Friday, December 30, 2011

"Highway Meadow"; 6x6; oil on board
Today, I debated for awhile on what to write was a toss-up between a conversation I had with my wife concerning "common-sense" and an incident I observed while standing in line at Starbucks for what will likely be my last Gingerbread Latte of the year (I have a problem and need to police myself).

In the end, the two actually went together in a weird way....but I chose the, latter.

First off, you should know that I don't generally spend an inordinate amount of time "checking out" members of the opposite sex. For one thing, I'm happily married to my beautiful wife Kim for 17 years and secondly, I tend to be somewhat absorbed in my own little world as I move around the planet with most of my energies being focused on not being a nudge to everyone else. This is just as true in art as it was in music....

Anyway, back to the story here....I was standing at the barista counter waiting for my latte to be completed and happened to glance over at the order counter. In a rare moment of awareness, I noticed what was undeniably a very attractive young woman ordering -- what else -- a soy latte, sans Ginger-anything. Taller than average, very shapely, and wearing the tightest of skin-tight tights. Ironically, this Venus only held my attention for minute -- it was the yutz behind her, thoroughly engrossed in the text message he was reading/writing that demanded my notice. So immersed was he that this post-pubescent hormone factory didn't even notice the scantily clad girl eighteen inches in front of him.

REALLY?!? Even I saw her.The female barista saw her. Half a dozen guys walking through the store saw her. The soccer mom behind the yutz saw her -- and stared daggers into her back.

But not this guy. Why? Because he was texting...TEXTING.....

Is it possible that the combined cabal of Apple, Verizon, and Facebook/Twitter has figured out how to undo half a million years of reproductive instinct with the wave of an emoticon?

Or is it just the death of common sense?

painting count: 15

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Winter blues.....

"Winter Blues"; 6x6; oil on board
Did I not just say that I'm beginning to dread opening up Facebook.....Christ, not again....anybody listening up/out there...enough is enough for awhile. I don't have another elegy in me....

I'm shocked and saddened at the news that my old roommate and friend from college, Scott Rademacher passed away suddenly yesterday. Scott was one of our original saxophone class at the Univ of North Florida and such an innately talented and soulful player. Even though our lives grew apart many years ago, I greatly admired his musicianship and spirit. The world is a bit more empty without you, brother Scott....

painting count: still 14 (one sold today)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

First steps......

"First Tracks"; 6x6; oil on board
I almost dread opening up Facebook and my email these days.

In the last week, I've lost two of my musical mentors, Bob Brookmeyer last week....and now today came the news that the great Sam Rivers passed last night.

Sam was a force in music like no other. Throughout his long life (he played like a wildman almost up until his final day), his music touched countless numbers of musicians in all genres, from rock to free jazz. For all too short of time, I was granted the privilege of being in Sam's nurturing presence as part of his RivBea Orchestra.

If Bob Brookmeyer opened up the door to new schools of harmonic thought, Sam blew those doors apart, picked them up and then shredded them to pieces with a frightening kind of knowledge that is referred to as genius, but more closely approaches inhuman.

Sam was the one who stood behind me and gently shoved as I took my first tentative steps into the world of the avant-garde, and then showed me the path.

I will be forever grateful for those fleeting moments of Sam's friendship.

Love to you and Bea, always Mr. R.....

painting count: 15

Friday, December 23, 2011

...only in my dreams....

"If Only In My Dreams"; 6x12; oil on board I really feel like I missed the mark yesterday. Trying to redeem myself somewhat today.

-- painting count: still 11

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The return of light.....

"Solstice"; 6x6; oil on board
"I like these cold, gray winter days. Days like these let you savor a bad mood." -- Bill Watterson

painting count: 11

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Alizarin Chronicles...

"Winter In The High Desert"; 6x6; oil on board
As I mentioned before, a friend recently got me thinking about substituting Alizarin Crimson for Cad Red on my palette....something I do occasionally....but haven't for awhile...


Painting count: 10

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


"Checking The Fences"; 8x6; oil on panel
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming....

A recent acquaintance asked me about a particular color I had used in the background of one of my still-lifes. I had to apologize for telling her that I had no real idea what the color was or even how I got to the color in the course of mixing it. Using a three color palette, it's pretty common (even desirable) that you're going to arrive at similar colors differently each time you mix. Even having done extensive color charts, often you're still winging it...especially in the heat of the moment.

Regarding that specific painting, all I could really ell her was that instead of Cadmium Red, I had probably used Alizarin Crimson.

Which of course, got me thinking........

painting count: 9

Bob Brookmeyer...

"For Bob"; 6x8; oil on panel
Two posts today, gang.

The first is a tough one. I learned that this past weekend, the great jazz composer and musician Bob Brookmeyer passed away. Bob was an enormous inspiration to me in my musical life. His approach to composition and orchestration directly influenced my initial interest in those disciplines and eventually left it's indelible mark on my pursuit of them. Only Aaron Copland, Duke Ellington and John Williams were in my mind as much as Bob whenever I sat down to write.

Moreover, he was the consummate artist. His music spoke to his vision of what it meant to be a composer and like Duke, used the orchestra as an instrument to convey his intent. Never one to bow to idiomatic conventions, his music could be enormously challenging and technically taxing without ever being pretentious. But he was also capable of producing achingly sparse and subtle passages that took me months to dissect and understand.

In parallel to the visual world, Bob got the music down with a brush or knife, stick or trowel....whatever worked the best to convey his vision.

"The object, which is back of every true work of art, is the attainment of a state of being, a state of high functioning, a more than ordinary moment of existence. In such moments activity is inevitable, and whether this activity is with brush, pen, chisel, or tongue, its result is but a by-product of the state, a trace, the footprint of the state." - Robert Henri

RIP, Mr. Brookmeyer

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fifty by Fifty.....

"The Other Side of the Parkway"; 8x6; oil on panel you might have suspected from the previous post, the plan is to complete fifty small paintings in fifty days....each painting taking no longer than fifty minutes. Of course, the trick is to try and have the paintings not look like they were done in fifty minutes each.

Most of the paintings will be available on DailyPaintworks

-- painting count: 8

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011


"Breaking Through"; 6x8; oil on panel
I've been playing with some new techniques over the last few weeks. These quick little sketches are perfect for working it much so...that I've decided to try and do a certain number in the next 8 weeks.

I'm hoping I can make down....

....actually, if it's okay with everyone, I'm going to include a few of the preceding ones in that number...

stay tuned

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


"Away From Vermillion"; 6x6; oil on board
The area between the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and the Vermillion Cliffs on the border of Arizona and Utah is a truly amazing spot....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011


"Snow Days"; 10x12; oil on panel

Snow days are upon us.....time to fire up the heater in the camper......and in the fingerless gloves...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sketches, sketches.....

"Trio"; 10x12; oil on panel
Fast sketches...

One of these days, I'm going to turn these into studio pieces.....

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


"Before The Snow"; 8x10; oil on board
An artist friend of mine recently sent out a newsletter discussing the idea of challenging oneself to try new things as a way to avoid dwelling on down times. I couldn't agree more. This latest series of paintings I've been doing is exactly that. It's not that I've been dwelling on anything negative -- I've actually been feeling much more upbeat and optimistic despite recent life challenges. Perhaps avoiding mortality does that...thank you Dr. Faulkner

Trying to push myself out of whatever comfort zones I've found in the short time I've been on this journey, I've been playing with different brushes, surfaces, subjects, different techniques, new color palettes, more simple structures, trying to have more fun (is that possible?!?), striving for immediacy, attempting to not think too much, learn from mistakes....whew....put like that, sounds kind of......challenging. I better get to work.....

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


"Across The Pond"; 6x6; oil on board
click here to bid on this painting

With regard to my previous post: the last item refers to a general group of people who like to talk more than answer to them is, as always, "shut up and paint."

Hopefully, I didn't inadvertently offend any of the multitude of tremendous artists that I respect and admire out there....

Peace all....

Monday, December 5, 2011


Things that make me close and lock my studio door:
-Rude tourists


-Terrorist Attack

-Petty, condescending, self-important "arteests" (sp.)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A new direction....

"Save Some For Me"; 6x6; oil on board
click here to bid on this painting
I'll get back to still-lifes shortly, but....

For months now I've had something in my head that I've been trying to get down on canvas. I love Tonalism. Ever since I started this journey, I've known that I wanted to eventually wind up in some kind of tonal/impressionist/contemporary world where I could throw all of the painting styles I love into a big pot and let my imagination mingle with the real visual world.

Ironically, one of my pet peeves in the arts is the obsession with "finding a style." I dealt with it for years in music. I fought it by telling myself not to worry about it and just absorbing everything I could and working my a** off. Coincidentally, that is essentially the message Richard Schmid, Robert Henri, and Edgar Payne convey(ed) to their students. Being on this self-guided tour of becoming a painter, I was incredibly lucky to have happened upon the writings of these great teachers almost by accident with a gentle nudge from a couple of generous artist friends.

With all that in mind, I simply set out (often blindly) and started painting as much as I could. First ragged contemporary attempts, clumsy still-lifes, immature landscapes....then plein air, which I know I will continue to dance with the rest of my life. Finally a couple of things started to click to the point where I didn't want to burn every canvas within days of finishing them.

Mind you, I still feel like things are very clumsy....but I do see glimmers of light here and there that also make me feel like I'm headed in the right direction.

Four weeks ago, I wound up in the hospital (apparently a little less than 24 hours from shuffling off this mortal coil). It's odd, I didn't know you could be grateful and depressed at the same time...but there I was....I made a deal with myself to work even harder once I was healthy. I also told myself that I was REALLY not going to worry about style and just enjoy the process.

To be continued......

Friday, December 2, 2011

Still Life continued....

"Trio Tipsy"; 8x10; oil on panel
click here to bid on this painting

For a few short days my studio was invaded by these unruly - and some might suggest inebriated - pears.

Nevertheless, they were easier to work with than some musicians I've known...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Still Life......

December 1st....winter is definitely coming

Good time to stay warm with a still life

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


"Mountain Storms"; 10x12; oil on panel
click here to bid on this painting
It seems like I was just wishing for fall to start. Now the leaves have all but turned and fallen and we've even had a short-lived snow. Everything happened very quickly this year.....of course a few weeks recuperation tends to make one feel like they missed some things.

At any rate, I'm determined to get a few more fall paintings done in the actual outdoors before everything is gone and I have to resort to photos for a month or two....

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Still catching up....

Recovery continues....everyone keeps advising me to take it easy. The problem is I can't keep still that long and I have to get up and paint.

A couple more pieces....

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Back to life....

So you may have noticed that I've been pretty remiss in my regular postings. The story is long and somewhat gory, so I won't go into too many details here....I'm sure I'll have something to say as I go on here, but for now...I'm just happy to be alive.

The short version is: emergency abdominal surgery can really kick your a**.

I was all set to update and post following my first plein air festival experience at Plein Air Moab when, one day after returning, I was in doubled over with peritonitis and in the hospital for surgery. 24 hours longer and it would have been game over.....'nuff said for now....

To briefly catch up, here are few pieces from Moab....
these are all available on DailyPaintworks; click here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

It's about the work....

"Last Days of Summer:West Fork"; 8x10; oil on panel
click here to view auction on this painting
"The Park House"; 8x10; oil on panel
A friend watching me finish a study the other day commented "I don't know how you do it....amazing..." To my amusement, they were referring to the fact that I try to finish at least a small study every day (I don't always post them because...well, frankly...some just aren't any good, and therefore are only for me as information about what didn't work).

In all honesty, I feel like a slouch many days. One of my favorite "big-name" painters, when he started out, did five studies a day -- small, 6x8, etc -- but still, five?! Another fellow painter that I greatly admire averages a 16x20 a day. And yet another one that I follow did 21 paintings (medium size), plein air, in seven days....while fighting the elements at the Grand Canyon....and 20 of them made it into a show with the likes of Curt Walters, P.A. Nisbet, and Scott Jennings (for those of you who don't carry those names around in your head everyday....these guys have about fifteen Prix de West awards between them).

What I'm getting at is, for most of the painters out there, this is not an idle pursuit. Not a relaxing distraction to wile away the hours. It's work, pure and simple. And like anything else, those who want to do it well work....very, very hard. That isn't to say that they don't enjoy every moment at some level while they're doing it -- only a masochist would pummel away at something eight or ten hours a day, if they didn't. But there are days when you realize that things aren't going the best they can. The pain isn't moving, your brushwork looks like a highway map of Los Angeles, the drawing is off....whatever. That's when you pick up the brush and say, "It's about the work. Let's try and get one thing to work today and I can sleep tonight."

Incidentally, music is exactly the same. The number of days in my previous life (and still current), I would shake my head and tell myself, "today, it's just about putting in the work..."

This is the answer that so many people look for when they take a class of a workshop in anything; they just don't know it. They think there is some little secret that will be imparted them in the class, and "poof" they'll be brilliant at whatever they're dabbling with. The vast majority of them (those that profess to be VERY serious about painting or flute playing or whatever) don't want to hear that the reality's work and lots of it. Some days it's going to be bad.....heroically, tragically bad. Most days it will be okay. And some days, that moment will happen, the heavens open up, the adrenaline rushes, and you realize that something worked that didn't work before......and nothing is the same after that. Those are the days you work for.....

"West Fork"; 8x10; oil on panel
"The Park House"; 8x10; oil on panel

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Still wishing for fall....

"Last Days of Summer #5: Schnebly Afternoon" 8x10, oil on panel
click here to bid on this painting

It seems summer just wants to hang on....

Every morning Kim and I wake up to a cool breeze from Oak Creek Canyon and say to each other, "this is really it....."

(For those of you wondering, I don't pay any attention to The Weather Channel. They seem to be far more preoccupied with inventing plausible-sounding scenarios that are designed to scare the hell out of everyone in different parts of the country, and then investing in some serious production effects to make it that much more real-looking, rather than just telling us what the weather is doing. For that matter, even when there is a significant weather story -- i.e. Irene -- it's not enough for them. They insist on saturating the five days preceding and following with hysterical reports of what could happen. It reminds me of when I was a little kid and we used to have to go through the nuclear bomb drills -- as if a forty year old school desk at St.Mary's Academy was going to shield any of us from a thermonuclear explosion. As you get older, you start to wonder just how much of all of that was propaganda masquerading as vigilance. We have to have something to be afraid of....always.....if not an evil empire, then terrorists.....if not terrorists, then a recession or mortgage collapse....if not economic strife, well then how about the most unpredictable of all events -- the weather. Certainly the most frightening of all the evils that could befall us because, let's face it, does anybody really know how the damn thing works? The more money they spend on doppler radar and computer modelings, the fewer times they get it right. And then comes the fall-back position -- my personal favorite. The "30% percent chance of rain" prediction....that lasts for three weeks.....And when the heck did a stock market update become a relevant weather story......)

....okay...that was a bit of a tangent -- but it's been bugging me now for a few months. Sorry about that.

Let's just say that every morning Kim and I hope that the Weather Channel is just as wrong about the predicted high for the day as they are about Kansas being taken out by a volcanic eruption.

Until then....

"Last Days of Summer #5: Schnebly Afternoon"; oil on panel; 8x10
"Across the Strait"; oil on panel, 8x10 -- leftover from the Northwest trip

Friday, September 23, 2011

Last of the Summer Heat...(hopefully)

"Last Days of Summer: Sunrise Junipers"; 8x10; oil on panel
click her to view this auction
The heat is definitely on....

And not just the ambient air temperature in Northern Arizona. Even though we're officially into the fall season now, the temperature today was close to 90. I don't know if it's actually considered an Indian Summer, but whatever it is, most of us are ready for the cooler temperatures. Our corgi puppy Lucas, always a nudgy bundle of energy is even feeling it. After heading out to hike the trail at 6am, he was ready for a serious nap in the air conditioning -- he usually needs another two or three hours of heavy play-time, even after a four mile hike, before "nap" enters his mind.

For me, the word "heat" carries additional meaning. I've committed to entering my first-ever plein air festival. Right in the middle of a major slump...paint-wise (see previous post). Bear in mind, I'm not counting any chickens or such before they whatever, I just want to get some experience and be part of an event right now.....but I don't want to make an a** of myself either. Nevertheless, the registration fee is paid, panels are ordered....I'm doing this thing.....and I've got about ten days to get my head together.

"Last Days of Summer: Sunrise Junipers"; 8x10; oil on panel

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


"Last Days of Summer: In Oak Creek"; 12x16; oil on panel
click here to bid on this painting
"Last Days of Summer: Coffee Pot View"; 8x10; oil on panel
click here to view auction
So, two days ago, I hit one of those walls. You know the kind I'm talking about. The kind that you inexplicably don't see coming at all. I say "inexplicably" because when you come up against it, the frigging thing towers over you.

In short, I lost my swing. Big time. Hook, slice, shank.....water hazard, sand trap, heavy name it -- for the last two days, I've been in it. Could not paint my way out to save a paper bag.....see, I'm even mixing metaphors.......

Just in time for my favorite season too. I actually thought about throwing a panel in frustration into the canyon. I'm ashamed to say, it wasn't environmental awareness that stayed my hand. It was economics -- these damn things are expensive.

Anyhoo....I only know one way to conquer walls like this when I come to them. I get depressed, I get angry, and then I get to work. The really lovely thing about this blog thing is that you, dear reader, get to go through this with me (should you choose to do so). Unlike when I was in college, suffering through blockages in music, secure in the delusion that I was doing so in complete anonymity -- I wasn't, of course; there are no secrets in college music buildings because everyone can hear everything you're doing -- I'll document it here in all its gory detail.

Call it cathartic......

"Last Days of Summer: Coffee Pot View" 8x10; oil on panel
"Last Days of Summer: In Oak Creek" 12x16; oil on panel

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Last Days of Summer cont...

"Last Days of Summer #2: Towards Brin's Mesa"; 8x10; oil on linen
click here to bid on this painting
The second daily study for the end of the summer....

This is looking back towards Brin's Mesa in Sedona; 6am - 8am

"Last Days of Summer #2: Towards Brin's Mesa"; 8x10; oil on linen

Friday, September 16, 2011

Last Days of Summer

"Last Days of Summer #1: Chavez Ranch at Oak Creek"; 8x10; oil on linen
click here to bid on this painting
A long hot summer is staring to come to an end. The monsoons of the last week brought some cool mornings and nice evenings. I know we're supposed to get a slight warm-up this week, but fall is definitely in the air.

I've been frustrated with my painting of late....nevertheless, I have to keep up the brush mileage.

With this in mind, and the autumnal equinox just around the corner, I started a series of quick plein-air studies to mark the last days of summer...

#1 Chavez Ranch at Oak Creek; 8x10; oil on linen

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Moving along....

"At The Crossing" 8x10; oil
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Difficult decision behind, I needed to clear my head...

A familiar spot...but different view. Some might consider it sacrilegious to depict Red Rock Crossing without showing some semblance of the iconic Cathedral Rock. I figure I'm going to be painting this spot for a long, long time.....there will be plenty of time for Cathedral Rock paintings.

"At The Crossing" 8x10, oil

Monday, September 12, 2011

Back to work...

"Red Rock Crossing Study" 8x10
click here to bid on this painting
A sign in one of the bars in Jerome reads: "No Whining."

...good advice....

"Red Rock Crossing Study" 8x10; oil

Saturday, September 10, 2011

One of those days....

"Perkinsville Road" 8x10; oil
click here to bid on this painting
Gotta be honest, folks....been one hell of a sh**ty day.

...painting seems to be going nowhere, hung out to dry by a long-time friend, myself and wife insulted by a colleague, and professional integrity questioned by a client....some days you just want to wander off into the forest and tell the world to f**k off.

....but then I remember, others have it worse (please see previous post).....

Friday, September 9, 2011

Benefit for Carol and David Marine

As many of you know, the terrible wildfires across Texas are ravaging not only the state, but people's lives. I've just heard that the very talented artist, Carol Marine and her family lost their home and Carol's studio to the fires while managing to escape with very few belongings.

Even though we've never met face-to-face, Carol has been a inspiration to me as I've begun this journey into painting. Her energy and enthusiasm is contagious and her dedication to daily painting was one of the forces that got me to actually get a brush in my hand after so many years of wistfully thinking about starting. Her husband David is the programmer behind the Daily Paintworks website which has allowed so many of us to share our work. I'm grateful to both.

In the hopes of raising some money for the fund that as been set up to help them, I've placed this painting (there might be more, as well) in an auction with a very low starting price.

The winner will receive a confirmation of the donation.