Licorice – a dense rubbery candy that is usually made in black or red strips and flavored with licorice


After creating paintings for Chelsea and Devin a few years ago, Trisha challenged me: “When do I get a painting?” As I always do when that happens, I ask what they want.

“Something abstracty.” [Trisha’s favorite artist is Chagall, that’s where this comes from]

“Abstracty? I can’t do abstract, sorry. I need something more specific?”

“How about a still life with good bottle of wine and a glass. Maybe some cheese….”

That’s how it started. Glass is good, hard. I have done a wine bottle once. That’s a self-portrait in my Glendale, Arizona apartment in January 1980 with a port bottle on the shelf behind me. And a half-filled glass would be hard.

And this started the longest, hardest painting I have done in all my years. January and February 2010 saw no painting activity. I did a layout using photographs in March while Trisha was out of town on a trip. I was hoping to get it done quickly while she was gone. Wrong. From March until December, the painting was just an outline on the easel behind my desk that was clearly not going anywhere. But I knew that if I removed it “temporarily” to get my creative juices flowing and started another painting, the chances that I would NEVER get back to it were great. So I didn’t allow that. Finally, in December 2010 I decided I didn’t want to be stuck forever and I’d finish.

Perseverance paid off, and I like the outcome, even though I could not get the colors in this photograph match to true vibrance of the original – which is the case in almost all photographs of paintings.

The wine was a 2003 Cabernet Savignon of The Montelena Estate. This is, for wine connoisseurs, a very good wine. She had saved it for a special occasion. I laid the cork next to it. The bottle and the glass are on a cutting board that Chelsea made in shop class when she was in school, which we use all the time for bread cutting and serving on special occasions. The stack of books to the right also has meaning. The four books on the top come from the library of Trisha’s father who passed away in 2004 whose memory she holds dear. The thick, tattered volume is The Household Physician by the Brown-Flynn Publishing Company of  Buffalo, New Edition, 1926. It provides for some hilarious reading. The book on Chagall is one I gave her as a present. It’s a coffee table book of Chagall paintings.

Everybody asks: “Why the licorice?”

I put a few strands of licorice there because I felt that it would be very hard to paint them, and because Trisha loves licorice. Buy her a big bucket from Costco and put it there on the counter, and you can see her become a slave – to the licorice.

That provided for a personal connection and finally the title of the painting.

It took me a year, longer than any painting I can remember that I actually finished and didn’t abandon.

There you have it. I am done. I can finally move on to the next.

One thought on “Licorice

  1. Eric Petrie

    I love the fact that colors don’t match from the painted canvas to the photo-screen. It makes paintings worth their weight in gold. Who would need to travel to museums if the pictures showed their genius online?

    But thank the heavens, however beautiful the digital version is (and I like this a lot), the true view must be had by the eye in front of the original canvas.

    It makes me believe that there is a god!

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