Saturday, December 31, 2011

Penultimate Supper

Many years ago when I was living in Mt Pleasant, MI, I heard a sermon about Mary breaking open an alabaster jar to wash Christ's feet with the expensive perfume therein. Guess they didn't have twist off caps yet. I was inspired to paint the scene ... and thought that this must be the Penultimate Supper (as referred to in a Monty Python skit ... "If there was a last supper, there must have been one before that!), because the next supper that we are told about was the "last supper". Although, it's all a matter of how you look at things, anyway. It was another week or so after the "last supper" when Christ was crucified. Surely, even the cruel Romans gave the Lord something to eat in his cell -- certainly they wouldn't want him to die before they nailed him to the cross.
All of that's beside the point, really. Anyway, I ran across this charcoal that I did for my interpretation of the washing of Christ's feet, and I have been preparing a surface to begin the next phase ... an oil study for a bigger piece. Hopefully I'll get that started in the first week of the new year.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

It's that time of year again ... no, not necessarily the holiday thing, though, true, that is here and it's always a nice thing to reflect on all of the ghosts of Christmas past, but it's also the time for great introspection and reflection. Perhaps I do it a little much at this time of year, but I'm constantly taking stock in where I am, what I'm doing, and how it measures up to what I thought and where I was. It's a little more apparent near the end of the year because it's easier to remember what you were up to last year late in Dezember.

In the next week or so I'll try to put together something a little more comprehensive along this thread of thought. In the mean time, here's a gander at a package that I decorated for Christmas ... because, well, we all know that nothing says Christmas better than a Giraffe. After all wasn't it the three wise men who rode giraffes through the desert from Detroit to bring gifts to the newborn King? Or, wait ... no, that wasn't it ... they were bringing gifts of gold, frankfurters, and giraffes. Uh, I may be wrong there, too.

Okay, I just dug out the New Testament, and neither of the four accounts of the birth of Christ even mention Detroit or Giraffes. Seems that they were coming from the east ... so, probably closer to Boston ... and no mention of a giraffe anywhere. Maybe I have a different translation. Someone just told me that they rode camels. Camels? As if. I didn't see anything about a camel either.

At any rate, it makes a nice decoration for a present. I thought about putting a santa hat on him or maybe some jingle bells around his neck, but, let's try to remember what the season is really all about, right, and not muck it up with penguins and Santa's claws.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Didn't make the cut

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I came up with what I thought to be a perfect entry for this year's Renaissance Art show in Yosemite. It's notoriously difficult to get into this national show because -- well, I don't want to get into the reasons. It's biased and unfair, but, well, what isn't anymore -- and if I make a big complaint I'll only sound like I'm jealous or crying 'sour grapes'.

My entry was a tribute to the Buffalo soldiers who were some of the early caretakers of the park back in the 1800's shortly after the Civil War. Although I've been winning a lot of contests around here lately (just won another one for a self portrait done in Del Gish's studio) my large charcoal of the black soldiers didn't even make the cut in this year's show. Well, my hat's still off to them (reveling my balding head). And ... I'll try again next year.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


When I was going to Central Michigan University, I painted an 8' x 5' painting of Christ in the storm on the sea of Galilee - which was actually a multiple self portrait allegorical painting. Shortly after the BFA show I had to put the painting into storage ... where it remained for about a year until I returned to Michigan to collect some of the stuff from my storage area. Unfortunately, a box had fallen onto the canvas and put a big dent in it. I hauled it to Washington and tried to fix it with limited success. Another move found me pulling the canvas off of the stretchers and rolling it up. A few years, moves, and storage sheds later, and I pulled it out to show Belinda and her folks. That was last summer, just prior to the Sierra Art Trails.

The canvas was creased where something had fallen against it while it was rolled. I thought that I might as well hang it from one of the rafters in the garage to help block some of the storage area during the art trails so that I could show off my printmaking area. The heat in the garage for the last few months has helped the material to relax and most of the creases have dissolved.

Last week I bought the lumber and made a new stretcher for it. I cut off about a foot on one side and maybe a little more than that on the top - allowing it to stand up in the studio. I also attached stilts to the back so that it's not touching the floor while I'm working on its restoration. While restretching it I caused an injury to my eye ... thought that I put that sucker out for a minute ... but that's beside the point.

Anyway, the painting restretched much better than I thought it would. It still needs a lot of work ... more stretching and some repainting in places. While thinking about the whole thing, though, I had an interesting idea. Since all of the figures - the disciples - are self portraits, why not redo some of them as I am now ... and maybe a few more in the years to come -- an ongoing project?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Another Charcoal

Yesterday, at the Gertrude Schoolhouse, where the YWA portrait group meets, our model was Cheyenne ... a native American woman. She's very beautiful and I was sorry that I was going to have to leave early. But, since I was going to have a shorter session, I opted to do a charcoal drawing, rather than a painting. I seem to be on a roll with that lately anyway.

I really enjoyed the experience. It had been a few weeks since I'd been to the group and I appreciated the camaraderie.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Still Wet

Here are a couple of paintings that I'm working on ... well, I'm actually not 100% sure if I'm done or not ... and I'll continue to pick at them for a few more weeks. The Sunflower painting is a little bit frustrating in that the flower itself is quite dead now. That was a real shame ... I should have worked on it when I had a little more time to devote to it instead of having a break of even a day. It was one of the most impressive sunflower heads that I've ever seen. The thing was huge! It's been tough working on it without the flower itself. I'm trying to make it a little more about how I feel ... about emotions ... about the essence of the thing. It sounds hokey, I realize ... but it's been interesting work. Although ... I keep looking over my shoulder for the guys in the white suits with the butterfly nets.
This ballerina painting is also still in progress. Each time I finish working on it and consider it done, I pass it a few hours or days later and know that I have to work on it a little more. Wish I had the model on hand to pose for me, but I took the photo at a performance that was going on at the Civil War Reenactment that I went to see a few months ago.
With this one I'm also trying to work without the references so much - relying on my instincts, memory, and how I feel it should look. I may try a few more of this sort of thing ... but probably a little looser. Perhaps I can find live models from which to work; I always prefer that.