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Friday, June 10, 2011

Nocturnes: Filippo Brunelleschi, a lesson on Perspective June 11, 2011

A Sleeping Metrolink, Ventura California:

End of the line for the North Bound Metrolink Trains.

Lurking around for a motif I spied this slumbering monster by the side of the road. I grabbed my gear and set up to paint.

The composition: the primary focal point is the Beast-like engine which is seen in Two Point Perspective. The strong secondary focal point is dead ahead on the dirt road.

Sodium Vapor Lights
add their amber-like ambiance to the scene. I decided to tilt the Horizon Line slightly, in order to give the painting a more dynamic quality. (I stole this technique from watching the cinematography of the old Batman and Robin T.V. Show).

While painting, I observed the cleaning crews driving down the lane, moving from train car to train car. The two red lights in the cab of the forward engine looked to me like demonic eyes; like something out of the Amityville Horror.

There I was, all alone, painting away. Then some schizophrenic irate man came up behind me and started screaming, saying, "YOU CANNOT STAND THERE!!" over and over again at the top of his lungs. I guess this small, empty parking lot where I was standing, was private property, and even though it was 11:30 pm and no creatures were stirring, this was his world, and he was in charge).

After recovering from my near fatal heart stoppage. I calmly and quietly moved my easel, palette, and my being, off the end of the parking lot and on to the dirt adjacent the railroad tracks--a total distance of about six feet! It was edgy, again.

One must choose their battles, and motifs, wisely!

Sleeping Metrolink
22x28 oil/canvas
collection of the artist

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Exploring Color Mixing: June 8, 2010

Claude Monet use to say, Light changes in 20 minutes. So, I gave myself 20 minutes to demonstrate a quick oil painting of this flower still life, for my "Exploring Color" Class. This is an example of Alla Prima painting.

It's quite small, but dynamite sometimes comes in small packages!

Vase of Flowers
4"x2" oil/panel 2011
collection of the artist.

The Art of War, Sun Tzu: June 7, 2011

There is a Native American Proverb: "When you go, leave nothing behind you but your footprints." Even though the Great Invasion took place over six decades earlier, many footprints remain.

During the Spring of 1986 while I was on an around-the-world solo back packing trip, I traveled to Normandy, France. I wanted to walk the length of the Normandy Beaches site of the Longest Day.

After staying in a youth hostel next to a British War Cemetery, and viewing the Bayeux Tapestry, I caught the bus to Port en Bessin, where I began my walk along the beach toward Omaha Beach. It seemed a long jaunt (4 miles) with a 60 pound back pack, below the cliffs. It was low tide, and the reef-like rocks exposed many tide pools.

I thought to myself; this is a battleground, and this is where young men put their lives on the line, and payed dearly with their youth, and life, so I could walk there as a free man, that day.

There were ghosts. One could still see some remnants; like the Mulberries (Artificial Concrete Harbors) off shore. I could see the signs where heavy machinery, probably tanks, (Tank you, Leonardo da Vinci), which had crushed the rocks, scarring the Earth beneath their treads. Their "Footprints" made it easier to imagine just what had happened there; the turmoil, the pathos, the horrors of war. It felt like I'd entered some strange dimension, like I'd been there before- as a witness.

I was feeling the vibes.

Walking along I came across a tide pool. In the middle of the pool I saw an upwelling of water surging upward. Kneeling down, I tasted it and was amazed to find it was fresh water. Then, I looked deeper into in the bottom of the tide pool. I saw this brown object laying there. I reached down, into the pool and picked up this rusted-out 40 millimeter warhead.

I was STOKED!! This was my first and only Battlefield find. It weighed about four pounds and was rusted out, and hollow (which is a good thing). Only encrustations and barnacles were growing inside.

I carried this "Dud" into a pub in St. Mere Eglise and showed it to a French bar-keep, who scurried out of the room yelling, "Merde!" After her reaction, I made the decision to wrap it up in a sock and stow it back in my pack. I carried this relic on my back for the rest of my journey; throughout the Middle East, Far East and the land down under.

That night, I slept out on the bluffs of Colville Sur Mer overlooking Omaha Beach; hardly a trace of D-Day- the Longest Day remained. However, I knew out there underneath the waves, there is still more evidence to uncover if one were to dig a little deeper.

That's the artist's job, to dig deep; pay attention to detail, get to the configuration of his motif and manifest in his medium the deeper mood which moves him.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

D-Day June 6, 2011

67 years ago today, Operation Overlord began. The Great Crusade for the Liberation of Europe, undertaken by the Allied forces under the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and France. It was the day the dark side of Fascism, covering the Earth, began to crack.

These are three Flags of my Father's which he collected during World War II. when shipping supplies around the world on T-2, and Mission Tankers in the a United States Merchant Marine.

On the left is the flag flown by an armored unit of the Free French; it is the Cross de Lorraine, and the symbol of the Free French Forces led by Charles de Gaulle. My father said he obtained it in a trade with a French sailor who had sailed in to the Port of Toamasina, Madagascar, on a French cruiser.

I flew this flag when I showed my artwork at the Santa Barbara French Festival, turning many heads, and evoking nostalgia; mostly by the French visitors who remembered their long ago hopes and prayers, answered almost 60 years ago this day. It even evoked a few tears. It is a powerful symbol; representing Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, a symbol which many sacrificed their lives for, so that future generations would remain free.

My philosophy: an artist's job is to produce; and when possible, that which is produced can educate the populace, about a subject which is long ago forgotten, and/or that which needs to be remembered.

When these flags are flown together, especially on the anniversary of D-Day, It's not important to me that everyone understands their significance; but, that there is wonderment.

I trust the seeds have been planted.

Nocturnes: Silver Light Nocturne June 5, 2011

Here on the American Riviera, not every night is balmy and clear. We get coastal fog, and scud, like any other location in California.

James McNeil Whistler use to call the foggy and overcast days in England, "Silvery Days". (Whatever it takes, I guess, to find light in the grays).

This is a painting on one of those gloomy nights when nothing exciting, like the moon, was out, but there were interesting patterns on the horizon just beyond the Andrea Clark Bird Sanctuary, in Santa Barbara.
The Brackish water looks cool and blue in comparison to the soft silvery opal color of the sky.

Mosquito repellent helped me get by.

Silver Light Nocturne
12x30 oil/canvas 1998
Private Collection