Saturday, May 31, 2008

Still Life Dead Plant

I really like this little picture. I set this up in the studio with a few different arrangements. The one without flowers won my vote so I painted it pretty fast, before the mood changed or the leaves wilted. I do paint stuff like this once in a while...used to a lot more. Always a good practice to keep your eye honest and your hand coordinated with that honest eye. The plant is a spider wort...also known as Wandering Jew. We had one growing in a large pot in the living room back in the days of the sonic boom and black & white TV. It was at least 30 feet long. My mother had it draped over a large picture window and down and around the curtains. We would pin Christmas cards to the drapes every year, tons of 'em. The plant and the cards would vie for space and made for a pretty nice little piece of decor. In the past 5 years combined I don't think I've received as many Christmas cards as our family used to every year. Either I'm not worthy of such good and loyal friends like my folks had or not too many people know my address or ...times have changed. Well, here's a little heads-up. You've got 7 months to prepare to send me a card.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Big Sky 11x14 impressionist oil on canvas

A little change of pace here as I reminisce about my forty years wandering in the wilderness...uh, er, I mean our 6 beautiful years in Montana. Yes, apart from all the natural glory that is the mountainous west, Montana was an interesting (trying) sojourn for my little family. It was there, however, I began to paint landscapes and got to know some really good artists not the least of which is my friend Mike Mahoney ...who just sent me some photos of late winter snows.(from which I made this painting) I didn't ask him but I think these are the Crazy Mountains. Do you remember when the movie Jeremiah Johnson came out? Man, I thought that was the coolest flick since Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid. Anyway, the crazy lady in the show? The mountains were named after her. Something about watching her family get scalped made her go mad. I guess I would've too...In every sense. My new palette has been real fun and every painting is a bit of an adventure with these new colors. This painting is being offered for sale here and I'm sure it will go at a price that will cause people to shake their heads in wide-eyed wonder in future years. So, check it out and let me know if you ever wished you could've been Jeremiah.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Backlit 36x24

A large cloud looms on the horizon. Again, pushing some new colors and the romantic fragrance of a good sounding storm. The piece is being offered on auction here. Let me know if you've ever been caught up in a funnel cloud or something like that and I'll publish it here. No lies or exaggerations please...I reserve the right to do that on my own blawg!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Alamos River Impressionist Landscape Art

I just completed another harrowing all-night bus ride from Navojoa, Sonora, Mexico. Three checkpoints in the middle of the night. Three 45 minute stops being boarded by armed police and soldiers. We were searched and made to leave our comfortable reclining seats, personal travel pillows and ...not one of us was carrying any kind of contraband (that was discovered) After we crossed the US border on foot we caught a 2 hour shuttle van to Tucson. On the way we were stopped by Americas finest border patrol agents. All my dark-haired traveling companions scrambled for their visas and crossing permits as the green & white SUV (the migra) pulled us over on north-bound I-19. When the tall blond patrolman came to me and was confronted by my cold stare, empty hands, inactivity and nonplussed expression he recoiled. I blandly asked him what he wanted. Somewhat complying I told him that I was a @#% American and made no move to show any ID. My cool Midwest accent and even cooler demeanor convinced him and we were on our way. A great time was had near Alamos, near where this painting was made. A fine reunion with old friends capped off a week of clandestine activities that included smuggling a 15 passenger van into southern Sonora with no permit and watching the new Narnia movie at a theater with one of my kids and some amigos. Scott Holmberg says that C.S. Lewis would turn over in his grave if he saw what they did with his stories. I say he'd roll over twice if he saw them in Spanish! Now, I've seen a bunch of movies in Spanish and it's usually no big deal. In our family we like to see how good or close they make the voices to the original and some of them are quite good. But centaurs and British kids walking through mystical wardrobes sounding like they just crossed the Rio Grande?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

La Argentina

This piece is titled La Argentina. The word means silvery...or connotes something of silver etc. It's the view from a ranch of the same name I've spent a lot of time on over the years, harvesting wild honey (dozens of stings from Africanized bees), wrangling horses, working cattle, catching Gila monsters and...teaching grade school. This will be offered on auction for the next 10

Friday, May 16, 2008


The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book. It's a chronicling of adventure tales with lots of references to fire, explosions, gun play and just plain dangerous stuff. In fact, I had been contemplating getting my youngest boy a copy of The Dangerous Book For Boys but after a bit of a look-through I realized it was just too tame. So, I've decided to make my own. I'll have a blog up soon with bits and pieces and photos to verify everything from the non-existence of Bigfoot to the capture and skinning of a salt-water croc.

The Amazon
Brazilians speak a very bad form of Spanish mixed with unintelligible French sounds and some Japanese mixed in for good measure. I thinks it's called Portuguese. The southern cross was visible from the half- submerged barge that jutted out into deep water somewhere in the labyrinthine jungle/river maze that is the Amazon. We had crossed several rivers to get to this place, the home of giant catfish weighing up to 600lbs! There are two river types in the Amazon basin. The black rivers whose waters are like dark tea, clear enough to see the piranhas strike and devour an 8 inch eel 2 to 3 feet down. The other are the brown water courses that are light tan (my favorite color) and completely murky, almost opaque. We were on the former. The night was still and dark and fresh stories of jaguars, anacondas, crocodiles and 6 foot fish were swimming around in my head. The thing is, I'd love to wrestle one of these critters and live to tell about it. Just not at night. I mean I would tell about it at night but would prefer not to go through it in the dark. I just think the "living to tell about it" would be negated by the "It happened at night" part of the story. Plus, it had been a while since I had seen Marlin Perkins and his helper Jim subdue a 20ft. Python so my technique probably wasn't up to snuff. My companions headed back to camp with all the lanterns and I thought well enough of them for it. I wanted to enjoy this spectacular view of the heavens I had never experienced. Wow, what a maddening display of glory in that swath of multitudinous majesty that all the starry host puts together. Is it still called the milky way in the southern hemisphere? Anyway, I had a half mile walk through tall-canopy rain forest along a small track, my only light, a few faint fireflies. (good name for a rock band) Easy enough for someone of my health armed with assorted pocket tools and knives since birth, ...though my night vision has waned a bit in recent years. As soon as I stepped off the barge and lost sight of the southern cross everything was black. The jungle air that smelled of river water and a moment earlier had comforted me with it's warm, decaying matter, pungent, sweet, and moist embrace now seemed to lock me in a vise-grip hold of pure evil. I could not see a thing! I could have cried out for help. I was sure that even if my Sonoran style Spanish couldn't be understood the commonly heard, desperate squeal of a human caught in the jaws of death would bring them running. As it turned out the only things we had to fear on that trip were the tiny fish that wriggle up inside people who swim in the Amazon tributaries. Seems they are attracted if you take a leak in the water...and of course with those sharp little fins there's no backing out. I won't go into why we had reason to fear them little guys but we heard first hand accounts from a couple of very scarred individuals. Two days after I captured (and freed) a large anteater and landed my first platter-sized piranha a pair of alligators accosted our shallow boat. The native guide hit the smallest one, a mere 9 footer, on the snout as she tried to bite down on the gunnels of the little dug-out we were in. They come to the sound of fish thrashing around of which there were many and of an assortment not seen by me since reading Dr. Seuss' One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. We celebrated the encounter by swimming in our skivvies right across the channel from where this happened ...just so’s you know what kind of expeditionaries we are.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Freight Train Impressionist / Abstract Landscape

This 24x36 inch canvas on panel piece is titled Freight Train. I was imagining the whistle blowing looking out over this prairie landscape and man, a flood of memories came a-steamin' into my brain. Good ones at that! I've lived a number of places where the old train horn howling was as much a part of the landscape as the clouds and trees. I made a picture similar to this not long ago. I often work off an old painting of mine and try some new angles. Maybe the same palette just a bit of nuance to flavor it different. I definitely liked the colors in this one so I thought I'd try something like this in a different size. I build a lot of paintings from inspiration. Remember, it's the abstract relationships between shapes and color that float my boat. I'm not looking for an exact representation of a specific scene. Of course I will do that when I'm painting from life or a commissioned picture with a photo reference. But sometimes I just get out the colors and build backdrops for the adventures that continually roll through my mind as if on a never ending track. Plus, I have some new colors to experiment with. Speaking of train whistles. After living for a while in ol' Mexico I found myself waking up one morning in Tucson, Az. In that world between sleep and wakefulness, just at the crack of dawn (the moment the druids called the time between times when passing from one dimension to the other was possible...I've only done that once) I heard the most awful rooster crow that my ears ever laid eyes on. I rolled out of bed onto the floor wondering where I was and how did the rooster get so close and so loud. ...It was the 5 am hot shot rollin' through Tucson's Armoury Park. This is available on a shorter-than-usual 7 day auction here.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Faithful Witness To All She Sees

Here's the antidote for the sad news we're all exposed to. Take a deep breath, sigh as you exhale and...look at the moon. Always works for me. When I gaze at the heavens everything on this old earth looks quite small in comparison. Good medicine to be sure and a good washing for the soul. By it I conclude that the glorious, celestial beauty in all it's amazing order mixed with the regenerative and creative life we live (in spite of entropy...and earthquakes, war etc.) must have a purpose and... must have been made by Someone. So, look up! I'm giving myself this little pep talk 'cause I've been feeling blue about some heavy circumstances lately...And the new moon on the rise soon will be faithful and true as always! The following great tune has been recorded by a bunch of folks not the least of which was Elvis...I saw him leave the building... at the St. Paul civic center on his last concert tour. We left before the encore. Turns out there was none and as we walked by the underground garage comes Elvis leaning against the smoked glass, still in his sequined jumpsuit and dark shades. My sister and I were the only ones on the sidewalk and we waved for him to stop...just about touched the glass on the limo. He was like a fish in a bowl. Didn't move or blink. Had he known who I was...?!?

How Great Thou Art

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,Consider all

the worlds Thy Hands have made;

I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,

Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,How great Thou art,

How great Thou art.Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,

How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

On My Way

A big fat cloud painting was in the offing this week...had a vision of this, of sorts and, well, this is how it turned out. One of my most glorious pieces of late and yes, this is romantic art. Except for the size (30x40) it would be just a soft and gooey piece of romanticized indulgence. The scale tempers it a bit I know. However, I do give in to the mushified urge to make pretty stuff once in a while. This is as far from making a statement as one can get in creating art. Sure, we can always read into a piece all kinds of messages and meanings but as Bob Dylan said, "I ain't lookin' for nothin' in nobody's eyes." To be honest...these kind of scenes really sooth the savage breast and we all know there are a lot of savage breasts out there. If there is any slight of subterfuge intended it would be that we are ever so subtly, if not altogether completely, transported to that celestial shore of no cares and ethereal bliss by this painting ...and no, I'm not referring to Wal-Mart (for my family south of the border) This one too is available on auction at America's favorite place to shop for all its' fine art needs (and no, I'm not referring to Wal-Mart)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Black River

A happy day spent on the Black river. Well, half the day on Roosevelt lake and the other half on the river that feeds it at the northeast end. Here's a view looking upriver from the place my friend's bass boat lost its' prop on shallow rocks. They said the lake had never been this high and that this was the first time in history you could go up the river in a boat. We decided to see just how far up the river we could go. I can tell you in detail if your interested. Just write and ask. My boy Eddie learned to wake board. I did it too but for me and sports there's no learning...Just doing! It was easy...after swallowing 500 gallons of lake water. (I'm still sore four days later) The bass weren't biting ...only a few, which is my normal fishing experience. I hate to sound like I'm whining but...only a few times since my Huck Finn days on the Mississippi have I really killed 'em. I'm beginning to think that talking about fishing and watching people catch fish is more enjoyable than going fishing. I tried to build this painting as much like a plein air piece as possible. (In the studio from photos) I get a general composition arranged and then lay down some dark shapes. After this "blocking" I work from top to bottom waiting to put in highlights towards the end. You know we read from left to right. I always have that in mind when I put down the initial shapes for the composition. It's just more pleasing to the eyes to follow the familiar pattern so I try to get things to flow that way if possible. Just a little artist FYI. Click here to see the painting on eBay.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

At Long Last

Lately I've been threatening to use some new tube colors. To change an artists palette is akin to removing a perfectly good finger ...and then adding two more. Well, maybe that's a little dramatic but it is a bit of a culture shock nonetheless....and a good one at that. I am so pleased with the new additions that I plan on keeping them hidden for fear someone will discover my secret. I still suffer from the limited palette/plein air purist mind-set I've been influenced by. The only real problem is that the new colors I like make my mortgage payment look like a kid's allowance. Anyway, here's a great close-up view of the Santa Catalina mountains near the studio. I spent last Monday on a lake fishing for delicious bass and taking lots of pictures. I was hoping to come home, unload my camera and inspire myself with the new photos. Instead, I paint this...something I have to look at everyday. I hope you feel bad for me. Write and send condolences please.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Mexico lindo y querido si muero lejos de ti...

Another border skirmish and successful sortie into enemy territory this week. I just got back from ol' mejico. This is a picture of me in leaner every sense of the word. I was teaching grade school in a small town in the countryside where Pancho Villa once roamed. fact I knew an old guy from a nearby village who had fought alongside him in the Mexican revolution in 1910. I just purchased a small plot of land about 250 meters from the school room pictured. The town is the same place where I lived back in the 80's and early 90's...and where I experienced most of my Latino-flavored adventures (and death defying illnesses) you might have heard about. The town council had given me a two acre lot and an old adobe house back then. I fixed it up rather nicely for the style and fashion of the day, but sold it for a song when I left for the gold fields of Montana. Well, I didn't actually sell the place for a song. It was a saddle... that I gave away several years later in a garage sale. So, yes, basically it was sold for a song as the figure of speech goes.
The adoption is moving along...according to our lawyer. According to every other normal measure of time like clocks, watches, calendars, almanacs, sun dials etc. it is moving like an ice flow on the Mississippi on a cold January day in Minnesota. I need patience...NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's a good thing I'm not armed (usually) when in Mexico and that there is no equivalent there to "going postal" I'd have to be a vengeful mafioso in order to be understood for any acts of violence. Better to be the peaceful pilgrim I've become and to be known as "El Guapo". I am quite fond of a few things there and the little town where we have land is one of the most picturesque places on earth...I'll throw some pics up soon of this area.