Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Bunch of Animal Paintings, an Excellent Project

oil on canvas, 20x20

Earlier in the year, my former Patch boss Elissa Bass invited me to have a show at the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center. I thought it was a great idea, and made a series of small paintings - and one big one - to be shown and sold at the center. The center would get 40 percent of the purchase price of all these pieces. 

The show was a grand success! During June and July, and during the Mystic Outdoor Art Festival, at which I sold remaining paintings and donated the same 40 percent, I raised a few hundred dollars for the nature center. 

Since then, I've been dedicating a portion of sales to causes in the places where I have shows. This is another of Coach Joe's ideas, and I think it's a great one. It spurs me to sell with more vigor and less guilt, and it helps - even if it's just in a small way.  

I've never posted these paintings to the blog, so I thought I'd show them to you all today. If you want me to repaint any of them, I'm happy to do so - and will give the same 40 percent to the nature center. 

Running Deer, 6x12, $75

Egret, 5x5

Chipmunk, 6x6, sold

Deer, 6x6, sold

Chickadee, 4x6, sold

Chickadee, 4x6 sold

Mr. Bill, 6x12, sold

Duck Butt, 6x6, sold

Bunny, 6x6, sold (I think) 

Mr. Bill again. Sold again. 

Dog of the Day

I met this beautiful dog out in Arizona. She was in training to be 
some sort of service dog, and was sweet and friendly - and very elegant. 

Want your pet to be the Dog of the Day? Send me a jpg at

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sara's Beach - and an Xmas Dog of the Day

Sara's Beach
oil on canvas, 16x20

I'm always up for a good barter, and when Sara Harley suggested that she make a book of my California Calling Painting Extravaganza in exchange for a painting, I happily agreed. 

I've been included in a couple of Sara's Paws for Charity books - click here to reach the most recent one -  and so I know the kind of job she does with these books. They are beautifully put together, with strong and clean designs, good editing and typography, and a friendly, easy appeal. 

She did a great job on the California Calling book (this would make an excellent Christmas or Hanukkah present, hint, hint), editing my sponsor-only blog and photo array, and giving the whole project a great look and feel. 

And I was happy to make a painting of her favorite beach! The photo she sent me is below, and there's a shot of Sara up in Canada with my painting. Fun! 

Dog of the Day

Since Christmas is four months from yesterday, (and I've already suggested a great Christmas present!!), it seems like a great time to show little Woody in his Christmas-decorated crate. Woody loves his crate - or his apartment, as we call it - and it seemed only right to decorate it last Christmas!

Want your pet to be the Dog of the Day? Send a jpg of him or her to me at

Monday, August 25, 2014

Astro - and the Dogs' Small Pleasures

Oil on canvas, 12x12

I've made a lot of paintings this summer that I haven't posted yet, and Astro is one of them. Isn't he an amazing looking dog? 

I always find it interesting when someone buys a painting of a dog or cat that's not their dog or cat. It's a feather in the cap for me, really, because it means that they like the painting as a painting - not because it's their very own pet. And that's a pretty big deal. But it leaves me without a sample painting for my booth. So I've had fun making pet portraits not on commission - like Astro here, who belongs to a friend of our daughter. 

If you're thinking of getting a pet portrait from me for a Christmas present, well, yay! These paintings make great and memorable presents; people just love them! Don't tarry too long, though, if you want one for Christmas or Hanukkah. It takes about eight weeks from the time I start to the time that the painting is dry enough to send, and there is a waiting list already. Want more info? Send an email to me at

The real Astro

AND SPEAKING OF DOGS, (as we almost were), it was cool enough here yesterday that we could shut off the air conditioning - first time since June! - and open the windows and let the beautiful evening air in. We left the back door open for a while, and the dogs had a ball. Whenever we do this, and it is rare, the dogs think it's just the best thing ever. They run in and out and in and out just because they can. It's really fun to see how excited they are about this one small change in their lives. 

Dogs of the Day

At many shows this summer, I watched people and their dogs, and considered the link, the love, the trust that flowed through those leashes. This old dog trusts that her owner will take her only to safe places, only to good places, and shepherd her cleanly through the crowds. I watched while the dog waited, patiently, never tugging, never barking, as her owner stopped in tent after tent, looking at art and jewelry. The dog asked for nothing other than to be with her human. In a small, quiet way, it was beautiful. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

House with the Blue Door - and JoJo, Watchdog Extraordinaire

House with the Blue Door
Oil on canvas, 30x30
Available at Center Framing & Art, West Hartford Center, CT

On an unexpected and fortuitous trip to Cape Cod this summer, I made a couple landscapes I really love. One - Lighthouse Inn - has sold, but this one is available, at the always wonderful Center Framing and Art in West Hartford Center, CT. 

Though you can't tell from looking at the painting, I set up to make this one in a boat-launch parking lot in Chatham. I've painted at the sides of roads, I've painted in campgrounds, I even painted in a construction site. I'm not sure I've painted in a place that was nearly as busy as this boat-launch ramp. Guys - and a couple women - drove big and small trucks, hauling big and small boats, in and out and in and out and in and out of this place. They parked, they unparked, they backed up and went forward and jiggered and jogged until they got their boats in the water. And they all looked at me and wondered what the HECK I was doing there. 

The sky went from gray and stormy to blue, and back to gray and stormy while I painted. I really love the sky in this painting. I think it's one of my best ever. 

My painting in the landscape

Dog of the Day

Yet again, it is JoJo. She has watched me, and guarded me, and stuck to me like Velcro ever since I got home from Montauk. And you know what? No one has attacked me, or made off with a painting, or with me, or with anything from the house or the van or the garage or anywhere! What a watchdog! 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Turquoise Longhorn - and a Good Decision

Turquoise Longhorn
Oil on canvas, 15x60, sold

I can see autumn coming now, even in these hot and humid days. A certain brightness has gone from the leaves and from the grass. The greens are deeper, more dry, less rich, less lush. The light seems to have changed, as though a little sparkle at dawn has been replaced by something more serious, more soft. And even in the most scrupulous gardens, the weeds seem to be winning. 

Autumn is out there, on the horizon, and in this low, flat place, you can see it, if you look hard. 

I will welcome it, the change, the coolness, the sharp breeze that will rise off the ocean. I will welcome the slow and subtle changing of the colors here, and the chance to go north and paint the riot of autumn in New England. I will be glad to wear long pants and sweatshirts, and to try a new spate of autumn shows, here and there, and maybe even in Texas. 


I DID INDEED pull out of the show in Pittsburgh, and I am glad I did. I slept much of Thursday, and some of Friday, and by today, I'm feeling like myself. 

I had not factored in the emotional stress of Sam's death; that explains a lot to me about my oddly deep fatigue. 

Thanks for all the kind words, everyone, and the support. 

THOUGH I DID pull out of the Pittsburgh show, I've added the Brandywine Arts Festival, Sept. 6-7, in Wilmington, Delaware. This was a fun show to do last year, in a very pretty place, and I'm looking forward to doing it again. 

Dog of the Day

I met these guys at a Wawa in Dover, Del., on my way home from Montauk. What you can't see is that there's a fourth one. These three just stepped all over him, until eventually, he stuck his head up between the legs of the one standing on the window frame. After I took this photo, I had to stop, because that dog had climbed up onto the window frame, and had his front legs on the mirror. All four were wriggling and wagging and begging to be petted. They were so funny! 

Want your pet to be the Dog of the Day? Send me a photo by email,

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Opal Dawn
Oil on canvas, 20x60

I am more tired than I should be, I think, and then I start to look at what I've been doing this summer, and it does make sense, my exhaustion. The show in Montauk pretty much finished me off. It was an OK show, and I met some lovely people, but it was a slow show in terms of sales, and the driving and heat and ferrying just wore me out. 

So I am taking it easy, and am probably going to back out of the show this weekend in Pittsburgh. I think that's OK. It means losing my booth fee, but I have commissions to paint and an exciting new series of paintings to start, and I think it's the right thing to do. 

Of course, I've changed my mind a dozen times so far, and could again. 


MANY OF YOU have told me that you really like watching paintings develop, so I shot a series of photos of "Opal Dawn." 

I was painting from a photo that a friend sent me, and I started by gessoing a 20x60 canvas black, and putting in the horizon line. 

My original idea was to leave the tree line and its reflection unpainted - just black - but the painting got messy enough that I had to paint those trees in. 

I did make one major change after this last photo, and that was to paint the water with a vertical stroke. Here, in this photo, I've painted the water with an angled stroke. But it's best when the body of the water is vertical, and the ripples cross those vertical strokes.

Dog of the Day

It's little Zoe, crashing out in her little bed. Zoe is... well, we don't know how old she is. She is blind, and smart and very tough. In fact, I think she's the top dog in the house, though Peter disagrees. It was always interesting to watch the two blind dogs, Sam and Zoe, make their way through life. You could move a piece of furniture and Zoe would have the new placement memorized in an instant. Dear old Sam would run into it over and over and over. And over. 

Thank you all for your notes and condolences about Sam. Your kind thoughts truly help. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Rooster No. 2 - and For Your Eyes Only

Rooster No. 2
Oil on canvas, 10x10, sold

Since Rooster No. 1  sold, I decided I should make another. Erika, our daughter, wanted to try painting, and so we set out to paint together. She did a fantastic job with her rooster! She has frosted lots of cakes, and I believe that helps, when it comes to painting with a palette knife. We had a great time painting together, too. 

Here's Erika, working on her rooster. The finished painting is below. I don't know if it is for sale, but if you find you need it, drop me an email and I will talk to her and see if she wants to sell it. 


HERE IS A SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY for readers of this blog. 

When the Mystic Outdoor Art Festival opens on Saturday at 10 a.m., I am going to have, for the first time, a wall of small paintings, which will be for sale for $100 or less. Before the show opens, I'll take a photo and post it to the blog, and send the blog out right away. 

If you want to buy one or more of the smalls, email me or call or text me at 860-442-0246. Once the show opens, the paintings will be fair game for all, but you, faithful readers, will get first dibs. 

The Mystic festival is in Mystic, CT. It's from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. I'll be at the corner of Willow and Main, by the pet store, and across the street from the post office. 

THANK YOU, everyone, for your kind condolences on Sam's passing. It was a tough stretch, as he went downhill, and we found ourselves in that terrible place that dog (and cat) people know only too well. 

Your kindness and condolences, your sharing of your own stories and experiences, have helped me, and Peter, enormously. And the Facebook folks who responded also helped Erika, who was Sam's original human. 


Dog of the Day

That's right, it's Jojo the Wonder Dog. She might not know that Sam is gone, but she knew right away that Peter and I were upset, and she spent the days between Sam's death and my leaving for Connecticut going from one of us to the other, trying as hard as she could to comfort and to cheer us. She's getting gray in the face, and long in the tooth, but who isn't. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Our Pink Town - and Farewell to a Dear Friend

Pink Driveway
oil on canvas, 10x10, sold

Down here in the South, there's a kind of tree called crape myrtle, which, according to my friend Pat, blooms for 100 days, starting in July. There are white crape myrtles, and lilac-colored ones, but most of them bloom in various shades of pink, and they are everywhere. They color the sky when you look up, and their petals gather on patios, and the edges of the roads, and in driveways, turning the ground pink. They are amazing, and I love them. 

THE MYSTIC OUTDOOR ART Festival is this weekend, in Mystic, CT. It's a big show, and a good one, and it is a madhouse, too, so be prepared if you go. I will be at the corner of Willow and Main, on the eastern side of the river, right across from the post office. I'll have lots of exciting new work, and I hope to see you there. 


We brought Sam to the vet Monday evening, hoping to find something that would help him feel better. The vet pretty much told us that there was nothing to do, that Sam was at the end of his life, and the kindest thing to do would be to euthanize him. 

We knew she was right. So we gave him a bunch of treats, and got down on the floor with him, and hugged him and loved him and let him go. 

He was a great dog, a big, loving, dear lummox of a dog, and he enriched our lives for years and years and years. I miss him so much this morning, it hurts. But I'd not have traded a minute of our time together. Dear Sam. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Rooster No. 1 - and Thoughts on Showing Paintings

Rooster No. 1

A friend who reads the blog suggested that perhaps I'd enjoy painting roosters. So I gave it a shot - and I have to say, this was an incredibly FUN painting to make. I had a blast! And I love the painting, too.  I'm going to try more roosters - including really big ones and really small ones. 

SPEAKING OF SMALL,  I'm planning something new for the Mystic Outdoor Art Festival, Aug. 9-10 (next weekend!) in Mystic, CT. If I can get my tent set up right - which is always a challenge - I'm going to put up a "smalls wall," a whole panel of paintings that are $100 or less. So stop by and check it out and let me know what you think. I'll be at the corner of Willow and Main, across the street from the post office, and right by the bagel place. 

I GET A FEW email newsletters in my inbox every day. They bring me news and ideas and inspiration, and I think that's important, especially when you live in a teeny town on an isolated, rural peninsula. 

One that I received this week suggested that posting all my paintings on my blog and/or Facebook, and in particular, posting paintings that are in varying stages of doneness, was not a great idea. In fact, this writer said, it was a bad idea, and would "weaken (my) brand." 

Ooooh, I thought, on first reading. He's special, important, powerful, has a newsletter - and so he must be right! I'm doing it all wrong! 

And then I began to disagree with that initial assessment. Just because this guy said it, it doesn't mean he's right. I show and sell nearly all of my paintings. I'm not posting weak, bad paintings, because I'm not making weak, bad paintings. 

More to the point, I think, you all are interested in the process. Many of you have been with me from the start, and have watched and participated, bought my paintings, supported me financially and spiritually and emotionally from the start. Many of you were here when I left newspapers originally and took my first painting trip - to Wisdom, Montana - and you stayed through that first year, through my time at Patch, and through the final wrench from corporate work to self-employment liberation. 

So I'm going to keep posting pretty much everything I paint. I'm going to keep showing paintings on the easel, paintings in progress, paintings that I'm contemplating finishing in a different way. And I'm going to keep appreciating all of you readers and buyers, all your support and encouragement. I couldn't do this without you. 

Dog of the Day

It's Daisy, cousin to Heather MacLeod's dog Gypsy.
 I love the look in this girl's face!