Friday, February 22, 2013

The need for a Larger Piano

In my studio I have a small Baby Grand, which at one time actually worked, which my son Tysen wished it still did.

I got it from Susan Lyon, Scott Burdick's better half, back in Oak Park IL many years ago now. I have used it as a prop and have painted it on numerous occasions. Great shape. As of late it has become a glorified workspace.

I find myself using the spot designed for holding the music upright as a place to display any inspirational books which are front and center in my mind at that time that I wish to have out where I can see them and draw from them.

Since the Edgar Payne Show in Pasadena last fall, then the Fechin Exhibit in the Twin Cites last month to now the most recent influence thanks to a dear friend. A new book on Frank Tenney Johnson. Beautiful! I think I need a bigger Piano!

Thursday, February 21, 2013


I have been painting the Amish in my area, the southwest corner of Wisconsin for the past 10 years. Being from Chicago and having no previous connection to them before moving here, I must admit I am fascinated by them. It is almost like stepping back in time, kind of like going to Monhegan Island but even further back.

Ever since I first starting driving these back country roads in Vernon County I was smitten by the Amish and their way of life. I have painted them from the edge of the road en plein air. They do not want to have their faces painted and have not allowed me permission to enter their property and I did my best to respect their wishes. I would love to set up and paint some of these little children's faces in their homes and surroundings but I don't think that is going to happen.

Now as the years have gone by, over a decade now, I look back and notice some of these same paintings are still around my studio. Some have sold but more have not.
They have been shipped out to galleries and brought back never quite finding a home. I do believe they are good paintings, Lord knows I have burned and destroyed my share of dogs over the years.

As an artist you tend to paint what inspires you for one reason or another. Sometimes one's up bringing comes into play, documenting your world around you, beautiful settings, or color harmonies, so many things to choose from, however again sometimes you are driven by certain images and not sure why. I assume I would have painted even more amish scenes if I had a market for them. With 4 kids to feed I tend to be a little more selective these days versus a decade ago. Notice I did say a little more? It is still a challenge for me to paint what may be sale-able versus what my heart and mind are drawn to.

So the question arises in my mind, what is it about the Amish, why this need to capture them in paint?
I often wonder if anyone else shares in my fascination with them and their lifestyle, at least in a painting that is?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Quest to Simplify

I have had a dear friend of mine point out while looking at my recent work, "As I look at your paintings I see some East coast and West coast influences, but not quite firmly in either camp. The east coast wants more intricate detail, and the west coast more vibrant color and color vibrations." 

While you are usually fighting to define your own camp, I have found it is usually somewhat overridden by your influences. I have read it took Sorolla 20 years to define"Sorolla-ism". I guess I take some comfort in that, however  it still is very unsettling while being on that road. There are many influences that creep into my head on a daily basis, and depending on my mood or subject matter in front of me, these can change quite easily. Again this can be a little unsettling.

So how does one break habits and simplify at all costs, if that is where one's heart lies?
The Fechin Exhibit I saw a month ago is still etched into my brain and I am sure that what I saw there is causing this need to not render so much and get to the essence of it without describing everything and to concentrate on the big picture, what is truly important and to let the secondary areas serve as just that, secondary areas all in support of the main big picture?!

It's a long damn road.

Some recent pieces-