Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Artist's Studio
20 x 18 Oil on Linen

When an artist starts a new painting he stands facing a flat surface. In the art world this is known as the picture plane. An artist who does trompe-l'œil painting endeavors to convince the viewer that the objects in the painting stand in front of the picture plane. Most artists, however, attempt to create an illusion of depth and three dimensionality that could be described as penetrating the picture plane. The viewer stands outside the picture plane and views the objects within as if looking through a window. I prefer to think of my canvas not as a blank surface but as an empty space. The space in my painting is the same space that I am standing in, the objects are lit by the same light and breathe the same air as the artist creating the painting or the viewer encountering the piece. The model or chair or drapery, or apples or grapes, are not objects trapped behind the picture plane, they are on one side of the easel and I am on the other. They are the current inhabitants of the painting, they have entered the space that is my canvas. I like to think that they could leave the space at any time and someone or something else will come to visit me, will enter that space, and become my next painting.....

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pip Meets the Aged P
12 x 14 Oil on Panel

After I left the classroom (you don't graduate from the League you leave whenever you are ready) I stopped painting figures for awhile. I had painted portraits and nudes week after week for many years and wanted to paint something else. Besides I didn't have enough money to hire models to pose for me privately. So I painted landscapes and still lifes. Still life quickly became my favorite subject because of the endless possibilities in composition . Before long I began to think about painting figures again and figure composition. It didn't go much farther than a few doodles on the subway on a religious or mythological theme. Then a gallery in Connecticut called and asked if I wanted to participate in a Dickens themed exhibition. I quickly batted out a painting of Scrooge counting his miserly fortune. I had done many paintings of single figures so that wasn't so hard. Then decided to do a small composition. I was reading, or more exactly rereading, Great Expectations at the time so I took my theme from there. I always had a great fondness for the Aged P, Wemmick's moniker for his aging parent, so I painted the scene where Wemmick brings Pip home to meet his father.

"You wouldn't mind being at once introduced to the Aged, would you? It wouldn't put you out?" I expressed the readiness I felt and we went in. There we found, sitting by a fire, a very old man in a flannel coat: clean, cheerful, comfortable, and well cared for, but intensely deaf. "Here's Mr. Pip, aged parent," said Wemmick, "and I wish you could hear his name. Nod away at him, Mr. Pip; that's what he likes. Nod away at him, if you please.....

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Bread and Wine
Oil on Linen
Image 12 x 16 - Framed 17 x 21

Simple or complex. If the viewer sees only bread and wine, that seems simple enough. But if it is the beginning of a great feast the meaning becomes more complex. If it is a representation of the Eucharistic meal it takes on yet another layer of meaning. The colors seem quite natural, quite simple. But if you realize the painting is built on a red, blue, yellow harmony then it is filled with the full complexity of the rainbow. The composition could sit quietly on the tabletop or it could be a complex swirling maze moving in and out of the painting. What is the meaning of this painting, what was the artist's intent, what does the viewer see, is it simple or complex.....

The Painting of the Month is a special offer to my blog readers (click on the image for a larger view). This month Bread and Wine, which retails for $2400, is being made available for $1500 (includes shipping, VT residents add 6% sales tax). To purchase this piece contact me at Payment is by check only please, no credit cards. If you prefer you may make 3 monthly payments. This offer is available for 30 days from the date of this post.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Breakfast Cantata
19 x 24 Oil on Linen

I'm very fond of Bach's cantatas. His church cantatas are like small oratorios. He also wrote secular cantatas which have stories and characters, they might be called operettas by the next generation. One of my favorites is the Coffee Cantata, which concerns a girl whose father will not let her marry until she gives up her addiction to that extremely popular drink. As I worked on this breakfast painting I heard it as a rather comical cantata. There were several characters. The frying pan was a bass of course, the grapes a gossipy chorus, the eggs sopranos, the oranges tenors, and the toaster a big, burly baritone. The broken egg shells sounded a bit like a musical joke. The disappearing toaster, as described in the previous post, only added to the fun. The music was quite lively and jolly, and the story, well I'll let each viewer create their own version.....