Saturday, February 27, 2010

Indiana Revisited

Indiana Revisited
Oil on canvas, 8x24, $150

Here's how random these trips of mine have been. On my way home from Arizona in April,  in Indiana, I saw a sign for a town called Holland.

I have a friend (my fellow exhibitor at the show at the Lighthouse Gallery) named Carden Holland. I like her a lot, and so I thought I'd find something good to paint in a town that shared her name.

Sure enough, I did. Here's my original painting:

It was a warm day, and wildflowers were blooming on the edge of the drainage ditch. An old house perched at the top of a rise, beyond strips of yellow and brick flowers. To the west, a storm moved in, with rain visible, and thunder audible, far in the distance.

I've always liked this original painting, though I felt it never quite met its potential. So I hauled it out the other day and, using my palette knife, went over it again. Repainted it, pulling up some colors, pushing down others and generally increasing the width and breadth and depth of everything in the painting. It's something I've done a couple times before, and it's an interesting experiment. Plus, I ended up with a painting that I really love!

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Two by Two

Top: Two Sams
Bottom: Two Duffers

This is just an experiment. In both cases, I made two paintings of the same dog. In each pair, I made the one piece while thinking of the other, either planning it or remembering it.

So I might frame them together, that's what I've been thinking. The Good Sams would be 60x30; the Duffers, 48x24.

Many of you gave me very helpful feedback on the sunflower painting. So what do you think about this idea? I'd love to hear your comments.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Oil on canvas, 20x20, $150

In the middle of February, when it seems that winter will never,  ever end, I love to buy flowers, especially sunflowers, which are insanely bright, ridiculously cheap and delightfully long-lasting. These flowers glowed, just glowed, as though the light were inside them.

The sunflowers finally died. But lo and behold, and in spite of the fact that it is snowing yet again, spring is coming. At 5:45 last night, there was still light in the sky. I've heard spring birds singing in the yard, and bluebirds have visited the feeders on their way somewhere.

I do love winter - and I love the snow. It just goes on too long!

I am not sure of the background of this painting. It is very bright. I might go over the pink with another color, or might just leave it. If you have ideas, I'd love to hear them.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Bend in the River

A Bend in the River
Oil on canvas, 12x48


I painted this a week ago. I stood behind a Dumpster, using it as a windbreak, on the top of a high bank overlooking the Wallkill River. It was about 10 degrees, and the wind was blowing hard enough as it was, and harder off the top of the river, and I was as cold as a person can be and still be painting.

When I had enough on the canvas to understand where I was going, I had painted for more than an hour and could do nothing to get warm. I packed up and sat in the car for a while, with the heater on high, before heading off.

Last winter, I painted outdoors nearly every day. I was cold, but I was not this cold. I don't know what has changed. I guess that this winter, I am just wimpy.

This Wallkill flows north between two south-flowing rivers. Here, it curves and bends through the village of Montgomery, home of the Wallkill River School, where I'll be showing in March with Shawn Dell Joyce. I hope that those of you who are in New York can get to the show - in part to see this painting, because it is really quite spectacular, and try as I might, I can't get it to reproduce correctly on the computer. I will reshoot it again on a cloudy day and see if that does it - but for the time being, this is as close as I'm going to get.

Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


The dogs burst out of the door and bounded out into the snow. They raced and ran and tackled each other. They rolled in the snow and wriggled on their backs, all four feet in the air. They barked and leapt and played and dug and ran in circles, gleeful, joyful!

And I'd been thinking more snow was a bad thing.

This painting is another step away from the one I made in the midst of a storm earlier in the week. When I stumble into more abstract landscapes, I realize again how much I love them. I'm making my way along the edge of abstraction, and enjoying balancing here.

Oil on canvas, 12x12, $200

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Storm Lifts

The Storm Lifts
Oil on canvas, 24x24,

Call me at 860-442-0246 or email me
if you are interested in buying this painting
What great responses to my recent comments on success!

The encouragement I received from you, in the blog, via email, in person, was just spectacular. Thank you. I was not seeking encouragement, really - I was just talking, just sharing. But you were all so thoughtful and so kind. I am grateful.

It is heartening, too, to know that so many of you are asking the same questions in your own lives. Asking what "success" is, how you define and measure it and how your sense of it is changing.

One thing I've realized in the past few days - and honestly, have realized again and again during these years - is that I am living a life so rich, so full of purpose, so imbued with creativity that it simply does not include failure. Truly, I never dreamed that living could feel this wonderful.

I have time for the people who matter in my life. I have time to think, to talk, to love - and to paint. And all of it informs and enriches the rest of it. If I died tomorrow, I would die happy and fulfilled - and until I left the corporate world, I could never have said that.

So I am reinvigorated, and refreshed, and I am thankful.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Oil on canvas. Not for sale

My sister's dog, Mac, is an old, dear fellow. He seemed ancient when Laurie and her family adopted him, years and years ago, but he has lived on, in his creaky but surprisingly athletic way, all this time. He has run and walked with Laurie in the early mornings. He has played with three kids, guarded two houses, and eaten his way through a mountain of food intended - and not intended - for him.

Mac has had his troubles of late. He ate something horrible that nearly killed him around Thanksgiving. Now he has cancer. It looked like his time was up a week or so ago, but he rallied, and has been happy and wagging ever since.

After he ate whatever it was, and before he got cancer, the family took on a puppy. Mac didn't like the little guy at first, but over time, the two have become friends. The friendship blossomed more or less around a dog bed that Laurie got for Beemer, but which Mac took as his own.

I cried as I made this painting, cried for the sweet dog that Mac has been all these years, and for this last sweet act of sharing. I cried for all the dogs I've ever lost, and all the dogs I've ever welcomed into my life. I cried for the friendship and the love that our dogs give us - and which I wouldn't trade, for all the tears in all the world.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Oil on canvas, 20x20

Call me at 860-442-0246 or email me
if you are interested in buying this painting
As I was standing in the back yard painting this piece yesterday, I found myself thinking about success and how it's measured.

When you're employed by a company, it's relatively easy to measure success. You get raises and promotions. Even the worst boss occasionally tells you that you've done a good job - or tells you you've done a bad job and then falls quiet while you improve.

In this new life, it's harder to find the markers of success. Or maybe it's that the gauge keeps changing. Making a painting that pleases me, that's a wonderful marker. But by now, I have made a hundred paintings that please me.

Painting a scene, or part of a scene, in a way I could not have managed a year ago, that's another great marker. In this painting, the background trees have a luminous and abstract quality that I'd never have seen a year ago, let alone been able to paint. And the foreground trees are touched by a streak of light that, again, I'd not have seen a year ago. Surely, this is success, I thought - except that it was easy, and so, the achievement didn't feel like success.

Having a show is a marvelous marker of success, in and of itself, and I know this. Having my work in galleries is a marvelous marker of success, too. But showing work and selling nothing shakes the ground beneath me.

In the end, it feels to me that sales are really the truest marker of success. And artists aren't supposed to worry about money, right? But the truth is that I can only continue to do this if I continue to sell my art.

So as soon as I have my work together for the March show at the Wallkill River School Gallery in Montgomery, N.Y. , I am going to make another huge marketing push. Get my work in more galleries, in more places where more people have money.

If any of you have ideas about galleries I should approach, please let me know. Some of you have sent me to places that have really helped me define and find success.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Oil and snow on canvas, 12x12

Call me at 860-442-0246 or email me
if you are interested in buying this painting
I thought there would be enough shelter in our grove of trees to let me paint in Wednesday's blizzard (it was a blizzard here along the coast, if not in inland Connecticut).

So I packed a small plein-air bag, dressed very warmly and headed out. Almost as soon as I set up, I saw it was a losing battle. The snow fell into my paint and froze there, giving it a sandlike consistency. The snow fell onto the canvas and stayed there, adding to the bumpy texture. The wind blew, snow froze to my eyebrows, and in an instant, I was soaked.

And so I painted like a fiend! Like a demon! I painted like the wind!

At any rate, I have used this painting as a sketch for a larger piece, but it is a cool painting in and of itself, I think, so I thought I'd post it.

Morning Fog

Morning Fog
Oil on canvas, 30x36,

Call me at 860-442-0246 or email me
if you are interested in buying this painting
The Groton reservoir stretches from near our house to Poquonnock Bridge. It's easy to see, but hard to paint, as there are few places to stop and set up. I've gotten good at stopping illegally and taking photos quickly. This painting is one that I made from a few photos I took through a fence topped with razor wire. They really don't want you anywhere near the reservoir.

While the reservoir is beautiful in the winter, I find myself longing for spring. The seed catalogs have started to arrive, and if you look hard, you can see that the tips of the branches of trees and bushes have started to redden. Yesterday, in the snow, Peter and I saw bluebirds, and my heart flew a little with them.

Thanks for reading!

Scenes from an Opening

Here's Chris Rose, curator of the Lighthouse Gallery, in front of a wall of dogs. 
Here's a couple of the dangerous-looking types that haunt the Lighthouse Gallery... I'm married to the one with the beard... the other is Carden Holland, my partner in crime in "Places & Pets." 

Here's Chris again, in front of the Sams. 
"Rocky," "Giles, Goat Boy" and "How Now?"
These twin teenagers came with their dad; they spent a long time with my paintings, and it was great to watch them. Here, one of the twins is clearly suspicious of the lurker. 
A wall of dogs and cows.

The Lighthouse Gallery at night. It's a gallery in a strip mall on Long Hill Road in Groton, Conn., and to me, its everyday location is a real plus. It's a friendly place that invites everyone.

The opening reception at the Lighthouse Gallery was jammed; I stopped taking photos when the place got crowded - and I still didn't get to spend as much time as I'd have liked with some of the people who came so far out of their way to attend the opening.

I am feeling a little low, this snowy morning. I find this is something that happens after openings. I stretch myself to the edges of exhaustion, always pushing right up to the very last minute - and then it's over. I'm tired, I feel painted out, my direction at least momentarily unclear. None of my pieces sold, either, and while I expected that, it adds to the malaise, as does a rejection from the Connecticut Artists Show.

So went out yesterday, in the midst of a driving snowstorm, and attempted a plein air painting - but it was just too brutal, and the snow fell so fast, I couldn't keep the canvas clear. I came in and dried off, warmed up, and cooked, which in my opinion is one of the best ways in the world to spend a snowy afternoon.

Today, the world looks good again, and I can hardly wait to get out there and paint.

Monday, February 8, 2010

One Sam, Two Sam

Good Sam II
Oil on canvas, 30x30, $800; you can buy Good Sam I and II for $1,200
Good Sam I
Oil on canvas, 30x30, $800; $1,200 for Good Sam I and Good Sam II together

Good Sam paintings
Late Thursday afternoon, I dropped by the Lighthouse Gallery to give a final look at "Places & Pets," and see if curator Chris Rose had any questions or problems.

The show looked great - but there was an open place on the wall above Chris's desk area, right next to Good Sam I.

Did I have another painting? Well, not a big one that I was willing to sell.

So Chris gave me a challenge. Days earlier, he and I had been talking about the power and delight of painting fast, and he turned to me and asked if I could make another painting.

I took him up on it.

All along, I'd envisioned the Sam paintings as a pair. I mean, everybody needs a pair of giant oil paintings of a Samoyed, right?

So, on Friday morning, after a nearly sleepless Thursday night, I went out to the studio painted Good Sam II.

The pieces look great together! They are just about the happiest paintings I've ever made. And they were a wonderful omen for the opening.

It was a festive show, a true celebration, filled with family and friends - and strangers! There were children, teens, a dog, friends from my childhood and from this new life.

Carden Holland, the marvelous artist who was the "Places" part of the show, had not shown in years and years. Practically her whole family came to the opening, which made it even more special. We have many friends in common, and many of them came to support and celebrate us.
I'd like to say it was a high-selling opening, but it wasn't; still, it was wonderful, and I had the chance, again and again, to watch as people saw, and connected, and engaged with my paintings. And that's a huge, huge thrill!

If you came to the opening, thank you. If you couldn't make it, don't worry. The show will be up until the end of the month. Click here for directions and hours.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Labradoodle II

Labradoodle II
Oil on canvas, 12x12, commission

After I finished the first labradoodle painting, I had an idea for another one.

This happens to me sometimes. Midway through one approach, I am struck with the notion of an entirely different approach. It's fine, good even - though I do wish sometimes that I could get to the second idea without going entirely through the first one.

This labradoodle, I made using a technique that I am finding I really love. I take the palette knife, load it with paint and medium (and I have to say, the transparent colors work best here), and I push the paint, hard, into the canvas, scrubbing and jamming and really smashing the paint in. Then, I overlap it with the next palette-knife full, doing the same thing. I do this again and again, and finally, at the end, go over it, in places, lightly, with a sort of frosting of paint - if the subject calls for it.

At any rate, it's a fun thing to try, and gives a cool, glowing effect. I think you can see it if you click on this painting, and make it big.

Thanks for reading! And don't forget the opening of the "Places & Pets" show, Friday, 5-7 (or 8) at the Lighthouse Gallery, 744 Long Hill Road, Groton. The show will be up all month, but come to the opening if you can!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

At Central Bark

At Central Bark
Oil on canvas, 18x36

Call me at 860-442-0246 or email me
if you are interested in buying this painting
Well, the all-animal show has taken its initial form! Carden Holland and I delivered our work today to Chris Rose, maestro of the Lighthouse Gallery (744  Long Hill Road, Groton, Conn; click here for directions), and he arranged, and hung, and took down, and arranged and hung again - and out of the chaos, "Places & Pets" began to take shape.

Carden's work and mine could not be more different - and that's great. Her pieces - landscapes, still lifes, drawings and ceramics - are careful, quiet, subtle, elegant. Beautiful. My pieces - all animals - are loud, bright, fast, inelegant.

So our stuff really works well together.

I admit, I was very nervous about this. For starters, "real" artists don't do paintings of pets - or that's the prejudice, at any rate. Like "real" writers don't write detective novels. Second, Carden is a trained, practiced artist with a lifetime of experience and practice. I wondered whether my work would look amateurish and juvenile next to hers.

And you know what? All of the above could be true, but it really doesn't matter. The show is fun, and sprawling, and exuberant - and it has a rhythm, and a shape and a voice.

An extra, added, wonderful bit about today is that one of my paintings, "Rocky," appeared with a blurb about the show on the front page of The Day, the local newspaper. I think I have Jill Blanchette to thank for this - or maybe just the gods of journalism. 

Now about this painting... I almost called it "Playing with Myself," but, well... I took two photos of a bearded collie, playing at the local dog park, and cobbled them together into this painting. So it looks like two dogs, but actually, it's the same dog. Fun, huh?

Come to the reception of "Places & Pets"! It's Friday, from 5-7 (or 8), and it will be fun.

And thank you for reading.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Oil on canvas, 24x48, $250
This is the second time I've made this painting. The first time, I'd only just started painting. I had this photograph of Eunice, moments before she leaped from the tree to murder a mouse or a vole or some other innocent creature, and it's really a cool photo. Eunice is entirely focused on her prey, and is gripping the tree with claws, muscles and her giant feet, but you can tell that she's not thinking about the tree, or her position or anything other than the moment of pouncing.

I'd priced the original painting at what I thought was a prohibitive sum. Thought I could show it without worrying that it would sell - and if it did, it would sell at a high enough price that I'd be happy to trade the painting for the money.

I am. I think.

There was something about that first painting that this painting doesn't have. But to be honest, there's a lot about this painting that that first one didn't have. It was fun - and challenging - to repaint it, especially to reinterpret it, but still capture that feeling of hunting.