Thursday, March 31, 2011



The choice is always ours. Then let me choose the longest art,
The hard Promethean way, cherishingly to tend and feed and fan
That inward fire, whose small precarious flame, kindled or quenched,
Creates the noble or ignoble men we are,
The worlds we live in and the very fates,
Our bright or muddy stars. *

*Aldous Huxley

Our lives are a series of choices, usually far more then we ever appreciate. The fortunate person is one who recognizes the choices, and has the courage and the will to make the choices they desire, regardless of the difficulty and risk. Windows of opportunities will exist, often quite fleetingly, and the greater the opportunity the smaller the window.


Cultivate a relationship with yourself...make it your goal to learn all that you can about who you are, to understand your feelings and your thoughts, to identify the real person, the true self that is you. And while you do this, a process that never ends, embrace the self that you discovered and dedicate your life to enabling that person to become all that he or she can be.

Listen closely to the songs and poems that arise within you, both the happy ones and the sad ones, and trust their quiet messages. Trust your dreams, your aspirations, and your imagination, for these are of yourself, and that alone makes them worthy of your unwavering trust.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I continue to be amazed at the depth and tenacity of the threads that bind us to our past, especially to those earliest formative years of childhood. Albert was 4-5 years older than me, and as a young boy Albert and Eleanor (always said that way…Albert and Eleanor…were my friends, though not exactly playmates. As I was growing up they were there, as was Aunt Rose and Uncle Gus and the rest of the Sciliano family. I was an only child, they were a family of 10 and they made me feel like the 11th. I was too young to remember all that we did together but between photos and stories I know it was significant. As would be expected, as we got older we gradually drifted toward friends of our own ages and eventually went our separate ways.

I continued to see Albert over the years…he and his lovely wife Nola lived close to my parents and uncle, so I made it a point to stop in an say hello on my visits home. Sadly, I have not seen Eleanor since leaving home for college.
Last October I visited Albert, and also his older brother Gussie, taking pictures of them, Gussie sitting at his kitchen table and Albert in front of his fig trees.

My parents moved to our farm in Maryland in the mid 1980s. My uncle Ferrar died 3 years ago, and my cousin Joan now lives in Forest Grove. Albert was my last personal tie to Landisville.

Albert died unexpectedly several days ago and my heart aches, for Nola, Albert Jr., the remainder of the Scilianos…and for me. In spite of the time and the distance, I still feel a bit like that 11th Siciliano.

Monday, March 28, 2011


It started before I got out of bed this morning. I woke up thinking about what someone once wrote of Thomas Merton...”never was a man so unafraid of his destiny”. That quote played an instrumental role in my journey many years ago by enabling me to think about my own destiny (that I could even have a destiny, a word I usually attributed to larger than life historical figures and not us run-of-the-mill people.), which I did with considerable gusto. I recognized, acknowledged, and claimed what I considered my destiny...a life that combined both medicine and art.

Lying in bed this morning it occurred to me that I no longer had that confident grasp on my destiny, accepting that I have been living it, and am now in those “winding down” years where it is difficult to look very far ahead. So I approached my morning journal routine intending to write something about these winding down years, and was immediately struck with doubt and misgivings.

What am I thinking?! That it is time to pack up and dust off the rocking chair? That instead of exploring and creating I should be reviewing, cataloging and reminiscing? That is absurd. Is there some biological clock that tells us it is time to slow down and look back, not ahead? I don’t think so. Granted, there is a natural tendency to so as we reach these later years, approaching work, and life, with a bit more deliberate and critical thinking, which is good. Maybe, if we’re lucky, there is even some wisdom somewhere that we can draw on (no pun intended). Yes, it is difficult to see a long term destiny when we reach the 70th decade and beyond, but that only means our energies are focused on the work in front of us today and that we not only can, but must continue to explore and create. Long term plans now span 1-2 years and not 10-20, and what the work may lack in terms of ambition it makes up for in its intensity and commitment. I once made a promise to myself and to every patient that I left behind that my goal was produce the best art that I am capable of doing. I intend to honor that promise.

I realize I have written about a variation of this theme several times over the past few years; it is simply my way of dealing with it and believe me, it helps.

Exploring and creating ends with death....perhaps.

How does that expression go? You're as young as you feel?

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Armed with a glass of wine, I am ready to do battle in the cultural wars over the issue of “values”. Forget the role of wine in the new testament, since it is clear that only really crazy people take the bible literally, and some of them still use grape juice in their sacraments. I will make my case solely on my own personal experience which, with all humility, I consider to be very valid.

Wine to me means family. As a young boy I helped my father and grandfather pick the grapes in our vineyard. I wish I could say that I stomped around on them in my bare feet, but alas, that pleasure was denied me. I did however play in the huge upright barrel that remained from the commercial wine making days; access was through a small door that opened near the bottom. I remember it as huge, but it was probably about 8-10 feet tall and 5-6 feet across. But I digress.

Like so many first generation Italian-Americans, my father made wine every year, even long after the grapes were gone. In fact he did so his entire life excluding the few years his health prevented it. There were always 5-6 barrels of wine in our cellar. In later years the wooden barrels were replaced by 5 gallon glass and plastic vessels. A gallon of red wine was a fixture in our kitchen, often on the floor by my father or grandfather at dinner time and the wine was sipped from small juice glasses, never the wine glasses we see today.

When aunts, uncles, and cousins came to visit they never left without first having coffee, wine, and more often than not, food. For many years I would visit my uncle Ferrar and the visit always began with a glass of wine along with some bread, cheese, and perhaps peppers and/or salami. Of course he made his own wine, as did my uncle Ren (Communardo, but everyone called him Ren...quite understandable.) who left the farm and moved to Long Island and soon had his own grape arbor in the back yard.

Wine means the warmth of friendship and sharing. I do enjoy a glass of wine alone, at the end of the day, but I enjoy it more when I am sitting with one or more friends and neighbors in our kitchen or on our porch. It is a quiet way of saying, “I am glad your here with me”. It is a gesture of friendship and hospitality.

Family, friendship, hospitality...sounds a lot like love to me.

Ferrar, Ren, and Spartico (my father) sometime in the 1980s

the same three as they were way back when..

A partial family gathering at Uncle Ren's. The grape arbor can be seen on the right.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Since starting this blog almost 7 years ago I have occasionally posted excerpts from my book, HAVE I TOLD YOU TODAY THAT I LOVE YOU. Beginning today I will be posting an excerpt weekly, presenting the entire book over the next 3-4 months.


These words come from a place deep within me, born out of times of anguish, frustration, joy and sorrow, successes and failures, and seasoned by liberal doses of anxiety, depression, and self doubt in a spiritual awakening that literally transformed my life. I discovered my soul.

These experiences have come together to form a central force that has guided my life, enabling me to navigate a personal journey that at one time was unthinkable.

I am indebted to others who, through their writing, have shared the experiences and lessons of their own personal journeys. I hope that I can do the same for those that follow me.


In the course of your lifetime you will come to know and learn much. Your mind will incorporate data from countless hours of listening, reading, and observing, where it will be filtered and stored, all very rational. But there is another way of knowing, irrational or non cerebral, not in the head, but in the heart. A sense of knowing felt deeply within yourself, where it may come to you directly, out of the blue with no previous inclination of such, or it may be something you have known in your head, but suddenly experience at another level, finding yourself saying, “so that’s what they meant when they said...”.

What I hope to share with you is what I have come to learn and know, at that deeper level, in the course of my lifetime. I cannot trace its origin, which is far too diverse to remember, but all of it I know, deep in my heart, to be true for me. Reading and remembering this is fine, but only when you incorporate it into your heart, when you truly know it, does it become wisdom by which you will guide yourself.

I am not so presumptuous as to believe that I am the only one who can tell you of these matters. You will read and hear from others much wiser and learned than me. And of course you will live through your own experiences, folding into your own body of wisdom that which you choose. I write this because I have often been helped by the words of others, and perhaps, in some way, these words will help you.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Just when I thought I would no longer have to deal with "values" as discussed in a political context I was hooked by a recent letter to the editor in our local paper. In it the writer expressed his concern for our country and stated we need to return to "God centered values". Unfortunately there was no effort to delineate or define these values; I can only assume he thinks they are obvious and known to all, but this leaves me with so many questions and opens the door to the risk of significant misunderstanding.

For example, I can imagine the writer as an extreme fundamentalist who, when writing about values, is referring to the sins of homosexuality and abortion, which may or may not fair to him.

Or, he may be concerned with much more than these issues, wishing out country could embrace Christianity, the bible, and that we live a life reflecting our belief in Jesus as our personal savior.

I really don't know what the writer was referring to do. What God, or whose God is it that determines these values? And where does that leave those who either don't share his faith in a higher power or simply don't know? Are they incapable of holding values, and can they be valid if they are not based on faith and/or belief?

I would like to see all talk of "values" abolished. If someone needs to talk or write about such then state specifically what you, compassion, integrity, honesty, forgiveness, or whatever and avoid generalities like God centered values that have no meaning.

Ok, I'm over it, and have been browsing my photos for an appropriate image to add to this post and decided on wine! Here is a photo of my dad and his older brother in his wine cellar. They grew up making and selling wine on the family farm. Prohibition ended the selling but they never stopped making wine, even long after the vineyards were removed. What does this have to do with values? Maybe in another post.

My father later in life

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Pasta aglio olio, in our home pronounced “iyo oiyo” was always greeted with a sigh of anticipation when my mother would place the bowl of pasta on the table. On weekdays pasta, served in various ways every Tuesday and Thursday, was a one dish meal, usually with an accompanying salad. My father and I considered aglio olio, (along with every other pasta dish) our favorite. It would be many years later that I first learned how it was spelled so I could look for it on restaurant menus where it was rarely found, probably because it was such a simple peasant meal.

It is easy to prepare. Simply saute thinly sliced garlic in olive oil and serve over pasta with a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley. Some of the pasta water may be added if needed. I prefer capellini (angel hair) or linguini, but almost any pasta will do.

Could it possibly be any simpler? Well...yes it can. Long after I left the nest, and my parents were living in small home on our farm, my mother began serving aglio olio crudo, where the garlic and olive oil are uncooked. The first time I tasted it I knew! If I had to choose my last meal on this sweet would be aglio olio crudo!

I love serving it to friends who have never experienced this simple pleasure. I am surprised how many of my italian friends and relatives have never had this dish. Yesterday I introduced it to my friends Raffaele and Sophia who joined me for lunch.

This very simple dish can be accessorized if one feels the need for something more by adding chopped black olives, or Italian sausage to the pasta. But anything added really takes away from the pure, simple taste of this dish.

Unfortunately I do not have a photo to share with you, but the next time I prepare aglio olio crude I will post one, and that shouldn’t be a very long wait.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I meet the nicest people in my gallery. This week a young man stopped in to look at the art work and was attracted to my pastel painting, Orchard street.

I explained to him that it was based on a photo I took over 20 years ago on a visit to NYC. Orchard St. was known for the shops that specialized in luggage and outer wear, and on Saturdays the merchants rolled there good out on to the sidewalk in addition to hanging them outside of the second floor on supports extending from the walls of the buildings.

This morning I received an email from Bobby with some kind words, plus these photos of Orchard St. that he found online. How thoughtful was that?!

Friday, March 18, 2011


at least for this painting. Inspired by a photo my neighbor took while in China last year, and having just finished my last pastel painting I thought it would be fun to have a go at it.

The painting is flawed, although I still think it was a good idea. I have 3 options: toss it and start all over, rework it, or forget about it. I'll have to see how the spirit moves me.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


My dear wife hates to shop. Just this morning I heard her say, "mention the word mall and I break into tears". It is not unusual for her to return from a shopping trip in that very state of mind...crying and miserable. She hates to shop, especially for herself.

This week we were invited out to dinner, and for the occasion Patience needed new black shoes.
So armed with a fortified sense of resolve she headed to the mall where, among other things, she found a pair of shoes that felt quite comfortable. Unfortunately, upon returning home she found that the left shoe was causing a great deal of pain in some of her toes, confirming her notion that shopping sucks and throwing her into a tizzy. She wore the shoes and suffered through the evening like a real champion, and this morning she was preparing to return them.

Here are the shoes:

And here they are again...look closely at the left shoe:

And here is the cardboard insert that caused her so much distress, physically and mentally.

I love her dearly, but I'm not sure she should be allowed to shop alone, ever.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


As some of you know, I have, from time to time, posted images from my early watercolors, including many scenes from Philadelphia...a city I dearly love. So it should be no surprise that my recent interest in iPhoto books would result in one of my Philadelphia paintings. These were all done in the early and mid 80s and the images were scanned from slides I took. I am pleased to report that all but 2 or 3 of the paintings have been sold.

The book measures 6x8 inches, is spiral bound, and has 30 pages with 41 full color illustrations. The price is $30.00 and includes S&H. It is available here, or on my website.

Next up...the Wilmington Book

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I did what I often do when my wife is out of neighbors and friends and arrange to share dinner, in my kitchen or elsewhere. I knew that the Kitchen Man caught a 21" bass Saturday morning, so my choice seemed Keyth and invite him and Elaine to dinner. Surely he would respond by saying...oh...something like..."I'm cooking the Bass, why don't you join us"?
Now Keyth can be as devious as me, and his response was...let me talk to Elaine and get back to you, keeping me waiting and gaining the edge. Of course I had dinner with them and as usual it was a delicious meal with wonderful company. Elaine is a great friend. so but we're working on it. (because I love him dearly.)

the Kitchen man at work

His better half and Barkley
I looks a little messy...but....

The results were outstanding, as they always are at Leaping Trout's kitchen.

Friday, March 11, 2011


For the past several months I have been thoroughly enjoying myself creating art books using the iPhoto apps on my Mac. Those of you who follow this blog regularly know that I've spent a lot of time recently cataloging and digitializing slides of work from my distant past. With all of those images available to me organizing and recording them into something like...oh...I don't know...a book...seemed like the natural thing to do.

So far I've created a dozen books on the computer and have printed 7 of them. I am making them available on my website, but I'm really doing this for my own satisfaction, plus with the idea that perhaps some of them can be used as a portfolio of sorts in promoting my work to galleries and dealers.

Of all the books, one is particularly special to me, An Emergency Room Sketchbook. This is something I have been thinking about for years and today I received my first copy in the mail.

An Emergency Room Sketchbook...spiral bound 6x8". 56 pages with 64 pen & ink drawings.
price...$40.00 includes S&H

The drawings are from my journal/sketchbook which was my constant companion during my ER days.

I will be introducing the other books in future posts. They include: the Philadelphia Paintings, The Wilmington years, Barns & Farms, the Art of W.F.R., Acrylic Paintings, Clay Drawings, and Industrial Art.

YES...I have been on a book roll!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I've completed the 3rd and 4th painting in this pastel series. They are smaller, about 12x28, and follow the same theme in many of my paintings...large sky, horizon, and foreground with or without tree lines or isolated barn.

Interstate landscape...pastel 12x28

Interstate landscape 2...pastel 12x28

I anticipate adding several more to the series over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


This painting has been keeping me awake at night. I thought it was finished when I tried cropping it, but I had to agree with my friend Wynn who thought the larger sky provided a better overall composition (which is why I painted it that way in the beginning . So I went back and re-worked the sky, trying to eliminate the overwhelming constant orange. I think I succeeded, but am not sure this photo adequately depicts the change...I lightened the sky as it approaches the horizon and made some subtle changes in the foreground water.

I promise you...this will be the last time I post anything about this painting!

Here are the previous "editions"...cropped and un-cropped.

and here is the final, never to be touched again painting.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


This is one of those efforts that combine a good idea with an OK result. I like the simplicity and the complimentary colors, but somehow it comes up short. The sky may be too uniform and too large, and the land mass above the rocks on the right side is too dim (easy to fix). I'm pleased with the rocks and the shack with their reflections.

So...after writing this I went back to photoshop and cropped the image...

I think this is a better painting and would welcome some feedback.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Progress is slow but steady.

Here is the photo that inspired this painting:

This one had less appeal:

Thursday, March 3, 2011


will be from a scene I photographed from the train to Ancona, a busy industrial seaport town on the eastern coast of Italy. For several miles the train hugs the coast line offering great views of the beaches and small fishing shacks which dot the beaches on the approach to the city.

Here are 2 more ER sketchts:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I will keep the words to a minimum today...I really can do that...and just show my latest painting. This was inspired by photos I took on I24 driving from Paducah to Nashville.

On the way to Nashville...pastel on Illustration board...15x30

Below in the beginning of the next in this series. At this point I don't know what the subject/composition will be.

Pastel in progress...20x30"

Finally, if you will allow me a bit of parenteral pride, I would like to recommend 2 blogs to you.

The Happy Internist, by daughter Beth and Barn yard, by daughter Sara Jo.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


For the past several weeks I have been spending a lot of time on my yesterdays, looking at past artwork and reading old journals. I would like to think that this is something we tend to do as we accumulate the years, a notion that I find comforting. The older I get the more attraction the past seems to have for me, perhaps because life has been good to me. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful family, rich friendships, and have been able to follow my dreams, all with a minimum of pain and hardships. I’ve written that this exercise is to help my chart my future, but the truth is, it is simply something that gives me a great deal of satisfaction and many fond memories, some of which I hope to preserve for the benefit of children and grandchildren. I do very well reflecting on the yesterdays of my life.

I also do quite well dwelling on the tomorrows I hope will be there. In fact using Carl Jung’s criteria I could be considered an “intuitive”, one that tends to live significantly in the future. As family and friends can readily attest, I seem to thrive on change. Patience tends to cringe when she hears me say “you know...I’ve been thinking”. But tomorrow isn’t only about major changes in one’s life, for me it is also about planning and executing my next project or goal, usually, but not always related to my art. The focus may be short term, the next series of paintings, or long term, creating a book or planning a major exhibit. I need to have something to keep me engaged, and when I am, I am involved not only in the day at hand, but imaginatively in the days ahead.

My biggest problem is when there is no such engagement. My awareness of the value of living in the day often is of little help, and I tend to find myself wandering aimlessly about looking for something to attach myself to.

Does any of this make any sense to anyone?

To relieve any concerns you may have...I am currently engaged....working on the first of a series of pastel landscapes.