Saturday, January 30, 2010
Since it is the Full Wolf Moon, I shall continue with my Moon-Themed Madness.
This is an image I painted for the Bedlam Bar in Hampstead Heath, London, owned by my friend Robert Eringer [mystery be upon him]. The content of this painting says it all. It was originally painted on a 14x11 canvas, but someone slightly askew took a razor blade to it and sliced it up--for some unknown reason. It is now this new...shape...
Never, NEVER, give sharp objects to the mentally unstable! Anyway, Whenever the full moon comes around this is how I feel; I just want to HOWL!
The Bar/Restaurant Bedlam, named after the first mental hospital in England; the "Royal Bethlehem Hospital for the Mentally Insane". The Bedlam Bar was created to celebrate creativity and madness, with art and artists, music and tasty treats designed to bring out the avaunt guard and over the edge personalities so prevalent in English culture.
When it was in existence, the Bedlam Bar was a great place to stop and stay, in transition to our various odyssey destinations;like Iceland, Gheel, Belgium, Arles, Figuerez, and Sils Maria. It was like a quick trip to a mental institution; where you could be entertained by the inmates, (or become one yourself). Or just find the muse out on a whim. Amusing lunacy.
"Every Night was a Full Moon at the Bedlam Bar".
Friday, January 29, 2010
Iceland was cold and dark; perfect place to paint if you are a nocturnist.
I went to paint the purity of the night sky back in the Winter of 2001 with Robert Eringer, (my patron), and buddies Floater and Erik the Red. We went for the Feast of Thorrablot, in celebration of the darkest time of the year.
The most incredible thing I witnessed is that the moon never set! It was full, and in the sky 24 hours a day!
After painting the Aurora Borialis, (northern lights), outside in 10 degree weather there was a general consensus I must be mad. The conversation turned to other artists in history known for painting night paintings, and of course Van Gogh came up. We talked about his madness which landed him in a mental hospital, and the question was posed to our driver, "Are there any mental institutions in Iceland?". Kristjan, our driver, took us on a trip to the "Kleppskaft", or "House by the Blue Bay". Kristjan was kinda shocked to be taking us to the Klep, but even more shocked when I asked him to take me their to paint!
He dropped me off outside the Mental institution where I painted my first mad house, on the frozen lawn. The painting took about thirty minutes to paint. I'd added extra linseed oil to my paints so they wouldn't freeze.
So many creative people in history have been put away in Mental Hospitals, and there is much to respect about the edge defining creativity and madness. I began a search into creativity and madness with Eringer, and our Odyssey took us to various locations in Europe and America over seven years time. His travelogue about our Odyssey was titled, "Surreal Bounce". 32 of my paintings, our of 114 which I painted on these travels, illustrate the book.
There is a Utube video showing us celebrating the Launching of the book in March 2009, in Montecito, California. Along with this painting of the Klep, there are 82 paintings from the journey visible.
I had Patagonia accouterments to keep me warm and toasty on this subfreezing night. However I didn't have proper footwear and froze my toes.
Photo Credit: Eric Russel
Thursday, January 28, 2010
I taught a Nocturne Painting Workshop this last September, 2009, in Santa Barbara. This 10"x8" oil painting was done at sunset, as a warm-up demonstration for the Nocturnes that would come later on that evening. Some times it seems the elements aren't perfect for painting, but this evening they were exceptional! It was warm, balmy; perfect for painting out-of-doors. Almost everyone in the workshop produced successful works of art that evening and enthusiastically returned the following night for a second secession of the moon dance.
All in all it was classic Santa Barbara weather.
Moonrise over Montecito 10"x8", oil/canvas 2009
Paintings are subject to prior sale
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Wednesday Painting Class: Light and Shadow in Art. Theme: Architecture. (That's me in the Aussie Hat).
Why not have the class come down to Carpinteria and paint the house where I live, and where my two boys were born? It was a great experience to see so many variations on the theme of my home. It helps me to view the different perspectives on a part of my life which is so close to me and holds so many fond memories.
Originally, the house was the very 'first' Hotel in Carpinteria; called, "The Near Beach Hotel". It was built in 1925 by Grandpa Dorrance. In its history, it was a hotel, a Cat house, and inhabited by a bunch of hippies throughout the 1960's who aptly named it, "The Alamo".
My family took it over in 1974 and have worked to renovate it, (twice) since then. It's a great place to live with a view of the ocean, and passers by who are ambling up the street to the "Spot"; (a famous hamburger stand next door). Though it is a little noisy in the Summer months, and the train station is 50 meters away, the environment is rich for an artist's imagination.
One visitor commented that he felt it was a cross between Hemingway and Steinbeck...
It is definitely a landmark.
It's small, it's funky, and it's home.
Monday, January 25, 2010
This is why the two mile stretch of East Beach in Santa Barbara is called, "FOOLS ANCHORAGE".
Twelve boats were swept aground as a result of the tumultuous surf and wind swells of this last storm. Every year it happens, but this year wins the prize as far as quantity of sailboats beached.
My understanding is, they have three days to re-float the boats or salvage them. (What a shame). Fortunately, the boat I painted last year is still anchored a mile off shore,(It is visible on the horizon to the right). The owners of these two boats in my picture cut it way too close; they didn't seek a safe harbor.
It's high drama when a boat or ship runs aground; it becomes an event to behold.
I find it fascinating to see the hull's configuration- the part which is rarely seen by human eyes. I appreciate the beautiful workmanship; the ancient lore of marine architecture. All throughout history Man has built boats and ships and they do come on shore from time to time.
Today, I was a lookie loo; joining the ranks of on lookers, snapping photos. I didn't paint the scene (yet), however, I studied the shapes and designs of the beached vessels, gave a prayer, then moved on my way.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
This beautiful sail boat lay off shore of East Beach, Santa Barbara, in Fools Anchorage. (Tomorrow's Blog will tell you why it is known for that title)
One Wednesday afternoon in late Spring when I came to teach my class, I saw the boat moored in close, and I knew I would have to paint it. My inspiration was transformed into my class demonstration painting. About about twenty five or so students gathered to watch me paint.
I had to work quickly as the sun was setting and I was about to lose my light. What I was after was keeping the tones harmonious, and not too separate in both color intensity and value. I really enjoyed the cool colors of the hull in contrast with the warm colors of the atmospheric sky and muted gray blue of the ocean.
There is something romantic about the sea; sailboats and sailing ships. To me, these vessels represent freedom; to roam and explore at a moments notice. In my mind, many times, I've imagined the allure of a high seas adventure. On this particular afternoon, I dreamed this sail boat was my, "E-ticket."
Sloop Off Shore, 12"x 12" 2009 oil/board
Painting subject to prior sale
My father was a Merchant Marine in WWII. I remember him telling us some stories about when he would travel around the world in an Oil Tanker; going to places like the Persian Gulf, Ulithi, Townsville, Australia, Hawaii. It all sounded romantic and adventurous enough. But as I got older I dug a little deeper into his life and what he really did in the great World War II. I learned a few more details like; He achieved the rank of 2ND Mate, sailing on five T-2 "Mission Class" tankers during the war.
Yes, he traveled to exotic far off lands; but hardly ever in a convoy. They shipped out mostly as a lone tanker; because their payload was High Grade Aviation Fuel. If he were in a convoy while carrying this fuel, and they were torpedoed, chances are many other ships would also be destroyed due to the volatility of the high octane. So needless to say, for four years straight, he would be at sea, sometimes for six months, floating around on a time bomb, watching his youth pass before his eyes.
He didn't fight the war at the front, but was nearly torpedoed while serving in the Indian Ocean while supplying the Flying Tigers in Burma. He also survived the Great Typhoon of 1944 barely getting out of Ulithi; where he said it was, "all ships for themselves" to get out of the harbor, then encountering 100ft waves in the storm.
A few years ago I was watching Huell Howser's California's Gold. Huell was doing a special on the Ghost Fleet in Sui Sun Bay up near San Francisco. After gaining access to the ships of historic note Huell pointed out this one lone ship off in the distance. The cameraman panned across the bay to one lone Tanker resting at anchor. It was the "Mission Santa Ines"; the last surviving Mission Class T-2 tanker left in existence from WWII. When I saw this ship, I immediately called my brother, Jerry, in San Lorenzo, and convinced him to come with me to go see this ship.
A week later, I drove up to the Bay area from Santa Barbara, and together he and I drove to the little harbor at Martinez. It was early morning, and we met some man who just returned from fishing in his small fishing boat. I hired him for a price of $75.00 to take Jerry and me out to the Ghost fleet off shore. We spent two and a half hours putting around and roaming in and out of the rows of mothballed rust buckets; all once-proud vessels that served our nation gallantly during WWII and afterwards.
It was dawn, and breezy. We circled around the ship two or three times very slowly. I was excited to be viewing this relic from the past; in 3-D!! After snapping off a few rolls of film, we saw all we needed to see of the Mission Santa Ines, sitting all by herself, destitute, in the windswept brackish waters of the Bay. Her better days gone by, only the ship's log, wherever it is, recollects her journey. As I only had a few days left before my father's 80th birthday, I headed back home to SB and got to work on his birthday present.
This painting represents the last surviving Mission Class Tanker from WWII. Though it isn't one of the specific ships my father served on, it still represent the class of ship he sacrificed much of his youth, for in service to our country. I honor him for this.
Sadly, the latest word is this vessel is now doomed to be scraped for its steel. No one will ever see the likes of this kind of vessel ever again in the history of the world. It will now only be seen in movies, photographs, and paintings...
Happy Birthday Dad!
The Last Mission Tanker 12"x12" oil, 1998