Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Through the Heart

I finished this small oil painting that I'm calling, "Through the Heart". It's another small wood panel painting, (4x6"). I've been in a poker frame of mind lately..My brother is a professional Poker player and was recently in The World Series of Poker tournament in Vegas this past July. He (O.K. a glimpse of the back of his head) was on ESPN Tuesday evening, he was playing poker at Ray Romano's table (from "Everybody Loves Raymond"). He's a phenomenal gamer and extremely competitive..perfectly wired to be great at Poker. I would lose my shirt...What am I saying...I chose to be an artist and lose my shirt at the easel instead. I don't think my brother or I would have it any other way.

I was told early on that if you want to be an artist, be prepared to have the life and blood sucked clean out of your heart and soul. ("Oh my God, relax dude, I just want to paint some cool pictures")...As dramatic as it is, there is probably some truth in this statement for anything that you put your heart and soul into. I swear my brother has a few more gray hairs in his head upon returning from the World Series of Poker.
Some days you get the Bear..and some days the bear gets you.

This painting is about the days when the bear gets you. I got an email from someone asking if there were visual religious references here..(A spike through the heart...stains that maybe suggest the shroud or Turin or dripping blood) hmmm, no, I don't think I'm that deep..honestly. I really do just want to paint some cool pictures. I liked the aged surface of the wood and the worn playing card. Weathered and tattered textures appeal to my interest in objects that suggest ambiguous narratives. Great fun to paint.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Highlights Hi-Five "Riddle Me" Illustration

I just finished another small assignment for Highlights Hi-Five magazine. This one will be in February 2009 issue I think. It will accompany some text that will challenge children to come up with riddles for things they find in my illustration.

I love working for this company, very professional and great fun.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Robert J. Foti (1959-Sept 11,2001)

This is a drawing from my sketchbook of Robert J. Foti. It's my way of taking some time to draw and reflect on the faces of the people who lost there lives on 9/11. Robert Foti was a firefighter with Ladder 7 and responded to the World Trade center on September 11, 2001. He perished in the collapse of the south tower, his remains have never been found. I didn't know him but have been reading some heart felt words about him from people who loved him dearly. I read that when Robert was 12 years old he saved a boy from drowning on Lake Hopatcong. It seems he was destined to devote his life to serving and helping others. He served so bravely and gave the ultimate sacrifice on 9/11. Robert J. Foti is in my thoughts today.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Muddy Cove Dory

"Muddy Cove Dory" (4x6") Oil on Wood.
I finished this small oil painting I'm calling "Muddy Cove Dory". I took a short drive along part of the Maine coast about two weeks ago, looking for something to paint and I almost got whip lash when I drove by this dory sitting in the mud in an Ogunquit, Maine cove. This is just the kind of imagery that excites me lately. The filth, the mud, the fog...sweet love.
I pulled the car over and glopped through the very wet and sticky mud out to this dory and immediately thought of a story that's haunted me for almost eight years. I watched a TV show that reenacted the real life tragedy of a young girl who died when her feet got stuck in some mud flats. She drowned when the water eventually returned to the cove where she was stuck. How horrifying. She was a newlywed. She and her husband were going across these mud flats in an ATV when it's rear wheels became trapped. They got out and tried to lift the wheels out, that's when she burrowed her own feet deep into the mud. The more she tried to loosen the grasp, the more it swallowed her. Her husband went for help as the water began to come into the cove ..emergency personnel arrived and tried all day to free her. They became more desperate as the water slowly rose. The emergency team almost became stuck themselves, it was a real nightmare. When the water rose to her chin they gave her a tube to put in her mouth and attempted to raise it out of the water like a snorkel. Her head eventually disappeared under water. This was Alaska. Even though it was summer, the water is frigid. The tube eventually popped up and eerily floated away. My God..The horror.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

"Blue & Red Oars" (6x4") Oil on Wood.
Just finished this small oil painting that I'm calling "Blue and Red Oars". The more I look at Andrew Wyeth's work, the more I discover and appreciate his affection for filthy surfaces. He tells the truth in his paintings, nothing saccharine sweet or hokey...instead, lots of filth and reality. Like it or not. Rembrandt did that too. Reality and truth were important to him and it shows in his work. In his early self-portrait etchings he knew he was ugly and portrayed himself with an almost humorous, self-deprecating acknowledgement. How can you not get on board with this kind of honest approach. I write this because I've discovered something about myself as an artist and art appreciator. The pictures that have always turned my head or paused my breath have been the ones that portray this honesty to some degree. I think it's why my subjects in my recent paintings are getting filthier surfaces. I didn't realize it until I scrolled through my blog. There is something really beautiful in filth.