Saturday, December 31, 2011


The last several months have been quite interesting for me in regards to my art. Finding myself with little sense of direction and inspiration I began a series of small sketch-like drawings and paintings, working from old photo files. They were quite simple, done with pencil, ink, markers, watercolor, pastels, and various combinations of all of them. It was no surprise that the more I did, the more the work began to evolve, even as it remained small and simple. I learned which medium best fit the subject, and which combinations would create the effects I wanted. I realized I was reaching back into the early years of my art, not only with the subjects but also with the scale of the work and the media I was using. To others the new work might appear to be the same as the old, but I knew it wasn’t; I could sense the effects of over 30 years of painting and drawing as I worked.

After working with different media and going through the large inventory of different papers that had accumulated in the studio, I decided to try something different by borrowing from my clay drawings. Still working small, and with the same media, I began using old clay mono types instead of paper. Once more I was borrowing from the past to create something new, and this time the evolution is beginning to lead to larger pieces, although I have no intention of abandoning the smaller work. I’m sure I can do both.

What’s next? My plan now is to create new clay mono types using a variety of printing surfaces, specifically designed to be used for drawings and paintings in a variety of mediums, but with a special emphasis on pastels.

New pastel barn on old CMT...32x15"

Detail of above

Three re-worked old CMTs...pastel barns added

I am looking forward to 2012 and the opportunity to continue this amazing journey I began so many years ago. I take comfort in my tendency to plan and anticipate what lies ahead, and am excited when I realize how little that has to do with where I end up. Who knows, perhaps there is another corner to be turned somewhere out there in this new year.

Regular gallery hours will be suspended in January and February. I will be open by chance and by appointments (call 270-366-2837). Do not hesitate to call, even if you simply want to stop by to browse: visitors are always welcomed.

I hope that 2012 is all that you want it to be.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

12-29…Capellini with smoked salmon and peas in a cream sauce with prosciutto and arugula


Capellini (Angel hair pasta)
Smoked salmon cut into bite size pieces
Dry white wine
Olive oil
1 generous pat of butter
Garlic and shallots
Heavy whipping cream
Frozen peas
Prosciutto coarsely chopped
Dill, dry or fresh
Arugula finely chopped


Cook the garlic and shallots in the olive oil until soft. Add the peas and about ¼ cup of wine and the dill, bring to a boil then simmer for about 5 minutes before adding the salmon and the arugula. Cook for several more minutes then add the cream, stirring frequently. Add the butter before the pasta is ready.

Toss the pasta in the pan with the sauce and mix in the prosciutto.


I was not sure how the arugula would work with this…I used it because I was out of parsley. The results however, were fantastic; the combination of ingredients worked well together. I especially liked the prosciutto; it gave it a finishing touch.


After three delightful days with my daughter Amy and her family I find myself back in the studio, looking for some traction to get back to work. In spite of my dedicated efforts I never found that traction; the highlight of the day was sharing a glass of wine with my neighbor Keyth who gave me a lesson on the mechanics of a good gold swing. But I'll keep looking, confident that I will find that traction and get back to work.

The days before the Christmas break were productive and I will share the results of those efforts now. I'm working on material for the BARNS & FARMS show I plan to have in the gallery in March, but an ocassional non farm and barn painting finds some expression.

The following paintings are pastel on paper and measure apox. 3-4" x 6-7":

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Amy, Bob, Abigail, and William left us this morning, leaving behind an abundance of fantastic food from Caputo’s deli in Elmwood, Ill. After three days of pure culinary heaven I looked at tonight’s dinner as a challenge, which of course it wasn’t, since one of Amy’s departing gifts was a package of fresh broccoli rabe.

I’ve posted this recipe before but it is so simple I’ll do it again.


Penne pasta
Olive oil
Broccoli rabe, also called rappini, coarsely chopped with stems discarded
Garlic sliced thinly
Red pepper flakes optional


Blanch the greens in boiling water for about four minutes the transfer to pan and sauté with olive oil and garlic.

Cook the pasta in the same water, drain, and transfer to the broccoli rabe and mix well. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with parmigiano reggiano cheese.


Broccoli rabe may be an acquired taste, and if it is, both Patience and I have acquired it. The dish never fails to elicit oohs and aahs from us. One of my few disappoints in Paducah is that none of the markets carries this delectable green.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


There was no way I was going to do the seven fishes tonight. I took the easy way out and opted for a shrimp cocktail appetizer followed by linguine with an anchovy sauce.

Our dear friend Julie joined us for dinner, and in all of my excitement I forgot to take photos. My bad.


Olive oil
Garlic and shallots
6 Anchovy fillets coarsely chopped
Italian parsley, finely chopped
Parmigiano reggiano cheese


Heat the olive oil and add the garlic, shallots, and anchovies and cook while waiting for the pasta to be finished.

Add the pasta to the pan, toss in the parsley, and mix well. Add some of the pasta water if needed, Serve with grated parmigiano cheese.


Memories of Christmas Eves spent with my parents descend upon me every year at this time, memories which are always welcomed… Smelts, Bacala, Calamari, and more. My enjoyment of the fish never matched my father’s, but with each passing year I seem to remember them tasting better and better.

I don’t try to reproduce those Christmas Eves; this simple dinner with Patience and Julie is more than enough for me, and it’s memory will stand up to the best of them.

Happy Birthday mom, and Merry Christmas to all.

Friday, December 23, 2011


If you look in Italian cookbooks you will find that pasta fagioli (pasta and beans) is usually presented as a soup, with a tomato based broth. My mom would make it with a thicker tomato sauce, and for a long time I would do the same. I have since learned that there are any number of ways to combine pasta and beans, and here is one of them


Navy beans
Olive oil
Garlic and onions
Bacon, chopped
Dry basil and oregano
Parmigiano reggiano cheese


Cook the bacon, remove to drain, and pour off the bacon fat. Add olive oil to the pan and sauté the garlic and onion until soft. Add the beans, herbs and seasoning, and simmer over low heat while the pasta cooks.

Add the pasta and bacon to the sauce and mix well. Serve with the PR cheese.

As always, save some pasta water to add to the sauce if you think it is too thick.


I am not going to call this a 50. I have learned to curb my enthusiasm. But it most certainly is a 10 (on a scale of 1-3).

In the future I will present more variations of this dish.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Here are the approximate amounts of some of the ingredients in last nights pasta. They are based on cooking for two.


Angel Hair pasta
Olive oil
Garlic and shallots
Lump crab meat – I used 4 oz, of an 8 oz. package (not canned or frozen and found in the fresh seafood area of the supermarket)
Shrimp – about 12 medium, peeled, raw and frozen,
Dry basil and oregano
Heavy whipping cream – 1/3 cup
Fresh spinach – 2/3 cup
Sweet vermouth
Peeled whole tomatoes – 14 oz can

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

12-21…Capellini with creamy tomato – crab – spinach sauce plus shrimp

I will say right now that this dish was not just a winner… it was a GRAND WINNER.


Angel Hair pasta
Olive oil
Garlic and shallots
Lump crabmeat
Dry basil and oregano
Heavy whipping cream
Fresh spinach
Sweet vermouth
Peeled whole tomatoes


Saute the garlic and shallots in olive oil, add the tomatoes and cook until the liquid is almost gone. Add the crabmeat, spinach, and herbs and cook for about 15 minutes, adding a splash of the wine about midway.

Place the sauce in a blender or food processer and puree to a smooth consistency, return to the pan and add the cream and stir frequently over low ot medium heat. Just before the pasta goes into the water add the shrimp to the sauce.

Place the pasta in a serving bowl and mix in the sauce. Serve with parmigiano reggiano cheese.


This was not a homerun…it was a grand slam, one of the best dishes I’ve prepared. You gotta try it.


My fascination with these small paintings continues unabated, even as I explore new approaches. I recently posted a small series of Tuscan landscapes done with pastels on clay mono types. Below are several recent pieces in my barn series.

pastel and ink on clay mono type

pastel and ink on clay mono type

pen and ink and markers

pastel on clay mono type

pastel on clay mono type

Monday, December 19, 2011


Since I will be dining alone tonight I thought I would try a pasta dish I’ve read about repeatedly and have never had…pasta with olive oil, cheese, and black pepper. I enjoy simple, rustic dishes, and this is as simple as it can get.


Olive oil
Black pepper corns coarsely ground
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.


Place the cooked pasta in a serving dish, drizzle with olive oil, add the cheese and pepper and mix well.


I LOVED IT, and can’t believe I have not tried this sooner. It was delicious, and the only prep was cooking the pasta.

I used the Al Dente brand I mentioned previously, and I believe this added to the quality of the dish. Homemade pasta would be great, but probably any pasta would do. I will definitely do this again…and again. The wheels in my head are already spinning, thinking about the many variations that are possible with this dish. But I don't know if anything could improve it.


I think a Christmas spent in Tuscany could be a wonderful experience for our eyes and our taste buds. (I would hate to have to choose between the two). This may explain my recent interest in the Tuscan landscape and the small series of paintings I've completed in the past several weeks. I thought I would post the latest one, along with all of the others.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

12-18…SUNDAY GRAVY…Pasta meal number 145 since May 1.

The keys to any successful pasta diner.

Today not only felt like a Sunday, it smelled like one. At least did once I started the gravy for tonight’s dinner. As you hopefully know by now, Sunday gravy is a thick, rich sauce usually with a meat base: meatballs, beef, chicken, pork, or a variation of any of them. Today’s gravy is based on Italian sausage and pork neck bones. It has been on the stove since mid-afternoon, filling the house with the most delightful Sunday fragrance.


Pork neck bones
Italian sausage
Olive oil
Dried basil and oregano
Red wine
Peeled whole San Marzano tomatoes,


Brown the meat, remove, and set aside. Deglaze the pot with red wine and add the results to the meat.

In olive oil cook the garlic and onion until soft, then add the tomatoes, salt, and spices and bring to low boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the meat to the sauce, cover, and simmer for one to two hours, stirring occasionally. If you want the sauce to be thicker remove the lid completely or partially.

When the pasta is ready, remove the meat and add the sauce to the pasta, serving the meat separately.


If there is any one dish that epitomizes my entire life this is it. Oh, there are other great pasta dishes, some perhaps even better than this, but nothing has been as constant throughout my entire life as the Sunday pasta meal, and it never fails to satisfy me beyond description.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


I’ve had all day to think about tonight’s dinner, and after looking through several magazines I decided to prepare a variation of a recipe in the October, 2010 issue of La Cucina Italiana. The recipe is for Tagliatelle with asparagus, and I thought I could use fettuccini for the pasta, add the carrots Patience prepared several days ago, plus some bacon, and give the dish a twist of my own. Once I begin to cooking there is no telling what other changes I’ll make.


Carrots, previously cooked in butter with parsley
Green onion
Olive oil
Bacon, coarsely chopped
Italian parsley, finely chopped
Parmigiano reggiano cheese


Cook the bacon, remove and set aside to drain. Cut of the top 1 ½ inches of the asparagus and nuke for 2 minute, and set aside. Cut the remaining stems crosswise into 1/3 inch pieces.

Cook the garlic, scallions, in olive oil until soft, then add about two tablespoons of butter, the asparagus stems, half of the parsley, about two to three tablespoons of the bacon, plus about ¼ cup of water and bring to a boil and simmer until the asparagus is soft. (I added the carrots at this time but your can proceed

Transfer contents to a blender or food processer and puree until smooth. Return to the pan, reheat, and add the cheese and the remaining parsley.

In a serving bowl mix the pasta and the sauce, adding some pasta water if needed. Sprinkle with the remaining bacon and serve.


I originally planned to wait until morning to post this, but it was so good I couldn’t wait to share it. I loved the combination of the carrots and asparagus, and of course with parmigiano reggiano cheese it is had to go wrong.

How good was it? No left overs worth saving; they will go to the dogs.

Note. I get the cheese online at www.ditalia,com


Needing a break from barns and farms, I turned my attention to my photos and sketches from Italy and focused on the Tuscan country side. It is difficult to ignore the endless stretches of rolling golden hills dotted with the iconic Italian Cypress trees. Looking for something a little different, I tried working with pastels clay mono types. Here are a few of the initial results:

These were all spontaneous, done without any planning. My interest has been seeing how the fabric, impregnated with the pigmented clay, would receive the soft pastel.
Of course the results vary, depending on the fabric used for the print. I hope to be posting more of these mixed media pieces in the near future.

Friday, December 16, 2011


There are advantages and disadvantages to embarking on this pasta enterprise at my age. On the plus side, I’ve lived long enough that I can feel reasonably comfortable saying and doing what ever it is that I feel needs to be said, or done. On the other side of the coin: I cannot remember past breakfast, so I’m at constant risk of repeating myself. But, turning the coin over, I can say “what the hell, it is no big deal if I repeat myself”.

The spinach looked especially good this morning at Krogers, so tonight’s dinner will be a simple light tomato sauce with spinach, plus a bit of bacon for an extra punch.


Olive oil
Fresh spinach
Bacon, chopped coarsely
1 28oz can of San Marzano tomatoes
Dried basil and Oregano
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


Cook the bacon, remove from pan, and set aside. Add some olive oil to the pan and cook the garlic until soft, then add the tomatoes, herbs and seasoning, and the beans plus a splash of red wine just for the hell of it. Well not really, it does add to the flavor of the dish. While the pasta is cooking add the spinach to the sauce. Place the cooked pasta in the pan, and add the bacon, and mix well. Parmigiano reggiano cheese on top will complete the dish.

This sauce, where the tomatoes are cooked for no more than thirty minutes, ends up very, loose, almost soup-like, and is what many Italian-Americans consider “marinara”, as opposed to the thick, rich gravy that cooks for several hours on Sunday mornings, often with meat.


At the last minute I decided to add cannellini beans to the tomatoes. With or without the beans, this is hearty dish full of flavor, and begs for a big slice of bread to clean up the dish.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

12-15…FettuccinI with baby clams, asparagus, and cherry tomatoes

Three days without pasta! That, my friends, is a streak that will end tonight.


Whole baby clams
Asparagus cut into 1’’ pieces
Cherry tomatoes halved or quartered, depending on their size.
Olive oil
Green onions
Lemon juice
White wine
Dry basil and dill
Red pepper flakes


Saute the garlic and onions in olive oil until soft, then add the asparagus, dill, basil, red pepper flakes, and a splash of wine, and cook for several minutes before adding the tomatoes and clams. Simmer over low heat until the pasta is ready, adding the juice of one lemon along the way. Add the pasta to the sauce, mix well, and serve with parmigianp reggiano cheese.


The stark contrasts in this dish are the result of the egg and squid ink pasta I purchased online from a small company in Michigan called al dente. This is their land and sea variety. Other than the color I could not detect any indication of the squid presence.

This was 8 out of 10 good; not my favorite, but I don’t hesitate recommending it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12-12…Risotto with mushrooms, asparagus, and sausage

It felt like a risotto kind of night…OK…so that’s pushing things a bit, but really, risotto seemed appropriate, and I had just the right stuff in the fridge to make it happen.


Sausage with casing removed
Olive oil
Garlic, onions
Dill, Oregano, and basil
Chicken brotParmigiano Reggiano cheese


Cook the sausage, remove, and set aside. Saute the garlic and onion in olive oil, then add the mushrooms and asparagus and cook. Remove and add to the sausage and keep warm.

In a deep pot heat a small amount of olive oil and add the rice, stirring until turning a golden color…about 3 minutes. Then begin adding the broth, about ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly until absorbed. Continue to do so until all of broth is used and the rice becomes soft and creamy. Mix in the cheese, and then the vegetables and serve.


This is a great dish…simple, but a bit time consuming with all the stirring, so a glass of wine by the stove helps considerably.

Monday, December 12, 2011


2x6”…5x7”…4x6”…Since late this summer the great majority of my work has been in or about these sizes. I found myself with little interest in my usual work and after looking around for something to do began sketching from some old photos. I was having so much fun that I decided to re-visit old places via my photo files and recording my “visits” with these drawings, most of which have been posted on the blog over the past 3 months.

It has been interesting seeing how the work, even at this small size and with minimal ambition has begun to evolve. The evolution is an unconscious one, in which some of the drawings begin to become more complicated and their goal more ambitious. Over the course of this series some of the pieces were done primarily as a study for larger work, while others were conceived of as finished pieces.

The most recent development has been replacing paper with scraps of old clay mono types, similar to the clay drawings I’ve been doing since my return from Italy last year.

The challenge, as the work tends to become more involved, is to maintain the freshness and naivety.

Two from early in the series...

Two "intermediates"...

Most recent...

I look forward to continue working in this size and improving my technique, especially with the work on the clay mono types.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I know…it’s Sunday, and I should be making Sunday gravy, but the Turnip greens looked so good at the supermarket yesterday, and being in a veggie/produce mood…I really had no choice.


Turnip greens, coarsely chopped
Olive oil
Garlic, onion
Sausage, casing removed


Brown the sausage, remove and set aside. Discard any excess fat, and sauté the garlic and onion in olive oil. Blanch the greens in boiling water for about 4-5 minutes, drain, and add to the pan along with the sausage and cook for 10-15 minutes.

In the meantime cook the pasta in the same water used for the greens.


Comfort food…not the typical Sunday pasta, but just as good.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


One of my oldest and dearest friends, a never failing Star Person in my life for over 40 years, has been a constant reminder to me that the Christian faith embodies far more than than what we see and hear from the extreme fundamentalists. As an ordained minister in the Methodist church he took a leave of absence to open and run The Yokefellow Center in Rising Sun, Maryland, patterned after the international Yokefellow movement started by the Quaker theologian, Elton Trueblood.

With his permission, I would like to share his Christmas letter.

The Yokefellow Center
36 N. Queen Street, POB 482
Rising Sun, Maryland 21911

Dear Yokefellow Friends,

The season of Advent comes again! What a wondrous season this can be for each of us. I recently placed 34 candles in the windows at the Yokefellow Center. We’ve done this for the past 27 years! The light from these candles represent the light of the Christmas Star, guiding those Wise People of old on their journey in search of the Baby in Bethlehem. The candles also remind me of the Star Persons who have guided me through the years to what Douglas Steere called the “Bethlehem of the heart.” I am grateful for each of them, for without their guidance, encouragement and light, I may never have embarked on the journey.

This year as I placed a candle in each window I named it for one of my Star Persons. It was quite an experience. I discovered that there were not enough candles or windows to name all those who have given me light for my journey. In American society there is a prevalent attitude that “rugged individualism” gets us where we want to go. We do it on our own, according to some, pulling ourselves up by our own shoe strings. This is certainly not true in my experience. John Donne said it so well: “No [one] man is an Island, entire of itself, every [one] man is a piece of the Continent…” We need “one another.” These two little words “one another” form one of the most important phrases in the New Testament. This all-important phrase is the reason the Yokefellow symbol is a double-Yoke instead of a single one.

Most of the Star Persons in my life (past and present) do not have great titles or hold important positions. They are just ordinary folk. But each one in their unique way was able to “light up my life,” as a popular song put it a few years ago. Their light gave a burst of new insight at just the right moment. They were and they are my Bethlehem Stars.

The Christmas season has a way of “lighting up” the darkness for us. Each year when Christmas comes we have another opportunity to ponder its mystery. Last night, those 34 candles in the Yokefellow Center windows (each just a tiny little light) lit up the whole building and surrounding area proclaiming the abiding promise of Christmas: “The light continues to shine in the darkness and the darkness has never extinguished it” (John 1:15). These tiny little lights also describe Star Persons and how their little light makes a tremendous difference in a dark and broken world.

The “little light” Star Persons give to your life and mine comes from another realm—a Light from beyond. The Light that lights up the Yokefellow Center also comes, not from 34 candles, but a Light from beyond. These small “pieces of light” are a reflection of the Bethlehem Star, inviting everyone to revisit Bethlehem and to reconsider its miracle. This Bethlehem to which the light beckons is not far away in some Holy Land. It is rather the Bethlehem within our own human hearts (also holy ground). Here, in the Bethlehem of the heart, we will find the Child into whom God poured out His very being; all of His love—to demonstrate in human flesh his passionate care for each of us and the world in which we live. Here, in this Bethlehem of the heart, we will find the Light from beyond, the Child, who became the Son of Man—being and doing what man and woman is called to do—letting God’s passionate love shine though His life. It is here, in the Bethlehem of the heart, that Star Persons are born. It is here that we too can be re-born in some new way this Christmas. The words of Angelus Silesius of the 17th century still describe this possibility—the continuing miracle of Christmas: “If Christ were born a thousand times in Galilee it was all in vain until He is born in m
e, in thee.”

The Yokefellow Center is called to let God’s passionate love shine through its ministries and presence.

We wish you a Merry Christmas filled with love, hope, joy, and peace, but most of all, we pray for you a wondrous revisit to the Bethlehem within your heart and all that such an experience may mean for you and the world.
With gratitude and love,

Hal E. Owens

“Fling wide the portals of your heart; make it a temple set apart from earthly use for heaven’s employ, adorned with prayer and love and joy.

Redeemer, come, with us abide; our hearts to thee are open wide; let us thy inner presence feel; thy grace and love in us reveal.” (Georg Weissel, 1642)

Friday, December 9, 2011


Patience and I went our own ways tonight. She crashed, recovering from yesterdays 12+ hour day at work, fixing her own dinner, while I went to the opening reception at Gallery 1025. Returning home, it was my turn to eat, and after looking at a pretty empty refrigerator I turned to……pasta.

I cooked a handful of large shells, chopped up a few sun dried tomatoes, and grabbed the jar of basil pesto I keep on hand in the fridge. Tossed the cooked pasta with the two ingredients, grated some Parmigiano reggiano cheese on top and feasted to the sounds of a Tuscan CD.