Monday, May 31, 2010

Thank Goodness For The Lowly Napkin

As I said in an earlier post, I have been drawing in my sketchbooks sine 1974.
There are those rare times when I do not have my sketchbook with me.
At those moments, when I see a drawing waiting to happen,
I reach for the nearest stack of napkins.
The paper in napkins is of low quality, and because of that, it is also very absorbent.
When my hand hesitates for even a second, the ink makes a little extra dense mark,
thus, giving a certain "character" to the line, and the overall feel of the drawing.
That appeals to my sense of the unexpected.

Here are some examples of recent images. I draw what I see, and write what I hear.

I really don't think I want to know what was being planned here...?

This was waiting for a drawing.

Sometimes I feel like a fly on the wall.

Image problems, to say the least. And that rhymes with "Priest."

Now back to the things that really matter.
And so life, and my observations of the human condition, go on.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Art of growing those Jersey Tomatoes.

I had lots of reasons to head down to South Jersey, yesterday.
Some business to do, and of course, see my Dad, and since it was
such an absolutely gorgeous day, how could I not go painting?!

Because of my roots, I'm always fascinated by the many farms, and the varied ways
they spread themselves across the horizon.Wonderful piles of architecture, complimented
by nature's curvilinear shapes. And when it comes to painting, first of all; it's all about the
shapes, no matter what the subject, as far as I am concerned.

Well, actually, if you're painting on-site, first of all the Muse insists the Artist
follows rule number one: "Find a shady spot." 

Then the Artist and the Muse wrestle with the paints and water and paper for about
an hour and a half, and if something acceptable to both results from all that struggle,
VIOLA'!...A painting!  (Sold to a collector.)

When I was finished I packed up my gear and drove the 15 miles or so further South to have
breakfast with my Dad; my weekly overload of calories and cholesterol.

As always at this warm time of the year, the subject of good old South Jersey
tomatoes usually comes up.We bemoan the passing (when and how?) of those
BIG, MEATY, oh so DELICIOUS tomatoes Dad, and so many of our farmer
friends, used to grow by the ka-zillions. For the past two years Pop has overseen
my planting of about two dozen tomatoes amidst the bricks in his patio.

Happily, about 3 miles away from my Dad's house, on the appropriately named
Garden Road, there is a wonderful vegetable and flower center, owned by very
pious members of a nearby Amish community.

And TA-TAA! Behold the beautiful, big, heavy, and DEEEELICIOUS hydroponic tomatoes they grow,
almost mimicking the beauties recalled from my youth. Gimmee two floppy slices of Wonder Bread,
slathered with mayo, and some slices of onion on slabs of tomatoes, sprinkled with
salt and pepper...and...HEAVEN! (O.K., I'll repent and  pass on the Wonder Bread.)

And amidst all the other overflowing but orderly bins of veggies, there are amazingly big, lush,
and sweetly juicy South Jersey Strawberries, the taste of which has not changed, over the years.

Loaded with my stockpile of freshly grown goodies, I finally headed back to Bala Cynwyd.
But of course, as the sun headed toward the horizon, and shadows lengthened, I once again
found myself seduced by the warm light illuminating all those passing "farm shapes."
So I went about 10 miles off my normal direct route, back to the site from early morning.
One more water color, adding to the fruits of the day.
(Each painting is approx. 9 X 12", $110.00.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pokey The Band Dog, and other creatures of the night.

As many of you know, I have three very talented sons...and daughters-in-law, and granddaughter.
And of course, Pokey, the Band Dog, who has traveled all over the U.S., most recently with
Maggi and Pierce's band, "Hymn 4 Her."

Here they all are last fall, at the end of my driveway, the night before they left for a six months
tour of the U.S., in their newly purchased 1961 "Bambi." Airstream.

When they are back in Philly, as they now are, I end up spending lots of nights in darkened
venues, with Poki and Diver, in my role as "Silver-Pop-Pop-Baby-Sitter-Roadie," while
Maggi and Pierce perform. The only downside to that is, I don't have time to sketch,
which I also love doing at various other gigs.

So most of the nighttime drawings in my many sketchbooks (working on # 49, since 1974)
are of performers who are friends of ours. Here are Tuba Dan and E.J. Simpson doing E.J.'s
annual version of "Jesus Christ Superstar," at the Dawson St. Pub, on Good Friday.

And here is E.J. again, at the Dawson. This time with friends as "Two Men and Two Women In Black,"
in a tribute to Johnny Cash, on his birthday.

I love Blues, and here we have Dave Coppa wailing with his nephew, Pat, and friend Ray, on the drums.
They play a lot at the "Blue Parrot," in Wilmington, DE. Great Cajun food there!

Another favorite Blues band of mine is the "Backbone Blues Band," featuring Seth Holtzman,
my former Harmonica teacher. (I never practice.)

But of course, after these late-night adventures, there is always the morning after, and breakfast
with Ms. Diver, and Pokey, the ever faithful Band Dog.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Merion Triptych

Almost every day for the past forty years I have walked past this house,
during my morning 2 1/2 miles jaunt. The new owners had commissioned
me to paint it, about six years ago.

But three weeks ago, for the very first time, my walk was interrupted by
the dancing white flowers, and contrasting shadows, within this little grove
of trees, on their front lawn.Obviously they needed to be painted.And not just once, but on
three canvases, as a "Triptych," showing them in the early a.m., at noon,
and in the p.m. A humble homage to the Master; Monet. and his haystacks series.

So for three days, when the light was consistent, I set up my easel and painted.
Painting "En-Plein-Aire" like this, one is always at the mercy of the moving sun.
(And bugs, and the comments of passers-by.) There's only about a 2 1/2 hour
window of time, before the light has shifted, to get it down.Any longer than that,
and you're faking it, painting from memory.Which can be fine, also, but a totally
different painting experience.

Here's early a.m.

Here's noon.

And here is p.m.

And finally, here are all three paintings, framed together as a triptych, and hanging in my show at
Tim Noble's Town Hall Coffee Co., in Merion. 

Painting outside, "from the motif," as Bonnard said, is not everyone's cup of tea.
I happen to thoroughly enjoy it. Probably from playing cowboys and indians all those
many weekends, as a kid in South Jersey.

Here I am, heading out to look for a wagon train, on my horse, "Jerry.".     

I was about 16 years old. Note my shield; to protect me from those
notorious South Jersey mosquitoes, no doubt.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Paintings at Town Hall Coffee Company

This was a beautiful morning for my walk.At the end of it I stopped by the newly 
opened Town Hall Coffee Company. For those of you living in my area,
it's just a few doors down from Hymie's Deli, on Montgomery Avenue, in Merion.
Tim Noble, owner/barista, obviously takes pride in knowing everything there
is to know about reeeeely delicious upscale coffees, and the proper, loving, preparation
and presentation of them, to one's palate.

But up 'til today, the walls in his otherwise elegant space have been empty.
And it seemed to me they were probably waiting to be adorned by my paintings.
Happily, Tim agreed, so this afternoon I begin to install paintings, most
of which I've done in Merion Park, just down from the Barnes Foundation.
Others are of rowers on the Schuylkill River, and a few from Deer Isle, Maine,
where we have a cabin.I offer to you a sampling of my paintings.     
                                Azaleas, Merion Park. Oil on canvas.

                                Rocks, Gray Day, Maine Oil on panel.

                                Azaleas #2, Merion Park.
                               Looking West, Deer Isle, Maine Oil on panel.                  

                                Bridge, Merion Park. Oil on panel

I will have a little "Reception" within the next few weeks. In the meantime do stop by the Town Hall
Coffee Company. And enjoy a bit of art with your coffee and other delicious goodies offered by Tim.




Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Artist, Juror, Silverpop-pop

I have painted this little bridge, in Merion Park, in all kinds of weather, and I hoped to do
so again this past weekend...but it was not meant to be. (5 X 7" oil on panel  Sold)
Friday I spent all morning at the Greater Norristown Art League as juror of their 68th Annual
Open Juried Exhibition. Here I am with friend Jo Ann Cooksey Bono, who Co-Chaired the
Exhibition with Susannah Hart Thomer.  (

There were over 230 submissions, out of which I had to chose 100 for the show. That was
difficult enough, but the real challenge was choosing the Award Winners from the many really
wonderful pieces of art.

Saturday I was up at 6 a.m.and by 8 I was sitting across the street from the very elaborate
and imposing gated entrance to the historic Laurel Hill Cemetery, on Ridge Avenue, in
Philadelphia. I'd bought lots of coffee and donuts to help welcome fellow members of the
Philadelphia Water Color Society to our annual Spring Paint Out.

By noon 8 or 10 PWCS members could be found sitting or standing in the shade on the hot day,
some painting, some drawing, some just taking reference photos to work from in their studios. 

 From 2 until around 4:30 p.m.I donned my hat as proud father and grandfather-babysitter,
watching after Diver while her parents, Maggi and Pierce, along with 2 or 3 other bands,
played a Fund Raiser, in the back yard of a friend of theirs.

By 7:30 that evening I was back in Norristown, attending the reception for the exhibition I'd
juried the day before. I'd wanted to meet the artists, some of whom had spent the earlier part
of the day, painting in Laurel Hill Cemetary. Here I'm congratulating Siv Spurgeon, to whom
I gave the top award of "Best In Show."

Sunday was truly a much needed day of rest, spent mostly with my 97 year old father,
just "hangin' out.,"in South Jersey.  There'll always be more opportunities to go painting...
one or two week?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Barn Studio and Pat Witt

This is a magical woman; a force of nature in the world, but in particular, in Southern New Jersey.  The light in which she is  enveloped is from "The Art Spirit." For almost 50 years Pat Witt, founder of The Barn Studio of Art, has been imbued with the Art Spirit, and a passion to pass it on to generations of children and adults, through her art classes. In honor of her life of dedication to the Arts and her community, Pat has been declared the official "Artist Laureate" of Millville, NJ.
 I fell in love with Pat when I was about 17, and she was about 28. She is 10 years and 1 day older than me, and we maintain a tradition of having dinner together every February, to celebrate our birthdays, sip Martinis, talk "Art," and chuckle at the thought that everyone in the restaurant surely assumes we are lovers.
Last Year Pat and her daughters, Nancy and Carol, decided to offer to students of The Barn the first "Maurice River Intensive Landscape Painting Workshop." Here you see one of the instructors, Jill Rupinski, doing a pastel demonstration, inspired by the lush pond, at the Barn.
Throughout the week morning demos by instructors were followed by a very full day of painting by students, "En Plain Air, at a variety of locations in the Maurice River Valley.  Here is a demo done by me, in oil, looking out over the Maurice River. (Oil on panel, sold to a collector.)
All of the students were from South Jersey, and were prepared for the hot afternoons of
painting along the Delaware Bay. Here we were painting the East Point Lighthouse, in water color. 

At the end of the intense and informative week, we had a well attended showing of paintings created by the students and instructors, in a gallery in Millville. The Workshop was a success, and this year's Workshop
will be held from Sunday 11 July thru Saturday, 17 July, 2010. For information go to Barn or call 856-825-5028.  Sign up. Learn. A guaranteed good time will be had by all.