Sunday, December 30, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

It's Wear a Plunger On Your Head Day!

oil on canvas, 2007

December 18th is traditionally Wear a Plunger On Your Head Day, a day that ex-bounty hunter Vern Halsey and his beloved Komodo Dragon, Felix, continue to celebrate almost entirely by themselves.
I've looked high and low, and while I've found several sources of documentation confirming this holiday's existence, nowhere have I found any explanation—and I'd settle for an implausible one—for said existence.

Nonetheless, there really is something inherently funny about plungers, something that goes beyond pure potty humor, something about their clumsy shape and
vaguely onomatopoetic appellation, coupled with the lack of romance to be found in their one true function.

For all the unsavory qualities of their calling, there is something friendly or at least
nonthreatening enough about a plunger that some ninny out there would not only suction one of those terra cotta hued babies to his noggin, but declare a day of solidarity with all other such ninnies.


Technically speaking... ahem...

A fruitful collaboration with St. John & Partners, a Jacksonville, FL, design firm, led to the creation of several full color illustrations for national nutritional product franchise Smoothie King’s 4th quarter promotional materials.

Owing to a new diet heavy on all natural fruit smoothies, holiday perennials Santa Claus, the Gingerbread Man, and a carrot-nosed snowman show off their virile new figures in an assortment of on-site banners, menus, and posters.

The final images were rendered in oils at various sizes, and delivered digitally for placement in their respective layouts.

The turnaround, from sketch to finish, was one week.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

It's National Scrapple Day!

oil on paper, 13" x 22".
brush, pen and ink, 7" x 5"

"Leo 'Pops' Spirodopolous, proprietor and short order cook of the Possum Poke Diner, prides himself on shaping his scrapple into reconstituted animal shapes, which are rendered nearly unrecognizable once cooked. This, however, no one ever mentions to him."

For those of you too far west to have enjoyed this mid-Atlantic treat, scrapple is a yummy gray loaf of finely ground, boiled pork scraps mixed with cornmeal, salt, and pepper. It is best served sliced and fried, and tastes like, well, scrapple. Not sausage, not bacon, not even chicken, but its own unique oeuvre of olfactory stimulation, an achievement not often attained by offal-based processed breakfast side orders. While not quite a delicacy, this oft-maligned regional artery stopper is lauded fervently by its many flanneled defenders, and its mention in even passing conversation is met consistently with fanatical praise or unbridled nose-crinkling disgust.

Even among its supporters, the dish is frequently described as an acquired taste. The chilly Saturday morning my dad first tried to acquaint his young children with it, none of us could be sure what to make of it, for its texture and flavor defied even our most imaginative expectations. It should be noted, too, that in spite of its seeming malleability, it does not take well to being modeled into cool shapes before frying, and believe me, we tried.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Three new paintings.

Boxing Day, 2007. oil on paper, 10"x10"

Dog on the ice, 2007. oil on paper, 22"x22"

The blushing bride, 2007. oil on paper, 10"x10"

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

You are certainly not my neighbor's cat.

pen and ink, 5in. x 7 in.

That is, the skittish gray tabby we set the trap for
whose green eyes glared out at me
from beneath my shamefully uncool minivan.
You are not that cat.
Yet you return again and again,
drawn by a fly specked can of sun-warmed tuna
and hunkering silently in the corner of the cage
chagrined by your greed and gullibility perhaps.
Your gray coat reminds me of the wily mane
donned by an old writing professor of mine,
while your tail at a glance
resembles some ancient, exotic root vegetable.
And finally my friend,
if it must be pointed out,
your smell—
your smell is not spectacular.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Flat File Fridays!

various sizes, gouache on paper

I think it was January of 2006. My brother was ice fishing with a mug of Irish whiskey, a little snowman at his feet, courtesy of his soon-to-be-wife, Erika. It was cold and gray out, and the ice on the lake, solid since Thanksgiving, was blanketed in crusty snow.

I had to keep taking my gloves on and off in the course of these two studies, and at some point concluded that getting the face to look like his would take more time than my bared digits could handle. The sky was getting dark fast. I'm pretty sure I had my own coffee mug of whiskey too, poured over two rocks that over the course of an hour never got any smaller.

January of 2006 sounds about right. Anyway, it was cold.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007

New Feature: Flat File Fridays!

watercolor and gouache on paper, 7.4" x 11.25"

From the dusty vaults...

This was painted in the Adirondacks, sometime around Summer '01, I think.

Frogs apparently make good models. People will pose, but they're always, like, "I have to go check the roast," or "I have to run out at quarter-of," or "Are you done with my nose? Can I move yet?" Frogs don't do none o' that.

After an hour, this handsome fellow still hadn't budged. No complaining about stiff joints or anything of the like. If he had an amphibian picnic to attend that afternoon, he gave indication of no such pressing engagement.

It could just be that he was a jerk, that the other frogs and newts never invited him anywhere. I'm not ruling that out, and as I've always gotten on pretty well with difficult social types I'm not sure I would have noticed. Still, he posed like a champ, and I'm posting this as a tribute to his princely virtues and resilience. I dearly hope he went on to live a long life and father thousands of patient, virtuous children.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

One of nine.

oil on canvas, 12"x18"

Busy week.

Those are good... the dog parlor sketch went through without a hitch, so here's the painting. I'll be finishing the last few from this series today and posting them soon.

But first, I think I'll have another cup of coffee.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Diner guys.

I love diners. Especially diners that supply crayons.

And to my son David—
I'm sorry I stole your crayons.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A fine whine.

oil on paper, 20x26. 2007

Back in March, I was asked to volunteer a piece for the 2008 National Public Radio calendar, under the theme of "what NPR means to me." Past calendars included art from Gary Kelley and Brad Holland. I was flattered.

Above is a view of my studio. Milling about or sharing their particular gifts and insights are a midwestern pig farmer, a (female) marine, a hyperventilating businessman, a jazz pianist, as well as the performance artist Marina Abramovic, whose feet dangle from the ceiling. Paris Hilton remains safely oustide. We don't let her in.

The whole thing didn't really go as planned. This isn't the painting as it appears in the NPR 2007-08 calendar, for a number of reasons that I probably shouldn't get into...talking shop can get tedious even when it doesn't involve whining tantrums.

A sketch.

pencil and gouache on toned paper, 2007

One of my constant fears as an illustrator is for the livelihood of a sketch that just won't go through.

As far as occupational hazards go, I could really do worse. Still, it's not rare that the one I've been looking forward to painting is the one left by the wayside. And when you're an illustrator, doing the piece anyway as one of those proverbial "good portfolio pieces" still just lands it in the flat file. Even a good one rarely transcends its intended function to become, well, plain ol' art.

So in celebration of these scribbled little seeds dreaming of fruition, here's a recent sketch for an educational job I'm working on, just in case I don't get a chance to finish it out. The scene finds us in a pet grooming parlor, two private detectives snooping about.

I have to say, I'm kinda fond of the preposterously poodle-haired proprietress...


oil on canvas, 12x16. 2007

I had the opportunity this past weekend to participate in a nifty art opening at the Wired Gallery in Bethlehem PA.

Although I've exhibited there before, I wasn't actually in the current show, which is dedicated to some really nice contemporary pop art. I was one of three artists set up in the midst of the crowd painting this young lady, who had borrowed her striking wardrobe from the racks of the nearby "POPMart" clothing and accoutrement store.

Lots of fun... Even the nice old lady who let me know that while the face was lovely, I'd "lost it" when it came to painting the lower leg area. "Mmm," I said. I'm never sure what the right response is at a moment like that, so I toasted her with my complementary mini-can of Budweiser. "You could be right."

And here I was worried about its flagrant aura of academia...

Kicking and Screaming Into the 21st Century

Those well acquainted with me are already aware of the trepidation with which I take on all things digital. It's only fair to tell you—you know, whoever you may be—that I wanted to be sure creating a blog wasn't akin to investment in an 8-track or Laserdisk player, or one of those fur-collared sheepskin jackets that all the thuggish boys had to have when I was in fifth grade.

So if someone out there in the ether will promise me, that now that I've finally emerged from my technophobic cocoon, that I'm not metaphorically putting a phone in my car that requires one of those boomerang shaped antennas on the trunk, well, I'll get on with it.