Sunday, December 30, 2012



It has been many years since I seriously and consistently worked with the line as the primary means of expression in my art.  It has a limited role in my architectural renderings in watercolor, and none in the clay monotypes or acrylic paintings, where composition and color are the means to creating drama and mood.  But, when properly executed, the simplest lines can evoke powerful and dramatic images.

It was during my first four years working in emergency rooms that I learned to appreciate the power and subtleties of line drawings, expressed exclusively in my on the spot sketchbook entries.  (Studio work at that time was always with watercolor.)   I recaptured some of the spirit of on the spot sketching during my trip to Italy in 2010, but have done little to sustain it since my return.  Yet it remains lurking in the back of my mind as I remember the joy and satisfaction I would feel when I successfully captured my subject in a few well-placed lines.  Maybe 2013 will be the time when I recover my pen and sketchbook.

Here are a few of what I consider the best of line drawings.

For an excellent example of the power of the line, I recommend a book by Gabrielle Vincent called
A day, a dog, a moving story told only with simple drawings.  It is wonderful.

Monday, December 24, 2012


It has been 20 years since I spent Christmas Eve with my parents and children.  My mom died 20 years ago this month, and my dad 3 years later, in the fall of the year.  For the first 53 years of my life, with one exception, I spent every Christmas Eve with my parents, a tradition that survived all the twists and turns in my life, until their deaths.

Beforel I married, this festive affair was spent with aunts, uncles, cousins and friends; later it was with my family, as it grew and evolved, surviving a divorce, a new family, and emerging adult children.  Year after year, it was arguably the most consistent event in my life.

Like so many Italian-American families, we celebrated the night before Christmas with the incomparable 7 fish dinner, something my father, in spite of his anti-religion views, thoroughly embraced and enjoyed.  As for me, I could usually find 3 or 4 dishes on the table that I liked…especially the pasta with anchovies or clams.  The shrimp was always good, and the deep fried smelts were OK.  The hardest to take was the Bacala…salted Cod that was served in a variety of ways.           

A few years ago my wonderful wife worked very hard to recreate that 7 fish menu for a Christmas Eve dinner with friends here in Paducah.  I thought she did a great job, but I can understand why, after spending all day in a kitchen full of smelly fish she vowed “never again”.  I still consider that an extreme act of love.

Our Christmas Eves are quiet now; the 7 fish diner has been replaced by linguine with anchovies, and if I remember to buy them, a shrimp cocktail.  The children now have their own families, and are busy transitioning into new traditions, which is as it should be.  I enjoy sitting in our living room with a glass of wine, the lights low, and Christmas music in the background, fondly remembering what was, and looking forward to what will be.  Christmas Eve has become a time when I am most intensely aware of how blessed my life has been.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Two Barns in Snow...acrylic...24x24...2009

Snow Pond...acrylic...24x24...2012

Reflections II...acrylic...36x48...2012

Snow Field...acrylic...24x24...2012

Winter Field...acrylic...30x40,,,2013

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Winter's wonderland

The current cold front coming through and driving out the unseasonably warm temperatures has prompted me to search for paintings of mine with winter themes, particularly snow.  It turns out I've done more of them than I remembered, but still not very many.  Going way back into the 1980's  I've posted several of them here today.

Snow Fall...acrylic...6x6' 2009

Moore's Farm...acrylic...4x4"    2009

Red Barn in snow...pastel...15x20"   about 1998-9

Snow Field...watercolor...7x9"   2010

Snow on Broom st....watercolor...20x30"   1992

I'll post several more tomorrow, because I know you can't wait to see them.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I expect this to me my last landscape of this rapidly ending year.  This was a commissioned work, based on a photograph taken during the last days of the autumn colors.  
This is a theme I've used an a number of paintings over the past several years,  Sunlight striking a storm darkened sky.

Behind the Storm...acrylic...12x24

Storm front...acrylic...16x40

White Farm House...acrylic...30x40

Must be Summer ...acrylic...16x40


Friday, December 14, 2012


My entire life has been defined by my work.  From my school days, working on our farm, and in the local pharmacy, through college and medical training, to my careers in medicine and art, I have defined myself, to a great extent, by the work I do.

I consider my very fortunate to have had a sense of “calling” regarding medicine, and later, art.  I have always felt that this was the work that I was intended to do, and thus they have provided un-ending meaning and purpose to my life.  They chose me; I did not choose them.

Medicine and art have allowed me to be who I am, without the need to conform to the standards or requirements of the “work place”.  They have given me the opportunity to express myself to others, in a manner of my own choosing, whether it be through a bedside visit or a painting, calling on the gifts that have bee granted me.  Both, over the course of my lifetime have enabled me to exercise both sides of my brain, in medicine and in art.

Medicine was never a technological exercise or a business enterprise for me.  It was always about people, serving them and being present to them in all circumstances.  It was a privilege I will always be most grateful for.

I left medicine ten years ago, and since then art has been my life’s work, even as it has continued to evolve, surviving the periodic crisis of confidence and self doubt.  In recent years, new work has begun to emerge, in some ways bridging the gap between art and medicine…writing.

I have been writing for myself for years, in my journal and in letters to my children and friends, but it began to assume a larger role when I started my blog five years ago.  My “style” has always been the short, personal essay, in which I can share my reflections on current issues, write about my art, and share memories of my past. Or to explore almost anything that I find interesting.

I don’t know if my writing will ever be anything more than it is now.  But I intend to pay very close attention to it, and listen carefully…just in case it calls.

If it doesn't?    There is always food and wine!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The first thing I got to do is slow down

I’m getting ready to wash the breakfast dishes, standing at the sink, when I realize I left the ceiling fan on in the studio.  I quickly run across the breezeway into the studio, turn off the fan, and hustle back to the kitchen.  Why?  Why did I move like I was facing some time deadline?  There was nothing I absolutely had to get done and nowhere to go; the entire day was ahead of me, to do or not do whatever I wanted. I catch myself rushing to get somewhere or complete some task all the time, and it is not just physically is mental.  I’m always hurrying to get some little thing done.

I am convinced that life would be so much better - more enjoyable – if I would learn to mentally and physically switch to a lower gear and remain mindful of the fullness of each day, grateful for the opportunity to design it as I see fit.


Monday, December 10, 2012


Grocery shopping has never been a chore for me, and in recent years it has become a rather pleasant task, one that I look forward to doing.  Over the years I’ve fallen into somewhat of a routine, doing most of my shopping at one of our local Krogers super markets, as well as our seasonal famer’s market.  I suppose I averaged 2 to 3 visits a week to either one.

During our “year of pasta”, the shopping became somewhat predictable; there were the usual staples that I kept on hand, fresh, frozen, or canned, often in excess of our actual need.  My reasoning was, it would eventually all get used.  Everything changed this summer.

Two things were responsible for the change: first was our decision to go to a plant based diet, and second was the opening of the Midtown Market, about 29 blocks from our home.

Our new eating habits, motivated by not so desirable cholesterol numbers, is basically vegetarian, with limited seafood, no red meat, and limited dairy and fats.  We are even developing a taste for whole-wheat pasta…at least for selected brands.  Since we are eating so much fresh produce that has limited shelf life, it is necessary to buy only what will be used in the next 2 days, especially for the greens.  The root veggies allow us more time.  I suspect I could make the shopping more efficient if I planned a careful weekly menu…and followed it.  But that is something I’ve never been able to do, thus the frequent trips to the market.

For a long time I’ve harbored a fantasy of walking to a market in our neighborhood every day to buy the fresh foods for our evening meal, something not very practical in our circumstances.  Driving the 2 or 3 miles to Krogers would not be the same.  Then, in the spring of this year, a young man opened a new food market, featuring fresh produce, meats, and a variety of organic and non-organic gourmet staples and specialty items.

The locally owned Midtown Market is a short 22 blocks from our home, and the quick, easy drive there brings me one step closer to my fantasy.  I love shopping there, and I do just that, at least 5 times a week, getting only what I need for the evening dinner…OK…some times I buy impulsively, but that only supports a local enterprise, right?

Sunday, December 2, 2012


The WINDOW series:

Windows #1...12x12"

Several years ago I was playing with different ways of applying loose acrylics on to a panel or canvas, applying and removing paints with fabrics and paper.  I ended up with the background on
the above painting.  I knew I wanted to use it, but initially did not know how, until the approach seen in the above piece occurred to me.  The idea was simple, select a color theme for the background, and use similar or complementary colors in the composition contained in the "window".

Of course I had to expand on this, and the Windows series was born, which eventually grew to over 20 paintings of various sizes and shapes, but all following the same general guide lines.

Windows #12...the largest in the series...48x36"

Windows #21...extreme horizontal format

Windows #24...36x36...with a variation on the window

They were fun to do while the series lasted and I haven't gone back to this format since then.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


In today’s post, “this” painting translates to “these” paintings, three paintings that clearly demonstrate my fondness for light and dark.

It was over 20 years ago that I first became truly aware of the drama of brilliant sunlight against a dark stormy sky; I was driving into a dark sky while the sun shone brightly behind me, lighting up the dirty white bark a bald plain tree and transforming it into a brilliant sculpture.  As soon as I saw that phenomenon I knew I had to incorporate it into my art, which I did, and continue to do, with some variation, all these years later.

Far From Brooklyn…acrylic…24x48

Before the Storm…Acrylic…24x48

My most recent experience of this show of nature occurred on my drive back from Texas, For most of the 12 hours I was following a storm moving east and staying far enough ahead of me to keep me dry, but still see the light as it fell on the autumn foliage.  The result was this painting:

Autumn Foliage…Acrylic…16x40

Sunday, November 25, 2012


I would like to begin this occasional series – About This Painting - with Dark Forrest

 Dark Forrest…Acrylic…. 30x40”

Dark Forrest was not only one of my very first acrylic paintings, but I think, one of my best.  It did not start out that way.

In 2006 I began thinking about working on canvas, rather than paper, because of the cost of getting my pastels, watercolors, and clay mono types framed for protection and exhibiting.  The clincher came when a gallery to whom I submitted my portfolio wrote back saying they loved my work but did not take anything framed under glass.  That did it for me; I purchased the necessary materials and went to work.  The result, after a great deal of frustration, wiping out and starting over, was Dark Forrest.

It took me less than a dozen brush strokes to realize that working with acrylics on canvas was totally unlike watercolor on paper.  Struggling with brush strokes and color mixing, I bungled my way through the sky.  It was a disaster that I tried correcting by painting over with a different color, also a failure.  Disgusted with myself I began scraping away the paint and to my great delight, I liked what I saw.

At this point I had only a vague idea about what I wanted next…a colorful, loosely rendered tree line making the horizon the point of focus.  Again, I struggled with colors, and even more so with the brushwork.  And again, the paint went on, and come off, until I put the brush aside and began playing with the palette knife.  After several trials and errors, I ended up with the rest of my painting, and I was pleased.

In the process of this work I learned several techniques that I have continued to use in selected paintings, either exclusively, or in combination with other techniques.  It is a rare painting in which I have not used a palette knife at some point in the work. and I continue to render trees and foliage abstractly with the knife, carving out the trunks and branches to expose colors below.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Last of the new

The last 2 pieces that complete the new exhibit at Gallery 5...five years of imagining landscapes.  The exhibit is now available for viewing, and the opening reception scheduled for the Second Saturday in December from 5 to 8 P.M.

Do-over II...acrylic, ink...16x49

Untitled...acrylic, ink...12x24

Thursday, November 22, 2012


I've spent the past week preparing the gallery for a new exhibit, which means removing all the work currently in the gallery, AND, finding a place for them in the studio.  It always appears to be an impossible task, but somehow it gets accomplished.

Below are some photos of the gallery with the new show in place.  Because of space limitations I am forced to take a Salon style approach, hanging the paintings together, rather than giving each one its own space.

The exhibit will be up through the rest of the year, with an opening reception on Dec. 8, from 5 to 8 PM.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


That Cauliflower and Brussels sprouts would be the foundation of a great pasta dish.  I suppose this only proves that we are never too old to learn something new.

It began when P and I decided to pursue a more plant based diet, which meant scrambling for new dishes to replace our usual fare…pasta with a little of everything else.  Over the past few months I’ve been learning new ways to prepare both familiar and unfamiliar ingredients.  We’ve even gone so far as to learn to enjoy whole-wheat pasta!

The current edition of La Cucina Italiana contained a recipe for a pureed Cauliflower soup served with sautéed Brussels sprouts.  I tried it 2 nights ago and it was quite good, something we would certainly have again, which we did last night, but in a slightly different setting.

We were going to the theater to see West Side Story, and I wanted something quick and simple to prepare for an early dinner.  Normally this would have been pasta with aglio olio crudo, but since we were limiting our olive oil intake that was not an option.  Browsing the contents of the fridge I saw the leftover soup, which had thickened a bit overnight, and the dinner question was resolved.

The Cauliflower-Leek soup with Brussels sprouts made a perfect sauce for Al Dente Pasta brand egg Pappardelle, served with freshly grated Parmigiano cheese.

I look forward to trying this again with other pureed soups.


Cauliflower – small florets
Leek – white and light green stem cut crosswise into thin slices
Olive oil
Vegetable broth
Brussels sprouts
Whole milk – (I used fat free)
Fresh Dill

Cook the Leek and Cauliflower in the broth, salt, and milk until the Cauliflower is soft, about 30 minutes.  Puree and keep warm.

Cook the Brussels sprouts in boiling water for 5 minutes, drain and cool in cold water, and cut into quarters.  Place them in a skillet with olive oil and salt and cook until they start to turn a golden brown.

Add the Brussels sprouts to the pureed soup and continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes before serving, sprinkled with fresh Dill

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I've decided that for my last event in the gallery for 2012 I will combine new work with selected older pieces to show 5 years of imaginative landscape paintings.  Initially it was conceived as an exhibit of works on canvas, but I haven't ruled out including other media.   The unifying theme of the exhibit will be the use of abstraction in creating an objective vision.

 I literally stumbled on this process when I first started working with acrylics on canvas and panels almost 7 years ago.  On my very first attempt with the media I discovered I could not do the necessary brush work to create the image I wanted, and out of frustration more than anything else, I began working with the palette knife, and after pushing the paint around for what seemed like forever, the result was a landscape I really liked.

Dark Forrest...30c49

Dark Forrest was my first...and I have continued to use the same approach on selective paintings since then.

Add caption
I hope to have the show up and ready by Thanksgiving.  The opening reception will be Saturday, December 8, from 5 to 8 P.M.

 Of course none of this will happen until I find a place for all of  the paintings currently in the ongoing struggle for space.

Monday, November 12, 2012


It is still early in the relationship, but I have a strong sense that it is going to grow into something very special.  We were meant for one another, and I can imagine the day when it proudly stands along side of pasta and me.  (Let me assure everyone that my relationship with pasta is very secure and will not be threatened by the squash.)

My first personal encounter with BNS was during our pasta quest, when I used it to make a filling for ravioli; it was a passing affair, and only recently have we begun a more sustained relationship as Patience and I have shifted to a more plant based diet.  Currently we are on soup kick, combining the BNS with carrots and sweet potatoes, and creating a variety of soups by adding salmon or smoked salmon (really good!), toasted Kale flakes, or serving the soup over slices of roasted cabbage.  Of course the variations are unlimited, and always served with fresh graded Reggiano Parmigiano cheese.

I must confess that for a while I was feeling pretty bad, thinking I was cheating on my pasta, but then I remembered the threesome we shared, and once more all was well in our kitchen.


Grain elevator...pastel & ink...30x20...1997

Purple Majesty...oil pastel...16x32

Bucks Co. Playhouse...watercolor...20x30...1989

Philadelphia Art Museum...watercolor...15x42...1990

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Periodically I will browse through photos of old work to remind myself of how my work has evolved; it is a bit sobering to see that some of the older work is as good as, and occasionally better, than the newer stuff.  I imagine that is the case for many artists and craftsmen, regardless of their field.  In the five year history of this blog I think I've posted images of most of the work I have completed in the past 35 years.

Over the next several posts I will be showing some of my personal favorites.

 NYC Skyline...pastel...30x40...2000

Philadelphia Merchants Exchange...watercolor...20x30...early 1980s

Behind the Strand...watercolor...20x30...circa 1990

 Gray Smokestacks...pastel...20x30...circa 1995
Blues in the night...watercolor...30x40...early 1980s