Monday, December 28, 2015

Western Lanscapes End of Year Holiday Cheer Ellie the Cat

A dog is a man's best friend. A cat is a man's secret confidant and collaborator. At least in my case.  My dear friend Ellie the cat has been a faithful and uber-chill, child friendly, not-too-much-in-your-face cuddly, mouse catching, rat eating, dove pouncing, early morning and every evening on the couch companion for 17 years.  She was Marissa's cat but liked me second in the family, as was fitting for a feline of her intellect and large-heartedness. She will be missed immensely.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Vertical vs Horizontal Holiday Dimensions

12x24's...24x12's.  There should be a standard in referring to the dimensions of a painting.  I'm pretty sure it's the vertical measurement first but I still see old artists and good galleries that should know better do it backwards.  Or...I'm the one who's had it backwards all along.  Anyway, I like this canvas size.  Here's a couple of new ones for your Holiday season enjoyment!?!?  Feel free to write me here in the studio with questions about painting, workshops or commissions.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Hawaii Workshop Review (Mitch caught a blue marlin)

They will be known as the Hawaii 5. Five artists attended the workshop in Oahu this month. In years to come they will become famous, will have their own TV show named 5-O, and the world will look back on those three, seemingly insignificant days, as the catalyst that spawned a movement and ushered in a new era.  That's how good the workshop was. The weather was...well, Hawaiian. The food and fellowship were super enjoyable and the quotes printed at the bottom of every page of our syllabus were out of this world!  I could not have asked for a funner, nicer group of painters to hang with.  We had plenty of time to go over some basics like paint arrangement on the palette and choosing the type of canvas, brushes and paints to use to the more advanced topics of composition and color theory.  All this while learning to paint "alla prima" made for some good paintings completed by everyone and lots of fun. Stay tuned for updates about upcoming workshop opportunities. Thank you Rachel, Mitch, Dania, Jeremy and Carmen for making it such a memorable time and a special thanks from all of us to Chief Officer, fantastic artist and great mom and friend Rachel for inspiring, organizing and arranging everything for us . You're the best!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Another Throwback Monday Overmantle Carvings

In preparation for the Hawaii workshop on cloud painting...I decided to post some old pics of woodcarvings.  I made a series of Sporting Art themed Overmantle pieces in the 90's. They were made of Cherry, Maple and Mahogany. They measured 30 inches wide by 18 inches tall and as cool as I thought they were, they faded like the green grass and the  flowering herb. The following picture is of a new painting that depicts monsoon flooding in the desert just outside the studio.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Throwback Monday, Figures, Workshop

I think I have shown the picture of the cowboys before.  These young guns were out back just daring me to paint them. It was sometime in the late 90's near our place in Sonora Mexico.  The dancing girl is also an old piece...20 years ago I painted Marissa (daughter) in the back yard in Billings Montana. She sat for us (Billings artists) a few times as a model.  She remembers making $9  one afternoon . I was still just dabbling at oil painting then; trying to pull away from watercolors and wildlife art.

The rocking chair w/art was an invention of our second sojourn in Mexico.  I did a number of these wrought iron, carved mahogany rockers with either original paintings or after-pieces from old masters plastered (painted) on the chair back.  This was my rendition of a Daniel Huntington classic.

Plans for the Hawaii workshop are developing nicely.  It will be a fun and informative distillation (for ease of ingestion) of the basic and important elements of beautiful  picture making (design, value and color) with a special emphasis on clouds and how to make them. Let me know if you'd be interested in a workshop in your area. I'll try to get more detailed info. on the blog and or face book as it unfolds.  FYI, There is a possible/potential for a three day workshop in Los Cabos Mexico next spring. So, Aloha and Olé !

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Hawaii Workshop TBA, Silver Wing 36x24, Wander Thru 12x12

Remember the time I wrote about the toothpaste being replaced by the minty Ben Gay muscle relaxing (and tooth polishing) cream?  Well, my mother-in-law sought to one-up me the other day. Eddie and Don Chuy gobbled down their breakfast of beans and eggs with no problem.  They were cooked in a nice healthy layer of Palmolive dish soap! I walked by the table and grabbed a piece of scrambled egg, thought it tasted funny and told Carmen so. I breezed through the kitchen on the way to the studio to work on a masterpiece giving the huevos rancheros no second thought. Later Carmen told me she found that her mom, bless her 80-something heart, had confused the dish soap for canola oil.  I had an image floating around my head all day of Alfalfa trying to sing and bubbles coming out. Remember that? I checked to see if my father-in-law and son were foaming at the mouth. They were fine.

We have almost concreted the 3 day workshop in November in Hawaii. I will keep you posted here on the blog.  Teaching is fun, I like doing it and do not do it enough. That said, it is high time I was a little more forthcoming with all my secrets.  If all goes well, I will be making more opportunities available in the future to learn with me. Let me know if you'd be interested in learning how to paint clouds or vineyards etc. and we'll try to keep the ball rolling on this end.

New paintings are available here and here.  Write, text or call to find out more about upcoming workshops and classes.
520 331-9290

Monday, September 14, 2015

Three Blind Mice ...again 12x12's, Airport Security, Shotgun shells and bullets

Airport security. It's one of our favorite pastimes. Once, in my youth, I said something about my camera having explosive properties as it rode the little conveyor belt through the ex-ray machine. This was pre-TSA popularity, probably early 80's. The guard stopped the belt and made me repeat my comments. I had a momentary lapse of precise memory just then. He scowled, I shrunk. Lesson learned. Fast forward to last week. My son Edward, spitting image of Saddamic offspring everywhere south of Gibraltar, tosses backpack onto said, similar conveyor belt.  Unbeknownst to all the security guards and said "son" the pack contained a lethal dose of  20 gauge shotgun shells. No one said a word. My son is tall and swarthy...should be profiled. I, with similar backpack full of similar ammo, get searched on the Mesican/American border one fine day. Bullets were discover and all  H-E-double hockey sticks breaks loose. I am not tall, look like Bilbo Baggins and should not be profiled. These new small 12x12's are available for you to buy and are certified acceptable carry-on size and ex-ray proof...guaranteed to make it through even the tightest security checkpoints.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Green Grows The Branch That Bows Blue Shines The Moon in June...and sheep

Top picture is a commissioned painting; Sheep from the Spicy Lamb farm.  The second picture is the re-worked result of a recent studio project (previous post). The house has been full of legal and illegal immigrants lately so studio time has suffered.  I have, however, made time for a few of my favorite things which include dogs, birds, yard sales, motorcycles, gold and that order. I foist these upon you once again for your listening pleasure. (these paintings were made to be read out loud)

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Bare Handed Coyote Capture!!!!!

These two new paintings are quite large. The first one measures 40x58 inches and the second is a 30x24 inch canvas. As I completed the behemoth skyscape (top picture) the other day (yesterday?) primal pleas for help and a  primitive sounding skirmish caught my ear. Actually, it was more like the well-worn noise of  chickens tangling with a coyote. I lost two hens a week ago and have not let the girls roam too much lately. I have become hyper-attuned to their voicings. These were genuine fear/hide/we're being attacked squawks. I ran out the door without my gun.  Ten feet away was a mangy coyote, stopped dead in his tracks.  He looked and acted like a cartoon. I ran at him yelling and reaching out my hands. It took him a second or two to get his feet moving. Teddy Roosevelt wrote about a man that hunted wolves and coyotes with dogs.  When  they had one at bay he would lunge in and grab the animal by the lower jaw and subdue it.  That is what I was planning to do. The coyotes legs started spinning (like a cartoon) and finally his body caught up with him just in time to elude my bare knuckle brawling technique. Lucky for him. These paintings are available for sale here.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Anoka Bridge, Mississippi River Fish, Ford Pinto

 That big ol' nasty river had me in its grip again. I was at the confluence of the Rum and the Mississippi rivers earlier this month. The Champlin /Anoka bridge was within view.  My rust-encrusted 74 Ford Pinto rumbled across it everyday on the way to Anoka high.  Tim and I go way back.  He was my first fishing buddy.  The river was the eastern border of our neighborhood and off limits to all the grade-schoolers we knew. Apparently ours were the only enlightened parents in those early days or, they just knew there was no stopping us. The river consumed our every waking hour...still haunts my dreams. And Tim still lives nearby. He took me out for a little bass and walleye fishing the other day. The big brown temptress gurgles and bubbles and rolls and continues to call my name. I almost dove in right before the Coon rapids dam, never to be seen this side of glory again.  Well, the thought of getting the smartphone wet and not getting to take advantage of the snazzy rental car for the full week stopped my ears to the Siren's song. We did catch a lot of fish though and I got some great pics/ideas for future paintings. Thanks Tim Peterson and to the Mighty Miss.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Three's Company

I've been taking full advantage of the monsoons.  Skies in the desert summer are fantastical! Stay tuned for more and remember to subscribe, share and spread the word that someone is still making fine art available to the humble masses.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Horny Toad, Celia 30x24, Las Nubes Se Alegran 24x24

Is there such thing as a cute lizard? I submit that yes, there is. This fellow was picked up out in the woodshop the other day. They try to escape but their little legs just paddle the ground and their stout little armored bodies go nowhere. This is the season for horned toads and monsoon clouds.  I'm still making seascapes based on pictures from the Sea of Cortez and area around Los Cabos. The new clouds should inspire some great landscapes mixed with cool beach scenes.  I often put together disparate photos.  It can make for exciting references and unexpected outcomes.  Being primarily a studio painter this is a good way to keep the bionic juices flowing. Very similar to the experience of nabbing a horny toad on a desert eve. I highly recommend it!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Dead Buried Fish, Grapes 12x24, Entre Amor y el Antojo

We didn't eat carp or sheep's head back then.  They were considered rough fish, not fit for consumption. They were for the compost pile. We caught a heck of those fish. The Mississippi teamed with 'em. I have since learned to savor their meaty muddiness. Muskrats, 'coon and crawdads did not get consumed either. Oh we caught them alright...we just lived too far north to eat 'em. Snow kept certain expressions of  redneckedness  from creeping into our cultural vocabulary I guess. The trick with composting dead fish parts is that you've got to bury them good and deep. (dogs!?...need I say more?) Similar things ought to be done with certain pieces of "art" that don't work out. When it's not fit for public consumption just bury it. Every once in a while, against all wisdom and logic, you will be tempted to dig up a piece after its gone bad and make something out of it.  Be forewarned, you will have to roll in it and get pretty nasty before anything will come of it. Even then it's a 50/50 gamble.  Fortunately these two new pieces came right out of the crystal flow of the river of creative goodness...first cast!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Burn down the hamburger stand. Arsonistic Art

I didn't really intend to "burn down" an icon of our youth.  The old hamburger stand was already condemned/slated for some point. It was boarded-up. I suppose I just helped it along.  Jerry and I had too much Saturday afternoon left at the end of our bike ride and too many matches left in our pockets.  I think this particular arsonistic exploit was my first. It pre-dated the ten speed bikes we rode throughout our teens. I remember riding the red Schwinn Stingray over scraps of boards and watching out for nails so it must have been early in my career. If I had kept (rather burned to the ground) those Coca Cola signs I would have made a fortune selling them on eBay. I suppose had I kept any number of things from back then they could be sold now for a nice profit...or burned in a big beautiful fire! Well, what I do have, besides these fond and sweet memories of childhood innocence, I make available here for your enjoyment.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Human Skulls & Serene Seascapes

A human skull feels weighty in your hand.  Like it could weigh a thousand pounds. But you don't drop can't. Only with extreme effort do you free yourself from the Vulcan mind-meld three-fingered cranial grip and let him go back to his place of rest.   Maybe it has to do with spent adrenaline. You know that feeling you get after you've broken through the wall of the ancient burial tomb-- that moment you realize that the air is still breathable, no gases or poison in the haze that rises and rolls as it reveals radial spears of laser light. The sun's rays penetrate the stifled brown deadness 30 feet below the banyan's roots.   You pull at your sweat-soaked bandana mask and gulp down death, decayed matter and bone dust. I'm not really afraid of snakes but this would have been the perfect place for someone who is, to freak out. Skeletons, some arranged, some scattered, carved amulets of coral and jade decorating the heads and hands. Three thousand years old! I think that predates the Vikings last super Bowl appearance...maybe even their discovering of  Minnesota. Anyway, back to the weightiness issue.  This is much the same feeling I get when I finish a large and difficult canvas.  The adrenaline rush is over, you feel exhausted but before long you have to go back for more.  There are two pursuits in life that result in morbid addictions; grave robbing and ...landscape painting.  Pray that you will succumb to neither for when once you start there is no going back.This nifty 24x24 seascape was the result of our recent foray into old Mexico, ...Baja Sur to be exact, Cabo San Lucas

Monday, June 1, 2015

Playground Knife Throwing, Sheep & Trees

Ah, playground knife throwing games, those were the days. I carried a knife to school almost every day from about 5th grade on. Usually it was a small pocket knife. In junior high school I took to carrying a 6 inch menace in the shape of a switchblade.  It had white pearly handles and a long slender locking blade. It was almost always dull.  It was a good knife for throwing into the ground. There was a small skirmish in 8th grade political science class.  Someone's hand was cut (not mine) and the bleeding kid and I were sent to the principal's office for "fighting". I said I was just trying to reach across the aisle, bring the two parties closer etc. The teacher didn't see the blood (or the knife) nor the humor. We made like friends while being interrogated by the vice principal. The charges were dropped and a lesson was learned. My adversary was sent to the school nurse, his palm was bleeding at a pretty good rate...said something about cutting it on a desk.
 "When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison." Mathew 5:25

Saturday, May 30, 2015


The muted mercurial circle of light on the street corner served as a gathering beacon for mosquitoes, June bugs, night hawks and...vandals. Streetlights don't break easily.  What I mean is that you can't just put the things out with a casual toss of any old smooth stone. No, you've got to really chuck something large and hard.  Probably throw as hard as you can, straight up, many times. That's what it takes. Glancing blows hardly faze those things. You'll need to make a direct hit.  First the outer glass cracks, breaks, begins to crumble and then rain. It takes two or three good hits. Half inch thick shards will fall on your head if you're not careful. Finally, after too many misses to count, a rock (or chunk of asphalt) makes it through to the chewy center and..."pop" it goes.  The sparkling light shower is really something to behold, quite rewarding for all the effort.You only have a few moments to bathe in it's fugitive fusile  glow. Sometimes a painting is like that old streetlight on the corner of 72nd and Riverdale road.  They can be tenacious buggers. But once you get to the core, find the key, it all comes together in a luscious blast that the artist savors but for a moment and then ...runs away before someone calls the cops.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Look Up For Your Redemption Draweth Nigh

Dan stopped by last week. He came up from Sonora. He has lived in ol' Mesico since 1980. Not long after that I started flirting with the southern border myself. A few months here and a few months there, mainly in tropical regions; the backdrop for my first forays into the land of "hot chili peppers and a blistering sun". I finally settled in the southern foothills of Sonora state. I lived with a family of goats on a mountainside in a 300 year old mining town.  We shared a house, built with stones, old mortar and petroglyphs with the Gaxiola family. I taught grade school (yes, rural Mexico in the 1980's, rudimentary Spanish and all) and made plans to capture myself a sweet señorita. Anyway, Dan had something to do with that (the capturing part) and we've been friends ever since. I will add a picture below of my young family from back when.  This is not a canned shot.  We had just got back from picking corn on the steep mountainside with our next door neighbors. Life was simple for us then. Hard but simple. The skies always looked like they do in these paintings too. I think I will go back there soon. Yes, I will get a burro, plant some corn on a steep hillside and grow old with my señorita.