Archive for the ‘Painting’ Category

Maud (Sally Hawkins) is afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis and has been since she was a child. Her fingers are twisted, her legs misshapen, and she has a hunchback. When her parents died, her brother sold their home and put Maud up to live with her overbearing aunt. Nobody takes her seriously.

Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke) is a local fish peddler in a village in Nova Scotia. He is a socially challenged, extremely reclusive, and verbally and physically abusive. When he puts up an ad for a housemaid, Maud sees it and applies for the job. She comes to live with him in his very small house out in the country.

Maud starts cleaning up around the place and decorating it with her own little paintings. By chance, one of Everett’s customers sees the artwork and starts commissioning works from her. Over time, Maud’s work gets the attention of the folk art scene in New York City.

Gradually the unlikely couple develops a bond of love.

Maudie is based on the life story of painter Maud Lewis, who lived in Nova Scotia with her husband Everett Lewis. They lived in poverty for most of their lives in a famously small house. You can google “Paintings by Maud Lewis” and find many of her paintings, her house, herself and her husband.

Maudie is a movie of unusual circumstances and deep emotions. It’s a story about life, its simplicity, and its cruel reality. Watching it made my eyes tear from time to time, and most of all, it made me go home and pick up my paint brushes again, which have been lying idle for too long lately.

Maudie is a celebration of the human spirit and life. In one of the scenes, when asked what painting means to her, she looks out the window and says:

The Whole of Life, Already Framed, Right There!

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On Friday night I visited the MoMA, since they have extended opening hours until 8:00pm. To my surprise, they had free tickets for all on Friday. I just walked in. It was packed! Everyone in the world seems to come to New York for the MoMA. I am less interested in “modern art” per se, and particularly in “modern” furniture as produced in the 1920s. But their collection of some of the classics is amazing.

For instance, there are some beautiful works by Gaugin, Cezanne and Seurat. I am not usually a Chagall lover, but this is my absolute favorite Chagall. It’s huge, taller than I am.


And then, there was the absolute prize, one of my favorite paintings in the world – Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Just imagine, walking around a corner and there it is:


What an amazing painting to see. People literally gasped as they spotted it. I stood there for a while, taking it in.

But then, there is a problem with taking it in with serenity. Because here is what it looked like stepping back a few feet:


But just a few seconds of reflection, while I was in the front, was worth the entire visit.

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A good friend (PG) went on a safari in East Africa many years ago and brought back some photographs, one of which inspired this set of paintings I titled Waterbird.

It’s a diptych (two paintings in a series), each 18 by 36 inches. Here they are separate, and then together.

Waterbird 1

Waterbird 1

Waterbird 2

Waterbird 2


Waterbird – Combined

I found it a challenge to align the colors and compositions sufficiently, having to switch back and forth between two large paintings on an ongoing basis. My studio area isn’t big enough to put them side by side.

I might need to try this once more.

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Trees on Mt. Baldy

Trees on Mt. Baldy, oil on canvas, 24″ x 36″

Near the very top of Mt. Baldy in California, at over 10,000 feet elevation, rugged trees battle hard winds and blistering sun every day. In the winter, it’s bitter cold and icy. I took a photograph in the summer and made a painting, trying my hand at a loose brush.

It turned out so-so, but I am done with it.

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Our friend Brad asked in an innocuous Facebook post to “Bring Back Jar Jar Binks.” So I did. Little did he know that he would be in the picture with Jar Jar. I thought a retro movie poster would do the trick. I transposed the first and last names of the characters. Petra is his wife. Tonight I gave him the finished and framed painting. Now it’s no longer a secret and I can publish it here.

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California Poppies

California Poppies, 36″ x 36″

California Poppies are the state flower of California. They are protected. When I hike pretty much anywhere in California in the spring, they grow like weeds.

Photo Cal Poppies

Here is a little stand right next to I-15 to the left of the fence, a freeway with 6 lanes in each direction.

I did the painting above to be a diptych to go with the previous painting of daisies. Both these paintings are quite large, three by three feet each, so they’ll fill a large wall when they are next to each other.


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Devin 2006Devin in 2003, 36″ x 36″


Chelsea in 2008, 36″ x 36″

Both of these large paintings with identical frames are hanging in my office.

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My painting of 1980: Children

07/80 Oil 24x30

Children – July 1980 – Oil 30 x 24

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My painting of 2012: Old Man

Old Man - sm

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Inspired by a photograph Trisha brought back from her Safari in Botswana in 2014.

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Safari Frame

I painted a safari picture on a piece of plywood, based on a photograph Trisha brought back from Botswana last year. Then I mounted it in an old mirror frame with doors that was languishing around the house. This is the finished product in our entry way. Frame repurposed. Window to Africa established. Here is a larger version of the painting itself.

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Painting: Elephants



Elephants, Sep 2015, 24″ x 20″

Trisha brought back more than a thousand pictures from her safari in Botswana last year. There is plenty of animal material to inspire many more paintings. I purposely wanted to loosen up on the brush and not make this photorealistic. I think I succeeded sufficiently. I did this specifically for this framing idea:

We have this ornate frame around the house which had an old mirror in it, and doors that flip open. I took the mirror out. Here is a picture of the empty frame. The opening is 24″ x 18″.

Frame for Elephants

I bought a piece of plywood, cut it to the right size, and painted the elephant motif on it, so I can staple it behind the opening in this frame – after it’s varnished. It should be a fun conversation piece for the entryway at our house. I’ll post a picture when it’s done.

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Kevin’s Neighbor’s Boat, Jan 2015, 24″ x 24″

In summer 2014, I went boating in New York with my friend Kevin and his family. At sunset, looking west from his dock, the neighbor’s boat sat on a boat lift, silhouetted by the bright setting sun behind the clouds.

I used a simple sienna, brown and yellow palette, and applied only broad, wild brushstrokes. This is not my usual style. I wanted to see what I could do with a large brush, showing mood and color, and leaving the details to the imagination.

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Babies in the Field

Babies in the Field, Oct 2015, 18″ x 36″

While we were staying at Lucy and Tony’s house in Montana in September, I was fascinated with the old trucks resting behind their barn. Here is the resulting painting.

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van Gogh

At the Philadelphia Museum of Art there are only a handful of van Gogh paintings. The most prominent one is one of his sunflowers. Mother Roulin and her Baby is another, less famous one.

Van Gogh painted a lot of pictures of Mother Roulin, either by herself, or with her baby. There are also several paintings of just the baby, as well as a few charcoal or pencil sketches.

I took this picture at the museum off the original with my iPhone. It brings out the colors well.

The colors are truly van Gogh, and so are the brushstrokes and the free style. Circling the outlines of figures with cobalt blue is a common van Gogh technique.

But really, look at the lack of finish work of the hands, the mother’s face and, most importantly, the face of the baby, which looks like a panda.

If one of my paintings ended up like that, I’d wipe that face and start over again, and over again, until it looked like a baby’s face. Madame Roulin was probably not very happy with this and probably didn’t hang the painting up, unless Vincent was in the house. “Wow, your baby is ugly,” visitors would have said.

But who am I? Just a guy who has done a hundred paintings in his life and painted over another 500 because they didn’t turn out, sort of like van Gogh’s Roulin painting.

But he died and then became Vincent van Gogh. And that makes Mother Roulin and her Baby special, world famous and very valuable.

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