Sunday, May 31, 2009

Blue By You 24x36

I once owned a Fiat, ...purchased for four hundred dollars. I remember thinking the stereo was worth more than the car itself. It sure handled nice but it was the Marantz tuner with a Clarion eq./power booster, twin Jensen coaxial speakers and pair of Pioneer high-frequency boxes up front that made that car rock. The '73 128 special was the only Italian friend I've ever had. I drove that car from San Antonio to Minneapolis once stopping only for gas (no food or rest stops) and to dry out the little wells around the spark plugs that kept filling up with radiator fluid. I think my artist friend Gary will travel with us this summer around Italy. He mentioned how the police there drive little Fiats and something about that imagery inspires me to want to get involved in a Euro car chase a la Jason Bourne; The funny sirens wailing and honking and narrow cobble-stone alleys with fruit and vendor's carts toppling and flying all over the place. From what I've seen in movies I probably won't get caught...
I sold that faithful Fiat to my friend Chris the upholsterer. As he cornered the boxy little sports car around Lake Street and Hiawatha the front wheels fell off. That's what I'm expecting to happen to the policia chasing me through the streets of Florence.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Seaward 15x30

A happy sunset view shot-through with glowing strains of romantic goodness. That's the working title of this painting. Again, this is what I feel is my one ode to romanticism -glorious clouds. On second thought, maybe I give in to it more often than I want to admit. The artist in me leans heavily on the esoteric ideals of "high art" and it's lofty definitions. The Wal-Mart shopping, shotgun-shooting red-neck in me says "oooh, that's purdy, let's take it home and tape it to the paneling on the trailer wall next to Elvis" So, you see my dilemma. And I'll let you in on a little artist secret that further fuels this... The more glorious and awe-inspiring a natural scene is, the more difficult it is to capture on canvas. Conversely, the more mundane a landscape appears to be at first view, the better it usually translates into a luscious piece of framed, high-art goodness hanging on the above mentioned trailer wall...or wherever. This is being made available for a time in my eBay store...See link at the top right of page for the sordid details.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Happy Holstien 18x24

"Often described as the world's largest prison camp, no country is more deserving of international condemnation on human rights conditions than North Korea. ... Millions of North Koreans have perished in silence from starvation, torture and execution in recent decades." --- Human Rights Watch

“North Korea is the worst human rights situation in the world today. While there are many tragic situations and terrible atrocities occurring in the world, the North Korean people are the most isolated, most persecuted, and most suffering.”
Suzanne Scholte Seoul Peace Prize Laureate 2008


Yesterday was the global day of prayer and fasting for North Korea. Sounds pretty radical I know; as if Sovereignty's arm can be twisted to change the course of nature and fate because of a few people's hearts cry for rescue. Well, that's exactly what many people hope for 'cause without some sort of intervention millions more are slated for the same fate. The numbers are almost too big...They make it hard to put a face on the little four year old whose parents were just sentenced to a concentration camp while she is out on the street crying and begging and eating garbage. Before you thank me for this encouraging update and imagery, remember that some of us were destined for darkness and deep, deep sorrow before ..."God, who said "Let light shine out of darkness," shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ". (II Cor. 4:6) Because of that beautiful and awesome "face" we can enjoy life like never before and, be like King David who had "a heart after God" pleading with our Father for His little ones. Yes, the scripture is infused with all sorts of encouragement to cry out to Him for mercy and grace to find help in our time of need stand in the gap, as it were, for those too weak or too oppressed to cry out for themselves. We who have believed -to the replacement of our hearts- ought to be the most willing and self effacing, self sacrificing, joy-filled, heart-broken examples of grateful pilgrims that have ever trudged this earth...having the seemingly foolish and futile practise of prayer to an invisible God...who does see everything and...who works everything for the good of those who love Him...?!?!
PS. I have several friends who live in South Korean and help refugees from the north....another couple lives in China near the North's border and rescues orphaned NK children from slavery etc. Their first-hand accounts are chilling and staggering...I just couldn't help but post this as we are all extremely moved over what we have seen and heard this week.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Parker Canyon 36x24

I'm waiting on fellow artist and instructor Gary Larson to inspire the final decision. Italy awaits and the Art Academy, replete with it's Repin-trained Russian (friends Markos and Marem) teachers is, for some unknown and highly suspect reason, in Florence this year focusing on portraits and classical realism and ...inviting me to help them analyze Michael Angelo's David. I do recall my very first writing assignment that answered the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" with..."I want to be a sculptor." A drawing of a caveman with club trying to kill a giant brontosaurus accompanied it. So, I guess I'm qualified but I would really like my old friend Gary as a traveling companion / tour guide for Marissa and I. He has lived in Italy and Spain for years and knows the ropes. I, on the other hand, have a pretty good idea on how to stay out of jail but might need some pointers just to make sure. I am toying with the idea of buying a set of water-mixable oils. Have you had any experience with those? I'm wanting something that dries fast and won't need solvents...hoping to sell on the streets by day and play country music in the coffee houses by night, take on another name, rent a flat, drink plenty of red wine and hunt wild boar in the Tuscan mountains. That's all. Anyway, we won't be going till mid-July so if you have any painterly, Euro-travel advice please let me know your best western accent.
The picture posted here is a large painting of a great sky, witness to a vanload of "legal" Mexicans not five miles from the border on our way to Parker Canyon lake last weekend.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gold Loner 24x30

I had to make at least one picture of the upper Midwest. This is a Minnesota backyard near Minneapolis. What do ex-Vikings think about when they see scenes like this? Well, I for one, apart from the cool colors and leafy goodness, imagine swarms of horse flies, deer flies, wood ticks, mosquitoes, itch weed and poison ivy. It's funny how often my northern counterparts when considering a trip to the desert ask about the biting and stinging creatures here as if they had something to fear. I'll admit that I have encountered and handled (or been handled by) a variety of venomous creatures that inhabit the southern deserts and tropics but really (scorpions aside) nothing compares to the stings, bites, scratches and scrapes a five minute walk in the northwoods will hand you. Give me a dry desert eve with it's odd tarantula slowly creeping through the stark and haunting landscape any day. This painting has some real rich saturation...some real pure color. Very enjoyable to paint dark...I'm back on some toned canvases this week and I really dig it. This is for sale on auction. See the link at the top right of the blog page.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Gentle Ben's Brother 24x18

Have I ever been to Alaska? No. Have I ever dived a dumpster? Well, in order to claim an identification without incriminating myself, I will say that I am as familiar with the aroma of dumpster juice as any self-respecting bear in the north woods. This, however is a painting of a real Alaskan brown bear...basically the same as the grizzly and thus, I can really, technically claim no specific closeness. I have seen a couple amble off into the distance while hiking the woods of Montana but nothing to cause me to want to shinny up a tree or play dead. The black bears are the ones notorious for raiding dumpsters and campgrounds and picnic baskets in cartoons and are the ones with which I feel a real affinity. Regardless, these big bruins are beautiful and probably know a lot less about dumpster diving than some of us...If we weren't ashamed to admit it. And if it weren't for that string of gut-cased sausages that Greg pulled from the slime that one night I might be divin' still. I'm obliged to Clint for some pics of Alaskan brown bears...very cool indeed. I hope to make more of these kind of paintings in the future.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Old Homestead 1960-2009

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. The old gas lamp is still there (the one I wrote about a few entries back) I was lurking around my old haunts this past mother's day weekend. A cheap flight and dad's birthday were the occasion for my little desert flower and I to head north and see the sights. Save for a few pictures of geeses and their goslings I didn't find too much time to capture paintworthy images. The old house on Sierra Parkway is now a rental...and the gas lamp still stands. You would think that the renters would find a way to bust that thing up...or use it to burn down the neighborhood. But then again, these are Minnesotans and except for the errant gang of Somali pirates come ashore, or the Asian gangs that wreak havoc on one another in the Twin Cities, these folks aren't really known for getting too far out of line. Maybe that's the real reason I left. Well, in a perfect world I never would have abandoned the little place pictured here...home of my first dreams, blankie and teddy bear (...knives, skinks, cap guns, salamanders, snakes and fond memories of torturing my sister's dolls.
...There's a lot you can do with a wood burning kit besides etching little brown lines into scraps of wood.)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ghosts In The Gloom 30x24

When I mix the paint for pictures like this I get pretty excited. Simple, bold and bright they are saturated with color and very easy to look at turn into mud if you're not careful. There were a couple of horses in the mist but I thought I'd leave them out...Or are they really there and you just can't see them? True ghosts in the misty distance, that should be the name of this cool farmland scene. Not far from here I drove an old spoke-wheeled horse-drawn cart along the river. I never did have a sword and a pistol by my side the few times I did that but I sorely missed 'em as I felt like Froggy Went 'a Courtin' (...and he did ride), on my way to spark on little Carmelita. Kind of reminds me of another song by an old friend. Jim Croce sang about dreaming and trains "...and I'd hop a ride to hide across the border with a black-eyed girl beside me all the way." Why is it I'm always reminded of swords and guns when I hear that old whistle blow and when I think about courtship? Or is it the spooky specter of phantoms in the mist that have me on edge? I think it's just that ghosts and pretty girls (and train whistles)have something in common and whatever it is, it's something haunting and mysterious...and something you should be armed for! Attention all would-be suitors. You might do well to take the above real serious, or at least believe that I ain't just blowin' smoke when it comes to watching out for my little debutantes. There's plenty of ferocious implements here to scare the daylight-savings-time out of any young sprout trying to shine on my girls.
So, just a little friendly, fatherly advice today to go along with this painting being offered on auction at America's bargain basement of all things cool and collectible. See link at top right for all my available work.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sister Twister 18x24

A little art process FYI today. I was inspired to make this by looking at some pics of storms and squall lines. There's a lot of freedom in being able to follow your muse, as they say, and even though I didn't really have a photo at hand that depicted the old Kansas homestead being uprooted I figured a little funnel cloud peeking out from under a scary squall wouldn't hurt. After all, it is oil paint and you can easily scrape off and paint over any part you don't like. I will say though that this usually works well only on subjects that you're very familiar with. It happened to work well here and if you're wondering why...Do the words Pecos Bill mean anything to you? Look him up and you'll basically find my biography (less the polish sausage and lutefisk)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Curiosity Killed The Calf

Mister coat said to hat “Won’t you accompany me?”
Said the hat to the coat ”Please leave me be”
So happy was he high on his hook
Tilted just so he could steal
A look or two at the boots and shoes
And shut his eyes for a little snooze
When no one saw his feathered band
Or crown of crisp beaver fur felt
Made just for a night so stark and bleak
Too dark for song nor even speak
Poor coat would wonder alone in dark
Damp and gloomy shadows looming
Specters fleeting cold head shivers
This night the fright of hatless quivers
The lid was hid on a polished pole
In the hall by a stand and an old mink stole
Said the mink to the hat “You covered not your master”
“You left him alone there’ll be a disaster.”
Rain on head sans cap of wool
On a blustery eve makes even a fool
Return ere the cold prevents the vespers
Return ‘fore the winter chill whispers
Get back O man the sleet seeks vengeance
The rain saw her chance to harass the head
The pestilence lurks and will not weary
Till head and heart succumb to dreary
Thoughts of fearful tossing turnings
Fever stalks the midnight burnings
And save for a source he keeps in his pocket
The man would be lost without hat or locket
The locket contains what the hat could not
A picture of love…and a little spot…
Of brandy