Wednesday, May 9, 2018

New Piece and Other Tragedies

Did a piece for the Spring Show, but didn't have time to photograph the finished version. This is a photo of the central part of it. I think it is the last of the leaf motif paintings. That horse has been beaten. There is a border of deep red leaves around the finished work and it is raised on a wood frame. It makes the work look better, but this gives you the gist of it.

When I arrived at school this morning there were two freshly killed Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks lying on the ground. They had crashed into the library windows, which are quite large and would have been indistinguishable from the sky for these unfortunate migrants. Such delicate beauty.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Veni, Vidi and then it may have won, but it was close.

Had the opportunity to go to Rome for a bit over break. While there I was able to overdose on churches, Roman sites, museums and cultural what-not. Pretty exhausting series of 12 hour days seeing as much as could be seen and appreciated without going into overload. A delicate balancing act. Too many amazing things...Bernini, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Raphael and a pleasant surprise  of Velazquez at the Doria Pamphilij and DaCortona at the Barberini. Christian churches and all of the included treasures, like catacombs, temples to Mithras and Baths turned sacred space. My favorite Roman sites were the ones that smelled of neglect...Augustus' Tomb and the Appian Way. Anyways, it was a welcome escape from Erie's endless winter.

Took a walk out the Appian Way on one of the last days as I was in need of some greenery. I can only spend so much time in a city before I need some detoxing. The Appian Way was a pretty interesting place to detox. I loved the fact that I could walk on those stones.

You can say a lot of things about the Romans good and bad, but these guys could build like nobody's business. Massive brick and marble structures are as common as crows on garbage night. It isn't always pretty, but it is not possible to ignore it. The brick business must have been a good business to be in.

This was a little treasure in the Roman Museum. Don't miss it. Livia's Dining Room. Apparently subterranean, to make it feel less oppressive the walls recreate a magic little garden almost as refreshing as a walk on the Appian Way, but certainly less strenuous.

Synchronized Track and Field...the next big thing for the Olympics. Screw the Half-pipe.

How I felt every evening when I retired to my local bar for a cold beer and some pizza.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

In Like A Lion

So March, which can usually be counted on to give us a break from the cold, snowy monotony of December, January and February, has failed miserably on that count. In fact it is being a bit of a douche bag. I biked to work on the morning of March 1 in 40 degree weather, road home in a steady rain and ten minutes in the door the rain turned to snow on the prow of a Nor'easter that was pounding the coast and 8 hours later we had 10 inches of snow and no power. The wind and weight of the snow took down trees all over town like a lumberjack on meth. 
This is a tree in my front yard bowing to the rising sun the morning after, followed by a picture of a thirty five foot long spar of a silver maple that snapped off of a giant tree in the back yard and pitched head down in the yard held up by some power lines. Spectacularly beautiful, this storm, but deadly for people along the coast of New England.
Since this storm we've had two more and we are really close to having over 200 inches of snow which beats the old record by quite a bit. Go big or go home I guess.

Finished a couple of paintings while waiting for the weather to break. On the train to Colmar this summer I was intrigued by this field of sloping yellows and this is what came out.  Homer could take a diagonal and turn any landscape into an adventure. Lessons learned or at least attempted. Two versions trying to work some bugs out...don't know if I did, but I do like the end result.

This version has been altered considerably since the photo was taken. 


Friday, February 16, 2018

The Weight of Winter

This year's version of Winter has been a bit relentless. Started early and we are now in mid-February and we have finally gotten a couple of days above freezing. There have been some sunny days, but they were the crystal-cold kind of days that make it hard to understand why the sun isn't doing its damn job...all show and no heat. We topped the record for snowfall a week or so ago and I'm pretty sure we will add a few more inches before the deal is done.

 I've been down to our beach a couple of times to see the ice up close and personal. I don't know if the lake has completely frozen over, but at least on our beach things are locked up, but in a way that suggests some dynamism.  Big plates of ice lie stacked and shuffled like decks of cards all along the shore.

 When you see these huge slabs of ice tossed around and jumbled up it gives you an additional sense of respect for those people who have tried to traverse the Arctic in attempts to get to the pole. Trying to sled, ski or walk any distance on these surfaces must have been grueling. The scale of the slabs in the Arctic and the disarray of the ice-scape must be on a much larger scale than our local version.

 In a totally unrelated train of thought. I finished a second piece, a pretty labor intensive work, derived from photos I took of the cathedral at Strasbourg. I did a smaller study earlier and with what I learned, I did a bit more elaborate version. Happy with the results. It was one of several works which made use of a lot of  different yellows. I needed to get away to something a little warmer than the blue-grey palette of daily life.

To add to the weight of winter, this week saw another horrific school shooting. And although a lot of factors go into the mix to get this result. The fact that in this country you can buy an assault weapon of the kind that was used is appalling. Children deserve better than this, but legislative cowardice is not likely to go away any time soon. And of course it would only be one small part of a bigger problem.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A First Winter Visit to the Beach

During the warm spell I finally made it down to the beach. The first time for the year. Despite the bitter cold of the first couple of weeks of January and the end of December, the lake remains open. Ice runs off the shore about 100 feet but even there it is shattered into plates. Below you can see a lovely little ice peninsula stretching out a ways, but as you can see it is calm and iceless out to the horizon.

The plates of ice that crowd the edge of the frozen dunes along the shore take on all kinds of shapes and sizes. It was worth the trip down just to see this. If there would have been a bit of surf the whole thing would become more dynamic, but it has its own charm at rest as well.

The eastern wall stretching out from the Stonewave has been largely obliterated and what remains is encased in ice for the time being and the embankment survive intact for now. In this light the wall looks pretty grim.

Two painting recently finished. The leaf piece is in a watercolor show at Mercyhurst U right now and the other is another wave experiment that didn't quite turn out the way I planned. I will try one more time.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Some Final Landscapes for the Year

Still in the Romantic Turner inspired landscape mode in the last two months..Hannibal Crossing the Alps, Slaveship, Burning of the Houses of Parliament etc. except its local versions. The top piece is our beach with one of its spectacular sunsets...3rd Best in the World proclaims a local T-Shirt. I like its humbleness...the t-shirt that is. The second piece is waves and ice dunes...Hannibal crossing the lake in a snow storm. The bottom piece is an homage to the late Riverside Inn. Lost tragically in a conflagration, but it went out with a bang not a whimper.
We've been hit by record snowfalls starting on Christmas Eve and still going today. I don't know the official tally, but it was over 50 inches the first two days and we've gotten another foot over the last two days. Quite beautiful right now in Erie.

Monday, September 25, 2017


Spent some time in France this summer going to see the Isenheim Altarpiece in Colmar, The Strasbourg Cathedral and the Moses Well and other works by Claus Sluter in Dijon. An amazing trip of art ogling. The wine wasn't bad either. Did a couple of pieces related to the trip including this watercolor of superimposed facades and walls of the cathedral. Turned out OK, I think I could do a more interesting work with what I learned but the thing was so labor intensive I'm hesitant to commit to it.

Working on the Beachwork this weekend. Actually went into the water which is still bearable at this time of the year thanks to an 8-day warm streak.