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.


Dec 31, 2009


The past 10 years have been referred to as The Decade From Hell
From my own point of view, it's been 13 that I never saw coming.
Nothing happens
Nothing happens
Everything happens
So here's to a new improved decade; and try to live by the words of that eminent philosopher, Satchel Paige
"Don't look back-something might be gaining on you."

Dec 27, 2009


MR. BERNARD DWYER 16 x 12 Oil on Linen (c) Margery Caggiano
FROM HIS FAMILY: Born in Nova Scotia, Pop Dwyer had 18 children, but half of them died during childbirth. He made the coffins for each one himself. In Newfoundland, he would walk by himself to buy a cow, and walk it back, a journey of 50 miles. He could tell you the weight of any cow, to the pound, just by looking at the animal. He could see ghosts and identify each one. A roofer by trade, he could look at a roof and estimate the number of shingles needed, and was exact. He built cabins, grew legendary vegetables, raised children.
And what have I been doing, you ask?
Before I became a snow shoveler, mainlining calories via Sabroso with some eggnog added as homage to the holidays?
Before I had to keep clearing a path to the garden for a frantic cat who thinks a litter box is beneath him? (Let's hope so)
Before all that ...I did a few portraits. The painting above is one, finished just in time for Christmas.
So now the sun is out, and it's time to get back to work. I'll get on the scale in a few days, in case of a miracle meanwhile.

Dec 23, 2009


SMITH CREEK, NEW MARKET 12.24.09 Photo (C) Margery Caggiano
(C) Margery Caggiano

No time to blog. Got 2 feet of snow. Shoveling. No mail. Cat bored.

Dec 19, 2009


So far, at 7 a.m. today

9:45 a.m. and still snowing......
There's a cat door there somewhere, but he's not going anywhere
I haven't blogged for awhile. I've been painting a lot but I can't expose them to the light until after Christmas.

Meanwhile, if you haven't been to Julian Beevers website, it's worth a visit. Some of his images are again making the email rounds.

Pool-From a different vantage point


Dec 12, 2009


Sculptor Ron Mueck -preparing for an exhibition

The finished piece-with real woman in the chair

SEATED MAN Duane Hanson
I was enthralled with the realist life size tromp'loeil sculptures of Duane Hanson when I first saw them at a Soho gallery in the seventies. Later, at a solo exhibition at the Whitney, the pieces became onlookers, guards, janitors; and were that much more effective when people mingled with them, did double takes, and watched other gallery goers react.

Duane Hanson with his sculpture
Hansons' sculpture was cast from life, and made of polyester resin, fiberglass, polychrome paint, real hair, clothes etc.

The plaster cast sculpture of George Segal - with my brother-in-law

Dec 9, 2009


These are from a group of the 15 or so images by Swedish photographer Magnus Muhr. They're making the rounds via the internet and email, and thanks to my daughter, got to me.
Mr.Muhr is an otherwise serious, talented, professional photographer who may forever be stamped as the dead fly guy.

Dec 3, 2009


JEAN, COOKING 10 x 8" Oil on Canvas (c) Margery Caggiano
Jean is more than a good cook, she's an excellent graphic designer. And painter.

I'm having a good time (and re-learning) applying oil paint from scratch after all the years of acrylics, or oils over the acrylics.The acrylics are good for underpainting, (not thick and glossy though) and they accept oil paint very nicely.

Now, however, I'm finding the acrylic gessoed pre-stretched canvas too absorbant for oils without that acrylic underpainting, so I give the canvas a coat of retouch varnish-a 50/50 mix of dammar varnish and turps, and let it dry. Much better.

I decided to stop cleaning the plate glass I use for a palette. It's a pain, even with a window scraper. So I've been tearing off 12" lengths of freezer paper, which is plastic coated, then stapling 8 or so to a piece of train board I had. Works out well. I don't like the white, however, it throws your values off, but I understand one company is (finally) making the disposable palette pads a neutral gray.

By the way, awhile back I said that mineral spirits are fine, you don't need turpentine. No one called me on that. If you are making your own medium or retouch varnish, mineral spirits won't dissolve dammar varnish, just turps. Live and learn.

Now if I only had the discipline to clean the brushes and not leave them standing in mineral spirits. To wipe the threads of the paint tubes and put the caps back on immediately and to

blah blah blah blah ....

Nov 30, 2009


DUALITY 40 x 48" Acrylic on Canvas (C) Margery Caggiano

I delve into the internet a lot, to see what's been auctioned, to see if links are accurate etc, and to see whats popped up as more and more info makes its way online.
I found a registry of women artists named CLARA, in case you ladies want to look.
Then my name came up on a portfolio that's in the database of the American Art Portrait Gallery Library of The Smithsonian. The entry was for a painting of mine, titled "Duality", with an approximate date of 1896 to 1975. Naturally I contacted the person of record, suggested that I was still alive, and asked why that painting?
Answer: "Peter and son Paul Juley headed the largest fine arts photography firm in NY from 1907 to 1975. Their clients included museums, galleries, schools, art dealers, private collectors, and nearly every major artist of the period. The Smithsonian American Art Museum acquired the Juley collection from Paul Juley, just prior to his death in 1975."
It seems that the (wincing here)1968 Audubon Artists Nat'l Exhibition was documented by the Juley firm, and I was one of the exhibitors, with "Duality" above, which received a Medal of Honor. Nice.
I cleared up the date with the library and sent an image for the archives. The site is SIRIS

The painting in question is of a friend and fellow artist, Edith Borax Morrison. I've used her as a model several times over the years.MRS B 16 x 18" Acrylic on Canvas c) Margery Caggiano
I was in my one-eye- Larry Rivers period.
MOI with frame
Edith and I were also antiquers, and found this top part of a cottage dresser, sans mirror.
So I painted her to fit. The (my) hand is cast plaster dipped in wax (yes, and ouch), the bird is of course faux. Both are on the shelf (arrow)
She looks a little double jointed, but you can't have everything
EDITH WITH BIRD Acrylic on Canvas (Size?)

Edith is an extremely accomplished artist, currently affiliated with the Kehler Lidell Gallery in New Haven, Conn.

Nov 27, 2009


MUTANT CHICKEN 24 x 18 Oil on Panel (c) Janet Culbertson

This is a good time to talk turkey (sorry), but I'd rather introduce an artist and friend, who is a dedicated environmentalist who puts her money where her mouth is, art wise. Janet Culbertson in her studio on Shelter Island, NY.

When I saw the painting of the nude chicken in her studio I thought she (how clever) invented it, but learned from her that, unfortunately, they do exist ( and not pleased let me add). They're engineered for countries that are too warm for raising poultry with feathers. The eventual oven is pretty warm too, but by that time the poor things are not only nude but, hopefully, dead.

I never thought I'd want to knit a sweater for a chicken...

I first met Jan when we were two of the four women chosen in 1980 to exhibit in "FOUR" at the Heckscher Museum in Huntington, LI, NY. The other two artists were Joyce Stillman Meyers and Susan Zises.

Malcolm Preston wrote in Newsday: "Each year, with funds provided by the New York State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for The Arts, the Creative Artists Public Service Program awards fellowships to artists working in various categories. Four of those CAPS recipients are currently showing their works at the Heckscher Museum in Huntington. it is interesting to note that all four are, to some degree, realists. all four, too, by the way, live, work and have exhibited frequently on Long Island."

And, in the part of the review that refers to her work: "There is in Janet Culbertson's work a real concern for nature, for preserving the ecological balance, for protecting endangered species. Her large, beautifully textured mixed- media drawings include several of her earlier works like "Resting Tortoise" and "Iguana." Very skillfully handled, they affect a fossilized, prehistoric look, but really they ask us to respect those early residents of our planet and not destroy them, and perhaps ourselves, through carelessness."

Her paintings, drawings, philosophy and travels can be seen and read about on her website, along with an amazing resume. http://www.janetculbertson.net/

PS If you don't know what a Henway is, ask around.

Nov 24, 2009


HARRIS ONISKO 10" x 8" Oil on Canvas (c)Margery Caggiano

I've come to the conclusion, like I didn't know, that painting feels better than not painting. You can walk away. You can run, but you can't hide. You can complain, you can give it up and decide that there has to be something out there that doesn't cause so much angst. I walked away from the Art World for 20 years for a lot of reasons, some personal, some I couldn't define.
In retrospect, I had become good enough to know I wasn't good enough.
But there came a time when I needed to retrieve that lost limb, there had been too many real-time losses to deal with.
So my attitude has become ****** I yam what I yam.
I'll always whine and complain, that's the New York legacy.
While I'm at it, how come, with all of the talent out there, is one of the better few seconds on TV is a talking pothole? Frustrated with TV, I took myself to the movies last week, got some popcorn that cost more than the movie, put my earplugs in, and watched the world end.
Ahhhhh, that's better.

Nov 22, 2009


MIKE ONISKO.... 10" x 8" .... Oil on Canvas .... (c) Margery Caggiano

I'm calling this series of 8x10 portraits "oil sketches"....Trying to get the essence of a person without doing a highly finished painting. This was done from a photo sent via email, on gallery wrapped canvas. I'm currently accepting commissions for this size, unframed, from your photo. Cost is $195, for this size only. The photo can be black and white, and even somewhat out of focus. Obviously, the higher the resolution, the better. Some candids "get" a person, whether alone or in a crowd.
But teeth, however sweet the smile, don't make a good painting. Nor will I, or should I, use a professional photographers studio portrait.

If I don't think I can do a good job I'll tell you. No charge.

CECILY (Gallery Opening)....Original 1.2 MB photo .....(c) Margery Caggiano

CECILY... Oil on Canvas ...10" x 8"..(c)Margery Caggiano

The painting can be seen in her gallery on Love Lane, in Mattituck LI

Nov 20, 2009


This was in the Letters section of the Artists Magazine last month. I read it for the first time yesterday, and am repeating it here in its entirety in case anyone else missed it, or doesn't subscribe.

"I'm very disappointed that The Artists Magazine is once again featuring a contest for the over-60 crowd. Here's my question:Why give extra points for the artist who's not able to compete with 20-year-olds? I find it distasteful. Art should be celebrated for art itself, not for the age of the artist. Why not keep contests open for all to enter? If the winner is then found to be half senile, to have partial vision and to create art while leaning on a cane-then you can celebrate the artist! Until then, please stop with the categories (both young and old)."
Helen Tucker
Via e-mail

An Open Letter To Helen Tucker
Dearest Helen,
I figured you for a sulky artist of course, and googled your name but could only come up with a bikini model on YouTube. (true) One Who Paints?
Which pretty much explains your attitude, if you're one and the same.
But you're right, I can't compete with any 20 year old in a bikini contest.
I'm also completely senile and proud of it.
Yours truly,
detail from 21 ARTISTS OVER 60, The Artists Magazine, March 2008

PS This blog insures that the brain of Helen Tucker will show up on a search or two for a long time. So sue me. I'm senile.

Nov 19, 2009


I was checking my links on Google, as I do occasionally; it confirms my existence, which I sometimes question.
I paint therefore I am.Lo and behold there's a link that's new to me, a connection that caused me to say huh? It seems that the Smithsonian Institution has a research information system, the acronym is SIRUS. Narrowed down, in my case, to the American Art Portrait Gallery. Since you rarely know where your paintings will end up, I was at the wow stage. But it was a catalog in their “vertical files”-a photo of a painting, with the title “Duality”, and my name.
Oh well. I emailed the registrar and inquired.
“Peter A. Juley (1862-1937) and his son Paul P. Juley (1890-1975) headed the largest and most respected fine arts photography firm in New York from 1907 to 1975. Their clients included museums, galleries, schools, art dealers, private collectors, and nearly every major artist of the period. The Smithsonian American Art Museum acquired the Juley Collection from Paul Juley, just prior to his death in 1975.”
One of his clients was the Audubon Artists Society, and he photographed the paintings in their Annual Juried National Exhibition, which is still held every year in NYC.
”Duality”, the painting in question, was a (sort of) portrait of fellow artist Edith Borax Morrison. It was acrylic, and was 40 x 48”.

I entered it in the 24th Audubon Artists Juried National Exhibition in -gulp-1966. It received a Medal of Honor.

Nov 18, 2009


My last blog was about a painting I did (Cecily), using as a reference one of the photos I took last year at the Love Lane Gallery. There is no wasted film with a digital camera, so for me there is rarely pre-planning. It's useful for recording an event, a landscape, a seagull, paintable people.
I left the camera on auto and flash,-it was evening.
Anyhow, a few days ago I took a closer look at my photo files from that opening. (Technically, it was an auction). I enlarged the photo above, saw something interesting, lightened the photo, and got a little extra. Well well well.
I also saw that she had been wearing sunglasses.
In case she wanted to attend incognito?

Nov 15, 2009


CECILY 8" x 10" Oil on Canvas (c) Margery Caggiano

I had previously invested in a bunch of 8 x 10 x 1.5 " pre-primed canvases that are a nice change from doing my own stretching, priming etc, but I'm not entirely happy with what is called "the mechanical look" (weave) of the surface, so I've been giving them another two coats of gesso, using a foam brush, then sanding. Not perfect, but it helps.
I've also been experimenting with closeups, using (sometimes) unposed, candid photos. The challenge I've set for myself is dealing with flat or overhead lighting, and trying to do them in a day. Sometimes it works out.
This particular photo was taken at the Love Lane Gallery in Mattituck LI, and Cecily, being the owner, was behind the counter at the time, pouring wine. Living dangerously, because some idiot decided that it was illegal to serve wine without a liquor licence. State? County?or local law. Strange that it only became an issue when the Long Island wineries took root, so to speak. At any rate, the media being the only message these days, I figure getting raided would be a good thing. Just think of that delicious headline "Love Lane Establishment Raided !"
I still remember (see?) an East Hampton artist (Robert Gwathmey I think, father of the architect), getting a lot of Coverage with a capital C for using the US flag in a work of art.

Nov 10, 2009


yes, she knows what she likes

THE INNOCENT EYE Mark Tansey 1981
I think the original of this painting is at the Met. Since I've been blogging about cows, I remembered it.

Actually one of the first paintings I saw and loved, was on a high school trip to the Metropolitan. It was a landscape by John Constable, with you guessed it, cows.

John Constable: ”Wivenhoe Park, Essex” (1816)
I found this image on Google, thankyou.

The bad news is that it was used as an illustration for a german treatise on "foot and mouth disease". We all know that it's Hoof and Mouth disease, don't we?

My Back Yard, Oct. Photo (c) Margery Caggiano

The landscape I currently live in is much like this, except that they're Black Angus.
And then there are the traffic cops

GREENPORT LI Photo (c) Margery Caggiano

All together now, "mammeries, all alone in the moonlight........

Nov 7, 2009


LUMBER LANE Oil on Canvas 20 x 26 (C) Margery Caggiano

COWS ARE NOT FOOD .......continued

Lumber Lane, in Bridgehampton LI, was close enough to where we lived that I sometimes used it as a shortcut to avoid the traffic. Even then, thirty years ago, traffic was bad enough to want to blow up the bridge over the Shinnecock Canal. If you've ever been on an interstate that was funneled down to one lane for 25 miles, that's what Montauk Highway became.
The curse of the Hamptons.
This particular painting was shown only once I think, and later destroyed. I do that occasionally.Sometimes its the right thing to do, sometimes it's not. The ladies on the beach, "Holiday" in my last post, resulted in a little flak at the gallery. oh yuk, cows on the beach.
Some people just don't get it.

Nov 3, 2009


Cows Are Not Food, Cows Are My Friends

HOLIDAY 9 x 12 Giclee Edition of 50 (c) Margery Caggiano

Once upon a time, my husband and I took the old Chevy pickup cross country, following back country roads . He fell in love with Nebraska and their shotgun surveying. Square and straight. Nothing much, that we saw, but miles of corn, and miles of sunflowers.

Heaven for a claustrophobe.

When we returned to Long Island, we bought an acre of farmland in Watermill. At the time it too was wide open, nothing there but potato fields, hayfields, and dairy farms, with the town comprised of a post office and a candy store, and an estate that housed retired nuns. The land was cheap at the time, and we could, and did, build a small house with studio space.
Heaven for a studio deprived painter.
Like still waters, still villages run deep. Turns out our farmer liked to ride naked on his motorcycle, our other neighbors were gender challenged, and a few doors down lived Carl Yastremskis' parents. (My husband was unimpressed, being a Cardinal fan.)
The neighbors to the north, being dairy cows, were naked but their gender was obvious. Meanwhile, our son had applied to join the Secret Service, and the Men in Black were required to interview our neighbors.
He got the job regardless.
The dairy farm was on the corner of Scuttlehole Road and Strongs Lane. The cows in the prints above were from photos I took at the farm. There was a milk machine on Montauk Highway which came in handy as you can see. The ocean was also nearby, and that also came in handy.

MILK MACHINES 8x12 Giclee Edition of 50 (c) Margery Caggiano

Milk Machines was never a painting as such, so technically doesn't qualify as a Giclee. It started out as a watercolor, unsuccessful as usual (I try) then pastels over, then acrylics over that. (I get stubborn about some images.) The mountains were added later, when we moved to Virginia.

So there.

Oct 31, 2009


Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3 Lisa and Will Oil on Linen 18 x 24

This one was, is, a challenge. The source was a 328 kb email I received. The lighting was hospital , and it may have been taken with a phone. ( Will wonders never cease)
Being a glutton for punishment, I decided to give it a shot.
It was drawn in with thinned acrylic paint, and a then a general wash. I tried a very dark background but didn't like it. So I sanded it and broke out the oil paint. Stage 2 is oil paint, and I still didn't like the background. Blech.
At that point I put it away and spent a week on Tilghman Island, my last blog. It hasn't been easy to get back to normal, whatever that is.
And now, for better or for worse, I've fallen in love with a mongoose brush that's angled.
I don't do advertising, so I'm free to pan or promote.
I found a source for brushes in the UK. They make their own brushes, almost unheard of these days. And it's the only source that I know of that makes mongoose brushes that are angled.
Rosemary and Company. http://www.rosemaryandco.com/
Keep in mind that the prices are in pounds, and there is shipping. Google is handy for converting currency. They have a catalog of course, a necessity for the details that aren't online.
I'll post the next stage in a few days, I hope.

Oct 27, 2009


While visiting Saint Michaels, I roamed through an annual rummage sale put on by a Main Street church, and pounced on a cardboard box that held ancient looking art supplies. Cans of turpentine, linseed oil, copal medium, large never used tubes of paint, and 2 very heavy little cans of Dutch Boy white lead, again, never opened. Since lead paint was taken off the market in the mid- seventies, except for housepainters etc, I knew this stuff was pretty old. But still good!A code number in a Grumbacher flyer tucked in with a tube of paint put it at 1961 or so.
A loot list, some with original prices: 2 pounds of Dutch Boy lead
Large Titanium white ($1.60)
Large MG Underpainting White ($1.50)
16 oz can of Copal Medium ($.65)
Glass jar with approx 10 oz dammar varnish
2 32 oz. cans of turps
1 16 oz can of linseed oil, plus 2 8 oz cans
Except for the lead, everything was Grumbacher, and their enclosed flyer was a treasure as well.
You don't want to know the brush prices, trust me.
The box full of stuff was $2, should I have haggled? Nah.
I coudn't resist getting my Jerrys catalog out and comparing to today's prices; without the cans of lead, the total came to about $140. Of course I have enough linseed oil to last well into the next century. I intend to use the lead to make my own grounds for oils. I promise not to eat it.
For our own good, the lead based artists paint has been off the market for a long time, except for flake and cremnitz whites.
Unfortunately, lead based paint is why many wooden buildings, as well as paintings, have lasted as long as they have. A must for tin roofs, for sure. But it has done a lot of harm. A nursery man on Long Island once told me that they thought nothing of seeing dead cows, from the lead arsenate used on the farms. Altogether a long list of lead-related tragedies.
I found this 1923 children's coloring book on an interesting blog named http://www.weaselmouseonmarketing.blogspot.com/
He also blogs about classic advertising that includes unreal but true past cigarette ads, and a fun section of monsters running off with big bosomed women.YAY
PS I thought to sell the cans of lead on ebay, but reconsidered on the grounds (pun there) that it was probably illegal. Could the church Rummage Sale Committee have been busted?