when painting architecture, although I am slowly gaining more confidence using acrylics.

This next series of posts will be devoted to some of the house portraits of the past.

Wilmington Delaware Patience and I lived next door.

Dover Delaware

Wilmington Delaware

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Here is my palette that I forgot to include in yesterdays post. (I had to split the images because it was to large for my scanner.)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Linda asked about the pigments I use in my watercolors. When I first began I used Winsor Newton paints, and because of my comfort with them have continued to use them almost exclusively. I am far from being a purist and will select any color that I think will work, often mixing them on the fly as I paint. Over the years the following palette has evolved, and I continue to use it, with only occasional variations.

Not shown here are Indian Red (for brick work), Blue-black, and Indigo which I will add to a mixture when I feel it is needed.

I will frequently mix green directly on the paper, adding indigo or blue black for the very dark greens.

For architectural work I will often highlight and/or define edges with colored or pastel pencils.

Buck's County Playhouse

And to answer the person who asked if I ever paint anything besidesw buildings.......

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


I have two more Cape May streetscapes to share with you today, followed by one of my most popular posters, A Victorian Sampler. All of the houses in this print are from different towns and cities, and it will serve as an introduction to my next "series", victorian homes.

By the Sea is a collection of homes located on the ocean front in Cape May.

Jackson Street is an actual street scene in Cape May

A victorian Sampler is an open edition print...some 3000 of which have been sold. The printers proofs are long gone (the printer went out of business years ago) and I have only a few prints remaining in my files.

Most of the Cape May prints are still available and can be seen on my web site.

Monday, April 7, 2008


On one of my trips to CM I decided to explore the undeveloped areas in the NJ side of the Delaware bay, home to towns like bivalve, shellpile, and Fortesque. Once a thriving fishing port, it now remains a forgotten place with little or no marine industry. Turning off one back road onto another I suddenly found myself looking at this most amazing lighthouse, totally alone, abandoned, and without any signage or markings to identify it. I later learned it was called the East Point Lighthouse and belonged the USN. Although not in Cape May, it is close enough to be included in this tour. I have painted it with both watercolor and pastels.

East Point Lighthouse watercolor

East Point Lighthouse Pastel

Lobster House Restaurant on the back bay watercolor

We can't visit CM without seeing it's victorian architecture. This next painting is a complilation of several B&Bs in town.

B&B in Cape May watercolor

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Today’s post reflects the power of the internet and its ability to bring people and the world together. I’m not referring to anything more earthshaking than artists finding community with one another via the world of blogs. We view each other’s work, read their laments, and offer our comments and encouragement. I have been fortunate to find myself in such a sharing community, and especially so to find another artist who loves old, urban architecture for the subject of his watercolors.

The relationship between Colliervisions and myself has culminated in an exchange of art, a visual manifestation of our mutual admiration. We decided to barter and exchanged photos of a subject of our own choosing. The completed paintings to be posted today on our blogs.

Friendhip Church Watercolor by Colliervisions.
This small country church and cemetary, surrounded by apple and peach orchards which you cannot see, was a favorite stop for me and my friends when we were out with our bikes or ponys. The fruit was plentiful, the shade cool, and the pump water even cooler. It is the resting place of my parents, grandparents, and many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Julio has captured the spirit and mood of the place.

Julio's church watercolor on 300lb arches paper
I decided on a very architectural approach to this subject, focusing on the lines and the overall lightness to the roof and stone and presenting it as two elevation drawings.

Friday, April 4, 2008


During my many visits to Cape May I met Roman, the owner of the Washington Street Gallery. We talked about art, and the possibility of collaborating on a limited edition print of a CM scene. The result was "Hughs Street", which was the first of a long series of CM prints and the beginning of a long friendship. (Many of these prints are available on my website.)

The format is the same...each original watercolor measuring aproximately 18x45" and each print 12x37"

Hughs Street watercolor

Columbia Avenue. watercolor

Stockton Place watercolor This is a wonderful street. The homes were obviously identical when first built, and over the years their appearances altered slightly, but not enough to hide their shared origin.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Cape May sketch

OK, it is time for a break from the political narratives and April's fools and to get back to some fun travel art.

For those who don't know, Cape May NJ is one of the nations oldest seashore resorts (may in fact be the oldest.) Located at the southern tip of the NJ shore line - in NJ and Philadelphia it is the "shore" and not the coast - this small town is home to an endless number of Victorian structures. So many that it is the town's identity theme, and all new construction in town has to adhere to strict architectural guidelines preserving this heritage.

Living less than 2 hours away from Cape May, my love of the architecture made me a frequent visitor with my sketch book and camera. Today I will post the first in a series of Cape May paintings.

classic Cape May home. watercolor aprox 20x16 Until about 30 years ago all of the homes were painted white with black or green shutters. Then the move to origingal Victorian colors began.

Windsor Hotel one of many old hotels from the early 20th century watercolor