This will be about my views on what it takes to put a three dimensional world onto a two dimensional surface. With a lot of digressing.
Don't forget to leave a comment, or a question if you have one, below the post. Thanks.


Sep 30, 2014


The Long Island Expressway, to you.
Extended from the Midtown Tunnel in 1940 by bits and pieces over the years, to Riverhead in 1972.
A distance of 71 miles that started as the Queens Midtown Expressway and ended as the LIE.
Meant to ease commuting traffic from Queens and Nassau County, it became a funnel to the east end. To the watermen and farmers and potato fields and the most pristine ocean beaches in the world.
Hamptons' Heaven became Hamptons' Hell.
The potato farms have become vineyards welcoming stretch limos that may have been stuck in traffic but at least have a bar. Blame Wall St, Hollywood, the times (they are achanging)
A subway line proposed as an adjunct to the LIE in 1968 was canceled, and the same for a proposed extension over bridges and islands to Connecticut. Not to say it won't happen someday. Oy.
Thanks to local pride, money i.e. power, and zoning, the beaches are still pristine, and
  empty most of the time. 
This bit is an excuse to insert a sunset painting.
A sunset painting is something I swore I would never do.
 Taking photos while doing 65 MPH is what I do for art.

NO EXIT      Acrylic on Linen   24 x 36

Aug 23, 2014


Well, I was busy this past year. But everything has come to a screeching halt. Screech isn't an appropriate word. It's not a red-light kind of thing.
Since I don't do Twitter or Facebook I figured I'd better start blogging again. I had thought of starting an email/newsletter, since I've been told it's a good thing to do. I can only go by my own reaction to newsletters. At first I'm intrigued, then hope I'm not being hustled. But I did sign up, didn't I? 
I think there's enough exposure and information  on my website.
I'm always pleasantly surprised at how often I have visitors, and especially, the range of countries that visit. Thank you, Google Analytics.

                                 CHESAPEAKE WETLANDS   Acrylic on Linen    24 x 36

This was painted last fall  and shown in "Art in The Armory" during Easton MDs' huge and crowded Annual Waterfowl Festival. Happily it sold, but I was kind of sad to see it go so soon. It was fun to paint, I  jumped in initially with a sponge, which is not something I recommend for the faint hearted.  Anyhow.
The Waterfowl Festival is supposed to celebrate nature, waterfowl (duh), sports that include shooting said waterfowl, stuff like that.
I happen to enjoy painting sea gulls. Although mine were usually bay gulls. (sorry). It seems that they're not considered Waterfowl. It also seems that they're not targets. Endangered? I shouldn't think so. I asked around and finally learned that they taste like fish. Is that such a bad thing? There are probably a lot of gulls that taste more like Happy Meals. Something for everyone.

                                            LITTLE GULL       Oil on Canvas       8 x 10

Jun 14, 2013


I spent my formative painting years adopting some of the methods of the seventies, that is, eliminating the hand of the painter. A smooth surface, no visible brush work, and in the case of a lot of photo-realists, using an air brush.
My time with the airbrush was short lived. The frustrations involved with learning it, using it, and cleaning it were not worth it, more so when I learned that Larry Rivers, for instance, used airbrush experts as studio assistants. Sheesh
I'm not sure that optical and color field painting would have been possible without acrylics. (Introduced in the sixties) Certainly taping for hard edges, if that was a requisite, it would have been difficult with oils.
Large paintings meant, for me and my friends, buying #10 canvas at a sail makers in NYC, Jensen & Lewis.
Stretching 4 x 6 footers was no fun, neither was transporting them, storing them, moving with them. And no way did you even consider painting in the great outdoors.With the exception of billboards of course.
Another state, another state of mind, another age, another century. Here I am surrounded by the painting dejur, Plein Air. By necessity the majority are smallish oils, done on windproof and  portable panels. And hopefully, started and finished with the rare help of Mother Nature. Who I firmly believe is, like God, in reality a teen aged boy.
I've been struggling to fit in for obvious reasons, to adapt to changing times and tastes that remain with the French Impressionists. For good reason of course. Speaking of which, whom, I went to the new Barnes Collection Museum in Phila. (See the documentary, "The Art of The Steal") Loved the collection of antique furniture that was the Missus taste.The paintings, most wonderful, some meh, one dreadful surprise, Van Goghs nude. Oy. And..........................................
May I presume to judge a great painter and a big-time collector ? Sure why not. There was an unfortunate amount, an excess, of Renoirs fleshy pink round bulging nudes. Seemed like hundreds.
                                 Back to my reality.
After some fits and starts and trials and errors, I think I can work out this plein air thing. Since it's the only game in town I have to be there or be square, so to speak.The alternative is don't sell, don't show.
So I've been using my favorite medium, liquid acrylics. I've transferred them into small flip top plastic bottles.
Limited to my favorite colors and mixes.Another bottle contains retarder and water, 50/50. I have a mini-muffin pan that fits in my french easel -each little muffin compartment gets a lump of paint with a squirt of water/retarder on top.. Ordinarily I don't use retarder, but it's a necessity outdoors. I'm still working on the bigger is better brushwork, and am determined  to try the "Open" acrylics, even tho they come in tubes.
I spent this past weekend painting on site for the Kent Island Fine Art & Garden Tour thing.
                            Acrylic on Linen adhered to panel.(see previous post) 12x16  "The Tree"

Apr 18, 2013


I wanted to add a few more remarks on the benefits of making your own panels.
Although cutting the board into stock sizes seems obvious, an added bonus is that you can cut a panel specifically for an uncommon sized frame. I collect frames from anywhere I see them as long as they're a deal. Throw the art out, keep the frame kind of thing. Many years ago, in my previous life, at the Greenwich Village sidewalk show, I watched as a man bought a bad copy of the Mona Lisa (by definition, any copy of the Mona Lisa has to be bad), which thrilled the artist for a few minutes. As he walked away he removed the painting, threw it in the trash bin, and tucked the frame under his arm. Had to be an artist.
I stopped at a country yard sale a few years back and spotted a well painted landscape with, yawn, sheep.
It was in a custom made- real gold leaf- frame.About 16x20. Dazzling. I asked the price. $10. Whee. I hesitated  for a nanosecond. Should I have haggled?
My other reason for making my own panels is the so called stock sizes of stretchers and frames. My surface of choice is stretched linen that I've done myself. On smaller sizes, it's easier to buy an already stretched canvas, than to do it yourself. Either way, there are many ready-made frames available for stretched paintings.
BUT, with some exceptions
The people who make the stretchers don't talk to the people who make the frames
You'd think that if you are making stock- sized stretchers you'd know to leave a little room for the canvas, so ideally a pair of 16" stretchers should in actually be 15 and 3/4. After it's stretched you can peg it out if you need to. And to compound this 'who cares' philosophy, a stock size 16x20 frame is 16x20, no more, sometimes a little less. aaarrrggghhh. 
Another  reason for making your own panels is that you can use both sides. ( And a good reason for not wrapping your canvas around the edges.) So if you bombed on one side, you've got another. Who me? Bomb?
While I'm at it. A painting done on a panel, as long as its under 9x12, is so much easier, and more accurate as far as color and exposure, to scan on your printer/copier or scanner-compared to photographing.
....................It had better be dry.

Apr 15, 2013


It's been awhile since I posted a painting, or anything for that matter. My time is rationed these days. If I'm painting, the cats get fed, but not much else. And that's only because they have a tendency to nag. To digress for a minute. Why do they eat grass in the yard, and barf in the house? On a rug,yet.? I prefer not to get out of bed barefoot, but if I have to, it's tentative. If I grew cat grass in the house, would they barf outside?
I don't think so.
 Here's a demo I did for the St Michaels Art League, titled Marsh Light. It's been a bugger to photograph, because it's already out of focus.
                              Marsh Light    14x18      Oil on Linen           (c) Margery Caggiano
I should say, this is how the demo ended up in my studio.

Feb 24, 2013


I came home with a 4'x8' panel of quarter inch MDF, which the lumberyard had cut into 4 pieces. I didn't follow my own advice, which is to prime the each piece on both sides before you make your cuts.
No big deal.
 I've gone with stock sizes, and common sizes for plein air painters. You can of course go bigger, which is an advantage with quarter inch rather than eighth inch thickness. 
 Here's a sample layout for a 2x4' panel.

I have a saber saw and a cold garage, but lucky me, I have a friend in high places. In exchange for one of the 2x4' panels, and some whining, he used his table saw with a carbide blade. His garage was probably cold too, but that's the price he paid for being a gentleman.
The cut pieces were laid out on newspaper on my kitchen counter, which is handy for a lot of art things if you don't cook very often. I'll rephrase that. I'd much rather paint than cook.

As the cut panels were drying in my dish rack, I could attend to priming the edges.
At this point you can do your thing, which is to say, treat the panels for your medium of choice.
I went a step further, so one more blog to come.

Jan 29, 2013


Well almost waterfront. 
Currently a lot of us live not much above sea level, and the future holds promise to some, of finally obtaining a home on the water. Quite possibly in.
I'm having second thoughts however, of the daydream of sunsets, sunrises, peace and calm and all things zen.

Jan 22, 2013


I blogged on January 23, 2010 on what had been my standard panel if I didn't want to stretch canvas, which was  quarter inch untempered Masonite. Containing no oil, and commonly sold as floor underlayment.
It has become impossible to find, for me, and the Masonite panels sold for painting online are only an eighth inch thick.Not to mention expensive, for what they are.Gee, maybe they're made in the US. Nah.
Here's my current solution if you're handy, or have a spouse/friend/neighbor who is.
MDF stands for Medium Density Fiberboard. Formed with pressure and high temperature, considered an "engineered" wood product. Kind of like taking a chicken with all it's parts and making nuggets.
The good news is that it's denser than plywood or particle board, has no grain,  is stable and is easy to cut.
(The MDF, not the chicken) (well, maybe)
The bad news is that the resin binder is toxic, and not good to inhale the sawdust. So use a mask and do your cutting outside if you can.
MDF comes in 4' x 8' panels at Lowes or Home Depot, and cost about $20. Be sure it's a quarter inch thick.The store will cut it twice, a freebie. So you can easily get the four 2' x 4'  panels in your car.
At this point, you're probably way ahead of me, but I'll continue.
While you're in the store, get a quart or more of alkyd primer, and a tray and roller if you don't have them.
It's easier to prime both sides of the MDF before you cut it into smaller sizes. You can prime the edges later.
Always prime even if you're going to adhere canvas or linen to the panel, it helps with adhesion.
 If you're a plein air painter who likes 6"x 8" size panels, just think, you can get 96, countem.
 That brings each panel down to .21 cents plus labor. But custom made. Here. Or anywhere but China.
Hmm. Sorry if you're reading this in China. Nothing personal. Really.
I have a few odd size frames, so I've cut the panels to fit. Otherwise as you know, stick to stock sizes.
Another layout could be 8-18x24s, 8- 9x12s, and 8-6x8s...all from one 4x8' panel.
I'm sure I'm not the only painter who has odds and ends of linen or canvas, some primed some un.
Plus double or triple primed linen which is a bugger to stretch. Saved by panels!
Linen or canvas will shrink, so cut a little extra. I use Elmers' glue to adhere the canvas to the panel, then protect the surface with paper and use a brayer or rolling pin. Making sure there are no air bubbles, I stack books on the panel overnight. Usually those big heavy art books.It's about time they earned their keep.For larger panels, use any weight and clamps that will do the trick.
Another surface I like is Goldens' Sandable Hard Gesso. Its not for flexible surfaces, but great on a panel.
A coat or two of this over your pre-primed panel allows you to damp sand to an eggshell finish. A little like French Polishing. Lovely.
Please leave a note or comment below if you have any questions or problems with these methods.
I don't like all these words, but can't think of a picture. If I do, I'll stick one in. Did a much better job with Masonite.

Jan 14, 2013


I've been experimenting with Goldens' Open Acrylics, on the endless quest for the perfect medium. So far the jury is still out.
TWO NINETY NINE    Acrylic on Board   8 x 10

I thought I had pretty much found the solution, for me, of a relatively thin acrylic painting done on stretched linen. I've always used gesso in place of Titanium white, believing the mixes to be more matte, and a little tougher. This was the under painting, then oils were painted over, usually, but not always, as transparent glazes .
The beauty of this technique is the ability to retain the under painting in the event a passage doesn't work out.
The pleasure (I refuse to say Joy) of painting is first being comfortable with the medium. However the "Open" acrylics are too easily picked up with the next brushstroke, and too glossy for my taste.
It's a little early to dismiss them, especially when I've bought a bunch. So my next try will be the Open acrylics over the regular fluids that I use. The easier glazing and scumbling may be the answer.
Why are reflections so much fun? 

Dec 24, 2012


While driving from St.Michaels to Tilghman Island I saw things moving on the far side of the cornfield.
I did a u-turn, stopped the car, grabbed my camera, and walked across the road. I figured the zoom on my camera might work; you know, take a high def photo and get a closer image via Photoshop.
 The Group of Whatever spotted me, and started moving in my direction. I got so excited that I forgot to check my settings, so the contrast was way off. The good news is that they weren't carnivores.

Dec 15, 2012


Judging by how many paintings the Nigerian collectors attempt to buy, you'd think the country  would be awash in museums and galleries.
                  I wanted to share some exciting emails I've gotten via my website.!!
Usually I roll my eyes and ignore. On these I got curious and irritated , and decided to trace the source. 
So, if you don't already know...
Put the IP address on Google search, and whaddayaknow, if it starts with 41 its from Nigeria.
                    There may be a few artists left who are unaware. I hope not.
                              (And I don't mean con artists and scam artists)

Dec 13, 2012


In this case, paving paradise was a good thing for me. 
It was Paint St Michaels, Oct. 2011. An excuse to get myself out of the studio and take to the streets.
I did some driving around and nothing did it for me. I turned, (who me? walk?) behind a realtors' building and got roundly told off by a dog on the roof next door.
well well well she said

BACK LOT DOG    12x16   oil on board    Margery Caggiano
There's a lot to be said for being able to sit under the hatch-back of a car and paint.
There was a competition involved, but I didn't enter it for a lot of reasons.To close to home was one.
Mostly, I knew that it was not an acceptable "plein air" painting and it was too new a subject for me.
It's hard to explain how you sometimes want to sit on a painting and not show it. 
My intuition was on the mark. I did submit it to a few other competitions later and was rejected.
So here he is again, I presume a male-all bark and not a lot of bite.

WOOF   8x10  oil on canvas   Margery Caggiano

Nov 15, 2012


"Dear Artist,
 as Art Direction, we wish to show you our appreciation for your intellectual and professional activity contributing to the assertion and development of Culture in the World. The Event has got to XIII  Edition “Salento, Porta d’Oriente” Award, dedicated to Neptune, the God of Sea and Water and to the IV Edition of Special Award for Human Rights dedicated to Spartacus, the symbol  of the idealist hero, able to fight in the name of freedom. We are glad to include you among those screened candidates receiving these prestigious Awards. We will bestow them on 15th (Saturday) December 2012 , in Lecce at the ancient Theatre “G Paisiello”, where the world-famous Master Tito Schipa’s precious piano is treasured. The prestigious Awards are not the result of a competition among Artists, but they represent praises for your daily efforts ensuring lifeblood not only to your inspiration but also to all international Community."
This was received today, and only the first paragraph of a page of BS,along with 2 PDFs of more BS.
Bottom line, and you can bet your bottom dollar (sorry) that there is a bottom line under the pretentious sludge, is,send them $260 Euros to be included in blah blah blah.About $330 US.
Some of it is so absurd as to be funny, but the sad part is, there are artists out there that will do it.

Sep 25, 2012


This post was going to be about French Easels, therefore the title. Heavy to carry, frustrating to set up.I suppose it becomes second nature to the experienced traveler, or Plein Air painter however.
Speaking of which, I did a post on that subject many moons ago, suggesting that Plein Air painting led to Van Gogh's suicide. I think if he had a French Easel available, (after all he was in France at the time,) he would have shot himself a lot earlier.
However, as the twisted mind of Fate would have it- I found myself wishing I had thought to bring along my French Easel instead of my porchade box on a tripod. Although it was a lovely Guerrilla Painter box, and as it happens, Himself (Carl Judson) showed up, nice, but the fact remains that the day was a disaster.
Stay with me, all who yearn to join the profitable ranks of the Plein Air Painters.
Easton Md held their usual well attended annual Plein Air Painting competition in July. The hottest month of the hottest year, when the humidity and the temperature try to outdo each other.
This may be why the week long extravaganza of painting, showing and selling has been so successful.
Only the determined know what it takes to show up and survive.
Determined to paint well, determined to sell, win a prize, or buy a painting.
I was not one of the painters, but as a local I decided to try an open to anyone event named Quick Draw.
You set up and paint in a restricted area for 2 hours, 10 til 12 only. They should name it High Noon.
Your painting on its easel is lined up for a block or so and judged at 1 PM, and you're expected to have it in a frame. Meanwhile the streets are swarming with art aficionados.

Now mind you, I'm a studio painter. You know who you are.
Along with my porchade box, tripod, and crap-cart, I had a huge white Utrecht umbrella. I found a subject within the designated painting area, set up on a comfortable overcast morning, and got to work on a 10x8 panel. Piece of cake. Yeah, sure.
The umbrella was a little much to be clamped on to the tripod, but OK until it started raining. It was not waterproof. Foolish me. It rained so hard that my subject, the sweet porch with geraniums and a wicker chair, started to fill with people.
Meanwhile rain was running down my neck and down the surface of the painting. I had a half hour left, said ----- it, put my brushes away and took out my painting knife. Wiped off some, laid on some.
The Red Door  Oil on Board  Margery Caggiano
Come to think of it, if I'd used my French Easel, I'd still be folding the legs and blah blah blah.
Bottom line -sold in 5 minutes. Now what do I do?

Jul 13, 2012


After that clever title, what can I add?
I once swore that I would never paint puppies, flowers or babies, and here I am, guilty of all 3.
Gardens, like life, start out full of freshness and promise only to be ravaged if not savaged.
 How can I hate a deer for thinking my budding day lilies are lollipops.? Easy
Do I keep flowers, babies and pets in a glass bubble.Together? More mayhem.
There is nothing to be done.
ALTHEA  Oil on Linen  18 x14  Margery Caggiano
Who said I paint therefore I am.? Is it a higher form of-ugh-scrap booking?

Apr 24, 2012


I never thought I'd want to paint a four month old baby. I couldn't imagine doing something that would have personality (babies don't have a lot, right?)(wrong), or imagine that I could avoid doing a too cute or sentimental portrait of an almost newborn. A challenge however, not to mention a commission.
Challenges are good for my painting, and commissions support my habit.
It had to be done from a photo of course, and assuming that like a lot of babies, there was only peach fuzz for hair, I suggested a hat of some sort  for color or texture. When several photos arrived by email, I was pleasantly surprised. I did become somewhat cross-eyed attempting to paint crocheting.
 I think she has pizazz- and a happy grandmother.
So here's Lily, cute? Yes. Adorable? Certainly.  Fine Art? Who cares.
                                            LILY           10 x 8"                    Oil on Linen
                                                        Copyright  Margery Caggiano

Apr 15, 2012


I could call this post The Revenge of Paint Your Pet. Or why chicken is a favorite entre.
In my last post I didn't include an obvious, I thought, aside for the student. That is, you'll be working from photos, so don't bring your pet to class. Especially if they're not a cooperative species.
In a vain attempt to confine and transport his pet, this student was humiliated, but not (fatally) wounded.
He should have photographed his dear bird while it was nesting. So it shouldn't be a total loss, he'd get eggs.
Actually, I think it's a rooster.

Apr 7, 2012


For anyone who paints, or wishes they could, this is a workshop for like minded people.
The Academy Art Museum, Easton, MD
The dates are Sat May 5th and 12th, 10-3 Bring Lunch. Music. Coffee tea and me.
Any level of expertise, or none at all . Any medium that you're comfortable with.
Why paint a landscape, or a still life when you can paint something you love?
You may love a fetching landscape, but when it comes to fetching, what better than a dog.?
(You can teach a cat to fetch but trust me, it pisses them off.)
Does a landscape adore you? Follow you around? Sleep with you?
Better yet, when it comes to a portrait of your pet, no one will say
"There's something wrong with the mouth".
I remember every cat or dog that I've had in my life, but never hung their picture on the wall, even if I had one.
I recently repainted my beloved Bo, and find it a comforting, rather than an upsetting reminder.
See earlier blog The Perfect Cat
BO  R.I.P.       24x18  Oil on Linen     Copyright Margery Caggiano

Feb 10, 2012


                                      Hiding in plain sight. Under our noses, so to speak.
What better disguise than to pretend to be helpless?
To be adorable, or funny, or subservient?
They sleep in our beds, eat special food, wear handmade sweaters, get their teeth cleaned, their nails trimmed, and are hopefully, bathed on a regular basis.
If no one else likes the way we smell, they do.
They have absolutely no shame, and secretly adore a private bath, or a bath of privates, at a formal dinner. They enjoy the power of pooping anywhere, knowing their owners have to bag it or else.
They are everywhere, look around.
In paintings, in Broadway shows, in restaurants, in special parks just for them.
WOOF    Oil/Canvas    8x10       Margery Caggiano
There is one wise species that can't be fooled.That knows.

Jan 22, 2012


I'm reminded of Abby Hoffmans' Steal This Book.
You can steal a book, but stealing a painting is a whole nuther thing.Unless it's a museum heist of old master, it's uncommon. Not exactly shoplifting.
An exception would be looting, which was the dessert as first course when the Third Reich attempted to devour Europe.
Intentional copying, however, can be a learning technique, such as Van Goghs' copying of Millet and others. Or a teaching technique, where a student, with prior permission, can set up in front of a painting at the Met, or the Louvre, and learn by copying.
A procedure I would not aspire to under any circumstance.
Then there is out and out copying, with someone elses' art tacked on the wall as reference, but given a few twists and turns in the hope that no one will notice.
An amateurs approach, and the painter is therefore destined to remain an amateur.
There are levels of influence in art. To be influenced by a teacher, by an artist you admire, by what you see and hear, and to filter the input is to eventually find your own way to express yourself. In a perfect world.
There is "After", or "Homage To" meaning to imitate a technique or subject and especially, acknowledge the source.
Come to think of it, I've never seen a painting with "after DaVinci" in the title.
(I'm not going to get into copyright issues etc at this point)
The dirty word in art is plagiarize, from the Latin for kidnap. To pass off anothers' work as your own. In particular, in order to profit.
For those of us that have spent a lifetime learning and practicing and exploring and working to improve, knowing that the best painting is always the next one, plagiarism is particularly galling. Rise above it? Nah.
Since I've recently been involved in a venue that permitted it, even though it wasn't my painting, I've decided to opt out of any future involvement in said venue. So there.
Since this blog is about influence, inspiration and old masters, I'm inserting, for lack of a better idea, a favorite artist and a favorite painting, one of a series inspired by a cigar box.More on him next time.
                             Dutch Masters II                       Larry Rivers

Apropos of nothing in particular:
A note to Googles' GMAIL  spell-checking dept: Although your suggestion to spell Van Gogh as Van Gosh, while accurate and amusing, is not something I'm going to do. Sophomoric.

Jan 10, 2012


I found this on the internet years ago and couldn't part with it.
I know nothing about it otherwise.
So what else is new?

Jan 4, 2012


Syd is in his prime. Tall (at times) dark, and handsome, with an aquiline nose and startling blue Paul Newman eyes.
He's hopelessly in love however, with an older woman. She is, as well, small and shall we say ...pudgy, with too much eyeliner and a volatile temperament.When she's happy, she runs. When she's really happy, she drools. Not a pretty sight when there are missing teeth.
Syd has tried everything in an effort to be near Millie, but is roundly rejected, even spit at. In desperation, he tried jumping into bed with her, big mistake. So he's reduced to stalking her, which doesn't help his case. If she could open the front door, he'd be out of here in a hummingbird heartbeat.
Maybe he doesn't know he's been neutered. Maybe he doesn't know she has. Either he's not very bright, doesn't care, or is just plain lonely.
Rescues are like the Gump box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.
Syd (nee' Sagwa) was picked up on the street about a year ago, terrified, starving and flea-bitten. Labeled by the shelter as a Siamese.
Millie (nee' Camilla), a Dilute Tortoise, had been in the shelter for six months, "left behind" by a family that moved, or something. At seven plus, she was considered elderly and therefore not easily adoptable.
Last March, feeling cat-deprived , I signed for Millie, saw Syd watching me with those eyes, and said what the hell. She tore around the house, in heaven. He hid wherever he could.
On the advice of my vet, I tried confining him (Syd, not the vet) so that he would know who was feeding him. Good move.
So Syd turns out to be a purebred Natural Mink Tonkinese.Wow.
Millie, his lady love
Postscript: Millie still snores, but her bad dreams have stopped.

Dec 23, 2011


In 1997 there was a small family reunion, don't ask, in California.
(The people were normal size, just not many of us.)
We stayed in a motel in Laguna Beach, a real treat for me. It had a balcony that overlooked the Pacific ocean. The first morning I sat contentedly drinking coffee and waiting for the sunrise. Duh. After a lifetime of sunrises over the Atlantic I felt entitled to forgive myself.
I decided to explore the town and stopped short at a gallery filled with a wonderful explosion of color, it was if I had died and gone to art heaven.
I had stumbled on a solo show of one of my favorite landscape painters, Wolf Kahn, and the gallery was The Diane Nelson Gallery. Not a single painting, or a book, or Google Images, but the real thing wall to wall.Wow.
Dancing Trees    20x28 Pastel  by Wolf Kahn
I don't know that a museum show would have had the same impact. There is something about large paintings in an intimate setting that pull you in.
Much has been written about his lush pastels, his lyrical landscapes, but I'll let a few images and my memories fill this space.
Later that same day I went back to the gallery with my son and his fiance.He saw my excitement I guess, and went to the desk to ask about the price of a particular painting I was in love with.(I had a birthday coming up)
                                  HO $40,000. or so HO
Freud,schmoid, as long as he's a good boy and loves his Momma.? Oh well.
Wolf Kahn at work
What I originally intended to blog about, an uncharitable piece about all the little Wolf Kahn Wannabees out there, etc, will have to be Part Two. In the course of researching dates etc I discovered that Wolf Kahn is currently showing at the Addison Ripley Gallery in DC. 12/9/2011 to 1/21/2012
Now is that serendipitous or what?
                                       Now to get myself there.

Dec 7, 2011


In the almost year that I've lived here, I've been getting involved in the local art community, which has been so far, nearby Easton. In this case, The Avalon Foundation, the folks that bring that hugely popular Plein Air Easton to life.
It's been a tradition to hang banners from the downtown lamp posts from July until December, at which time they are taken down, separated, and auctioned.
Make no mistake about it, these are signed paintings, not reproductions, done on both sides of a doubled 40x32 canvas.
There are about 44 artists involved, which gives The Avalon Theater 88 paintings to hang, promote, and hopefully profit by. Not to mention a percentage to the artists. Now that's a refreshing concept.

           For the first time this year, they're taking bids in advance online.
                All banners can be seen there, click each image to enlarge.
               You can also follow the bidding.  I can't stop peeking.

This is TORN BANNER A.M. oil on canvas copyright Margery Caggiano

              And TORN BANNER P.M. oil on canvas copyright Margery Caggiano

I was initially uneasy about the banners braving the elements, but the people in charge took them down temporarily when a (the) hurricane was expected.
The live auction and party will be held December 10 in Easton.
                    All are welcome.!!!! New video via Youtube

Nov 17, 2011


Well, two anyhow.
It's been awhile, so I need to play catch up, get the rust out, blow away the cobwebs of my mind.
Nice song title, that last one.
Funny, but I thought that when I stopped writing, people would stop reading. Go figure.
I see that my last blog was about my cat, so I won't bore the dog lovers, much less any readers who think they are visiting a painting blog, except to say that I rescued two basket cases in March, cats that is. I'll wait awhile on that topic.
Meanwhile I'll post a painting that was done in early spring, and promise both of you that I'll blog more often. I'll leave the meaning of the painting to you.

Young Girl in Black   18x24    Oil over Acrylic/On Linen
copyright 2011 Margery Caggiano

Apr 19, 2011


It's been almost a year since I've posted anything. But stuff happens, and I need to write about a perfect cat.

Bo was a girlfriends' gift to my son, (no comment here) who traveled a lot, lived in a condo, and would rather get a hole in one than a pet. Having no previous experience with a cat, he taught him to fetch. And let him explore the balcony of his condo, figuring that animals pretty much stayed to confined areas. Ha.
A challenge to any red-blooded cat, particularly this one, who more than once ended up on the roof , or stuck on a ledge.
A few years later Bo left California and moved in with us, for obvious reasons. We promptly changed his name from Beau to Bo. Luckily, for unlike most cats, he came when he was called.
At the time we were living on a small farm in rural Virginia, and had two other cats. A haven, and heaven for Bo, of wild turkeys, raccoons, woodchucks, blacksnakes, and mice of course. Occasionally eyed from above by The state bird of Virginia, the Turkey Vulture.
I might add that at one time or another all of the above used the cat door, except for the vultures, who kind of hung around and waited.
An aside: Oddly, the local hospital was plagued by vultures that set up shop in the trees behind the building. Between the hospital and the nursing home actually. They tried everything but couldn't get rid of them, last I heard. Not too good for patient morale, ya think? I'm not sure I want to know what the vultures got out of it.
At any rate, we moved several times over the years, always an adventure for a curious cat. (See previous blog, My Cat is 80)
And finally, and sadly, for the past 5 years it has been just him and me. We took walks after dinner, like the geriatrics that we were. And of course, if you're a cat that thinks you're a dog, you like to take walks. Heel, even.
This past December, in the midst of moving to a new life in a new state, Bo died of what turned out to be lung cancer. At least he made it to 18, and they were good years.
So this is a tribute to my best buddy.

Apr 26, 2010


It's been just about a year since I started this blog, and I think it's time to take a sabbatical.
I don't know for how long, or if anyone will be here when I get back. The photo above sums up my mood.
I started this blog annoyed by yesterdays NY Times article about Alice Neel's show. The writer, in an effort to look informed and au courant, used too much space on a few minor but contemporary (NY) portrait painters. For instance, Elizabeth Peyton, who couldn't touch Alice Neel with a 10 foot paintbrush. Not her fault, but still.
I think I need to paint.
A week later : May 1
For the first time, I've gone back and heavily edited this blog that has bothered me, that I didn't want to leave online. Everyone has bad days, bad weeks, bad years; why inflict petty annoyances, if that's what they are, on others?
I've spent the last few weeks living with a Marathon of Music- Ken Burns' brilliant (but not always accurate) documentary on Jazz, via Netflix. Music is powerful stuff, and the CDs, taken from the beginning, and in sequence-flooded me with memories of times and places and people starting with my childhood . Nostalgic? Sure. Sad? That too.

Apr 15, 2010


It's not who we choose to celebrate, but who we choose to ignore.
The work of Alice Neel wasn't widely exhibited or written about until she was of an age to be considered a senior citizen. Her communist leanings didn't mean that her paintings were blackballed, as were the movie scripts of Hollywood writers. She did, however,attract the attention of the FBI, and was interviewed in 1955. She asked the agents to pose for her, with no luck. I can imagine how interesting the painting might have been, since she liked to paint couples, preferably nude.
It wasn't about what she was, but what she wasn't.
Until the feminist movement in the 70's, the New York art world was dominated by men. It was a time of manly hard drinking action painters who swore that Abstract Expressionism would last for a thousand years.
She was a woman, a realist painter, a mother who lost her first child to diphtheria. Her second, at the age of two, was taken to his family in Cuba by her husband. She suffered a nervous breakdown, a suicide attempt, a lover who destroyed her drawings and watercolors and slashed 50 paintings. In 1938 Alice Neel moved to Spanish Harlem and worked there for the remainder of her life. Her studio was her living room, her subject matter included the streets of Harlem, but her focus and strength has always been portraits.
Dead-on and unflinching portraits, about as far from salon painting as you can get.
But still, or more likely, because of that, she was forced to depend on public assistance until the 50's, including a stint as a WPA artist until 1943.
My first encounter ( or at least the one that stands out in my mind ) with Neel's paintings, was at the Whitney Museum in 1974. I sailed from portrait to portrait thinking wow.
Then hey, I know that guy!
It was a nude, male, posed somewhat like the reclining Olympia. A strawberry blond. The title was “John Perreault.” I met him in 1966 when he was a critic for Art News. He came to the gallery (The Spectrum, at the time it was on 57th St )I was exhibiting in, and gave my show a sweet review. So who could not remember him?
When I was doing some research for this, I of course Googled him. His Neel portrait can be seen there, plus his comments. http://www.johnperreault.com/
I also just recently learned that a friend that I previously blogged about, Jan Culbertson, went with her husband to a post-show party at Neel's studio. Alice asked if they would pose for her for $3000. Jan and Doug decided not to.
When I asked Jan if she had any regrets, she replied:
“ It seemed like a lot of money at that time, and I was annoyed that my Snoopy knee socks
caught Neel's eye, rather than my character...or the lines on my face! So instead we bought an autographed catalogue from her, the one depicting her current Whitney show. (1974) Alice had a big box of catalogues which she sold for $10. each.

The image below was in my previous post, a Neel painting titled "Jackie Curtis and Rita Red"
This painting fetched $1,650,000 via Southebys last November

If you assume that Jackie Curtis is the figure on the left, you're wrong. If the genders seem obvious, think again. If you can pick out the male transvestite, you may be right.

Apr 7, 2010



Jackie Curtis and Rita Red 60x42 Oil (c) Alice Neel

Alice Neel in her studio

The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston has organized a retrospective named "Alice Neel:Painted Truths", on view March 21 thru June 15, 2010. It will then travel to the UK and Sweden. Only.
Tch tch I say.
Alice Neel died in 1984 at the age of 84. Her grandson, Andrew, filmed a documentary (available on Netflix), of her life and work that is extraordinary. But then she led an extraordinary life.
I've put off doing this blog because the issues she had to deal with, and still manage to keep painting boggle the mind. What to include? Where to start?
From her beginnings as a student in Philadelphia, where women were forbidden to paint the nude male model? (In 1886 the Penn. Academy of Fine Arts fired director Thomas Eakins for removing the loincloth of a male model while female students were in the class) (It is still, to my knowledge, common for life drawing sessions to cover the males but not the females)
On that note, my next blog will include my "six degrees of separation" regarding a very remote connection to Alice Neel and a nude male, or is it male nude? There's a difference there.
The books of her work are available on Amazon, one is $150, the other $250. Out of reach.
Luckily http://www.aliceneel.com/ is a comprehensive website

Mar 31, 2010


NORA AND JESSE 25 x 15 Oil on linen (C) Margery Caggiano
APRIL 17, 2010
I can't blog about a painting that is supposed to be a surprise, as was also the case at Christmas.
But now it's in their hands.
It's kept me busy, trying to organize, if that's the word, an image based on a grainy, if that's the word, snapshot taken under artificial light with no tripod. Oy.
I painted Nora (my granddaughter) last fall in profile.
So best wishes, congratulations, mazeltov, Nora and Jesse.
May you live as happily ever after

Mar 25, 2010


Until life became the ultimate science fiction, I was a fan of the genre, and Ray Bradbury one of my favorites. The Illustrated Man is a collection of short stories, with the hook being the tattoos
of a vagrant, each tattoo with a story to tell.
This week a contemporary illustrated man has been a temporary aside in the headlines.
I wonder if he has room on his forehead for one more tattoo

Mar 20, 2010


I met Pat when we showed together at The Heckscher Museum in Huntington, NY.
"Twenty Women Artists" was Part Nine in their series called "Artists of Suffolk County" It was 1975, and was declared International Woman's Year. The United Nations officially pronounced 1976-1985 as the Decade for Women, and March 8th as International Women's' Day.
Bet you didn't know that did you?
Does Hallmark have a card? Is there a minute of reverence on March 8?
Those in charge assumed that we would then disappear, go back to the kitchen-but we were outed. I'm digressing.
Pat lived in Centerport, I lived in Watermill, geographically not close, and we traveled in different circles. Like cogs though, occasionally coming together in a gallery, or a show. Pat was known for her landscapes, so her figurative paintings were a revelation to me. Strong and gutsy enough to paint herself examining a tick.
AT THE END of THE HARBOR 26x26 Oil on Linen

YOPAH AND STAR 72x48 Oil on Linen
DOUBLE PORTRAIT 20x20 Oil on Linen

Lots more on her website http://www.patralph.com