Sunday, May 31, 2015

Behind the Flower Vase

I couldn't decide what to call this painting.  I thought about, "Beauty in Light and Dark."  I suppose it's a little creepy, but I wasn't intending anything scary.  I just brought forth the face I saw lurking behind the foreground   I could have stopped at the flowers, but it just seemed so boring...pretty, but boring. Besides, there's usually something lying behind pretty, no?  (Hmm.  I think I suddenly understand Miley Cyrus better.)  It's that murkiness that I find worth diving into. Anyway, don't be afraid, sweet ones.  I worked with water-mixable oil and oil pastel and scraped away layers then added more.  Took quite some time...

P.S. (June 2nd)  A friend of mine thought this looked scary and that she didn't understand art.  

Here were my thoughts back to her, which I suppose is how I look at art, in general:  "No worries. Either a piece speaks to you or it doesn't. (-:  With art, you may think, does it intrigue me?  Does it make you think of a possible story behind it?  It could be a young girl flirting with her boyfriend behind those flowers--see the little red lips?  In a way they look like they could be coyly smiling.  Maybe SHE is the one who is scared.  Or, maybe it could be a reminder that in all things, there is a light and a dark side (hmmm, sounds like Star Wars), life and death.  The juxtapostion sharpening the sweetness of those things that are good.  On the other hand, it could just be scary to you, in which case, you might like the next thing.  

Destino - Walt Disney & Salvador Dalí [1945 - 2003]

So artistically beautiful.  Filled with loveliness and gentle eeriness and gracefulness. Think that's an impossible combo?  Watch and you'll understand.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


Very happy with this one.  It's full of different mediums, but I like how the oil paint gives a luminous glow to her most of all.

8" x 10"
Oil, Acrylic, Oil Pastel on Paper

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Bubble Blowers

Late night bubble blowers appeared last night.  I was going to leave it with just one filled-in bubble, but after taking my bath around midnight, I poked my head in to check on my creation, and was so dissatisfied, I was possessed to work on it for almost another hour, fine-tuning the faces and working on those bubbles.  I kept thinking, you have to get up earlier than usual tomorrow...what are you doing?  I don't even try to fight it anymore...

Part Deux

First attempt just didn't cut it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Selfie - SOLD

Gave this fellow a burst of tangerine!  He started out quite a bit differently.  I wasn't sure where I was headed with the beginning, but I ended up with that wide-eyed, pursed-lip look you see in a lot of selfies. Maybe it emanated from my glancing through Rizzoli's new Kim Kardashian Selfish book over the weekend, although let's face it.  This dude falls far short in the glamour-puss department in comparison.  He better pick up that book!

Kim Kardashian Selfish cover from Rizzoli.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Man in Purple

Feeling possessed by the urge to draw...anything!  I'll go with it, because I'm also itching to delve into some pasty making.  Feeling the oscillation about to happen...

Man in Purple

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Under the Shade

Under the Shade

She thought she had pulled a shade down on her past, 
but sometimes a flickering mood would strike her, 
and she found herself thinking about him.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Happy birthday, Cher!

From Vogue Magazine's Tumblr

One of the original fearless rebels!

“Until you’re ready to look foolish, you’ll never have the possibility of being great.”

Photo: Harry Langdon / Getty Images


I thought about calling this "Elusive Z's" but it's always good to get straight to the point.

This portrait started as a sweet, little portrait I did about 3 years ago.  Ugh. So boring.  I'm so much happier with my deviant, high-strung man.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

B.B. King - Long Live the King - SOLD

Last night I saw a live performance by Andy Frasco.  At one point, Andy mentioned B. B. King's death, because, you know, all music lovers are mourning (my words, not his).  He said they would perform "The Thrill Is Gone" in his honor.  He paused for a split-second and I heard him say to the guitarist from Arkansas* (I was close) "Are you o.k. with that, we didn't rehearse it, it's A minor."  Well, the guitarist immediately shook his head back and forth--I imagined him thinking, of course I know it, I'm a blues guitarist and every blues guitarist must know it. He immediately launched into a beautiful version to honor the King of the Blues.  Both he and the drummer had met him before. The latter said that he was the nicest man he had ever met.

I saw B. B. King three times.  Once in college, once at Chicago's annual Blues Fest, and once at Eric Clapton's 2007 Crossroads Guitar Tour in Chicago (Bridgeview). He was so masterful and feeling when he bent those guitar notes.  I think Adam Gobnik (love that guy) from The New Yorker put it better than anyone else.  This nail-on-the-head description sums it up the best:
  •  ...But in an instant it was plain that no one made a guitar talk as B. B. King did, as an extension of his entire soul, and instrument of human expression.
  • ...The sound of King's guitar, no matter how often imitated--and, on the surface, as with Louis Armstrong's trumpet, it sounded obvious, all that single-note shimmering--remains one of the inimitable sound in American music.  It has a clipped, precise, syncopated, pin-striped-suit quality, not usually swooping or weeping or sliding.  His first thoughts came in small, neat sentences,  He would play a chorus in that way, then pause and play a complementary, related phrase with a more groaning intonation.   
  • ...The tension in his music--it was, in retrospect, I suppose, a play between a jazz ear and a blues hand, and even between the city and the country--paid off in a quality that I recognized at once that night...
Do yourself a favor and click HERE for Gobnik's full article, "B.B. King's Inimitable Sound."

I drew a younger B.B. below, studying in a video clip the way his facial expressions would mimic the guitar notes his fingers were bending.  I know I didn't do him justice...I just really feel upset about losing him.  I knew he was in failing health, but you know when you lose someone who's always been a part of your life...or musical life?  It feels like there's a blown-out hole in the beach ball form of planet Earth.  No one can ever replace such a loss.  

In the documentary, "B. B. King - Life of Riley," (if you have amazonPrime, it's running for free right now), Aaron Neville says, "Well, when you say Blues, you have to say B.B., no doubt." And Eric Clapton respectfully admits, "He's the master, he really is the grand master."  Now I think I'll have to cry some more.

"The Thrill Is Gone"

U2 and B. B. King "When Love Came to Town" from "Rattle and Hum"

Mark Fourth's YouTube clip from Eric Clapton's 2007 Crossroads Guitar Tour--so glad I was there to witness this in person.

B. B. said this was one of his best performances (at Chicago State Prison.)

B.B. changes guitar string mid-song at Farm Aid.  Captain Cool! I saw this, too!

I love the "Blank of Blank" series.  (Check on Jim Morrison on eating sometime.)  Anyway, here's a great one on B.B. I especially love his comment on getting compliments, taking them, but then going back to his room to practice some more.  And also when people bad talk you, it's o.k., because you just need to know yourself.  Both comments are a testament of hard work, dedication to craft, and focusing on your art, the reason why you're here, rather than what people think of you, good or bad.

Here's a beautiful tribute from Carlos Santana:

Chairman of the board is home !!
All the kings are celebrating
the gathering of the elegance and excellence
In the ocean of the blues kingdom

Freddie King 

Albert King

Saunders King

All and many more

In the King family

Are welcoming the one

That made the blues SUPREME


We offer you our total gratitude

Jimi Hendrix Stevie Ray

Otis Rush Magic Sam Buddy Guy
Eric Clapton Jeff Beck Jimmy Page
Michael Bloomfield Peter Green Javier Batiz
All of US and many more
We are your children disciples students followers
And lovers of your most beautiful notes
You showed us the way to the heart soul spirit
With every note you told stories of grace and beauty
Enjoy being in the fullness of our lord supreme
Enjoy the effulgent light that you are
GOD bless you and embrace you
¡¡El presidente de la junta está en casa!!
Todos los reyes están celebrando
la reunión de elegancia y excelencia
En el océano del reino del blues
Freddie King
Albert King
Saunders King
Todos y muchos más
de la familia King
Están dando la bienvenida al único
A quien hizo al blues SUPREMO
Te ofrecemos nuestra gratitud total
Jimi Hendrix Stevie Ray
Otis Rush Magic Sam Buddy Guy
Eric Clapton Jeff Beck Jimmy Page
Michael Bloomfield Peter Green Javier Batiz
Todos NOSOTROS y muchos más
Somos tus hijos, discípulos, estudiantes, seguidores
Y amantes de tus notas más hermosas
Tú nos has mostrado el camino al corazón, al alma, al espíritu
Con cada nota has contado historias de gracia y belleza
Disfruta estando en la plenitud de nuestro señor supremo
Disfruta la luz resplandeciente que eres
DIOS te bendiga y te acoja
(*I couldn't find that guitarist's name on A.F.'s website.)
Here's one more blues legend to check out, if you're still reading this far down:  Buddy Guy.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Peekaboo with a Wandering Eye - SOLD

Peekaboo with a wandering eye emerged over many days.  Most of the time my art will come to be right away, and other times, images just whisper to me.  Those drawings or paintings lay around for days or weeks or even a few months, although rarer.  They silently stare at me, and I stare back at them, and I'm not sure what they'll become.  Sometimes they tell me in a burst and other times they emerge slowly, bit by bit.  This critter was one of those creepers.  And I like its sweet creepiness.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Alone in The Blue

I want to be a morning person.  I really do.  But then I find myself up late and then later, a painting beginning to emerge.  And the night is midnight blue and a rain is falling softly, plopping drops into puddles outside my window.  My hand is pulled into movement and my mind is hypnotized by water, by quiet, by the sound of the brush, by a plaintive song playing.  That 5 o'clock rise is drifting further away...then again, I have this.

Alone in the Blue

Oliver Jeffers

Jeff Hamada of Booooooom reminds us of an enchanting clip on one of my (and it seems everyone's) favorite illustrators, Oliver Jeffers. It's a delightful piece, but I found an even more wonderful gift from something I had read about Jeffers a few years back. He moved from Ireland to Brooklyn, and in the piece he said that, "As far as becoming an illustrator is concerned, I made the decision out of college that I believed that I was good enough, and I went for it." He made the decision that he was good enough and he went for it. I read that and felt like I was struck by a bolt of lightening. Can you imagine if we applied those words to whatever it is we wanted in life? Let's all try it. Oh, and there's one more golden nugget from Jeffers that all artists need to remember as well. "If you really believe you are good enough, then you shouldn’t care what anyone else thinks about your work." That's right.

Oliver Jeffers Author Film 2013 from Oliver Jeffers on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Experimenting with the Bug

These probably would have turned out better if I had spent more time on them (busy, busy week for me), but I am still going to post.  All artful attempts should be honored, no? This is one of the assignments from France Belleville Van Stone's assignments in Sketchbook Skool.  The back view is with crosshatch and the loose and fast front view is with gouache and ink.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Bobby D - De Niro Times Two

Just caught the best part of the 1995 movie "Heat" tonight where Al Pacino (my fav of all time) and Robert De Niro sit at a diner having a deadly cat-and-mouse conversation.  I love when Al says, "Brother, you are going down."  Great, great movie.  Anyway, thought I'm pay homage to the current, aged Robert De Niro.  Thought about stopping just in the black and white version, but he has fairly red cheeks at times, and I wanted to capture that.

Just a few minutes of the restaurant conversation between Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in "Heat."