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.


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?

Oct 25, 2009


Chesapeake Waterway photo - Margery Caggiano

I've been playing tourist for a week, staying on Tilghmans Island, MD, and investigating nearby Easton and Saint Michaels. I've missed being near the waters of Long Island.
The Chesapeake Bay alone was worth the trip.

Oxford from the Ferry photo - Margery Caggiano

D.Cheney and D.Rumsfeld supposedly have second homes in Saint Michaels, but the house in the above photo seems more likely for either or. Easton is as beautiful as they say, more than a town, less than a city, and very much attuned to the arts. But Saint Michaels is funkier and more to my liking.

Think I'll move........

Oct 17, 2009


I don't know why they haven't made a t-shirt with this. I for one would wear it.

Terry Gilliam's illustrations for Monty Pythons Flying Circus were the initial draw, so to speak, that in no time at all made me a fan when they first came to the USA via PBS in the seventies. Since then, with the advent of computers etc, the sketches have been swiped and so badly reproduced on YouTube that the Pythons decided to have their own YouTube channel, with links to buy their DVDs, books etc. (Can't blame them) But there are only 26 sketches that have been digitally improved.
Two of my favorites for this blog at any rate, are not on the list. One is The Art Gallery, (in drag and chomping on a Turner), the other is Picasso (painting) On a Bicycle. He falls off of course.
I don't think it has anything to do with my ancestors, but a lot of my favorite books, movies, comedians, and it seems, artists, are from the other side of the ocean.
From The Water Babies as a child, through Jane Austen, The Brontes, HG Wells, Robert Graves, George Orwell, Graham Greene, Roald Dahl, John Wyndham, Mary Shelley & Frankenstein , Breaking The Sound Barrier -great movie- to traveling the world with Michael Palin, to Pink Floyd (who put $20000 into Life of Brian) to of course the Stones. (Eric Clapton is canceled out by Jimi Hendrix, and the Beatles by Elvis) Come to think of it, Alice in Wonderland was written by an Englishman. But canceled out by The Wizard of OZ.
What the English don't have is jazz, the original, the roots. (And ok ok a few other things)

Right now, and for a few more days, I'm in a cottage on Tilghmans Island on Chesapeake Bay, and if I'd had the brains to pack my camera cable, I'd be feeding some photos into the PC
and writing my next blog.
Anything but what I'm doing, trying to put some magic into a stubborn painting.Blimey.

Oct 16, 2009


Photo Courtesy of Max Wehlte
I love this palette. It's every ones' idea of An Artist in Action. Try this with acrylics

And I love this unfinished portrait of Francis Bacon, by Lucian Freud, grandson of Sigmund.

It appeals to me, not in spite of, but because it's unfinished, and shows the process. I think it epitomizes the magic and the lure of realist painting in general, and portraits in particular.

The two met in 1945, Bacon was 36, Freud 23. They became friends, and were destined to be subjects in each others paintings for many years. Freud sat while painting, so it was knee to knee with, so it was said, constant grumbling by Bacon, until he finally got up and left.
As a result, the portrait was never finished.
It was auctioned at Christies in 2008, and sold for $9,403,306 US

Portrait of Francis Bacon by Lucian Freud
This was the first of the only two portraits Freud did of Bacon, it took four months to paint in 1952.While it was on loan in Berlin it was stolen, and has disappeared.

The paintings of Lucian Freud by Francis Bacon, however, are a whole nother ballgame.

Oct 12, 2009


NORA Oil on Linen 18 x 14

EMMY Oil on Linen 18 x 14

I thought I was finished, but I decided to use the same background on both paintings.
They kind of go together.
They're sisters

Oct 7, 2009


HEAD OF A MAN 13 x 16 Formerly Attributed to Van Gogh

After some comments, and a lot of interest in the discovered photo of Van Gogh (last months blog), and my ongoing interest in fakes and forgeries in the art world, I got interested in a story that made the rounds last year, mostly in Australia and the UK, but a story that I've just come across..In 1940 the "oil sketch" above was bought by the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia for the equivalent of a few thousand dollars, destined to be their only Van Gogh. And valued at 20 million or so. Pounds? or dollars? No matter now. The painting spent a lot of time on loan to other museums, and after questions regarding its authenticity, the folks in charge belatedly decided to send it to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2006. The experts there spent a year testing it (really?) and decided it was old, but No Van Gogh.

Further reading led me to an article in The Guardian, written by Germaine Greer (that caught my eye) this past April. She rightfully claims that "any fool with an eye, let alone two", could tell it's not Van Gogh. She proposes that the painting could be one of the many oil sketches done by Rubens. I'll pass on that.
My personal opinion when I saw the painting? And why not. It doesn't claim to be cropped, but it obviously is. The anatomy is off-eyes too far apart, the back of his head is missing, etc. And the cross-hatching of brush strokes in the background is not something an accomplished artist does. Aside from the fact that the marks look like they were done with a square brush, and Van Gogh not only used round brushes, but his brushstrokes followed the contours of his subject. Beyond that, when I read that they traced the painting back to Berlin, 1928 -I immediately thought of Han van Meergan, the famous forger of Vermeer, who happily sold one to Herman Goering. (6/9/09 Blog "Good NewsBad News"). Could he have branched out.? Wow. Further searching turned up dozens of forgers, but one caught my eye because of the resemblance. Self portrait?This is Eric Hebborn, forger etraordinaire, even the Getty Museum has him in its collection. He has written "The Art Forgers Handbook", born 1934, murdered in 1996.
And so it goes......

Oct 5, 2009


NORA Stage 3 Oil over Acrylic

I thought I'd post this stage now, even though I don't consider the painting finished yet. I can't come up with a solution until I know what the problem is. So I need to put it away for a few days at least, and get on to something else.

Like another painting, or horrors, cleaning the house.

Oct 3, 2009


NORA Stage 2 18 x 14 Acrylic on Canvas

NORA Stage 1

I decided pretty early on to use the turtleneck sweater as a slash of bright color. I converted the photo to gray scale on Photoshop so that I wouldn't be tempted to stay with what she was wearing. It also enabled me to experiment somewhat. Her jacket was originally burgundy, but the design works better in white or a light color.
I thought it would be easier to get a resemblance using a profile, it usually is, but not this time. Or not yet anyhow. If nothing else, I hope I can do her justice.
To be continued......