Sunday, December 27, 2009


I got four whole days off for Christmas!!! Woo - hoo! My plan was to paint the entire time. Well, you know the old addage about mice and men. I'm not sure which category that I'm classified in, but I felt more like a mouse over the first couple of days of the vacation. I did get to visit friends and family on Christmas Eve and Christmas day ... but my confused sleep pattern and some sort of bug forced me to spend much of the next day and a half just sleeping.

With my brothers, Chip (on the left) and Mark (will the insanity never end?). Yep, that's me in the middle looking for all the world like a homeless guy that they brought in for Christmas dinner. Perhaps I should rethink the beard.

After my hybernation, I spent about twelve to fifteen hours painting ... and hope to get another eight or ten in tonight. I started a still life with the cello that I rented, and have gotten quite far with it. I have also been working on the nude with good results, and a few other projects (with mixed results, actually -- one of them has symied me a bit).

When I get some of these finished, I'm going to do one more painting with the cello. While I was working at the gallery the other day, Dennis Smith brought in a model for us to work with. He gave me enough of a heads-up that I was able to drag the cello along for her to pose with for photos. I'm looking forward to doing that one ... but I will be celloed out after that.

Cellos are not the easiest things in the world to paint. Like violins, they have a lot of strange angles and curves - not unlike the figure of a woman -- but with extra problems that are not easily solved; the neck doesn't just go straight up the instrument, it is canted toward the back, so, when seen from an angle, it looks like it leans if it's not done properly ... and the whole thing bows in the front and back slightly, making the proportions seem to vary from side to side when viewed at an angle. I don't know, it's hard to explain -- but they are fun to figure out. Sometimes the tougher a thing is to paint, and the more of a challange it is, the more fun it is to work on. In fact, I was talking with Del about that on Christmas, saying that one of the things that I was working on was very tough ... and that it was very comforting to me -- because I always worry when they are going too smoothly. "Every painting is a kind of sickness." Del said, quoting Valentin Serov, and nodding in agreement.
I hope to post a picture of something that I'm working on this blog later -- they are not ready to be seen yet, though.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Little projects

I rarely do cartoons/caracatures ... and it's even less likely that I'll share a peek at them ... but here's a look at one that I just finished and another drawing. They are little projects that I did as last minute Christmas commissions. I can usually do these kinds of things durring breaks at work -- and did get much of the cartoon done there ... but couldn't quite pull that off this time, so I had to work on these in stead of painting this weekend -- other than the session with the model.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


At long last, after talking about it for several years, I rented a cello (as you can see, I've learned how to spell it properly) and hired a model to pose with it. The session was three hours (roughly six 20-minute poses with a ten minute break in between each) and went by in what seemed like five minutes ... just long enough to get the basic drawing/underpainting done.
I wanted to use natural light -- and I have a big, wonderful picture window in my studio ... unfortunately it faces the street. To keep the amount of automobile accidents to a minimum for those traveling south on Alberta Ave, and to keep from having a yard full of gawkers, I put some clear plastic sheeting over the window. Actually, if it's darker inside than it is outside, it's almost impossible to see in -- but I wanted my model to be comfortable in her nudity.
It was not to be, though. It was not only overcast and cloudy, but we didn't get started until one PM. Monday is the shortest day of the year ... so yesterday was pretty darned short too ... and by two-thirty it was downright grey out there. But, I have track lighting -- and I used that to great advantage instead of the natural light that I would have preferred.
The model was nice enough to let me take a few pictures to work from in her absense - so, I hope to finish it before year's end.

Once again, Pfeffer showed her uncanny insight into the work and posed under the chair for a few minutes, just to add a little more depth to the work. How does she do it?
Unfortunately, I've got several projects that are due for the hollidays, so I'm going to have to put the "cellist" aside for the next couple of days. Dang. I'm itching to get at it -- and can see some definite areas where the underpainting really needs some help (for example, I made her face too big and will have to do some serious cosmetic surgery there). Stay tuned for updates.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Waiting for News from the Battlefield

There is a huge National park here on the fringe of Spokane that has an area where the Civil War enthusiasts (I don't know the organizations official nomenclature) get together every spring -- memorial day weekend, I think. I've been a few times and have enjoyed their mock battles and walking through their camps, meeting the participants, etc. These people are dedicated to making as much of it as possible like things were in the 1860's (minus the port-o-potties; I've noticed that they aren't over there aking in the bushes ... they step into those smelly blue-green plastic hot houses to do thier business). It's quite the experience -- one which I'm tempted to join in sometime (the camp-out, weekend --- not the business in the port-o-smelly thing). Perhaps I could play a war correspondant out there sketching away.

All that as it may be, I've taken a bevvy of pictures over the last three years and was just noticing the other day how many pieces of artwork I've done from the photos ... at least six that I can think of right off of the top of my head -- including the oil that I just finished working on. It's not quite there yet -- it needs some touch-ups, but I think that I need to give it a week of rest before I go back to it.

The camps are full of all a cocophany of diverget occupations -- people of all walks of life, as, I'm sure, that the camps back in the day were. There are also many families. Durring the battles some of the families hang out on the fringes, watching, but many hang out in the camps awaiting the return of thier loved ones. The young lady depicted here was not the nicest of people. I don't think that she liked having her picture taken and gave me a scowl as I did so. It occured to me then, though, that it was probably the kind of inner strife boiling to the surface that a sweetheart would show if they were, truly, in that position of awaiting the fate of their husband/brother/father/son.

This painting was quite a challange and a lot of fun. Determining colour temperatures was among the biggest problems. I was talking with my friend and mentor, Del about it yesterday and he showed me a magazine with a beautiful Fechin painting in it that was a simular composition (man, that guy could paint!). We discussed it at some length and I learned a few things - as usual. Thanks, again, Del. Any suggestions that you ever want to give me are greatly appreciated.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cat's Eye Gallery Closure

Last Thursday (10 December, '09) was the last night for figure drawing at the Cat's Eye Gallery. They had to close their doors because the building in which they were housed has sold. There was some repreve, there, for a few months or so ... but now the closing is iminent. Conrad, the owner, is in search of a new building and hopes to resume his gallery elsewhere. I'm not sure if he'll keep the same name or not.

It was kinda sad, but I think that it's going to be a turn for the best. The gallery, as it was, had some real draw-backs. It was spacious, and in a convienient location, however -- the roof leaked, it was stifelingly hot in the summer, freezing in the winter -- and the lighting was not the greatest either.

The party atmosphere (most of the people in attendance brought food) was not very conducive to drawing, and my friend Dennis left in disgust (not the first time that he's done so). I've been tempted to leave many times myself because of the constant chatter and lack of professionalism in the past, but I brought my countermeasures with me; my ipod. I put those earphones in, turned that sucker on, set it to "shuffle", cranked it up, -- and still had to concentrate over the dinn --because I could still hear laughter, shouting, and crying over the music.

There were several people in the small room (we couldn't draw in the larger room because of the cold) who weren't even drawing, they had just come to party I guess. One even brought an infant who contributed greatly to the chaos (thus the crying -- it wasn't people frustrated with their drawings, as you may have thought).

In spite of it all -- we had the best model that I've seen there. Very professional, and very pretty. She didn't get drawn into the conversations (even when addressed), she held her poses well, resumed them almost flawlessly when going back to the same one after a break, and had some interesting poses, too.
Aparently she works as a photo model most of the time and takes trips to do work in Seattle and California. After conversing with her on a break, I hired her to pose for me privately -- to do the pose that I've been wanting to do for some years now.

Some time in the mid-ninetys I got a CD of the Russian Chellist, Nina Katova, and fell in love with her music -- ah, the sweet sound of a chello! There was a very lovely photo of her on the cover of the CD and I thought how cool it would be to have had her pose for me. Throughout my life I've been drawn to the beautiful lines on violins and chellos, etc., and have drawn and painted violins many times. In fact, one of my favorite paintings that I've done, is of my wonderful friend, Brenda, holding a violin. It might not be one of my best, exactly, but it was a sweet time in my life and that probably accounts for my sentimental attachment.

Anyway, I've thought that it would be real nice to paint a nude with a chello and wondered how, exactly to pull that off. I still haven't worked out the composition -- but I think that requires me to have both a chello and a model to figure out.
In the last few months the idea has been needling me for some unknown reason. So I stopped by a music store in town and asked about the price of renting the instrument. It's very reasonable. Renting the model -- that's the expensive part. She is not going to charge me the same rate that she charges photographers, but it's still a good chunk of change. I may have to do two separate sessions of about 3 hours each. The first will be next weekend. I'm both nervous and excited about the venture.

So, I guess that means I have to clean up my studio this week. Dang. Now, where did I leave that snow shovel, anyway?

Monday, December 7, 2009


While at CMU I was in a figure painting class during my last semester. There was one particular modle who posed for us at least once a week who was so slender and tall that none of the paintings or drawings that anyone did looked believeable - they all looked like they were disproportional ... like one of the figures in the sketches that can be seen on patterns for dresses and such. One of the paintings that I did of her turned out to be to my liking -- but I had some reservations about it ... so I reworked it. It still wasn't to my liking ... so, much later, I reworked it again. This has gone on for quite some time. Every year or two I break it out and take a whack at it, only to shelve it again.

The other day I took the charcoal that Pfeffer had ruined by rolling on it and was about to throw it away, when I noticed that the figure was in a simular pose as stick girl in the previously mentioned painting. I had one of those "eureka" moments when I realized that the best thing to do for the painting was to augment her womanly charms. The breasts in the drawing were just about the only thing not ruined by my crazy cat. So I used the drawing as a study for the painting and gave her a boob job. Much better -- she still looks somewhat disproportional -- but in an interesting way; not a disturbing one. I still need to fix some things, I think, but it just may be hanging in the gallery sometime soon.

Thanks again, Pfeffer, you're always such a big help.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Okay, here's my piece of jewelry for the Library show. It was kind of strange, I thought, that they required that to enter ... but the guy who runs the Cat's Eye Gallery where we meet to do our figure drawings is a jeweler (among other things).

While contemplating the jewelry piece, I initially did some nude figures ... but they were not working out too well. I decided to put it off until I was sitting at the Avenue West Gallery on my shift to work on it. I'd thought that I had my sketch books with me that contained all of my nude drawings, only to discover that I only had my daily sketch book. I didn't think that any of it would make a decent piece of jewelry ... until I came upon my sketch of Pfeffer. It made perfect sense for me to do an effegy of a cat for the show (because of the name of the gallery sponsoring it) ... so, there it is.
It's made of Sculpy clay ... a shot of gold spray paint, some dark oil paint painted on and then wiped off to give it an antique look ... a clasp glued to the back, some glass sequens glued in ... and: viola! P.O.S.! Rather embarassing ... and I hope to never do jewelry again.

Library show

It probably sounds strange that the figure drawing group that I belong to is doing a show in the exhibit hall of the library ... but, that's where we're having it. Here are the charcoals that I'm putting in.

I had one different charcoal that I was thinking about using and was going to do some more work to it, but, again, Pfeffer helpped me out with that. It was sitting on the coffee table while I was working into one of the other drawings, when Pfeffer came and laid on it. When I called her to get off of it, she just rolled onto her back and obliterated most of it. Oh, well, it made the decision a little easier.

I've already posted the oil painting that I'm putting in (although I've done some work on it since). I'll post a picture of my "jewelry piece" as soon as I finish it up. It's kind of embarrassing. It's my first and only jewelry piece ever.

Monday, November 23, 2009


This weekend I worked on no less than nine paintings -- all in various stages. One that I spent much of my time on is a nude that is due for a show in a few days. The figure drawing group that I belong to is having a show at the Spokane Library. We must submit two charcoals, one oil painting, and one piece of unique jewelry. I have yet to start the piece of jewelry, but I do have some ideas. Definitely not my thing. I doubt very seriously that I've ever created anything like that ... unless we include macaroni necklasses made in grade school. It could be fun, though. We'll see.
It's kind of unusual that I will spend this much time on a portrait or figure drawing. Detail is not really my thing -- especially lately. I'm much more of a broad strokes kind of painter. I find it much more expressive and a whole heck of a lot more fun. Still, this is going okay.
One of the other ones that I spent a while on is something that I started about a year ago. It was off to a good start back then, but things just kind of took a different turn for me, and I was forced to shelve it for a while. It's a scene of the Spokesman Review buildings, old and new, as they face each other across Monroe Street. I've painted in this location before, but this is strictly from photos. It still has a little way to go, but I think it's off to a decent start.

The other seven paintings are mostly things that I've posted here recently that I'm still working on. I did start one new one, but it's not far enough along to show yet.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lilacs revisited

Like many artists throughout history, I have a habit of working on several pieces at once ... sometimes leaving paintings in various stages for long periods of time. Last night I ran across one that I had all but finished and I wondered why I hadn't. It's a small painting of Lilacs and a tea cup. All that remained was the design on the cup.

If I remember right, I was going to work more into the blossoms but wasn't able to come back to it right away and they faded -- and lilacs seem to fade awful quickly. It was only a matter of a short amount of time to add the design to the cup ... and a few touches here and there to the rest of the piece.

Over the next few weeks I hope to finish some other works that I started but haven't finished. It's a rare thing that I totally give up on a piece ... I may never finish something ... but the intention to do so is always there.

Along with all of that ... I watched a special on the telly about a couple of Leonardo's unfinished paintings. Exciting stuff. His Battle of Anghiari -- which has been long lost (we have proof of it through drawings by other artists -- most notably Peter Paul Rubens) may have been located behind a false wall in an Italian museum. The authorities don't want to move the wall, though, because of a mural by Vasari.

The same scientist who did all of the research and made the "discovery" was asked to do some curating on another unfinished Leonardo work: "The Addoration of the Magi". While examining it, he found that a much later hand had worked over the painting, obliterating much of the original under-painting. Using some real complex imaging aparatii, the scientist and his staff were able to create a digital image of what lies benieth the over-worked painting. Stunning. New Leonardo drawings that have not been seen in hundreds of years! In the background of the Magi painting one can see a pair of horses fighting ... when the scientist revealed this pair, using his improved xray technique, it looks for all the world like a practice sketch for the Battle of Anghiari! Cool. I hope to see a book or article on all of this come out soon.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Seattle Street Musicians

This is the fourth painting that I've undertaken from my little weekend trip to Seattle a couple of months ago. I'm really enjoying the freshness and looseness that I'm getting lately and I hope to keep this painting very loose, even though I am going to work into it a little more.
Painting has become a lot more fun for me lately and I feel like I'm growing -- but, the more I grow, the more I recognize how far I have to go. Still, the joy that I am getting from these exercises make me dig in and push a little harder to overcome some of the areas in which I am so inept. The challenges in life, though, are what make it so interesting.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Under construction

Here's a look at the painting that I started this morning. It's from a picture that I took in Seattle of the wife of one of my friends. I liked the way that she was framed by the horse and the triangle of reds -- wished that I could have stopped the world and painted it from life.
I'm not sure if I'll work more into the face to make it a portrait of this spacific girl or not. I suppose that depends on my friend - if he is not interested in purchasing it, I'll just make it a generic woman -- maybe build up some of the lights a little more.

It's another small piece -- really painted mostly for the excercise.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

End of the Innocence

It would have been more appropriate to have painted this one a little closer to my 50th birthday ... stupid mosquitos drove me out, though. It's just as well, I guess; I love the fall colours and had a blast building up the paint.

I wish that the photo captured the colours better -- I had a heck of a time trying to get a shot without glare.

Art Spirit

My brother, Chip, and I went over to Idaho on Saturday afternoon and stopped into the Art Spirit gallery in Coeur d'Alene. I was surprised and quite pleased to find another printmaker displaying her work. It's a shame that it was the last day of her show, I would have urged people to go and see it. She is a proffessor of Art at Gonzaga, though, and you can still see her work on the Art Spirit web site: Or google Mary Farrell. Lots of nice figurative work. She does a wide variety of the various printmaking techniques. Many of her pieces don't translate well to the pictures on the web ... as many of her prints are so large.

I've been thinking about doing prints lately, now I'm inspired by her work.

November Art Walk

Once again I took my sketching stuff to the "First Friday" gallery event. Between work and matting and framing charcoals, though, I didn't get much sleep and wasn't very active. I spent more time mingling and making connections than I did doing sketches (that's what these open house things are supposed to be all about in the first place, anyway). I did do one sketch of Conrad, the owner and sole proprieter of the Cat's Eye Gallery, where a bunch of us artists meet on Thursday evenings to work from a model. One of these days I'll post some of my figure drawings here.

This month I decided to pull most of my paintings down and put up a bunch of charcoal drawings. I often feel that it's a shame to do so many of them and never have them see the light of day once they are completed. Most of the drawings that I hung are from my travels in '05. I did put a couple of newer ones up -- and I have a few more that will be hung as soon as the mats are done (I'm having them made and it has taken them a little longer than I'd anticipated). I didn't really take any pictures of my space this time, but you can see it behind my friend and co-gallery owner, Dennis Smith (I think that's the nose of Elizabeth Scott that he's talking to).

When I put the rest of them up, perhaps I'll post a better picture.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Beach Blanket

One day last summer, my brother, Chip, and I went to Idaho and explored various places. While we were at one of the lakes I snapped a bevvy of pictures. I was certain that I would paint at least half a dozen of them ... but, until now, I've only done a few inkings from them.

One of the reasons, I think, is that I was not too sure about the compositions and found solutions that were less than exciting. While I was reading my new Classical Drawing Atelier book by Juliette Aristides (great book - she also has one on painting), I was looking over her composition points. No new stuff to me, just a fresh look at classic techniques -- you know, stuff we've all learned from Leonardo and Michelangelo, and the whole gang -- it occured to me exactly how to do one of the subjects that I'd been putting off. The subject itself reminded me of an artists work that I saw while in the Cincinnatti museum some years ago; Edward H. Potthast (1857 - 1927). He did a great many sea-side paintings with bright colours and bravado brush work.

So, again I stepped up to the easel and loaded that canvas up with paint ... much of the beginning work was with a palet knife (as you can probably tell). I exadgerated some of the colours and felt like I was working in the manner of Mr Potthast at one point. Sadly, when I stepped away from the easel, it didn't have the feel that I thought it did while working on it. It was just to be a study anyway, but, I was still dissapointed. Perhaps I'll work on it some more when it drys (like next spring!).

The composition is based on the golden rectangle with a diagonal slash to emphasise the movement of the blanket in the wind. The figures fall on the right 1/3rd vertical line with the woman's head in the "sweet spot", the remains of a sandcastle marks the left 1/3rd line, pointing up to the sweep of the blanket. Horizontally, as you can easily see, the swimming boundary rope falls on the top 1/3rd line, wile the waterline is on the bottom one. It's a bit formulaic, but I felt that it lent itself well to this subject.

All in all, I had a blast working on it and am becoming more intrigued with the use of globs of paint.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Red Umbrella

My studio sits at the corner of Fairfax, NW Blvd, and Alberta. It's a busy intersection, and kinda noisy -- but it becomes an ambient, white noise after one becomes used to it, and I find it almost relaxing (except for the idiots with the very loud bass on their sterios, the occassional accident, and the horn blowers ... oh, and the semi-frequent emergency vehicles).

I was up early the other morning and looked out of my studio windo at the commuting traffic in the rain. It was a very simple scene, but one that reminded me of the wonderful, simple, daily-life kinds of things that Trevor Chamberlain is wont to paint (I know, archaic expression, sorry, I've been reading Edgar Rice Burroughs again -- "The Mad King" -- fun stuff). If you haven't taken a look at Chamberlain's stuff, google him. Very nice.

While I was painting, I saw the occassional passer-by with an umbrella and made up my mind to give the scene a go. So, here's my attempt. I kept it small, using a fairly large brush so that I would use more paint and be less inclined to niggle with it. It was fun and it's not too horrible.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Prophet

Okay ... not really ... it's my nephew, Shane, who was good enough to pose for me this morning. I got to use my model stage for something other than still lifes for a change! I hope that it's going to get a lot more use in the future.

Here's a look at my studio as it is right now (before I move again - not that I expect to any time real soon, but it's a definite possibility). It's one of the better studios that I've had - certainly head and shoulders over the one in the storage unit (I never did paint anything in there).

Old Man from Scene 23

Okay, really, he's a guy that usually comes to our gallery on First Fridays. I find his features astheticaly interesting - on the verge of caracaturistic. Snap, snap, grin, grin ... had to take his photograph and do a quick oil study. It was very fun and fast.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Plein Air

On Sunday, Del and I went down to People's park again to do some plein air work.

The colours down there weren't nearly as vibrant as they were a few days ago when I passed by. Perhaps the deluge of rain that we've had in the last few days has something to do with that.
It was a beautiful morning, though, and the temperatures were about as nice as any you could hope for this far into October. We had a few windy patches, but we said a prayer or two and they desisted -- at least, that's what I'm going to report.

In order to get myself to use more paint, I started off with a palet knife. I laid the whole thing in with the knife and had a good amout of paint on the canvas for a change before I switched to the brush -- more paint, probably, than I've had on the last few canvases I've done combined.

My composition was decent - I liked the way that it made a long, graceful S, but I made some other choices that weren't all that great. With some good nudging from Del, I was able to fix some of my value relationships -- but not all of them. And looking at the work now, I realize that there are many passages that are far too light. "It's always values", Del told me. And right he is.
I loved the piece that Del painted. I've heard the saying that "it's not fair to compare" thrown at me from time to time. I don't know about that. True, I wouldn't want my work to hang side by side with Sargent or Rembrandt ... but, as a growing artist (and I hope that all artists out there feel that they are still growing), one must seek out the work of others whose work is of greater stature ... or different in a way that one wishes to grow. Then, comparisons can help, and some good development can come from it. So, I do compare mine with his (but, notice that I'm not including his in here -- it's very superior to mine), and I may rework my painting -- going to school on Del's work -- learnin' from the master. Always striving to improve.


There are several Russians with whom I work. I am able to use almost my whole Russian vocabulary every day. Okay, it doesn't consist of much, but I do like trying to communicate with foreigners in their own tounge (even though I still have problems with my own native speach).
I have also learned a few Chinese words at work and the little bit of Spanish I know comes in handy every now and then, too. I like to be able to at least say hello to people in thier language, I'm finding Thi rediculously difficult, though. Part of the problem is getting them to help me with it. They seem skittish about sharing thier language. It all but confirms to me that they are talking about us behind our backs right in front of our faces. At least they don't go over our heads to go behind our backs in front of our faces - we'd be beiside ourselves!

Monday, October 12, 2009

In the Gallery

Dire Straits did a song with this same title ... good stuff. If you're a Mark Knoffler/Dire Straits fan, you probably already know this tune, if not ... google it ... down-load it right now!

While doing a sketch of the guitarist that plays for our gallery every month, I regretted the fact that I didn't have the opportunity to do a fast painting of him. So, I took some pictures. I did this one fairly quickly (in a little over an hour, I guess) ... trying to be as spontanious as I might if I were working from life. I also tried to be looser than usual and used a bigger than normal brush to keep me from niggling away at any kind of detail.

It's amusing to me sometimes; the voices of various teachers come back to me an tell me things while I'm working ... it seems that sometimes I never knew what they meant at the time that they told me, but as I find myself in certain situations, or working a specific passage, I'll hear thier voices -- whether over-bearing and gruff like Bruce Corr, whinny and quizical like Jesse Dominguez, patronizing, like Brian Elder or suggestive and yet directive, like Del Gish -- and I'll understand better what they were on aboot. Today I mostly heard Del, and I understood ... some of it, anyway. "Sometimes I'm a little slow on the up-chuck", to quote SK.

It was an experiment in being loose, mostly. Sadly, though, I think that I still need a ton of work in that reguard. I need to do more, that's all there is to it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Still Life

I started this still life almost a week ago. It's a small piece, and basically just an exercise, mostly done ala prima (all in one sitting). I wanted to try a few more things on it so I left everything up on the stand so that I could get the distance of a day or two in order to see which way that I wanted to pursue it on the next session.

Meanwhile, I had brought Pfeffer here to live. Well, sometimes she "helps" with my still lifes -- mostly I don't appreciate her inputs or rearangements, but the single, upside-down mushroom on the right was her contribution to the project. I thought that it was a great placement and wondered if Del had been teaching her a little in the last few months.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wanna be friends?

Yesterday I went out to the Western Plains and got Pfeffer, my cat. I've been able to visit her regularly in the last seven months, but I still missed her a lot. I was real worried about bringing her to the new place because of my Nephue, Shane's, googly-eyed little dog. Pfeffer does not like other animals very much and I knew it was going to be hard for her.

Bruitus (an ironic name) is a nice dog, but like most of those little googly-eyed ghetto dogs, he's just wound way too tight -- like a danged alarm clock! He always wants to be in the middle of things and the center and in your face constantly. He wanted to become friends with Pfeffer but she ... well, she's a cat. A cat like none other ... but a cat none-the-less ... and is not real thrilled with having a dog as a friend.

"Wanna be friends, hu, hu, wanna, wanna, hu, hu?"

"How bout I just hiss and spit in your face instead?"

It will take a while for Bruitus to calm down (if he ever does), and for Pfeffer to unclench ... but, sooner or later, I think that they'll get along okay.

I had to leave them when I set off for work last night ... when I got home this morning I didn't find any patches of fur and nothing was broken, that I can tell ...... so, yeah, I think everything's gonna be okay.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Art Walk, October

At the artwalk on Friday last, I drug my easel and drawing accoutrement into the gallery to do "quick draw" portraits of the viewing public. As usual, I was very nervous ahead of time and wondered why I had forced myself to do this at all; nobody had asked me to do it -- I could pack up and run away!
But, the reasons are simple: the first being that I would bring attention to my work (which is kind of the whole point in being in a gallery in the first place, nest pass - nicht war?), B, if I was busy drawing, I wouldn't have to spend too much time in "small talk" (which, let's face it, is not my strong suite), and, 3, to entertain myself.
I didn't do too many portraits. People were even more skiddish than I ... hard to believe. And I probably wouldn't have had even the few that did pose, if it weren't for one of the other gallery members, Olivia, dragging people over there. The ones that I did do though (including our musician), turned out okay. I didn't spend any more than ten minutes on any of them ... which, as an artist, is kind of frustrating, because the image is just beginning to take shape and one can see how it would turn out if the model were to sit for, say, another twenty to forty minutes. But, this isn't about doing a demonstration or creating a finished work, it's about communicating with the public, giving them something for comming in, and creating more interest in the things around them.

I will probably make this a part of each "First Friday" now. I can probably pull more people into the gallery this way. I framed the portrait of Dayle and might use that to do a bit of advertising for next month before I give it to her. I also need to remember to print up more business cards and to make a sign for next time to put by the easel, explaining what I'm doing.
So, if you're reading this and are in the great Northwest, stop in on the next first Friday (November 6): Avenue West Gallery, 122 S. Monroe, Spokane, WA. 5 - 8 pm ... free food! Bring your friends ... and your check book!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Changing Spaces

It's that time again. As a co-op of 23 people, we gallery owners have to jocky around every four months or so to give everyone equal time in each of the spaces. Some spaces are much better than others. I had to move out of the first of the four rooms, into the second room. It's not a bad space -- there aren't really any horrible spots -- it's just that there are a few that are very good. We've solved the problem of hanging paintings against the stone walls by putting up some display grid.

Usually I go when I know that there will be no one down there -- and I treat the time with reverence, but my weekend being what it was (trying to reorganize at the house, because we finally got that albatross of a pool table out of the front room. Now I actually have a studio and a bedroom -- but it's going to take a lot of time to get them both straightened out), I had to go durring the middle of the day. It was kind of nice, though, watching everyone else move their stuff and lending a hand. I do wish that more of them would try to put up new stuff each month, though. Some of them have been showing the same work since I joined the gallery a year and a half ago.
As you may be able to see, I decided to put up my "Daniel in the Lion's Den" painting. I did it in late '04 - early '05 as part of my BFA exhibition at CMU. It's funny how time changes one's perspective. At the time I really believed in this piece and it was among my better works ... now ... I strongly debated weather to hang it or not. In fact, I've considered hanging it for a long time and always talked myself out of it. I just don't paint this way any more and I feel that I could have done so much better. Still, I do like a lot of things about it - and I'm glad to have it out of the way while I try to fix up the house.

While moving things around at home, I found a painting that had previously never been framed or on display. Since the window committee was looking for autumn stuff, I let them put it in the window.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Paintings from Seattle

I finally got time to finish the painting that I started in Seattle ... I had to work on it from photos that I took the evening before I got rained out while painting. The lighting was totally different in the photos, but that was a good thing. It actually went much faster than I thought it would because I had progressed a little farter while out there than I remembered.

The other painting was done completely from photos from a spot that I would have loved to have painted in from life. (Is that the subjunctive tense that you were talking about, Tim ... "the past unreal conditional"? Kind of confusing ... I don't know how you would teach that to forieners who don't have that tense ... heck, I couldn't get it in German when I was studying it, and they do have.)

It was a grey and drearry morning ... which was kind of nice because it reflects the way that most people think of Seattle anyway.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Nice Kitty

On Sunday my friend, Brenda, and I went to Cat Tails ... a little zoological park north of Spokane.
Lions and Tigers and Bears ... oh, and maybe a Liger too.

And then ... there's Pfeffer!

I'm not sure which are more fierce.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Artist Showcase

It seems like nothing exciting ever happens in my life without it being all at once. Sometimes the conflicts are just too much for me to be everywhere at once (sure wish I could figure out that time/space continuum - flux capaciter thing, then it wouldn't be such a dang problem).

Friday afternoon (while I was trying to sleep), one of the producers from North by Northwest got hold of me to do some last minute work for them (not actually something for the movie itself, it was part of something that they were putting together to give to John Carpenter). They were supposed to provide me with some materials with which to work ... but they never actually emailed them to me. When I got back from an art dinner gala that I attended with Del, Marge, and Brenda, I had been prepared to knock it out as quickly as I could before work ... I never got the image that was prommised ... so I had to go to my night job. At 4am I left work early, hoping that the images were in my email ... they weren't. So, I went about producing an image with the reference materials that I had on hand (which were substandard, but I managed to put together a fairly decent drawing.

When I delivered the drawings to the set Saturday morning, I found out that the wrap party for The Ward was at the same time as the Spokane Valley Arts Council annual Artist Showcase Auction. That's the event that I painted the Red Violin painting for a month or so ago (see August 10th entry).

A big part of me wanted to just skip the auction. How often do you get to go to a Hollywood wrap party? Well, hopefully, there will be others -- if not, well, it's not really that big of a deal, I'm not much of a party guy anyway. The wildest that I've gotten in the last twenty years or so is to get a little inebriated and sketch everyone who will sit still for a moment or two. I'm not really a social animal -- just an animal.

Besides, I had such a nice time being with the Gish family on Friday night, that I was really looking forward to the Showcase thing. And it was very nice. There was good food, nice wine, and lots of artwork to delight the eyes.

In my humble oppinion, the greatest piece in the whole place -- hands down -- was Del's Sunflower painting. It amazes me every time that I see it. It looked great there in its frame and all, but I can't help thinking how it blew me away when I saw it on the easel out in the yard. Del had set up the still life outside on a table ... and delt with the additional pains of plein air work -- winds, changing light, and heat -- along with the already considerable challenges of painting a still life. The painting has so much harmony and light that it is incredible. I wish that each of you could see it up close and personal.

The bidding at the auction was real low. Sometimes that's what happens at an auction, though. Sometimes it seems that all the bidding is high ... sometimes it's not. Lots of the paintings that were sold had frames on them worth more than what was bid. Del was wise to put minimum bids on his work. Mine sold for about half of the price that I put on it. I didn't mind, though, it was a fun experience and great to be out with the Gish family.

Both Del and I won awards, too!. That was an unexpected treat for me and I was filled with emotion. It made the effort that I put into it worth while (especially since I was overloaded with things at the time). There's nothing quite like a little recognition (the cash award was good too).

After the shin-dig, I probably had time to make it to the wrap party ... but I had made a decision earlier to just enjoy one or the other and not try to live the life of a crazy man any more than I already do. And I did enjoy the evening -- I made the right choice ... and I was happy to spend a little more time afterward with my good friend Brenda. It's always a treat for me.

It's a Wrap

On Saturday North by Northwest finished it's filming of "The Ward" here in Spokane. They have a few quick scenes to do in Seattle over the next few days ... then the film goes into post-production. It will probably be another year before it's in the theaters. I can hardly wait.
I was called on to do a few last minute drawings ... but nothing extrordinary. I sat in on a few more scenes too. These were being shot on some really cool sets that they built in a warehouse down in Spokane Valley. The funny thing was, though, that the sets looked identical to the rooms and part of the halls up at Eastern State Hospital (the mental hospital in Medical Lake where they did most of the shooting). They made the sets without some of the walls, though, for some better camera angles than they could have possibly done in the actual hospital.

They had one gag that was a reverse dumbwaiter. Instead of the elevator moving up and down, the wall was hoisted up and down by a pulley system. From the camera's eye, though, you'll never know the difference.

The main sign painter talked with me for a little while on the set and asked if I would be interested in working on a mural with him on the next movie that they're doing! Yeah. I'm not sure when that will be and how much involvment I'll have, but I'll be more than happy to work with these guys again.


My trip to Seattle was a real nice get-away. Some of the highlights include going up in the Space Needle again (last time I was up there was with Tim and Ben in '93!), going to the PAX convention (a gamer's thing -- I was snuck in and spent an hour wandering around checking out all of the new games, software, and laughing at all of the geeks dressed in their costumes - actually, a very interesting time), eating at Jimmy Johns! (I didn't even know that there were any over here on the West coast), going to the Pikes place market (where there was so much going on ... tons of flowers and seafoods ...
watched the fish mongers throwing fish), the SAM (Seattle Art Museum - they had some of Andrew Wyeth's paintings of Olga there and a very large Eric Fischal work, but, overall, not one of my favorite museums), finding the wooden boat museum (where they were excited to hear about the Blanchard sail boat that Chip and I are overhauling ... and they had one of the earlier ones on hand ... so you can see what it's going to look like when we get ours finished), and I also did a little painting -- but very little. It took me a long time to
find a place to paint, and then I had to wait for the next day ... when I had no sooner started work when it began to pour. I waited a while .... tried again, but with the same luck. Looks like another one that I'll have to finish from photos.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Quick Draw

Last Friday I went to the last First Friday event for the Cat's Eye Gallery. This is the gallery where I go on Thursday evenings to do figure drawing. The building is being sold and he is going to move. Conrad, the gallery owner, has been there for around fifteen years and has accumulated tons of stuff. So, he was having a party/sale/show to see the place off. I volunteered to do free "quick draw" portraits to help draw people in (no pun intended).

It wasn't a huge crowd, but I think that Conrad sold a lot of stuff. I got to do several portraits, enjoyed some good food, met new people, and bought some more crap that I don't really need.

Good times.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


When I went to California a couple of months ago, visiting my son, Ben and my ex wife, Belinda, I took some pictures of Belinda's dog, Reiley. He was on her bed. Behind him, on the wall, was a print of an Andrew Wyeth painting of a dog on a bed. Belinda had asked me to do some paintings of Reiley because he was very sick and she didn't expect him to live much longer. The Wyeth painting inspired me and I figured that I would include it in a painting of him. As I thought about it later, though, I thought that it would be kinda tacky to include the print, so I only included the bare minimum of it in my composition.
If you know the Wyeth work, you may recognize it in my watercolour. It's almost a certainty that both pieces will hang in the same room, so -- the connection will be made. Mine is nowhere near the same quality as the Wyeth egg tempra work, but it does hold a lot of sentimental value, I'm sure, for Belinda -- as Reiley did pass a few weeks ago. May he have the joy of chasing bunnies through the fields of the great doggie heaven beyond.

Press Release

In lookin' over my Kevin Bacon post, I winced. What I thought to be a whimsical, fun look at my limited experience with the movie people, sounds boastful and arrogant. Hmm. Well, it's not meant to. I don't put myself on the same plane as Missure Bacon or Herr Carpenter. We come from totally different worlds and all of that. They are famous artists who have given the world great entertainment for decades. I'm just a simple guy who has been included, in a very small way and in a collaborative sense, on a project that John Carpenter is doing -- that's all. Not that I consider myself as a lesser human being ... but very, very different.
Blogs are, by their very nature, a way for people to tell the world about themselves -- and they can be rather self-centered and solobsistic. Each of us is the star of our own play as we navigate our way through the time that we are alotted here on the spinning blue marble in space. If we don't tell people what we're doing, thinking, and feeling, the other self-absorbed units around us will never take the time to find out, because they are too busy directing their own little play as it weaves its way into ours. Together, we create stories, experiences, and memories that become more because of each other.
Wow, that sounded like a real shovel full. Well, spread it on your garden as you see fit.
Along with all of that, I just wanted to say that while I was on the set last week, John's assistant asked me to sign a press release form. She is going around making videos of the behind-the-camera stuff to either put on the web site or on the "extras" part of the dvd when it comes out. Apparently she took some videos of me sketching the stars when they were doing their readings early in the project. It will be interesting to see if those clips actually see the light of day.

Das Boot

As long as I'm giving updates, here's the progress on Das Boot (the double "o" in German is pronounced more like an "oa" in English ... so, it's prounounced -- "Boat" -- almost exactly like English).

The Nancy Sara had a keel-ectomy this morning. Chip, using his creativity, gravity, a whole lot of feneggeling (and, I'm thinkin', maybe a little bit of telekinesis), removed the keel from our great sea-ferring vessel (well, it will be one day, anyway). Now we (the "we" as in Chip -- with me holding a hammer or screwdriver here and there) can lower the boat down so that it will fit into the garage to be worked on throughout the months to come. The keel, too ... obviously -- although with a bit more of a strain, can be pulled into the shop for an overhaul. The thing weighs about the same as my truck -- somewhere around 1,500 to 1,800 lbs.