Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tom Waits

Tom Waits' voice.

Described by critic Daniel Durchholz as sounding "like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car."

Tom Waits is like that. You either like his style. Or not. But his music is one thing that I absolutely love: authentic. Rough. Gritty.


Here's one of my fave's. Enjoy it.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Woody Hayes

About a year ago a friend asked if I would do a painting of OSU coach Woody Hayes for her church's silent auction at the holidays. It took only about 20 seconds of a Google Image search to find this great shot. I loved the composition, side profile. I knew instantly that I could work with it. In fact, it's one of those pieces that came together so well that it almost painted itself. Maybe because it was for a benevolent cause. Who knows. Still, once done, I had it scanned and, with the help of a friend with a high-end printer at his business, had a short run of limited prints made. I matted the prints in a burgundy that plays off of the red "O" in his hat (which I like a lot). Profits went to The Open Table, the food pantry at the church I attend. I believe that I have a few prints left. If interested, just shoot me a note. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dizzy Gillespie

Dizzy Gillespie turned his life from knife-carrying roughneck to global citizen, and from alcohol to soul force. Perhaps Wynton Marsalis put it best, "His playing showcases the importance of intelligence. His rhythmic sophistication was unequaled. He was a master of harmony—and fascinated with studying it. He took in all the music of his youth—from Roy Eldridge to Duke Ellington—and developed a unique style built on complex rhythm and harmony balanced by wit. Dizzy was so quick-minded, he could create an endless flow of ideas at unusually fast tempo. Nobody had ever even considered playing a trumpet that way, let alone had actually tried. All the musicians respected him because, in addition to outplaying everyone, he knew so much and was so generous with that knowledge."

The painting I did is from a photo of someone else's work I greatly admire, photographer Herb Ritts (and whom I have also done a painting of in this blog). And below, Dizzy at his very best from a performance in 1965. Timeless and still brilliant.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dorothy Day

A young Dorothy Day embraced the counter culture, bohemian lifestyle of New York City in the 1920's. She was an open agnostic. Her clothes were all from second-hand shops. She valued her independence. And she felt that she needed no one.

Then in 1926, she gave birth to her daughter, Tamar. It caused a significant change inside Day - as someone now needed her. This led to a spiritual awakening and, eventually, starting what became The Catholic Worker movement. In a sense, this new found spirituality did not suppress her devotion to others. It ignited it.

An open anarchist and constant war protestor, Day continued to question authority and often made the church "uncomfortable." And yet, she took seriously Christ's command to be responsible for our neighbor; the individual on the street who was forgotten by society, the one lying on the park bench that we pass each day. She became a beacon to the poorest of the poor, setting up numerous establishments to help feed, clothe, and comfort the poor - the very basis of Christianity.

Devoted. Loving. Selfless. Compassionate. Peace-driven. And yes, wonderfully radical and liberal. Dorothy Day was all these.

Much like Jesus.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Johnny Cash

By 1968, Johnny Cash had already gained what most musicians can only dream of: fame, fortune and a seeming endless following of fans. But to Cash, his life was empty. According to friends, he claimed to have "tried every drug there was." His first marriage had failed. And he was terribly lonely. In the spring of that year, under the clouded influence of drugs, he went to Nackajack Cave in Marion County, Tennessee in an attempt to kill himself. As he descended deeper into the cave, trying to lose himself and "just die," he passed out on the floor. He said that he was exhausted and feeling at the end of his rope when he felt God's presence in his heart and managed to struggle out of the cave by following a faint light and slight breeze. To Cash, it was his own rebirth.

After that, this outlaw was still the "Man in Black." But he had a new focus, as well as appreciation of God. Now, he wore black "on behalf of the poor and hungry, on behalf of the prisoner who has long paid for his crime, and on behalf of those who have been betrayed by age or drugs."

You can almost close your eyes and hear his deep bass-baritone voice. It's wonderfully unmistakable. And even though he considered himself a "troubled Christian" to the day he died, I'd like to believe that that epiphany Cash had fortysome years ago in a cave in rural Tennessee might have been his biggest break of all. And if God has a voice that we can hear, I'd like to believe it sounds like that of Johnny Cash.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Art Loft Gallery Opening!

Now, let me start by saying that I HATE to be the center of attention. Really. So putting all my paintings on walls and inviting the world to come and see is like stripping naked, spraying myself with fluorescent orange paint, and running down a crowded street. Still, when Phyllis Catania, the spouse of one of my very best friends, asked me if I would like to exhibit my work at her gallery, the Art Loft, there was no way I could say no. And, truth be told, it was a great learning and growing experience for me. I liked it. In fact, I would love to do nothing but paint for the rest of my days. I'd live to be 120+ years old. Shouldn't we all find jobs we love so we never have to work another day?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Miles Davis

It's hard to describe this guy. The "nocturnal" quality of Davis's playing and his somber reputation, along with his whispering voice, earned him the lasting moniker of "prince of darkness", adding a patina of mystery to his public persona. But when he played he was pure genius. One of his earlier works, Round Midnight, is still one of my favorites. I added it below. Hearing it, it always smooths out my emotions. And on a side note, that's a young Herbie Hancock on the piano.


Monday, January 25, 2010

John Malkovich

I don't know much about John Malkovich other than what I have seen on the screen. In life, he's a relatively private individual. His father, Daniel Malkovich, was a state conservation director and publisher of Outdoor Illinois, a conservation magazine. While his mother, Joe Ann, owned the magazine. Because of his father's work, the Malkovich family is widely regarded as one of the founding families of the environmental movement in Illinois.

I saw this photograph of Malkovich and immediately liked it. It's full of character. And very different. And cool. Which seem to match the man himself. And at 22x28" it is one of the newer, larger palettes that I am starting to really enjoy. Painting now more than ever, I am in a "groove" and absolutely loving it. This has allowed me to notice an evolution in my work. Let me know if you notice it, too. As always, enjoy. And let me know what you think. Thanks.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Georgia O'Keeffe II

This painting marks a trio of new ventures for me.

I believe that Georgia O'Keeffe is the first person I've painted twice. See the first from 10.9.09 here. It's a younger Georgia from a photograph taken by her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, in 1932.

Also, at 24" by 30", this painting is one of the largest I've ever done. Many have suggested that I paint larger than my standard 20" by 24" palette. I really like the larger feel and effect!

Lastly, this painting marks the first time I am selling my work. Recently, I was invited to exhibit at a friend's gallery in March. Click the link for more info. I'll be there on the "First Friday" event on March 5. I will have more to sell there as well. Just finished one of Jon Malkovich which turned out very cool. I will post that shortly. Just starting another of Miles Davis. Then, Al Franken. Then, Jennifer Aniston. Then, Michael J. Fox.

I should do one of Linda Ellerbee. "And so it goes."

I love it.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Audrey Hepburn

She has been considered one of the most beautiful women of all time. The styles that she embodied continue to be popular among women today.

Still, Audrey Hepburn did not place much value in fashion. Nor did she consider herself very attractive. In a 1959 interview, she admitted to having "underlying feelings of insecurity and inferiority." "I couldn't conquer these feelings by acting indecisive. I found the only way to get the better of them was by adopting a forceful, concentrated drive."

After her final film role in 1988, Hepburn harnessed that drive as she was appointed a goodwill ambassador to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), a role that she embraced. Over the next four years, she traveled to Ethiopia, Turkey, Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Sudan, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Somalia, helping deliver critical aid and medical assistance to some of the most impoverished children in the world.

After her death in early 1993, a UN photographer said, "Often the kids would have flies all over them, but she would just go hug them. I had never seen that. Other people had a certain amount of hesitation, but she would just grab them. Children would just come up to hold her hand, touch her – she was like the Pied Piper."

Oscar winner and fashion icon, yes. But Audrey Hepburn proved to us all that there is so much more that we can contribute to this world.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Jesus Laughing

At Grace Point, we are blessed with two absolutely wonderful youth pastors, Steve and Ryan.

After recently painting a picture of Jesus for the staff (9/2 ), I wanted to do one for Steve and Ryan. But it had to capture a different side of Christ. One that showed a joyful spirit. One of Jesus laughing.

For reference and insight I turned to Steve Sawyer, a wonderfully talented and accomplished artist based in Kentucky (and Diane Sawyer's cousin). He allowed me to use one of his pieces as a reference for this one. I think it turned out well. My sincerest thanks, Steve.

The orange parts in the corners? Recently, Ryan gave a message about the importance of parents partnering with pastors. On average, pastors only have about 40-50 hours with children every year while parents have in the thousands. So why then do we assume that pastors will do more of the heavy lifting when it comes to our children's spitiual teaching? He used the analogy of yellow and red paints. We must come together for the good of our children.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Herb Ritts

One afternoon in front of a rural gas station somewhere outside of L.A., a young Herb Ritts snapped a few pictures of his friend, an aspiring actor named Richard Gere, posing in a ripped T-shirt and jeans. The pictures were a huge hit. And Ritts never looked back.

Over the 80's and 90's Ritts photographed the likes of Christopher Reeve, Dalai Lama, Cher, Magic Johnson, Elizabeth Taylor, Ronald Reagan, Steven Hawking, Edward Norton, Madonna, Dizzy Gillespie, Annette Benning, Cindy Crawford, and many others. And for years he was "the" cover photographer for Interview, GQ, Harper's Bazaar, Rolling Stone, Vogue, Vanity Fair and Elle. But Herb Ritts was more than the photographer that made the beautiful and famous look fabulous. He was the photographer whom they trusted. He was their friend.

I wish I had a funny story about this guy. But I don't. Herb Ritts was the consummate fashion photographer. Smart enough to let his work take center stage. And modest enough to let it speak for itself.

In early January of 2003, I did a shoot with a wonderful photographer in San Francisco, Michele Clement. She told me that a dear friend and fellow photographer had passed away the day after Christmas from complications due to AIDS. His name was Herb.

Here's a nice video compilation of his work. Great music, too. (Nude body alert.)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Georgia O'Keeffe

Truth be told, I never fancied her work. I respect it. Admire it. And value it. But I would never hang it. (And Lord only knows what she'd think of my work.) But when it comes to Georgia O'Keeffe the person, I am the hugest fan. So many words make up this small-framed woman. Strong. Talented. Confident. Independent. Free. Alive. Yes, truly alive.

And, oh yes, she's originally from Wisconsin.

Above is one of my first pieces from 1991. It's from a photograph taken by her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, in 1932. I plan on doing another soon. A great head-on shot of her in her later years. Still beautiful and strong. Stay tuned.

Lastly, here's a nice piece of footage I found of her sharing her Ghost Ranch in New Mexico as well as its surroundings. Watch the whole piece. Her last line is the absolute best.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Meryl Streep

After starting her career in the theater, and eventually Broadway, Meryl Streep auditioned for one of her first motions pictures, King Kong. The film's producer, Dino De Laurentiis, thought she was so wrong for the part that he commented to his son in Italian, "She's ugly. Why did you bring me this thing?" Streep stunned them both when she replied to them in fluent Italian.

Although she didn't get the part (it went to Jessica Lange), Meryl Streep went on to receive 15 Academy Award nominations (winning two) and 23 Golden Globe nominations (winning six), more than any other actor in the history of either award show. Her work has also earned her two Emmy Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Cannes Film Festival award, three New York Film Critics Circle Awards, five Grammy Award nominations, a BAFTA Award, and a Tony Award nomination. And her work and list of awards only continue. Today, she is regarded as one of the most talented and respected movie actors of the modern era.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Elvis Costello

In a Columbus, Ohio Holiday Inn hotel bar, during one of his first U.S. performances, a brassy 24-year-old Elvis Costello engaged in a drunken argument with Stephen Stills and Bonnie Bramlett. It's said that the young Costello shouted racial slurs against both Ray Charles and James Brown. Charles, who later forgave the young performer, said, "Drunk talk isn't meant to be printed on paper!"

But Costello, who had already changed his name from Declan Patrick MacManus, had already changed on the inside. He worked extensively on Britian's Rock Against Racism campaign. And the incident inspired "Riot Act!" from one of his early breakthrough albums, Get Happy!!

Since then, Costello has evolved, reinvented himself time and again, and worked with some of the most respected names in rock, country, classical, jazz, pop, and R&B. His unlikely collaboration in 1998 with Burt Bacharach for the equally haunting and romantic Painted from Memory (worth the click) silenced even his harshest critics. Few performers have experimented and turned constant trial into resounding success as Costello.
In 2003, Elvis Costello married singer Diana Krall at Elton John's estate in England. Earlier that year he released North, an album of piano-based ballads concerning the breakdown of his former marriage, and his falling in love with Krall. Together, they have twin sons, Dexter Henry Lorcan and Frank Harlan James.
Proof that everything, especially people, can get better with age.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Our Saviour

Here's one that came together rather quickly. Divine intervention? (smile) It's one of my largest at 24x30".

I made it as an outward symbol of "thankfulness" for being blessed with the mere ability to paint. I then gave it as a gift to the church I attend, Grace Point. What a wonderful bunch!

If some tiny voice inside of you feels as if you're taken in by this "fallen" world (lonely, angry, frustrated, selfish, sad, bitter, hurting) then I have a short video for you. It's a brief version of a French film that was nominated for an Academy Award a few years back for Best Short Film. But it speaks volumes.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Jim Fiscus Completed

Here's the final product. I have to think for a moment, is this the first painting of someone I actually know? Just might be. Aside, of course, from the large portrait of Jesus Christ that I did for Grace Point Church. I'll share that one in a future post. Pamela has been asking me for years to do paintings of our girls. And an accomplished painter whom I've recently been in touch with has encouraged me to seek "subject inspiration" beyond magazine photos. Maybe I'll have to start listening.

If you missed my initial write up on Jim Fiscus, click here.

Comments are welcome. And as always, enjoy.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Charlie Watts

In the mid-1980's, an intoxicated Mick Jagger phoned Charlie Watt's hotel room in the middle of the night asking where "his drummer" was. Watts, the quiet, reserved and mega-talented fellow member of The Rolling Stones, reportedly got up, shaved, dressed in a suit, descended the stairs and punched Jagger directly in the face, saying, "Don't ever call me 'your drummer' again. You are my f___ing singer!"

Charlie Watts is far more than a drummer for a legendary rock band. He's also a talented graphic artist (starting his career in advertising, thank you), an award-winning composer, and a collaborator on several highly successful jazz/big band records. One of which, Long Ago & Far Away (1996), captivated me. Here are a few samples.

But what perhaps impresses me the most about Charlie Watts is that through all the tours with The Rolling Stones, all the all-nighters, and all the partying, he is legendary for remaining faithful to his wife, Shirley, whom he met and married in 1964. Together, they have one daughter, Seraphenia, as well as a baby granddaughter.

I have never met Charlie Watts nor toured with a rock band, but I would imagine that he and I would both agree that some of our best produced works are our children. This painting is one of my first ... and very favorite.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fiscus in Progress

Here's a work-in progress of Jim Fiscus. See my previous posting on him for more about the man. Hopefully, I'll have this one done in a few days. Or weeks.

I plan to have between 15 and 20 pieces, including this one, at my first gallery showing. It will be in the early part of next year in Delaware, Ohio.

Marilyn Completed

Just a follow up to my previous work-in-progress posting on Marilyn Monroe. This piece is 20"w by 16"h. I sketched it out many years ago. It only took me about two weeks to paint.

Well, 16 years and two weeks.

Up next: continue painting Jim Fiscus as well as sketch one of Jesus for Grace Point Church's teen room (should be very cool). I have come to find that artists are very ADD and enjoy working on multiple pieces at varying stages simultaneously

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Meg Ryan

You know the scene at the end of When Harry Met Sally. Billy Crystal is walking alone in New York City, realizing that he's truly, hopelessly fallen in love with Meg Ryan. The story is so convincing that every guy in the theater had already fallen moments prior. (Go on, click the link. The "build" is worth every bit of the seven minutes.) And you know, Meg Ryan isn't drop-dead gorgeous. She's just real. Or at least Nora Ephron totally convinced us so for two hours. She reminded us that love is not about being together under the sheets. It's about being together over years. Laughing. Crying. Growing. It's about the stuff that matters ... and what we remember. Oh, and just to clarify, my "Sally" is Pamela.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Isabella Rosselini

She is the daughter of legendary actress Ingrid Bergman (Casablanca) and Italian director Roberto Rossellini. And by the time she was 28, Isabella Rossellini was the exclusive spokes model for Lancome and had worked with the likes of Annie Leibovitz, Richard Avedon (see my first posting), Robert Mapplethorpe, Norman Parkinson, and Helmut Newton. But she is much more than a pretty face. Today, Rossellini is an activist for wildlife and conservation issues, as well as a writer and co-producer of several short-film series. Her talent comes from within. And it shows.

My portrait of her is one of my first. Truth be told, I never liked it.
I thought it was plain and devoid of character. But many who saw it just loved the piece. They would say, "Isabella Rossellini! You really captured her ... in very few lines." And over the years, I must confess that she is capturing me in return. Her inner beauty is emerging. In a recent article on how she is going back to school to study animal behavior (so very cool) she said, "If you follow your heart and do what you like, there's a better chance that that is where your talent lies."

Smart. Beautiful. Love it.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Artists love Marilyn Monroe. Warhol is a good example.
And yet I believe that the best photos of her are the natural ones. No posing. No studio session. No fakeness. She defined natural beauty. And we consumed her with our obsession for pretty.
(A beautiful deer staring precious seconds too long into the headlights of an oncoming car.) I found this shot years ago in a Nike ad and loved it. (Thank you, Janet Champ and Jim Riswald at Wieden+Kennedy.) I did a little research and found that it was taken of her after a long day on the movie set. Wrapped in a terry cloth robe, leaning out the window of her dressing room for a bit of fresh air. Click. And she still looks radiant. If you open the pic above you can see my pencil sketches ... almost done.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Philip Johnson

What an extraordinary life and talent. You may not have ever heard of Philip Johnson, but there's a good chance you may have experienced his work. In 1956, he collaborated with Mies van der Rohe as the New York associate architect for the 39-story Seagram Building. It would be his first of several postmodern masterpieces that would adorn New York City. Others include the the AT&T Building (now the Sony Building) and the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center. He perfected the harmony of glass and metal in structures. Still, it wasn't an overshadowing skyscraper that would be his masterpiece, but a small home in Connecticut. In 1949, Johnson designed and built a home for himself with exterior walls that were entirely glass. "The Glass House" (worth clicking the link) is an essay in minimal structure, geometry, proportion, and the effects of transparency and reflection. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1997. The house was the place of Philip Johnson's passing in 2005 at the age of 98. After Johnson's death ownership of the Glass House passed to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which opened it to visitors in April 2007.

I painted this portrait of Johnson in May of '94. It was the first of what would become many 20"w x 24"h portraits. I just like the size. It creates a decent environment. As did Johnson.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

My Reservoir of Possibilities

I just discovered my "reservoir" of possibilities: an overstuffed folder filled with pictures torn from magazines. I spent about an hour culling down the pile. What's left are about 18 portrait candidates, ranging from David Bowie to Georgia O'Keeffe to Johnny Cash to Walter Cronkite to Daniel Day-Lewis.

As I reviewed my 18 possibilites, I realized that my style has truly evolved. I started years ago by mimicing
Patrick Nagel. His work was incredible and perfectly captured the sexiness and energy of the 80's. He died too young. But now I have gravitated to faces with more character. Wild hair. Wrinkles. Zesty expressions. There's one of Keith Richards that's begging to be produced.

Heck, with that criteria, he may be my masterpiece.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Current work: JIM FISCUS

I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Jim in February of 2008. (Another handsome bald man.) We shot throughout L.A. for one of my day job's larger pharma accounts. Jim has a coolness, style, perception, and vision like few others. Having worked with several photographers for ad shoots over the years (both large and small gigs), Jim was one of the best. Inspiration enough for a painting, yes? So, I contacted his rep and she sent me a hi-res of the pic here. Perfect. I sketched it out the other night and, Lord willing, will be applying acrylic to canvas this weekend. So, stay tuned ...

Check out Jim's fab work here.

Richard Avedon

I paint people whom I admire. Or, I admire their work. In this case, both. Avedon's photography has always fascinated me. Not as much for his glamour work. But more for his gritty real-life pieces. Born in New York City, I believe he remained faithful to his cosmopolitan roots by becoming an acclaimed fashion photographer for such publications as Vogue, Harper's and Life. Conversely, you truly get a sense of Avedon's great creative spirit in his book In the American West. Here, his work is much different and larger-than-life. Literally. His "west" pictures are often produced at sizes of 3-feet and larger. It's worth Googling. Having passed away in 2004, his work lives on at his foundation's web site.