Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cold Water 24x36

The longer I'm away from places like this the more I want to paint them. Recession economics notwithstanding, I'm planning several trips this year...Not the least of which is a teaching workshop in Italy. I hope to hear soon about the dates and then I can start to plan my escape. Mountain lakes are cold lakes and so are the Great Lakes. Lake Superior especially. And since it's the one I know best I will keep my recollections to an honest minimum when I include them all in my analysis of cold water. The times I've dipped or wadded (and there have been many) in the big lake they call Gitchigumee I've become numb in a matter of seconds. Don't forget that numbness (of extremities and faculties) to a Minnesotan is like a little hot sauce to a mexican...No big deal. Right? In fact cold mountain runoff is nothing like falling through river ice at 10 below zero and yet, none of these compares to the time I was dared to dive into the mighty Mississippi from an ice shelf stripped down to my long-johns on a cold winter day. There were six of us standing on the edge of a large ice sheet staring, forlorn and dejected at the open channel of dark water that mocked us in cold, daring derision. It knew as well as us that though there had been enough of a thaw the previous week to open a channel in the rivers deep belly, it was now too cold and the ice too frozen to break off navigable - sized ice bergs for our fun and dangerous enjoyment. We stood there with our hockey sticks in mittened hands pondering our predicament. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I'm the one who both came up with the dare and ended up accepting the challenge. We agreed to pitch in fifty cents each to the one of us who had enough moxie to strip down and dive in. The hardest part was getting the snow and ice-encrusted boots off my already benumbed feet. Once I found myself standing on the ice in bare feet and underwear I took a moment to reconsider. That moment was over in a flash and as I launched myself into the frigid black froth in the best diving form I could muster I remember thinking this was no big deal. The next moment my life flashed before my eyes! The instant I hit the water I realised I was playing at something I had no business playing at. The current, mixed with paralysis, and hockey sticks a lot shorter than the high dive I made didn't make for a good combination. Well, I did scramble out of there and live to tell about it...and collected my $5.50 to boot. Maybe it's because I had my fill of chilled childhood shenanigans that I've never looked back and considered living in the northland since I left those many years ago. Maybe I'll just keep painting cold water and drinking chilled cactus coolers on warm winter, uh, I mean summer days here in Az.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Forest On Fire 18x24

I've always prided myself on not bragging too much about my kids. I figure there's enough child worship that occurs in America without me adding to it. Plus, I don't want them getting big heads or anything. So, in lieu of the normal praise that is typically heaped on kids these days (trophies just for showing up! What's up with that?) I have gone out of my way to not brag on them overmuch...until now. Yes, call me the indulgent parent given to every whim of caprice that secretly lives vicariously through the great and swelling pride that is our progeny and posterity. But really, what father on the eve of his ???#@ birthday could enjoy more than I the gamboling joy and laughter that I experienced last night with my chillun' and not glean from it volumes of self-congratulatory flattery and pride? The game was a skater version of the sport of curling. Any of you from the northland knows what curling is. The rest might need to do a google search on the term. Well, as obscure as the sport might be, the primal elements found in most sports (ie. throwing or kicking a projectile towards some sort of opening or line) were pursued by us with great vigor and athletic alacrity. The large concrete slab, remnant of an abandoned homestead was the venue. A cold, burnt ember was the score-keepers chalk. There was a "scratch" line...much like in a bowling alley and about 25 feet away the crease in the garage floor that pitched down to the old driveway was the ten point goal. No points if you passed the line. I showed up after the boys had already played a game or two...never figured out why it had to be played barefoot(?) but I joined them in a few rounds of skateboard curling...sure to become a hit in the neighborhood. In short, one player sits backwards...("'cause it's scarier") on a skateboard. The player whose turn it is hurls the "stone" (the backwards seated opponent) towards the goal line. The closer you are the more points you score. Pretty simple and pretty fun. The beautiful Az. sky was dimming yet still glowing with red streams of warmth when we heard the call for super. As we made our way past a few horse corrals, chirping Gambel's quails and prickly pear cactus we bragged on one another big time. Your kid might be a future Nobel Laureat but mine...are the best skateboard curlers in the world!

Amarillo By Sundown 24x36

Sometimes the sky glows
Like burning coals that touch lips from off the altar
Sometimes the sky lowers
Like dreadful dreams that bespeak love, unrequited as they moan
Sometimes a red sky at morn
Portents dangerous dealings and shifty drifters
The sky-stream flows and ebbs and falters
Can you see the heaven's sister?
In the throes of love and hate the firmament speaks not softly
Peals and paeans of thunderous flashings repine the night
The new moon shone bright

Friday, March 27, 2009

La Jolla Fog 15x30

This is a good painting for the blues...If you can't sing 'em, paint 'em. I saw a blues act the other night at a local club. I like the blues. I have friends that are really good blues musicians. In fact, I have friends that think I'm a blues musician. The truth is, there's only so much you can do with 12 measures worth of the same three chords. Yes, I know, there is a huge variety of styles and the old swampy acoustic delta blues are the easiest on my ears but, truth be told, they all get kind of old after a few listen-throughs. There ain't nothin' too bluesy about the SoCal coast...except for the fog...captured here in shades of blue.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tucson Mall Manicans by Gary Holbrook

Gary is a friend here in Tucson. He's been painting for years and this is the product. Most of his pictures are stored in a musty garage or...have been painted over or thrown in the trash! Yes, this is what happens when the arts aren't supported. I have seen a lot of high realism...in fact some very good artists even sell beautiful and highly rendered artworks on eBay of all places. (see links to the right) But I've never seen anything that compares to this man's work. Could you get him to make a picture for you? Well, that's a good question. I have 4 of his originals here...waiting for one of us to die to sell them to get what they're worth. I hope to get out and paint with Gary this weekend. I'll post the results of our "plein air" pursuits when I have them.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Birthday Boys Fish

Eli turned 14 yesterday. The day before, we fished for delicious mercury laden bass in a beautiful mining reservoir in southern Arizona(top picture). The picture of the boys with trout is from what seems like yesterday. Eddie had his 16th birthday on Sunday. Now, both boys are trying real hard to sport mustaches and are taller than their dad. Life is full of injustices. The hills were crawling with border patrol agents as the sun set over our little fishing adventure. We were just a few miles from mexico and in a remote desert area that is a common route for people smuggling themselves into America. No, I wasn't scared. My friend Scott (who grew up in Mexico) was armed and Eli and I were intent on enticing lunkers with spinners and crank baits into our fish-smuggling cooler....and staying away from the border. News has come down the line that there might be an arrest warrant out for me in Mexico so I'm not too keen on tempting fate by showing up unannounced. Anyway, these photos are bitter sweet for me. Any parent of grown / growing kids can relate I'm sure. You miss those little ones when you look at the pics from years gone by...a sad, melancholy kind of nostalgia creeps up on you as you have thoughts of what might have been...and search your memory banks for regrets(I have none...or I just forget). The sweet part is that they are becoming real people and the joys of childhood antics are replaced by even greater joys...of high car insurance and being outfished on lake Arivaca.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Blown Away 24x30

Sometimes I labor at a painting, sometimes they just come flowing off the brush, jump off the easel and walk around the studio all by themselves. The working title on this was Blown Down. I used the initials BD to save the image and it reminded me of my favorite uncle. As the picture was wandering around the studio I had the thought "Hmm, I wonder if this is what the inside of Bob's head looks like?" Well, I'm not much of a neurologist, let alone a psychologist but I have pondered the use of Voxel-based morphometry and to how it might relate to measuring brain tissue density in hyper-creative people. Speaking of images, this one was difficult to photograph. Some of my favorite paintings are the ones that tend to look a lot less nifty when once captured for perpetual digital immortality. Regardless, I liked this enough to throw it up...on the blog. It's being offered on auction this week and this week only...unless I have to re-list it!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Two Cows On A Hill 24x30

I use a very limited palette on most paintings...about 7 or 8 colors and rarely will I throw a blob of black on there. Both white and black can be too much of a crutch so be careful of them. Not that I don't need crutches from time to time. As a matter of fact I have been limping a bit lately but it's really nothing that crutches or doctors can help me with. Seems there's no easy cure for what ails me. I'd be driven to drink if I were of that cut but the woes of mexed up lives and sin have me plowing a trough with my chin these days. As I look up I do see great and precious promises...in the psalms. W.E. Gladstone said that "...All the wonders of Greek Civilization heaped together are less Wonderful than this simple book of the Psalms." If I knew much about Greek civilization I bet I would concur. "Read them often and make them your own." That's my quote. ...and it will be well with your soul.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Oregon Lake II 24x18

My friend Greg always sends me pictures thinking I'll want to paint them. Well, with this one he was right. A scene as inviting as it is refreshing...wish I knew the name of the lake somewhere in Oregon. I did a bit of glazing with this one. Nothing too fancy but I did let some passages dry and worked over them. I usually stick with a more alla prima approach but there are times when I need / want a richness and depth of color that can only be had by adding glazes of color over color. Not to be mistaken with the glazing over my colorful eyes get when I've been pining for things I can't have.