When life gives you lemons, draw them, 11 x 14 inches dry pastels, graphite on paper

"When life gives you lemons, draw them". (Nikki)

"Trust your intuition, it's just like goin' fishin'; you cast your line 'til you get a bite." (Paul Simon)

"Color! What a deep and mysterious language..." (Paul Gauguin)

Archive for November, 2009

The Tree of Life Chair

Monday, November 30th, 2009


The Tree of Life, Refurbished vintage chair, mixed media - in progress

The Tree of Life, 29H x 29W x 29D inches mixed media; refurbished vintage plastic lawn chair, woven canvas strips and white glue, thin layers of drywall compound: cured, sanded, carved, acrylics paint, varnish. Durable, completely functional.

There was an interesting buildup of colors after a lot of changing colors and repainting the design many times, so the impressions of this chair are created like the other chairs in this series; ancient artifact replicas. The other chairs are listed on the Art, Prices page.

$2,000.00          Buy Now Using PayPal


Exhibition Opening Dec. 1st

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Chapala Winds - Mexico - 11H x 11W x 3D inches acrylics on canvas, wrapped sides paintedUpcoming exhibition: monthly featured artist at Oxide Gallery in Denton, TX. Among the items on exhibit: most of the Magic Square series, Dawn at Bell Rock, Sounds of Silence, Polypore Fungi, Shadows of Summer, Eastern White Pine, and three of the vintage chairs. Opening Reception Tuesday, December 1st, 6:00 p.m. – 8 p.m., and the show runs until December 31st.


Left: Chapala Winds, Mexico, 11H x 11W x 3D inches acrylics on canvas, wrapped sides painted, part of the Magic Square series, all painted as various aspects of trees for the Dancing With Trees Exhibition collection..

Dawn at Bell Rock

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009


Dawn At Bell Rock, Sedona Arizona, 18H x 12W x 3D inches acrylics on canvas, wrapped sides painted, trim frame

Dawn at Bell Rock, Arizona – 24H x 18W x 2D inches acrylics on canvas, wrapped sides painted, trim frame. Below: phases 01, 02 and 07

Dawn at Bell Rock - phase 01 in progress Dawn at Bell Rock - phase 02 in progress Dawn at Bell Rock (Arizona), 24 x 18 x 2 inches acrylics on canvas, gallery wrapped sides painted, Phase 07


$350.00          Buy Now Using PayPal


The Fourth of July 02

Saturday, November 21st, 2009


 The Fourth of July 02, 15 x 22 inches watercolors, finished

The Fourth of July 02 – Orange Milkweed, Kentucky (sold) 15 x 22 inches watercolors Above: finished, below: Nov. 19th almost finished

Orange Milkweed, 15 x 22 inches watercolors almost finishedDriving from Texas to Ontario one summer I had to pull over to take photos and a closer study of the vivid orange bouquets growing beside the highway in southern Kentucky. The colors are irresistible, and this is not the first or last time I’ll portray this subject. All plants and trees contain medicinal and useful chemical properties in their leaves, stems, roots and flowers. I looked up  Orange Milkweed in the most informative books about plants, The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism edited by Malcom Stuart, which contains details about every plant I have ever sought to find information for.  According to it, Appalachian Indians made a tea from the leaves to use during religious ceremonies. One common name for this plant is Pleuracy Root, as it is still useful to treat infections of the respiratory tract including pleurisy It is used as a diaphoretic, antispasmodic, carminative, expectorant… and color also has enchanting, supernatural energizing  properties!


Bird Party

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009


Bird Party, sculpted 140 lb watercolor paper, watercolors - in progress


Bird Party, preliminary sketch Bird Party, watercolor in progress Bird Party, sculpted 140 lb watercolor paper, watercolors - in progress

Bird Party, watercolors on molded 140 lb watercolor paper, work in progress.

I’m not exactly sure where this is headed, but shapes were cut out of the painting, the paper drenched , folded , stretched and sculpted. Every evening just before sunset in the Dallas-Fort Worth area Grackles, blackbirds, Starlings and pigeons gather on lawns, parking lots, overhead wires and cables, roofs and trees. The event is unique to this area as far as I know, and exciting beyond words to be amongst the thousands and thousands of birds. Here is a previous piece on the subject.

 Grackles, WalMart parking lot, Main Street, Lewisville, Texas Grackles, Round Grove Road, Lewisville, Texas Grackles, Race Track gas station, Round Grove Road, Lewisville, Texas

 Grackles, Rockbrook Drive, Christina's restaurant parking lot, Lewisville, Texas Grackles, Rockbrook Drive, one female and seven males, Lewisville, Texas Grackles, October full moon, Main Street, Lewisville, Texas

Color Study

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009


Angels Trumpet (Brugmansias) San Antonio Riverwalk, Texas 14H x 22W inches watercolors on paper
Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansias) San Antonio Riverwalk, Texas 14H x 22W inches watercolors on 140 lb. cold pressed premium, white mat

$250.00          Buy Now Using PayPal


Value study

Thursday, November 5th, 2009


 Trumpet Flowers, San Antonio Riverwalk, TX - value study

Angel’s Trumpet value study, San Antonio Riverwalk, Texas12 x 16 inches Tombo pen wash on 140 lb. WC paper.

The Tombo pen is a two-in-one water-soluble marker available in colors as well as black. One tip is medium-fine and the other looks and behaves like a Chinese paintbrush, where thickness of lines can be controlled. What’s more difficult to control is that black once it’s on the page! It’s something to pay attention to when painting the colored version.

Preliminary studies are useful with watercolors because if, in trying to correct and re-work areas, the integrity of the paper is easily lost, especially on inexpensive papers. Still, on a traditional watercolor a lot can be done by adding water  to pull out the dark where it’s not wanted, and push out areas of paint with dry brushes. Some places in this study have built-up 3D edges created by the paper bits because I pushed them around so much with a stiff brush to correct things, but traditionally this is not acceptable.

Actually, come to think of it, that might be interesting to deliberately sculpt the paper in strategic areas – like objects in the foreground – by saturating it with too much water, then while painting, brush the resulting paper bits into piles and mold them with a stiff  brush. I may try that in the final colored painting of this scene. This proves once more that every single painting is an experiment to find ways to turn disadvantages and  limitations into advantage and innovation.

Even though WC and Acrylics are water-friendly and watered-down acrylics is the method I use to start most canvas paintings, I’m noticing a few outstanding differences : 1) an off-balance composition seems to be more noticeable with WC, definitely not as correctable 2) improved attention to drawing, details and ultra-conscious 3) requires pre-planning and foresight to keep the work fresh and clean 4) commands enough confidence to swish the paint on quickly as if it was not planned.

The Evolution of Communication

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Captionless Cartoon by Saul Steinberg, 1961The title of a work of art can help sell it, and captions can complete our understanding of a picture, but the most successful works of Art manage well without an explanation. Our visual senses – sight and insight – have a language of their own. Upon viewing anything, multitudes of information are presented and understood simultaneously, almost instantly. With or without color, images are powerful, possibly even more than words, because with the development of human communication, pictures came first. It’s now widely accepted that symbols marked the origins of written language across the world.

It takes much less time to perceive than it does to write about it. For a hands-on illustration of this, draw a simple Smiley Face, and note the time that it takes to draw it. Afterward write down everything that comes to mind about that icon; what it means, other general impressions and associations. Although this is a familiar icon with clear connotations, possibly something we see every day now, plus almost all of us have drawn it at some point, within seconds of describing it you will realize how much longer it takes to interpret as quickly into words. Harvey Ball, the original artist of the Smiley Face icon must be flabbergasted that succeeding generations would come to coin the term, “emoticons”, based on an indefinite number of facial expressions that spawned from the first, including animated ones that wink and cry, and more.

Essentially, full comprehension in any language relies on those aspects of our mind’s eye: memories and imagination in order to be fully effective. Pictures appeal to our abstract, multidimensional experiences and through the emotions, allowing for individual’s interpretations. There are higher expectations for words. We assume that they alone are qualified when we’re talking on the phone and participating in online computer groups, for instance, but it actually takes extra effort for our intent to be clear when we don’t have access to the visual side of our statements. Even if we speak the same language, the words we choose and their meaning can be misinterpreted and misunderstood.

Relying on the visual aspects of learning, subjects in school are traditionally taught using chalkboards and eraser-boards, stimulating audio and visual senses. Likewise, motivational speakers often use diagrams to help get the point across. The use of imagery is rampant everywhere now. It’s extremely effective in all forms of advertising, and despite all attempts to hold on to all copyrights, if the art is relatable it spreads like wildfire on the internet. Artists of every kind are more vulnerable than ever to fraud.

Harvey Ball’s Smiley Face is a perfect example of how artists are not really in control of what they create. Generally though, any exposure is good exposure, because most people who borrow other people’s graphics or ideas still want to know who the source is. As artists it’s beneficial and constructive for us to continue moving on to the next best project and keep progressing with a lifetime of work. We have to learn to let go of the strong bond we have with the art we create. It’s personal, to be sure, but a good motto is, “There’s more where that came from”.

Along with the resources available to us now, in our progressive age of high technology and wireless everything, it’s still the Human factor that needs refining. We only need to trust intuition as much as logic, with as much emphasis on communicating our emotions as openly and explicitly as we do words and speech. Fortunately there are infinite forms of expression, and inevitably it’s a good thing that creativity is available to everyone, not just artists. Creativity thrives on challenges to communicate effectively; it always has and it always will.

More about Artists and history in the article, The Influence of History.
Credits: Above cartoon by Saul Steinberg (1914 – 1999) was a Romanian-born American cartoonist, best known for his work in the New Yorker magazine. Harvey Ball, Wikipedia, Smiley Face