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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Past-the-Mortini; Feb 11, 2010

The First Thursday event in the La Arcada Courtyard was an amusing event. There were more people stopping by to ogle the image this night, than last month's First Thursday. In fact there was more of everything; more people, more flags, more lights, more art officianatos, as well as more influence of a great martini called the, "Marquee".

This painting evolved loosely and abstractly; reminiscent of the CLUB NASA painting I'd done in Iceland back in 2002. I used a lot of paint, and did my best to let the painting paint itself; paint in the 4th dimension. It took approximately one hour to paint.

I wasn't interested in depicting historical accuracy, but rather just painting this particular night; celebrating art in mid-winter, Santa Barbara.

As is anytime I am painting in public, this was an exercise in detachment. What you are seeing is the painting, unfinished, in it's dynamic alla-prima state; it's important to expose the audience to the unrealized, raw, imperfections of an immediate sketch, so they can appreciate the freshness of a new born work or art...and artists' process.

Past-the-Mortini 8x10, oil/canvas 2010
Painting subject to prior sale

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Twilight Zone; Feb. 13, 2010

The painting is finished, and framed, and exhibited. It is now stored in my studio; out of sight, out of mind. This painting can now take on a life of it's own; and now you know the story of what it took to produce, "The Twilight Zone".

Btw: Paul and I are friends, (again), and that is a good thing.

The Twilight Zone
33"x70" oil, 2010
Painting Subject to prior sale

Late Night in the Twilight Zone Feb. 12, 2010

When I was given the opportunity to produce my first one man solo museum exhibition in 2005 at the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard California, I set out to create a series of original oil paintings just for this event.

I remember painting approximately twenty paintings for this exhibition, and this is the largest image I've ever painted on location; 33"x70". I took my studio easel on location to an area in Ventura known as the twilight zone. (Hill Street). It took two four hour sittings, before I felt comfortable enough to finish the painting in the studio. During the painting I witnessed vagrants, prostitution, homeless, patrolling police, and gang members making their way to their next graffiti party.

One of the two painting secessions I was accompanied by artist Paul Cumes. He was set up on the other side of the tracks. A train was approaching from the distance, (to the right). I decided to take a break because it was a VERY slow train. So I crossed over the tracks to talk to Paul. Well, the train came, and even though it originally was a slow train, it picked up speed...

By the end of the train it was traveling approximately 45 MPH. When the train eventually passed I noticed My easel, painting, and palette, were face down on the dirt. My glass palette was broken, and paint was plastered all over the back of the canvas, and stretcher bars. Fortunately there were no holes in the canvas and I was able to save the painting.

A major part in the roll of being an artist is knowing how to fix things. Not only how to discriminate what is wrong with the painting but how to fix it so it is a complete work of art. Also, to stay open to subjective criticism.

I went through a lot to produce this painting; (including a brief falling out with my friend Paul), that surreality of the location became a part of the painting's title.
It was the twilight zone, and I witnessed the coming and going of a variety of... people, throughout the night.

I couldn't wait to get out of there...

Artist's Studio; Feb. 16, 2010

This is an old photo of me in front of my Studio in Santa Barbra, in the Old International Dairy. Built in the late 1800's the Cattle would graze all day up on the Mesa, then be brought down to this Dairy to be milked. Chad's restaurant was the farm house for the Dairy.

In 1944, a B-24 Liberator went missing near Santa Barbara. (It had crashed up in the mountains near Santa Ynez). A second B-24, with full crew, was sent up as a search plane. It too disappeared, not to be heard from again.

Decades later a wreck site was discovered in the ocean off Santa Rosa Island. It turns out that this was the wreckage of the search plane. There was a crash report filed and what was deduced was this second plane (the search plane) was in low clouds off Santa Rosa Island, when it hit the steep cliff on the south side of the island, and disintegrated. Aside from the engines found by divers, this propeller is one of the archaeological remains from the crash site.

I was borrowing it from the Santa Cruz Island foundation,(who exhibit it as a lawn ornament) to take down and display at the Commemorative Air Force Museum, in Camarillo CA. It was there for a few months, next to the painted star on a aluminum skin off the wreckage of the original B-24 this plane was sent out to find.

Strange timing; fate and tragedy through and through.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Betty Lee: Feb 9, 2010

Betty Lee Tucker. Feb. 9, 1925.

This picture showed up this last Christmas '09. It depicts my Mom and my Dad in late 1944-45 just as the great WWII was drawing to a close. My Dad had come in to San Pedro on his last ship, the S.S. Mission San Diego, and had taken leave to visit my Mom, living on Alexandria Street in Hollywood California. Lt. jg. Jimmy Stein was 22, Betty was 20 at the time of this photo.

He'd been at sea for 6 months straight, returning from the war in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf, and Madagascar.

She'd been doing the best she could to cope with the loss of her brother, Bill Tucker, and Fiancee' Bob Ketron. Both were best of friends, both pilots, both killed in flying accidents twenty days apart. During the war, Betty lost 7 close guy friends, all pilots.

Betty was a tough catch. Much sought after for dating; she was always 'booked' when my Dad came into port. I think this was the one date he'd reserved 6 months in advance to get. Little did they know then they would start and raise a family of five boys, and a monkey! Who would have known they'd be married for almost 64 years now!

They shot us all from the same bow, and me; the youngest boy? They have supported me to follow my bliss as an artist. I put them through hell (with all my accidents) while I was growing up. They put me through college in order to refine my artistic vision and skills.

I do pay homage to both my parents for the genetic lineage they've given me. The lineage of unlimited possibility.

Happy 85th Birthday Mom.



Garden Street Crossing; Feb. 10, 2010

Wednesday is class day. I've been teaching for eighteen years now, and I am constantly on the search for new painting inspirations, and places I can take my class, to teach them how to see light.

I chose this location for a number of reasons; I liked the light falling in the distance. It gave me a certain nostalgic feeling when I looked at it as very little has changed to this particular view over the decades. It was easy access for my adult ed students, and it was a great way to teach them the value of painting in One Point Perspective. Also, as a plein-air painter, it was a way to challenge my students to see the beauty in the ordinary, and often overlooked mundane landscape.

I was surrounded by around twenty students all set up near the railroad tracks. Only one train came by during the class, but that was enough for someone to phone the police, who also showed up and warned us to get away from the tracks, or..or...!

(We were fine, however, I understood they're concern, and I obliged them in their request). Believe me, I would never put one of my students in harms way.

When the painting was nearly completed, I had one of my students walk out into the distance to model for me. This was my 'dash of red'. Adding a figure to a landscape painting can make the painting more interesting to view; it brings a human element to the expression, and gives it a certain nostalgic appeal.

Garden Street Crossing
18"x16" oil/canvas 2008
Painting subject to prior sale

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Over Under and Through Feb. 8, 2010

This is the painting I showed in yesterday's blog. I liked the angles and diagonals. What an interesting place to witness the darker side of life. It's fairly desolate here, except for the runnings of the freight trains which pass through from time to time. The only other thing of note is there was a strip club just down the street to the right.

Imagine the variety of things that go bump in the night!

Urban Nocturnes Feb. 7, 2010

In 2004 I won the Director's Choice Award for the Carnegie Art Museum's Open Invitational Art Exhibition (Oxnard, California). I'd won it with an image which I'd painted toward my master's thesis which was of Four Oil Tanks at night. Because I won the award, it allowed me to paint paintings, all of that genre, for my first solo museum exhibition in 2005.

One of the locations I explored was Vernon, Ca.. I traveled there to visit my friend and artist Ray Sutton who lived in his art studio, in a bohemian art colony. I would drive down to his place, then we'd venture outside the safe gated compound to seek my motif... I'd paint, then drive back up to Santa Barbara. Not much sleep going on.

This photo gives an example of the locations I would be willing to go to in order to create my plein-air nocturnes. Fortunately for me when the trains would pass by I wasn't too close; but just close enough.

In this photo one can see Ray, and myself with my headlamp shining. The painting is titled, "Over Under and Through"; and was 30x30 in size, painted in oils. I spent a total of about six hours painting on location, on two different occasions, then another 15 hours or so finishing it in my studio.

It's a lot of work hustling all the gear about; just to capture the light; but there's nothing better than realizing the truth of what one sees with his own eyes, rather than take photos and let Kodak be an integral part of my painting process.

When the Police Helicopters are flying overhead, circling around and looking for crimes in progress, one knows he's in a dark neighborhood, and it's best not to paint solo.