Total Pageviews

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Common Sense: Thomas Jefferson and the Philosophy of Freedom Dec. 21, 2010


Thomas Jefferson was a very remarkable man who started learning very early in life and never stopped.

At 5, began studying under his cousins tutor.

At 9, studied Latin, Greek and French.

At 14, studied classical literature and additional languages.

At 16, entered the College of William and Mary.

At 19, studied Law for 5 years starting under George Wythe.

At 23, started his own law practice.

At 25, was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.

At 31, wrote the widely circulated "Summary View of the Rights of British America " and retired from his law practice.

At 32, was a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress.

At 33, wrote the Declaration of Independence.

At 33, took three years to revise Virginia 's legal code and wrote a Public Education bill and a statute for Religious Freedom

At 36, was elected the second Governor of Virginia succeeding Patrick Henry.

At 40, served in Congress for two years.

At 41, was the American minister to France and negotiated commercial treaties with European nations along with Ben Franklin and John Adams.

At 46, served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington.

At 53, served as Vice President and was elected president of the American Philosophical Society.

At 55, drafted the Kentucky Resolutions and became the active head of Republican Party.

At 57, was elected the third president of the United States .

At 60, obtained the Louisiana Purchase doubling the nation's size.

At 61, was elected to a second term as President.

At 65, retired to Monticello .

At 80, helped President Monroe shape the Monroe Doctrine.

At 81, almost single-handedly created the University of Virginia and served as its first president.

At 83, died on the 50th anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence along with John Adams

Thomas Jefferson knew because he-himself studied the previous failed attempts at government. He understood actual history, the nature of God, his laws and the nature of man That happens to be waaay more than what most understand today. Jefferson really knew his stuff. A voice from the past to lead us in the future:

John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the white House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time.. He made this statement:" This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."

When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe , we shall become as corrupt as Europe. Thomas Jefferson

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not. Thomas Jefferson

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world. Thomas Jefferson

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them. Thomas Jefferson

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. Thomas Jefferson

No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.รข€� Thomas Jefferson

The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government. Thomas Jefferson

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants..� Thomas Jefferson

To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical. Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson said in 1802:
I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property - until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered..

I wish we could get this out to everyone!!!

I'm doing my part. Please do yours.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Avalon at Sunset: (off Bora Bora) Dec. 12, 2010

I've recently completed this large commission for Patricia and Charlie Senn, of Texas.

They were fortunate to travel the So. Pacific for a few months, in this large sailboat named, "Avalon". Out of appreciation for the owner of the Avalon who loaned his boat to them, Pat and Charlie commissioned me to paint his boat motoring in to Bora Bora.

It would have been nice to actually experience first hand the awesome colors and light Tahiti is known for, but alas, I was restricted to the reference photos they had from their trip.

The painting was beautifully framed and presented to the owner of the Avalon on December 7, 2010. I can breath a sigh of relief as I am told it was well received, and the gesture appreciated.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Forest of Alchemy November 28, 2010

Now this is what I call an "Inner Vision".

I spent a year and a half creating this work of art for my friend and master of the healing arts; Leanne Keller. (one can't rush things like this)

Leanne's Acupuncture skills and mentor-ship into the Landmark program helped me to heal from my broken marriage,and transcend the fear and anxiety that often accompany separation. In her way, she helped me to create this special forest, which I now unleash unto the world, and for the ages.

Forest of Alchemy
24x36 oil/canvas 2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Revealing the Relics, August 4, 2010

Back at Robert Eringer's Bedlam Bar, we made our way to the 4th floor. Jimmy Harper unveiled the relics he'd brought back from Gheel. He delicately placed them in a container on top of fine Belgian lace.

Dymphna's bones resembled a face!

I took a couple of photos of the room, and it appears we brought back some orbs! Dymphna?

Eringer surmised she wanted to come along with us on our oddessy; (our Surreal Bounce Oddessy).

Guess we were to follow the bouncing orb.

View the full surreal comedy @

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day at Dymphnakirk July 31, 2010

After a late night of mysticism in the town of Gheel and spirit filled synchronicity at the well of Zammel, Robert Eringer, Jimmy Harper, Floater and I returned to Gheel for the goods. As the boys went off to do their deed I searched for my motif.

Making my way between the catastrophic clutter of tombstones I set up my easel in the damp silence of Dymphnakirk's thousand year old cemetery. The gloom was thick as I started to sketch the profile portrait of the ancient masonic bell tower. I was especially intrigued by the red brick building beneath the Bell Tower. It was built specifically for the purpose of performing exorcisms. Inside this building,the possessed were made to crawl under the relics of St. Dymphna; to help purge themselves of their demons.

As I painted I felt I was not alone, I noted the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. I turned around to look and saw nothing other than a cluster of grave markers all whom seemed to have Joseph, and Dymphna, etched upon them.

I held out my had and said, "Hi! I know you are here watching me, and I wanted to thank you for hanging out. Thanks for being here." This was my way of reliving the stress of the moment where I felt a presence.

After an hour or so, I was finished. Packed up my gear to leave, and with perfect timing, met Eringer, Floater, and Jimmy on the path out of the cemetery. They went on their quest for the relics, and had success.

Because of the sensitive nature of their belongings we waited until we got back to the Bedlam Bar in London, before they were revealed to me. We then placed them in a special container and placed them beneath Jimmy Harper's beautiful portrait of St. Dymphna where they remained until the close of the Bar two years later.

Once we revealed the relics upstairs at Bedlam, the Dance of Orbs had begun. Every picture I took had celestial globs of light dancing in unpredictable, asymmetric fashion. It seems now that all we had to do was to follow the bouncing orb to our next chapter, delving deeper into creativity and madness.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Moon Over St Dymphnakirk, July 30, 2010

There it was, Dymphna's Cathedral. Lonely, stark, and Medieval Dark. Built by the Mason's One Thousand Plus years ago in homage to the young girl, martyred for not giving in to her father's request for incest.

Robert Eringer, the boy's and I, had gone into the Cathedral to find the evening mass just ending. (only two old lady's wearing black were in attendance). The cathedral inside was also very dark; guess they had problems paying their electric bill?

We asked the Deacon, Joseph, (everybody here is named Joesph or Dymphna) after the two martyred saints) where the relics were, and he said they were across the street in the Museum. We then changed our plans to come back tomorrow when it was lighter outside, (and not so creepy).

I spent the rest of the evening painting this lonely painting of the Full Moon over Dymphnakirk, and having surreal moments at two am near the town of Zammel five miles away (Where Dymphna and Amand (Joseph) lived at the time of the murder.


THE DYMPHNA LEGEND: (Excerpt from Surreal Bounce)

She was born in Ireland in during the Merovingian period—very early in the seventh century--the daughter of a pagan king named Damon and a mother who converted to Christianity to ensure Dymphna would be educated under the tutelage of a priest named Gerebern.

Dymphna’s beautiful mother died suddenly. Her father, inconsolable, fell into what today we would call clinical depression. Courtiers worried that their king’s mental health would further deteriorate unless he took another wife, so they urged him to do so. Damon dispatched envoys around Ireland to find a woman as beautiful as the wife he’d lost. When they returned empty-handed, a deranged notion struck the lustful king. Hmmm, my fourteen year-old daughter, Dymphna-–she looks exactly the same as her mother…

Dymphna was horrified by her father’s proposal. Each time she refused his advances, the king’s rage grew worse. Gerebern, the priest, was also perplexed by this situation, and he plotted an escape for them both.

With assistance from the court jester, Dymphna and Gerebern crossed the English Channel by boat and sailed up the River Schelde to Antwerp. Feeling unsafe near a waterway, they made their way inland to Zammel, a small settlement of about fifteen houses and a well six miles from what would later become Gheel.

When King Damon realized his daughter and her pesky priest had duped him, he went nuts. (Also, he no longer had a court jester to help him see the lighter side.)

With a small army of warriors in three boats, the king set sail in search of Dymphna. How did he know where to go? For two months Damon followed the money. Dymphna and Gerebern recklessly left a trail of their native coins as payment for services rendered en route to a new life abroad. The final tip came from a woman at an inn called The Kettle, in a village called Westerlo. She pointed out the direction Dymphna had taken. (Legend suggests arthritis cut in immediately, for the woman’s arm remained rigidly outstretched for the rest of her life.)

When Dymphna and Gerebern learned the king and his warriors were near, they fled Zammel. But not fast enough. The king caught up with them six miles away.

Blaming the couple’s misadventure on Gerebern, Damon slew the priest without further ado (no trial necessary). Then he asked his daughter one last time: “Will you marry me?”

Dymphna declined.

Damon commanded his warriors to execute his daughter. Not one stepped forward. So the crazed king raised his mighty sword and severed Dymphna’s head with one blow. (No one knows what he did to the court jester.) Adding insult to murder and mayhem, Damon and his warriors left the scene without bothering to bury their victims.

Zammel’s citizens were greatly distressed by the carnage they found at the scene. They interred Dymphna and Gerebern at the very spot they were slain.

Word of what happened that tragic day in 621 A.D. traveled around Europe. Within a few hundred years (word traveled slow back then), the burial site became a shrine for mentally disordered pilgrims. They discovered that if they prayed at Dymphna’s burial site, to her relics (bones), their mental illnesses gave way to sanity. (It sure beat an Abilify/Zoloft cocktail.) After notching up a few such miracles, Dymphna qualified for sainthood.

A whole town grew up around it. The town of Gheel.

Today, a marble statue marks this site-–diagonally opposite Dymphnakerk: Demented Damon, under the influence of a demon, poised to decapitate Dymphna–-martyred for her morality.

Image: "Dymphnakerk" by Thomas Van Stein

View the full comedy @

Monday, July 26, 2010

Gheel In Patients LOL!!! July 26, 2010


Still reeling from the absinthe of clothing on the models, in the two different stores , we continued down the street towards Relic Room, or Dymphna's Cathedral. As Robert Eringer, Floater, Jimmy Harper and I walked along the street, we were soon accompanied by two of Gheelie Girls.

We didn't understand what had happened to us.

What? Why were these girls dressed like this? Something was definitely askew here. Was it us?

I Quickly grabbed my camera and took a shot of this pair of (?)'s

One of them then went to the door of a house and knocked. I took another picture as this little boy came out to hand her something; (candy? Cash? Meds???) I don't know.
But the look on this little kid's face says exactly what I was wondering at the time, "What the F---?...over!

We'd entered into some strange world, that I couldn't figure out which side of the edge we were on.

We finally made ourselves to St. Dymphna's supposed site of slaying;
which now enshrines a marble stature of a lofty Moorish(but really Irish) Man wearing a turban, ready to lop off the head of his own daughter innocently praying on her knees. It looked like a Muslim Honor Killing, only in this case, Dymphna's father was lopping off his daughter's head cause she wouldn't consent to becoming his incester.

We turned the corner and laid our eyes on a dark and austere, foreboding structure with a belfry.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Nothing to Hide: Gheel, July 23, 2010

We were astounded! We had had a brush with the supernatural. Robert Eringer and I noticed things were a wee bit peculiar about this town.

From the Dildo on the Street sign, to the orb in St. Amands Cathedral, everything seemed 'floaty'. We'd been instructed by El Presidente', to walk a mile up the street to St. Dymphnakirk...if we wanted to find Dympthna's relics. So, onward we walked.

I knew from research this town was leveled by the British advance through Belgium, in WWII, and so the streets and Buildings were starkly new.

One Odd thing we noticed was there were cut pine (Christmas) trees roped and dangling upon all the Lamp Posts, like something out of a Story by Dr. Seuss. Some were erect, some falling down, some clinging by a needle. Another Ironic thing; Near St Amands Cathedral was one of the largest lingerie stores I've ever seen, Displaying their seductive wares in their store front windows. There was even a condom dispenser standing a post on the wall outside. Oh-Kaay! I thought to myself.

But by far, the ODDEST sight was coming across not one, but two different clothing stores, nowhere near each other, displaying their mannequins, (or in this case, womannequins), completely devoid of clothing!

I wondered if maybe this was part of the 'Family Therapy' Gheel was famous for?

I found myself surrealing from this site; feeling a bit vulnerable; like I was somewhere in the twilight Zone, having been blessed with X-ray vision!

I couldn't wait to see what waited around the corner!

For more >Motional Blur, see the Surreal Bounce Blog:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

First Orb, July 22, 2010

There! On my jacket, above my Bedlam Bar Hat, was the most beautiful Orb I'd ever seen! It was there, as if to say, "Cheese," for the camera. The picture was taken with a digital camera so when we viewed the picture, I saw the orb right away, and enlarged it.

I couldn't believe my eyes. It looked like a medallion, or like a Saint Christopher.

We took another few pictures inside the Cathedral and it seemed the Orb was following us around; hovering up above us.

If I didn't believe in Angels before this day, now I had no doubt they exist.

For more >Motional Blur, see the Surreal Bounce Blog:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Which Way to Gheel? July 21, 2010

You know your are in an interesting space when the roadsigns are purely profound.

This Open Air Mental Institution gave us much amusement; the more we looked around, the more subtle, and extraordinary occurrences we observed. When Robert Eringer, Floater, Jimmy Harper and I traveled to Belgium we were already on a heightened state of awareness, in search of St. Dymphna's relics.

This road sign pointed us in the right direction... (UP!!)

We made our way to St Amand's Cathedral, (which was closed), However we were lucky to be granted entry into the cathedral by it's president, who, after learning I was an artist showed us his fine marble faux painting on the columns behind the alter. We thought this was the church that would have had Dymphna's bones, but we were off by a mile.

This church, was dedicated to the priest who'd fallen for her in Ireland and literally lost his head over it. (This story will follow).

We appreciated the education of the president, and asked him if he would take a picture of us in front of the alter. What came out in the photo would have a surreal influence on our travels to come. Our Odyssey just kept getting more odd by the minute.

In Spire ation
Gheel Belgium 2004

For more >Motional Blur, see the Surreal Bounce Blog:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Happy Henchmen, Antwerp, July 20, 2010

So this is Antwerp. And what have we got?

Cold, Dark, Gray, Moody Day. Robert Eringer, Floater, fellow artist James Harper and I arrived in snarling traffic and drizzle.

Hitting the ground running, we paid homage to Peter Paul Rubens in the Antwerp Cathedral, which housed his magnificent mural sized paintings depicting the Christ deity.

Winter was the season; Creativity and Madness was the reason.

25 miles away was the near-by Mental State of Gheel. We were on a quest; a pilgrimage of sorts, to the murder site of a sixteen year old named Dymphna. Belgians come to Gheel to visit the relics, (Or what's left of 'em) for their healing power, in the belief that they, or their family would be healed of the demons in their heads.

Us? Well, we were on a trail of Irony: A tongue-and-cheeky pathology it seemed.

Near-by the holy Antwerp Cathedral, we dropped in to visit another sort of reliquary, housing the torture tools of trade; serving us as a reminder of the demented depths for which our human ancestry once delved.

This exhibit didn't, in the least bit, enliven our mood: note the happy faces?

All dressed in black, we walked around the diamond district wearing bright, shiny faces, looking to some merchants like four Soprano thugs raring to loot. It was hilarious to see some of them scramble as we approached; they'd see us, then turn around in their tracks, and walk briskly in the opposite direction.

But we weren't interested in their rare gems or stones; we were interested in Dymphna's Bones. So, onward to Gheel.

Robert Eringer and Floater

For more >Motional Blur, see the Surreal Bounce Blog:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Patron Saints July 18, 2010

"Have I got an idea for you," says Robert Eringer, (my new friend, patron, and fellow luna-seeker). He says to me, "I know we are on to something regarding this Creativity and Madness stuff; we've discovered the correlation between madness and genius, as in the case of Vincent Van Gogh.

Eringer took a puff of his Hemmingway Short Story one afternoon, (I quickly snapped a photo), he leaned over to say, You know, I've discovered that there is actually a patron saint for mental illness!

I remember saying to him, (in astonishment), "well then, where are her relics?"

He then told me they are in Gheel, Belgium, and the town is an open air mental institution centered around the relics St. Dymphna. I knew then that we needed to go.

Three months later, the stage was set; Iceland, Arles, were behind us, we would leave on our next adventure in mid-January, under the full Wolf Moon, and seek out more answers.

Who was this Patron Saint Dymphna? We would soon find out, and we would find more extraordinary cultural, human, and supernatural phenomenas which would be added to our depth and understanding of the life we were leading.

Me, an Artist, and Family Man, and Eringer...well, I still didn't quite know what he was about. I knew better than to ask too many questions, and so I trusted that eventually, the smoke would clear and I would learn more details about his adventures.

All I knew is this trip was going to be fun, and that was good enough for me.

Master of Smoke, Mirrors, and Levity
by Thomas Van Stein

Surreal Bounce, 2003

For more >Motional Blur, see the Surreal Bounce Blog:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Van Go Ville (revisited)

Photographs and Memories; snapshots capturing a life in one moment of time, never to be repeated again.

Our trip to Arles France and St. Paul du Maison;in search of the creativity and madness of the Post Impressionist King Vincent, brought us to the ledge. Our search for creativity and madness pushed us over the edge, where surprisingly there was plenty of room to maneuver the manure.

These four photos freeze frame our trip:

Robert Eringer; seen behind bars of the Van Gogh Asylum (contemplating room availability for the night).

Me: I'm resting my laurels in Van Gogh's loony bin bed,(it was a short visit).

An askew street view of Arles farmers market, the possible source of it's famous pungent aromas). Note: Robert Eringer is seen darting away in his freshly painted fly-boy Flight Jacket.

Lastly, Myself; I am captured on film, caught expressing emotions-- somewhere between fascination and disbelief. I'm standing outside the immortalized Cafe de Alcazar, (Now Cafe Vincent Van Gogh), searching for a motif. I'm wondering, "Where did authentic Van Gogh Go?

Ah, so!

Photographs and memories; snapshots capturing a life in one moment of time, never to be repeated again...for good reason.

Surreal Bounce, 2003

For more >Motional Blur, see the Surreal Bounce Blog:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Mad House Moon, St. Elizabeth's.

I left Robert Eringer at the Georgetown Inn, and set out to paint the moonrise madness. I found it, lurking over the haunted Mental Asylum called St. Elizabeth's Mental Hospital.

Problem was, there was only one view of the hospital for which I could get a glimpse.

I had the driver pull up so I could get a better view.

I felt like a voyeur; peering through the giant Iron Gates. The Moon rising behind the hospital in the hazy DC sky. The Silence; deafening.

My driver asked me why I wanted to stop here. He'd never ever stopped here before, in his life!

I got out and grabbed my camera and tripod.

There were some lights on inside the hospital. I wondered who was home? Who knew what activity was taking place inside?

Strange thoughts entered my mind, and then exited. (fortunately).

The only thing I heard outside was from critters in the bushes, and a strange chattering sound which turned out to be the knocking knees of my driver, who nervously awaited for me beside his big black Lincoln Town Car.

He just kept sayin', "Man, you must be crazy coming out here like this". I ignored him. But he kept on exclaiming about how dangerous this neighborhood is--especially at night! in his nice Town Car.

We was foolish!

I asked him if he'd mind waiting for me while I hopped the fence and took a look around. He yelped, "Don you go in there, they's rattlesnakes roamin' 'round.

I glanced back at him and said jokingly, "But I'm Mad! Besides, it looks kinda homey!

"Man!", he said, "the only homey ya gonna see around here, will steel your camera, your money, and your life"....

--but I'm just worried about ma car!

Convinced of the intelligence he imparted, I quickly gathered up my gear and got the hell outta there!

Full Moon Over St. Elizabeths
16x12 oil/board
Collection of Robert Eringer

For more >Motional Blur, see the Surreal Bounce Blog:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Night of Depature July 7, 2010

Robert Eringer and his family were here and gone.

I'd never met anyone like him before. (At that time, I had no clue what Eringer did for a living, his spy stuff and all, and I wouldn't learn for another three years).

Our organized trip to Iceland seemed quite esoteric--like a fantasy! It was just what a nocturnal artist needed. Lucky me-- I'd attracted a patron who saw in me my ability as an artist. Eringer also had the means and interest to help make something extraordinary happen for me and my art career. Mixing my art with his writings, how cool was that? It was a meeting of the minds.

Our friendship: alchemical, syncronistic, serendipitous.

I didn't know if the Eringer's would ever be back. I thought, who in their right mind would ever want to leave sunny Santa Barbara-- especially to live in loony London?

All I knew was that I was feeling bummed.

So, I did what I felt was the best thing for an artist to do; I needed to create...

I went down to Butterfly beach, to the place where I'd painted the 4th of July sketch, and all I saw when I was there, was darkness. There was no moon, and except for a few lights, it was a somber scene. It was perfect, devoid of meaning!

I painted away with detachment, and purged myself of sadness.

That night, I left it all on the beach, yet I sensed something out there--just out of reach.

As far as Robert Eringer and his family was concerned, I decided I would send them one post card per week, depicting beautiful, sunny Santa Barbara in a, "Wish you were here" idealism. My motive was to tease them, and to get them to realize they'd made a big mistake by moving back to London.

What else could I do? A year later, my conspiracy plans paid off; they moved back!!

Night of Departure
8x8 oil on board
Collection of Robert Eringer

For more Motional Blur, see the Surreal Bounce Blog:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Afternoon Light, Butterfly Beach

I have only so much time to paint before I have to pick up my boys and be Mr. Mom.

I have my paints, I have my easel and accouterments. I have the light, and Inspiration before me.

Even though it is a blustery day, I set my easel up in the lee side of a low hedge to block the wind. The light is changing, and so I begin.

I paint briskly, starting with a violet under painting, knowing the highlights would be represented by the complimentary color of Naples Yellow. I work dark masses to light masses, like a mad man. I paint like my house is burning down.

Within 30 minutes, I am finished. I captured the light, the gist and gestures, the immediacy of the moment, alla prima. Voila!

Therapy was good today!

Afternoon Light, Butterfly Beach
6x9 oil/canvas 2010
Collection of the Artist

Sunday, July 4, 2010

4th of July, Butterfly Beach

It's been nearly ten years since I painted this painting; my first plein air nocturne of fireworks!!

I wanted to capture the vitality and vibrancy of the life on Butterfly beach in Santa Barbara, so knowing the fireworks would start at 9pm, and where they would be set off, I staked out a place resting above the sand, overlooking the masses of jovial celebrants.

I painted one, then two, small sketches in the afternoon. (Both paintings now in private collections. Then, after sunset, I lined in my composition after toning my board a light shade of green.

Once lined in I awaited the barrage. While people were busy lighting off their own fireworks on the beach, I busily painted in their patterns, silhouetted against the illuminated background of the ocean/waves. Then when the main show began, I sketched in the sky and corona(glow) of main bursts. I had to make a decision on what the colors were I would choose to paint.

During this painting, I had distinct company. I was visited by my new friend and patron, Robert Eringer. He popped out of the bushes holding a glass of wine, and observed me sketching away in the darkness.

Eringer had just purchased a couple of my smaller nocturnes from the Bottoms Art Gallery at the Biltmore Hotel, and I welcomed him to come and watch me paint this evening.

I knew I had only twenty minutes to complete this painting before the grand finale so I couldn't talk during the painting's evolution, but when I had completed the painting, Eringer commented on my ability to paint the night. He mentioned that he'd read about Iceland; that they have the purest of night time skies. He then asked me if I would be interested in going there to paint and capture this purity in paint.

In Seven Months, we would be flying Upper class on Virgin Airlines, in route to Berserkness and what would be the beginning of our seven year Odyssey in search of creativity and madness. The seed for Surreal Bounce had been planted.

4th of July, Butterfly Beach
10x14 oil/board 2001
Collection of Robert Eringer

For more Motional Blur, see the Surreal Bounce Blog:

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sunset, Santa Barbara. July 3, 2010

Every now and then, there's a good one. (A Sunset that is...)

Every now and then I find myself in the right place at the right time, with the time to paint. I have all my gear and most of my faculties,

It is incredibly enjoyable for me; to quickly set up my easel and palette, and paint the sun as it is setting. It is even more enjoyable if the painting process is effortless, and I can pull off a half decent work of art with minimal effort alla prima (painted in one sitting). Hopefully it is acceptable enough for my gallery: (the Bottoms Art Gallery), to exhibit, and sell.

Yes, it is a, "Pretty Picture", but it's exciting and challenging for me to paint something I've never witnessed, and created it in a way I've never painted before.

Some Artists, (Landscape Painters) frown, and look down their noses at paintings of sunsets-- considering them, "Low Art". I, however paint them out of love and appreciation for the day; daylight, the patient sun.

Knowing that no two Sunsets are alike, EVER! I strive to capture the uniqueness. I have immortalized this sunset in paint, yet I am clear that is some ways, it is a vain attempt on my part, to halt the passage of time.

Santa Barbara Sunset
10x20 oil/linen 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dearly Depleted!

It's tough getting use to living in the darkness. On second thought, its tough getting sleep when it's nighttime all the time.

This trip to Iceland in the middle of Winter was not only enlightening, but after four solid days of the Viking Life, I'd overdrawn my sleep account. We runthurs had run out of steam.

Never before had I worked so hard to capture the flavor of a culture, and/or purity of a night sky, in paint. In the end, I came away with nine or so paintings; (many are now in the collection of Robert Eringer). I also came away with an insight as to what thesis I could pursue in my future art career; the pursuit of "creativity and madness".

Soon after this picture was taken, my world class snoring left plenty of sawdust on the floor of the airplane, (and plenty of passengers scrambling for their ear plugs).

I wasn't intending to be rude, I was merely being expressive!

Thomas Van Stein, Robert Eringer, Floater, Headin' Home from Going Berserk.

For more flow, see the Surreal Bounce Blog:

Monday, June 28, 2010

Giggle Stick Gallery Rekyavick, Iceland

I've always appreciated this candid photo of Floater; captured expressing both astonishment and disbelief. Here we were, Robert Eringer, Floater, Eric the Red, and I, in the midst of the world's only Phallic Museum, in Wreck-it-up, Iceland.

We meandered through the penile presentations, (all Bobbited from various mammals); From Penguins to Porpoises, Elephants to Blue Whales. Some schvantzes extended so far out from the wall you had to mind your own head, so to speak, or else you could put 'your eye out, or maybe kick the stick and stumble!

If you were naturally short in stature, you could succeed in circumnavigating the throngs of prongs by either high-stepping, or dancing the limbo throughout the museum's dozens of dildo displays.

It was Ironically hilarious for us [macho men], to see such a display. It made us a bit uneasy; especially when the Owner/operator of the Museum scanned us with a disdainful eye. (He'd overheard our chuckles).

With one eye open, he was watching out for yank pranks!

To him, this museum was no fallacy. This was his serious' collection of cocks, and he was proud of his pricks! Glaring at us between our murmurs, and mumbles. He horned in on Eringer; sizing him up as though he was looking to complete his collection!!

I could see we were making this Viking Thor. So, imagining the chop from a bronze battle ax, I decided I'd seen enough of this homage to homer, and slipped out the back.

I had to wonder how someone like this curator would explain what he does for a living? Would Freud consider this a form of penis envy? Could one wager a bet on what the curator is thinking about a good part of his day? Wouldn't it be funny if he were on the Television show, "What's my Line?" That episode would be a hit!

Granted, there is an art to the procurement, taxidermy, and installment of the sculptus erectus, but I can't help but think that some Vikings have way too much time on their hands.

If one is undecided where they stand on the issue of whether or not size matters, they could find plenty of resources to help them reach a conclusion; there at this museum to the phallus.

My conclusion; It's not the size that matters, it's how you use what ya got in order to get the job done!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hot Night at Club Nasa June 23, 2010

This was a challenging painting mostly because I was dealing with a subject that was constantly moving; The disco Ball was moving, the different colored lights were moving, the blond headed bobbing crowd was moving; undulating on the dance floor, there were even dancers on stage in front of a large movie screen showing old black and white silent films.

I had to pick and choose what was important; work from memory throughout the whole paintings' evolution, remembering that it was an impression of what I was experiencing, not a photographic representation of the moment.

I remember the blond vixen speaking Icelandic in my ear, doing her best to shake my resolve, and my co-hards working to be my body guards up against curious berserkers. Last of all, me, lighting a cigar and walking through the grinding throngs on the dance floor after i'd finished. I was feeling quite cocky after that day's adventures.

From what I was told, the next day would be even more unique, and, ahem, memorable.

Hot Night at Club Nasa
8x6 oil/board

Collection of Robert Eringer

For More of the story visit:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ice Falls, Godfoss Iceland

As I had mentioned, I was pretty worn out painting the Geyser and getting frosted, that I wanted to stay in doors for my next painting. (my toes were pretty near frost bitten) Note I am still in my full gear with Russian Cap/head lamp, and four layers of gear.

But I was here to work. My job was to paint, and so paint I did.

My thanks to Christian and Eric the Red for their patience while I painted.

Photo credit: Eric the Red (Russel)

For More of the story visit:

Club Nasa, Rekyavik Iceland.

After getting Stuffed with Puffin and Whale Steak, Robert Eringer Floater, Eric the Red, and I, made our way out into the late night pub crawl; doing the Runtur as it is called in Icelandic. We made our way into this large discotheque called Club Nasa, filled with hundreds of Vibrating Vikings.

We climbed up on to a platform above the large dance floor which pulsated with bobbing blond heads; a large Disco Ball swirled up above. There were vikings dancing every where; even on the stage which was showing black and white silent movies as a backdrop. I have never heard such a loud beat from the Woofers.

Eringer encouraged me to do a painting of the scene before me so I broke out my Small pochade box and went to work capturing the excitement of the dance. During the painting blond vixens climbed up on the rails and attempted to distract me by speaking garbled mumbles of Icelandic in my ear. It was futile to try to 'pick me up' because not only did I not understand their Nordic language, but it was so incredibly loud, that all I could do is attempt to lip read, which too was useless. I'll say this much, not even when she licked my ear with her tongue did I understand what was going on.

Floater, Eringer, and Eric the Red could see I was having a challenging time accomplishing my painting so they formed a blockade around me disallowing any more viking invaders into my space...

We knew they were just young and curious; much as their ancestors who circumnavigated the globe centuries before. But we were on a mission to experience and capture berserkness during this Feast of Thorbladt; not be captured by berserkers
and feasted upon for their enjoyment.

Read More about Surreal Bounce:

Van Stein painting in Club Nasa
Photo credit:
Eric the Red (Russel)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Frozen Falls, Godfoss Iceland. June 11, 2010

While my traveling companions, Robert Eringer and Frank Martin caroused Rekyivik, Eric the Red and I traveled into the frozen moonscape of Iceland to catch a glympse of the geyser, the all thing, and the drowning pool. On the way we stopped by the frozen falls called Godfoss.

It was too bloody cold outside that I chose to sketch this painting of the falls from within the warmth of our van.

Believe me, after getting kissed by the devil at geyser I was done being frozen to my palette.

I needed a break; warm food, and good wine awaited me before my journey out into the frigid air to paint the Northern Lights.

Frozen Falls, Godfoss, Iceland
5x7, oil,
Collection of Robert Eringer

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Jazz Night @ the Bedlam Bar. July 19, 2010

In January 2004, the, "Surreal Bounce" Odyssey was in full swing. In this case it was Jazz Swing. This sketch was done on location inside the Bedlam Bar in Hampstead, England. This bar was Robert Eringer's creation; honoring Creativity and Madness.

Eringer and I were on our way to Gheel, Belgium, to obtain the relics of St. Dymphna, (the patron Saint of Mental Illness).

"Every Night was a Full Moon at the Bedlam Bar", and on this particular night, it was "Jazz Night", so I set up my little Pochade box and rhythmically sketched live jazz. The florescent lights of the bar added a surreal feel to the environment. There was youthful vigor and vitality in the air as this bar was new, stimulating; different than most night clubs of the day.

(It helped to know the management of a restaurant who allowed oil based mediums into the bar/restaurant).

In retrospect, I feel it is one of the best gesture oil sketches I've ever done. It has a life force, and liveliness that will never fade.

Jazz Night at the Bedlam Bar
8x6 oil/panel 2003

Collection of Robert Eringer

Surreal Bounce, 2003

For more >Motional Blur, see the Surreal Bounce Blog:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Geyser Licked June 10, 2010

Who could pass up an opportunity for a great story. I am linking this to my friend and patron Robert Eringer's Surreal Bounce Blog.

This photo shows me working in plein air in Geyser, Iceland, in 15 degree weather. I'd driven out to "Geyser" to paint the "Geyser" under the full moon. The Geyser would erupt every five minutes so it was relatively consistent and that made my job easier.

Also, because of the Northern Latitude the moon never set. It was up and full 24 hours a day. So the Moon was easy to capture. The only real challenge was that it was so cold that I had to add extra linseed oil to my paints in order to keep their viscosity.

Everything had been going along just fine throughout the painting, until the wind shifted. All of a sudden, the I found I was being sprayed by hot steamy water. Because I was so cold, the water instantly froze on my person, painting, palette, pride...

I still managed a smile.

Photo Credit
Erik (the Red) Russel

Thursday, June 17, 2010

All Through the Night. June 14, 2010

I have a friend in the world who is a sultry country western singer who produce her latest album early this year. Her name is Annie Dahlgren. Most of the themes to her songs were dark and gritty, and she wanted to have my paintings grace her cover!!

She had contacted me last year to paint a portrait of Josh Townsend; the Green Beret from Solvang who mysteriously died in Afganistan

She chose from my archives, ten or so of my plein air nocturnes to use in the CD entitled, "All Through the Night".

This painting was from my first solo museum exhibition in 2004 at the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard. It is of an old bus I found one night in the back roads of La Conchita California. When I saw it, it looked like an alien face, or a hockey mask.
It was so odd that I had to capture it.

One year after I painted this painting there was a tremendous landslide in the distance where the last two street lights are seen. They, along with about fourteen residents from La Conchita, perished in the slide.

Now the face on the Back of the Bus looks morose.

Coming events cast their shadows?

Back of the Bus Nocturne
28x28 oil/canvas 2003

Collection of Ann Sanders and Gerry Winnet.

Meridian Blue June 13, 2010

One never knows where or when the Universe will shower it's grace. When I paint a painting; when the painting is finished, framed, and (hopefully) sold, it takes on a life of its own. It has its day in the sun so to speak, immediately, or in time, or maybe never.

In the case of this painting, I painted it in the mid 1990's, en plein air, across the street from my house in Carpinteria. It depicts the full moon setting over Santa Barbara, and the tree is one of the trees my brothers and I use to climb in our youth.

My friend and fellow Artist, Loren Grean, contacted me after producing her musical album, "Meridian Blue". She wanted to have one of my paintings grace the cover.

Loren is a master at Celtic Harp, and writes all of her own music. After searching my entire slide inventory, she found this one painting, which to her spoke to the color expressed in the title.

I obliged. Now my painting is being seen by greater and greater numbers of the public via the internet, or in record stores. I know not its affect on each and every individual who may see it, but I am happy to know that at least one person may be influenced by my art, in some way, some day.

However, I must detach myself from this possibility as well.

Moon Over Santa Barbara
30x30 oil/canvas 1996

Private Collection

Moonset, Dawn's Early Light. June 12, 2010

I don't know why they call it the corn moon but the Moon set in May looks nothing like an ear of corn. It may resemble it's color...but...

(I know it's probably because it was high time to plant corn for the fall).

This was the last of five sketches I produced one morning down the street from my house. It was a productive morning indeed, but when you have a beautiful setting in your back yard, such as Carpinteria Beach, one can hardly go wrong; especially when there is a big beautiful moon as a guiding light.

Moonset, Dawns Early Light
8x8 oil/canvas 2010

Collection of the artist

Lesson on Perspective June 9, 2010

What a great day to be at the Mission in Santa Barbara.

Today's demonstration dealt with drawing in perspective; both one and two point.

After toning the canvas, the drawing begins. I started with seeing the parameters of the format (in this case, 22x28). I began by drawing the contour lines of the fountain, then moved to a perimeter outline of the cupolas of the church to make sure my relationships would allow them to fit on the page. (often times the top of the cupolas don't quite make it on the canvas).

Next comes all the lines in contour moving to two vanishing points on the horizon line. While I am drawing these in I am relating the shapes and angles and negative spaces to my original lines of the fountain.

I use my brush as a tool, to measure the angles, and distances of each line and/or intersection of shapes/points, etc. to all other angles, lines, shapes and points. Every mark has relevance.

Drawing this mission is itself a master class. A trained eye can tell which lines may or may not be off in relationship. It is unforgiving, which is why I choose to depict it as a subject. However I notice many of my students fall away from this particular class cause it is a monster to take on.

From this toned drawing, I will work in a limited palette and produce a mellow, antique feeling to the painting.

I won't be afraid to ruin it, so chances of survival are pretty high.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Art for Art's Sake June 8, 2010

I recommend to my students they should not focus on making money as an artist; although making money is fine, the intention behind creating their art should be pure. They need to strike a balance. Create both art for arts sake, and art for commerce sake.

They should paint and hope to sell, not merely paint to sell.

This was a little 9x12 oil painting I painted up at Ray Strong's Birthday celebration in 2009. It is on the top of East Camino Cielo. We'd gone to paint and celebrate Ray's life (Most OAK Group artists were present), and the brilliant day was soon fogged in.

I only had so much time to paint, so I quickly made a decision to paint a section of the mountain road, meandering behind Montecito Peak. The fog was looming like a monster; billowing up and over the ridge, allowing the sun to filter in only now and then.

It is a somber painting, but it says, "California Landscape" for sure. I never though I would sell it because it is so unusual a composition. None the less, it did sell to a very fine architect in town, and it looks great on his wall.

I guess in this case my art for art's sake blended to become my art for commerce sake.

I have no complaints.

Looming Fog, E. Camino Cielo.
9x12 oil/board 2009

Private collection

Friday, June 11, 2010

Moon Over the Moor, June 7, 2010

In 2004, I was granted my first solo museum exhibition at the Carnegie Art Museum, Oxnard, California.

As part of the exhibition I performed a slide presentation on the history of nocturne painting. After the show, while the lights were off I turned on my book lights and headlamp, and spent approximately forty minutes demonstrating the night painting techniques I use to paint out on location.

This painting, was purely from imagination: I designed it, first, from a small sketch. I gave the composition a low horizon line, showing the moonlit road (lead line) sweeping up to some Irish type cottages.

I left a few lights on in the structures to give it a sense that somebody may be home. (A human touch sometimes adds warmth and mystery to a painting). However I didn't want too many ambient light sources denoted, for they would distract from the painting's main focal point; the moon.

I began with a green under painting, which, when mixed with the cool blue gray tones of the night, offered an interesting contrast. It is an overall cool painting.

I am still intrigued by this painting; It gives me this desire to visit and paint in Ireland some day; to not only paint, but Howl at the Moon...

Walking Amongst Masters, June 6,2010

When I went back to school to get my Master in Arts Degree in 1997, I sought out my teachers. I found a book in an art store by the contemporary master artist, Harry Carmean, who's proficiency and skill with line and form have astounded many art officianatos.

Fast forward to last night at the four seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara; the Bottoms Gallery hosted a one night salon, exhibiting the artwork of Harry Carmean, for one evening.

Walking in to the salon I was very still, taking in the beauty before me. All the paintings were hung and lit well, and framed nicely. What a treat; to be in the presence of such masterworks, of an artist I'd only heard about, and studied, years before. There's nothing like the real deal.

As the evening went on I introduced myself to Harry, who was conversing with another contemporary Master Artist, James "Bud" Bottoms. (I show my work at Bud Bottom's Son Joseph's gallery)

This was just a brief orbit of us three artists. I was all ears as Harry and Bud shared their WWII stories: Harry was in the 2Nd Wave of U.S. forces on Omaha Beach, firing anti-aircraft, Bud operated radar on TBF's in the Pacific.

The rest of the evening was spent in dialog on art and masters of the past. The flow was extraordinary; always placing things in context. I feel it could have gone on all through the night.

I left there, feeling grateful, and appreciative for that which is to come.


"Harry Makes a Point"
Left to Right: Harry Carmean, Myself, James "Bud" Bottoms

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Night Shift. June 5, 2010

Just spent this last week finishing, framing, and hanging my paintings at the Santa Barbara Tennis Club. It is a group show called, "Night Shift". I am exhibiting my plein air (open air) nocturnes along with fellow noctural painters Cyndi Burt, Filberto Lomeli, Doreen White, and Paul Cumes.

The show is up, it looks good. Come to the opening if you can on Friday June 11 from 530 to 730. The show will be up until July 6, 2010.

I'm pleased to say I have sold two of the four paintings sold thus far, in the pre sale hours before the event.

This is one of my paintings sold, and it is a fine thing to know people are willing to buy art in this Economy.

It is a great neighborhood in which to exhibit.

Moonset, Carpinteria Bluffs
6x9, oil/canvas, 2010
Private collection

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Casa Dahlias, June 4, 2010

Been kinda scattered these days with Graduations et el.

But no mind, when it gets like that it's important to enjoy the simple things in life, like fresh cut flowers. Ah, simple pleasures.

These flowers were cut and placed in the beautifully designed home by Master Architect George Washington Smith, called, the Casa del Herrero, in Montecito California. I painted this still-life for a fund raising event to benefit the Casa del Herrero, in 2008.

Its nice to paint flowers. I view it is an artist's way of honoring and immortalizing their lightness- in their beauteous prime.

--Thoust wilt capture them before they wilt!

Ironically, in the end, their death was worth it.

Casa Dahlias
12x9 oil/board 2008

Private Collection

Saturday, June 5, 2010

East Beach, Windy day. June 3, 2010

In the likes of Eugene Boudin, I painted this painting as a demonstration, for my Summer class 2007. The first day of class is always a challenge as there are sometimes up to forty students crowded around watching the demo, asking questions throughout the process.

My Thoughts during the painting:

I am stimulated mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally as I figuratively dance with a brush in my hand; coming up with answers to my students' questions. I try to remain focused, adhering to my original motif; hoping I don't screw up the painting.

Most of the time I am lucky to get a good start, but finishing is another story. That may take weeks, or years to do depending upon many variables. Every painting will hopefully find a home some day.

If I don't sell a painting, I look at it as an opportunity to improve it until it does sell. I paint and hope to sell, not paint to sell. This way I stay pure to my craft.

This painting did sell, eventually, and to whom I know not.

It's all about detachment, through and through.

East Beach, Windy Day
12x16 oil 2007

Private collection

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Angels Flight. June 2, 2010

June Gloom has arrived here in Santa Barbara, and it seems like the entire day is Gray with no change in temperature; I might as well be living in Denmark!

As a pilot, I remember days when the clouds were so low I couldn't fly under Visual Flight Rules (VFR Conditions), however with the aid of an instructor I could get a 'special' to, "get on top" of the clouds to fly around. It always seemed like I'd arrived in heaven when I eventually broke through the cloud cover.

Twelve years ago, when I was in the midst of getting my Master's Degree in Art, the Moon was coming up full, and I needed to capture it, or try to anyway. But the clouds were low and in the way. Then I got the idea to try and drive up to E. Camino Cielo, (3000ft. agl) and paint the effect of moonlight above the clouds.

Up on the top of La Cumbre Peak, I set up to paint this painting. It took me almost four hours to complete, then another eight hours glazing it in my studio. During this time I was amazed to witness the thinning of the ocean of fog over the city of Goleta. As the fog would thin, the light would come bubbling up like a glowing soup in a cauldron.

With the Green underpainting tone of the canvas, and blues of the moonlight cast upon the clouds and mountains, it truly gave me the inspiration of what it may be like to be an angel; above the fray, free to play.

Angel's Flight
22"x44", oil/canvas 1998
Private Collection

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Everything's Coming Up Roses. June 1, 2010

I tell my students: it's not what the rose looks like, it's what it smells like.

This gets them considering their subject in a multidimensional way, which, hopefully will translate on to canvas.

Warms and Cools juxtaposed will give greater vibration than complimentary colors adjacent to each other.

I am still trying to evoke an emotional response from my viewers. If I can do that, I know what I have expressed has been clearly communicated.

Summer Roses
11x14 oil/board 2010

Collection of the Artist

Monday, May 31, 2010

They Gathered at Sunrise. May 30, 2010

Skip forward five years.

I taught an oil painting workshop out in the Owens Valley in 2008, in the granite rocks configured near the town of Lone Pine, called the, "Alabama Hills". They are amongst the oldest in North America.

Time stands still out there in the vast solitude of the valley.

Now, I don't claim to believe in anthropomorphism but these rocks are alive. They move, they talk. They have seen so much change since the dawn of time, and stand still like Stonehenge.

On this particular morning, I painted them while they seemed to be gazing into the morning sunrise; huddled together like a family, in awe of the life they were witnessing.

I don't think they noticed they were being observed by my watchful eye, and if they did, they maid me no mind.

"They Gathered at Sunrise"
6x10, oil

Collection of Gerry Winett, and Ann Sanders

A Rosie Day. May 31, 2010

Spent a wonderful day teaching the art of painting en plein air (on location) at the Santa Barbara Rose Garden. I have a great class of adults, many of whom I have taught for close to ten years now.

Today's lesson was about how to paint flowers, and warm/cool contrasts. The demo took about an hour and 15 minutes.

My best friend Bella is seen in the upper left of the photo, waiting on gopher.

This was a rewarding day.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

They Gathered ar Sunset. May 29, 2010

Ah, Tombstones at sunset. Such ironic solace.

Back from France, staying with Eringer's family in St. John's Wood, London. I had just enough time to squeeze out this painting before the sun set on us all.

They Gathered at Sunset.
10x8 oil/panel 2003
Collection of Mary Henson

Friday, May 28, 2010

Time for Toombstones. St. John's Wood. May 28, 2010

Tombstones as still life.

My thoughts: now...don't move! Spirits laughing and asking me questions... Please, I need to concentrate.

Silence, again. (they were very cooperative that day).

St. Johns Wood, London, 2003

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Starry Night Painter. May 27, 2010

Here's my homage to Van Gogh.

Even though he wasn't allowed outside the walls of the Asylum at night, nor allowed to paint with candles during his internment, I chose to picture him from my experience; painting freely, his fascination of the nocturnal world.

I guess you could say we became kindred spirits of sorts.

I have one or two more paintings of him as a subject which I would like to do some day when I become a better, more mature artist. Until then, I will keep communing with the past masters, and listening to the silence.

"Starry Night Painter"
22x18 oil/canvas

Collection of Mary Henson