Painting: California Poppies

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.


Featured Artist: Michaela Challal

Eltern (Parents) – by Michaela Challal, 2015, Acrylics, 40cm x 60cm

The artist Michaela Challal is my sister. The painting is fashioned after a photograph of our parents out for a walk many years ago. Here is some more of her recent work. And here is a blog post from seven years ago showing a picture of the two of us as children.

Painting: Lion for Mary Ann

Lion, Nov 2014, Oil on Canvas, 24" x 24"
Lion, Nov 2014, Oil on Canvas, 24″ x 24″

Trisha and Mary Ann went to Africa on Safari. Between the two of them, they brought back over 4,000 photographs. This is my favorite lion. Painted for Mary Ann.

Online Life: People Stealing Your Creative Work – Really?

I like to visit and stroll through the annual San Diego ArtWalk or the Laguna Arts Festival. I don’t go there to buy 4000 dollar paintings, but as an artist, I go to see what other artists are doing, and most of all, to get inspired.

I am always surprised when I see “No Photographs” signs in their booths. Are they afraid that I will steal their painting with my poorly lit and blurry iPhone photo? What do they think I will do? Publish it for bootleg prints on Red Bubble or Etsy? Or worse, use their idea to make my own masterpiece of their painting?

I find the same thing with online artists and photographers. Photographers usually watermark their work before they publish it online. Painters often do the same. The “copyright” notices abound on their websites. Most legitimate users end up being put off by those messages, and the real thieves find ways around the measures anyway.

Perhaps I am naïve. Perhaps I haven’t been ripped off online and I have not felt violated before. But I must say that the “No Photographs” signs on the booths, right by the Visa and MasterCard logos, do nothing but give me a sour feeling about the artist.

If I were displaying my paintings in a booth, I’d invite people to take pictures of my work. What better way to spread the word than somebody taking a picture and posting it online, showing it off. I’d make sure they’d get my card with the picture, or better, my face in it next to the painting.

I am a painter because I want people to see my stuff – primarily. I will not get rich off my work. I have never sold a piece, and probably never will. But I enjoy it immensely when people like my work, enough to take pictures of it. And the greatest honor would be if they liked it enough to use it as a template for their own work!

It may be a little trickier online. But even there, if somebody were to steal a famous photographer’s picture and claim it as their own, passing it off as their work, would that really result in commercial success? Would they sell more than this one work? Would they get hired from that one photograph?

I have my doubts. As an artist, if somebody wants copies of my stuff, they are welcome to it. I would be honored. That’s why I am doing it.

You are allowed to reblog this post, or copy it and claim it as your own. 🙂


Featured Artist: Bernard Pras

[click for Bernard Pras’ website]

Make sure you watch the entire 4:55 minute video to get maximum effect.

Here is some more of Bernard Pras’ work.


I am an Illiterate Polyglot

I consider myself a polyglot, having studied six languages, being fluent in two, and marginally functional in several others. Besides the Old German and Roman alphabets, I have studied Cyrillic and there was a time when I could sound out Russian words even though I didn’t know them. I can also read Japanese Katakana and Hiragana, and some Kanji. I would guess that’s more linguistic exposure than most Americans.

Then, today, a new person followed my blog, and as I browsed back, I found the artwork in the image on the bottom of my post. However, I also found out what it must feel like to be completely illiterate. I have no idea what this is about.

Language ChartThis is the Bengali language, used in Bangladesh by about 189 million people. It seems like an obscure language to the rest of the world, and particularly us Westerners. Let me put the Bengali language into perspective. The German language has about 98 million speakers, and when you include all varieties, it goes up to 120 million. While we would all agree in the modern world that German is an important world language, its native speaker population is only half of that of Bengali – a language most of us would not even recognize if we heard it, or saw it written, like in the image of a blog post below. The Bengali language, according to a chart of the most widely used languages, is solidly in slot number five.

The art work is in English, though – I am being funny here. This example shows how important art can be and how universal its language is, compared to linguistic languages. They eyes of the girl are extremely alive and serve as the focus in a tentative abstract painting. What a powerful message, with no words for me, the illiterate polyglot.

[for credit click on image]

Publishing Art, Words and Feelings

I am an introvert. But I am also a creative person. I write and paint. And there lies the rub. If you are a creative person you need to have the courage to publish your work. Today, times are better than ever in history for people who want to reach an audience.

With every blog post I state my opinion and I sometimes choose sides. I try not to insult or attack others, except call congressmen knuckleheads. Stating my opinions and feelings exposes me in several ways. First, being an introvert I am naturally reserved and I don’t want to be in the limelight. But when I say something stupid, I am right out there, front and center, obvious as a fool to all.

Supposedly Lincoln once said: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”

I remove all doubt every day on this blog. People read these things, form an opinion, sometimes learn something, often agree, more often disagree, and sometimes they repost or refer to my posts.

Copying somebody’s work without attribution would be plagiarism. But re-blogging is like bestowing an honor. It’s like taking my work, giving it to somebody else and saying: “Check this out, you will benefit from it.”

In the world of writing, everyone with the will to collect his thoughts can publish today. You don’t need to make it past an editor, you don’t need to find a publisher. You can write, and publish yourself immediately. If it’s garbage, nobody will read it. If it’s good, you will establish a readership and a following. That’s where it starts. Writing on the blank screen and hitting the Publish button.

The same is true for artists. Every time I finish a painting, I take a picture of it and I publish it online. Just so I can share. Sometimes people have used my work and, as they should, given me credit back by a link to my blog or by adding my name. Other times, they may have just taken my work. I will never know. But even then I am honored. My work was good enough for somebody to think it valuable enough to take it and use it for something.

Sometimes I go to art shows and I look what other people are doing. Here are artists that pay a thousand dollars for a booth for a couple of days, hang up a bunch of pictures, label and price them, and wait for people to come by and buy them.

What always gets me is when artists put up signs on their walls disallowing people to take pictures of their work. This is pretty hard to enforce, now that every human being runs around with a high quality camera on their belt or in their purse. I cannot understand the attitude of the artist. Here is a great $2000 painting in a booth at a street fair. Some young person, perhaps an art student, likes the painting enough to want to take a picture of it to check it out later. But the artist gets upset. What does the artist think the viewer is going to do with the picture? Sell it? Copy it and make a similar painting that he is going to sell for $1999? Steal the idea and make a better painting?

Goodness, it’s the artist’s business to get the work out into the world. If enough people come around and take pictures of their work, perhaps their work and their names will reach the right person one day.

Are they really thinking that the only value they get is from somebody pulling out a checkbook and writing a $2000 check?

Artists with signs on their booths disallowing photographs turn me off completely and I walk on to the next booth, where I might be more welcome.

As a writer or an artist, we have to have the courage to put our best work out there, and then see what happens.

But that is hard, especially being an introvert.

Wife of the Alchemist

Wife of Alchemist
Wife of Alchemist – by Thom Puckey

Thom Puckey is an artist with an impressive resume and collection of work. Most of his recent work in all in marble. His website is surprisingly, perhaps characteristically minimalistic. There are no thumbnails, unusual for an artist. It’s all written in fine print. Once I  was there, however, I was captivated. Please check out this amazing artist.

New Painting: No Lifeguard

No Lifeguard, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 36 inches, March 2012

I was in Clearwater Beach, Florida last November at a conference. In the evening I walked the beach. The setting sunlight illuminated the lifeguard stations. I knew there’d be a painting there somewhere.