keen scribbles

corner crepe myrtle drawing

I feel an unabashed love for the material appearance of oil pastels (Caran d’Ache Neopastels to be precise).  I love to describe somewhat “loopy” forms with them.  I love mixing colors by abrasion.  I love the way that you can drag one color across another and create as it were almost veils of color.

So even when the situation is stalled (as I make drawings for a painting that I’m unsure how to complete), I can nonetheless love the act of drawing because the materials themselves are so beautiful.

I have rehearsed these forms many times and they still hold my interest.  Indeed, it’s stronger than that. They hold me captive.


a happy chaos of flowers

Oct 1 flowers 3 (3)

I have been painting a lot lately so much that I haven’t had time to blog about it.  And nearly all of the paintings depict flowers.  The painting above measures 30 x 40 inches.  After having painted so many flowers in vases on tables, I wanted to do something amorphous.  The theme of amorphous arrangements is one that I’m just beginning to explore, and there will be others besides the one above.  Indeed there’s an even larger painting in the works.

I still paint the flowers on table tops, of course, and one of the recent pictures is a traditional still life because I love the flat receding plane of the table top with its still life theatre.

Oct 1 flowers (3)

Long time readers know that I like to paint pictures of koi swimming and this still life has a fish component, so that was fun.  The painting above measures 16 x 20 inch inches so it’s small, but it’s got attitude.  And what’s particularly new about these paintings is that I painted them using acrylic paint which I haven’t used in a long time.  I have had such a blast using this fast drying paint.  Each kind of artist material has its own peculiar charms and I like to range among the opportunities.  I think particularly now that using acrylic paint is going to teach me things that I can afterwards apply profitably in oil painting.

The fish pattern paper featured in the second painting comes from a wonderful store in Old Town Alexandria called The Paper Source.  It will be fun showing the store’s staff what I did with the beautiful deep blue paper I bought there — the first of the paper’s soon-to-be frequent appearances in my art.

My flower mélange is partly inspired by the store window of Caruso’s Florist at 17th and M Streets in Washington Dc where there’s a dramatic window display.  I was walking in the evening in mid-September, strolling around the block a couple times because I was early for a meeting.  That’s when I came upon Caruso’s store window.  It was one of those great felicitous accidents of happening upon something that you had been hoping to find!  When I returned to the store the next day with my camera, the store’s owner greeted me.  He is just about the nicest guy you’re likely to ever meet.  So, if you visit Washington DC and want to meet somebody delightful, make a straight path for Caruso’s Florist.

I have a lot of project ideas right now.  Some of them are underway, others are just buzzing about in my brain.  It’s been a very exciting time of full days.

In other news if you received one of the cards with a reproduction of my paintings and are a new visitor to the blog, welcome.  Hope you find many things to enjoy.


Dreaming through chaos

butterfly on sept 25

Lots of times I’ve been nostalgic for that period of my life when I first started painting, when I was a teen and felt such keen longing to be an artist. And yet when I was a teen, I was often miserable painting. It seemed so difficult and chaotic. Sometimes the painting unfolded in front of me in ways I liked, but just as often it became a mess that I had no idea how to untangle.
butterfly detail 3

The butterfly painting unfolds in chaos now, and I forget as I mull over the mess of it that here is the territory over which I once longed. Decades have passed since I first “wanted to be an artist.” I have enough experience now that I could — right now — untangle this mess. I know exactly how to tame the picture so that it can become something crisp and realistic. I can get an orderly purchase on this image through stages.
butterfly detail 2

But I’m NOT going to straighten it out. And it’s now that I realize what the nostalgia is about. If only I had known when I was younger to just walk into the chaos and keep going. It’s what I’m going to do now. The orderly means available to me — I’m not knocking order and prevision — they have their place — are options that I am going to reject. Something I want lies on the other side of chaos.

wacky beginning

All I have to do is just keep putting paint on top. I am resisting the temptation to straighten this thing out. Instead, I’m going to go through it, just like you walk through a field of brambles. I close my eyes and imagine the stages of chaos, a bunch of lines here that later I discover are wrong, and brushstrokes of paint that form one layer that afterwards has to be annihilated, and ant paths through the image that circle back upon each other, or that wander around seemingly aimlessly — perhaps aimlessly in truth ….

And yet ants do reach their destinations eventually.