Friday, December 31, 2010

Days of Dreaming

I have a show scheduled for the Fall season at Norwood Flynn Gallery here in Dallas. This piece is the direction this collection of work is going, so I'm looking forward to making more paintings like this one over the next few months. I'm posting it this New Years Eve because it also seems like a good representation of the concept of "New Years Resolutions", specifically to dream every day. I hope you have a safe transition into this new year and decade and your 2011 is a great year.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Winter of Our Discontent

This past decade has been a decidedly mixed bag, with some really great developments and some which were really bad. Whether it overall deserves the name I gave it, The 'Zeroes, may take a while to settle. But I think there's a case that can definitely be made.
But now we're on the threshold of a new decade, with some positive things going on personally and professionally. If the year needs improvement for you as well, I hope improvement happens.
I'll be back next year with more rants, pictures and observations. Thanks for following this blog. Have happy holidays, whatever form they take.

Monday, December 6, 2010


I've added a new prints page to my web site, as illustrated by the screen shot above. This link goes to it. Clicking on either image takes you to the site where prints can be ordered. They're printed with archival inks on archival paper, of course. I'll add more images as it seems like a good idea.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Here's some coffee!

Last year I participated in "secret gift exchange" with a group of fellow artists. The way it works is a website called "Elfster" automatically picks a name for the participant, then each participant posts on the site what they like or might want. There's a price limit of $15, so it doesn't get out of hand.
I'm in it again this year, and my picked person said she wanted coffee, more or less. She listed some other vague items, but included the phrase "Coffee...I like coffee!...Did I mention coffee?". So I decided to get her some coffee. Oak Cliff Coffee is a neighborhood coffee company, so I bought a bag of their beans. I hope she has a grinder. Maybe she'll get one of those from somebody else.
To artsy it up a bit I made a package for the coffee out of 300 lb watercolor paper and painted coffee related images on it with watercolor and a Sharpie. Besides a cup ringed with birds and a coffee pot topped with a bird, the inside flap of the lid includes a wide awake eyeball. Pictures are below.

Monday, November 29, 2010

"Eli" giclee print

This giclee print of "Eli" is the first now available at my new print store, at this link.
It's printed with archival inks on enhanced matte archival paper. The image size is 18 by 14 inches, on paper 18 by 23 inches, a signed and numbered edition of 50.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Karen Blessen

My long time friend, Karen Blessen, recently added another honor to her list (that includes a Pulitzer Prize). The Dallas Observer named her as one of the "Masterminds" of the Dallas art scene. The guidelines for selection were simple and Karen's bona fides were ample: make the community, maybe even the world, better through the artists' work. Through Today Marks the Beginning she and her colleagues work with schools, organizations and individuals to raise awareness of social issues and promote peace, cooperation and positive change through art projects, writing and other creative action.

At this link is a video, directed and filmed by John Katz, showing children from around the world addressing their solutions to the situation in Darfur and answering the question of what they would do "If I were a great peacemaker". As well as founder of Today Marks the Beginning, Karen is program manager of MasterPEACE, which created the program depicted in the video.
Imagine using education and activities to guide children toward a culture of peace, tolerance and problem solving that can benefit everybody, instead of training more obedient drones for the corporatocracy...what a concept!

Karen is a writer, artist, speaker, world changer and inspiration to anyone paying attention. In a culture which honors self-aggrandizement over service and self-promotion over contributions to the common good Karen is an exception and I'm proud to call her friend.

More of her accomplishments and passions can be found at her web site:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Blind Lemon Jefferson

"Blind Lemon Jefferson", 10 by 8 in. acrylic on canvas.

The Freestone County Museum, Fairfield, Texas, will open "Art of the Blues, Texas Style", on November 20. It was curated by Andy Don Emmons.

Blind Lemon Jefferson was a blues player and a staple of the influential Dallas, Texas "Deep Ellum" blues scene in the 1920s. Pronounced as a dialectal variation of "Deep Elm", the eastern Dallas neighborhood was an incubator for blues and jazz musicians, some of whom, such as Blind Lemon, T-Bone Walker, and Bessie Smith, went on to national success.

The son of sharecroppers, Lemon Jefferson was born near Wortham, Texas in 1893. He began playing the guitar early in his teenage years and became a street musician, performing for the night crawlers of small East Texas towns. He moved to Dallas and settled in the Deep Ellum area in 1917. T-Bone Walker taught Lemon the basics of blues guitar. When he began recording in 1926 he was one of the first solo singer/guitar players in the blues. His work influenced musicians from B.B. King to Eric Clapton. "See That My Grave is Kept Clean", a song with a demanding message if ever there was one, has been covered by Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, the Grateful Dead and Counting Crows.
He is said to have died in Chicago in 1929. The reasons for his death vary, from a jealous lover to freezing in a snowstorm.
This piece is based, as are most images of Blind Lemon, on the most famous, possibly only, photograph of him available.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Harvest Moon

A true "harvest moon" appears when the full moon rises in Autumn at about the same time the sun sets, providing some light for farmers to continue their work. The perspective of the moon when it rises, surrounded by building and trees, rather than the open sky when it's higher, and atmospheric conditions give it a large, orange color, like a giant pumpkin.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


"On The History of Halloween", 16 by 22 inches, acrylic on canvas


This is a piece, with a closer up detail, I made in 1988, on the subject of Halloween and its history. Some historians date the celebration back to the Romans and their Feast of Pomona, Pomona being the goddess of fruit and seeds (ironic to anyone who is familiar with the Los Angeles suburb of the same name), and, more predictably, Parentalia, the Festival of the Dead. The Celtic festival of Samhain (Old Irish for "summer's end") brings us most of the familiar trappings of the holiday (using that word loosely, since few people get off of work on October 31, although I don't know how much work gets done with all of the costumes and other goings-on in offices. It's on Sunday this year anyway.) The Celts believed the spirits of the dead could walk among us during the Samhain celebration. Wearing costumes warded off the evil spirits by having the wearer appear to be one of them. The idea of going door to door demanding "treats" comes from the Medieval practices of "souling", when poor people, of which there were many, traded prayers for the dead for food from those visited. This occurred on "Hallowmas", or All Saints Day. The night before, "All Hallow's Eve", became the shortened version "Hallowe'en". The apostrophe was dropped from the spelling sometime in the 20th Century.

I've always been curious how a ceremony honoring or fearing dead people turned into a children's party. I loved it as a kid, as I did anything having to do with the world of the imagination, the stranger the better. Now, like all things we Baby Boomers have experienced, it's as much an adult occasion as one for kids.

This painting mixed the two functions, with the mischievous little boy's masked face appearing in the sky like a vision above the vaguely Pagan figure paying homage to a tree. I wanted the boy's mask to blend into the night sky, becoming a part of the negative space. The Pagan figure (seen in the detail) wears the head, whether real or manufactured I don't know, of a deer or some sort of antlered animal atop his red robes. A feather of some kind tops his staff.

The image is surrounded by the kind of border I was incorporating into a lot of pictures at that time. The frames of artist Neil Jenney, who also uses typography, inspired it. It's one of many elements I've employed and then abandoned over the years. This particular one often received a response from viewers that it made the piece look too "poster-ish", or that supposed death knell of criticism,
"illustrative". I don't know if Neil Jenney has ever had to put up with such baloney.

On the left, partly on the border, partly on the image, reads "On the History Of Halloween". On the lower right just below the image there's an "Owwooo" to be read. Humor isn't always welcome in art, which is odd, since there's so much to been found there, whether intentional or not.

If you do any celebrating or observing of the Halloween holiday, have fun and be careful.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

EASL Art Heist

"Odin 2", 10 by 8 inches, acrylic on canvas, will be in the upcoming "EASL Art Heist".

The EASL organization describe themselves better than I can:

"Emergency Artists’ Support League was founded in 1992 to provide
limited emergency financial assistance to Dallas/Fort Worth area
visual artists and visual arts professionals who are in need because
of a dire medical emergency, accident or loss of personal and
professional property. Contributed funds are held for distribution
by the Communities Foundation of Texas, Inc., Dallas, Texas."
More on EASL can be found at their website:

The EASL Art Heist consists of artists donating work to this event to raise money for the relief fund. Attendees pay a substantial amount of money to come to the party and "heist" a piece they want which is priced at equal to the amount of the entry fee. Some charity auctions end up selling an artist's contribution for considerably lower than its market value, not always a popular outcome for an artist wanting to maintain a market level while at the same time wanting to be generous with worthy causes. The unique thing about this particular fund-raising effort is that the work donated is acquired by the buyer at market price, which also makes more money for the fund.

This year the Art Heist will be held on Saturday, October 30, from 7 - 11 pm. There will be a preview 7 - 8 pm, so prospective "Smugglers and Thieves" as the participants are called, based on their entry fee level, can scope out the work they want to make off with. Below is the invitation with all the other particulars. Click on the images for a larger view.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Twenty years

This is one of the few personal notes I have on this blog, but this is a biggie. On October 20, 1990, Becky Entzenberger (now Cornelius) married me in Dallas, Texas, making me a very very happy guy. She's been kind, patient, loyal and irreplaceable every day since.
We were a fairly "late" match, both of us having experienced various trainwreck relationships for a couple of decades. We were introduced by mutual friends, and away we went.

It's hard to avoid being sappy about something like this, so why even try. Here are the last few lines of a song by Texas musician Mat Jones, "It's About Time", which seem to apply:

"Then everyday's an anniversary, each reason gets in tune
For songs in four part harmony under milk and honey moon
And all the clocks will synchronize to the rhythm and the rhyme
The sun and stars will always know
It's about time

Find the one that makes the time
Take the time to find the one
You know I did and this old life
Has only just begun"

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Día de Los Muertos" - The show.

October 17 (my birthday, by the way) the "Día de Los Muertos" opened with a reception at the Bath House Cultural Center in Dallas. Here are some pics of the affair.

"The Florist" sold to some friends. It's always nice to have a piece remain in "the family". There are many I'll probably never see again. But since the buyers hopefully will enjoy the work for a long time themselves, that's fine, too.

Here are some other pieces in the show. Unfortunately I didn't make notes of whose was whose, except in a couple of cases, where I know the artists.

This is Jose Vargas with his altar honoring legendary Texas musician Stevie Ray Vaughn.

These prints are by Cap Pannell.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Día de Los Muertos"

"The Florist", acrylic on canvas, 8 by 8 inches, will be included in the Bath House Cultural Center's "Día de Los Muertos" exhibition in Dallas, Texas. It opens Saturday, October 16, with a reception Sunday, October 17, 5 - 7 pm, and ends November 17. About sixty-five other artists are also participating. The exhibit was curated by Enrique Cervantes Hernandez.

Below is the official invitation, including the participating artists' names (click on the image for a larger version).

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

State Fair of Texas

The State Fair is a great yearly tradition in Texas. Located at the Art Deco Fair Park in East Dallas, the grounds were the site of the Texas Centennial celebration in 1936. Every October a new round of exhibits, concerts, wild food (besides the requisite Fletcher's Corny Dog, every year's "menu" features a fried version of something, such as beer, butter, Coke, ice cream, etc.), livestock shows, games and rides dominate the local population for three weeks.
In the past I've been commissioned to provide images for the Fair in a couple of different contexts. Here they are, with an oldie from my art school days.

Below was an illustration for Texas Monthly magazine, depicted the iconic figure of the Fair, Big Tex. He's a 52 feet tall statue that speaks to fairgoers in an appropriately big, booming voice. I concentrated on his head in this image, particularly on one feature, which has always intrigued me: his ventriloquist dummy style lower jaw that permits him to tell everybody about the latest happenings.

This one appeared in the Dallas Morning News. I wanted to take a different point of view on the Fair, celebrating an element that often gets overlooked. The livestock shows happen at the beginning of the fair. 4-H, FFA and professional livestock handlers compete in different venues for prizes and recognition. The winning animals are sometimes sold for tens of thousands of dollars, kicking off college funds for their proud owners.
In high school my farmer/rancher dad insisted I take part in FFA (Future Farmers of America; which did not at all apply in my case) and raise a show calf in all four of my high school years. This piece was based on an actual photo of my poor skinny self with my massive first show calf. I won't be reproducing that pic here.
The often distinctive patterns on calves inspired this big guy's Texas flag motif.

Finally, I created this piece for an illustration class at East Texas State University (now Texas A&M Commerce). The great Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame member Jack Unruh was the instructor.
The collage media was a departure for me, and something of an experiment. The piece went on to win First Place in its Illustration category at the Dallas Society of Visual Communications Student Show in 1977.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Business card

In thirty years of doing this thing professionally, I've never had a business card. Larger, 8.5 by 11 inches, promotional pieces and post cards, but no regular size business cards. So now I do.

This is one side. The idea is to turn the card over vertically and there's my name and contact info.

So this is the back. Sorry, I fuzzed out my phone numbers. If you're reading this and don't have that information, use the e-mail address. It's what I prefer anyway.

Turning over the card completes the image of the painting.
Next time you see me, tell me to give you one.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Patches" and "Drops"

This is a recent rooster painting, "Eli". It's 18 by 14 inches and is the usual acrylic on canvas. A recent discussion about it brought up something I should address. That's the use of "patches" and "drops" on some of these pieces. Seeing the paintings in photographs without experiencing them "in person" (and sometimes then) can lead to confusion about what these things are and why they are there. So here's the explanation.
First, the "patches". They aren't literally "patches". I use that term because someone once, when I first began to use them, asked me if that's what they were; I suppose the questioner assumed they were covering some a mistake or something. No, if I make a mistake big enough that the only way to fix it is to cover it up with a piece of paper, then I just discard that work and start over. The function of the "patch" is more esoteric than that.
It is usually a piece of Arches watercolor paper, sometimes 300 lb to 140 lb, attached to the canvas before painting begins. The intention is to add a dimensional element as well as a geometric rectangular design device which provides contrast to the more "organic" freeform elements of the rooster's or the landscape's forms. It's also a subtle frame for some parts of the painting, usually the rooster's head area. Finally, it gives a texture that's different from the canvas texture, adding some variety to that visual experience.
"Drops" are just that, drops of paint, usually thick enough to have a dimensional quality of their own, which add circular geometric elements to the mix. On other pieces I've used circular marks for the same purpose.
These are design devices that make the work more interesting to me in the process. Some viewers like the effects, some prefer the imagery to be more "conservatively", for lack of a better word, represented. I add these elements when the spirit, if that's what it is, moves me.
Here are some other examples (click on any image to see it a little larger).

This is a rooster painting that has neither "patches" or "drops".

This landscape features a "patch" framing the red leaf tree in the lower center foreground.

"Afternoon Hill" is "patch" free.

A prominent "patch" shows up in this cow painting, while the one below goes patchless.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Art in the Metroplex" - the show

Here I am, stiff as ever in front of a camera, with "Claudius" yesterday, Saturday, September 11, at the reception for Art in the Metroplex at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas. The juror, artist Polly Apfelbaum, gave a lecture and presentation of some of her own work, then showed and commented on the pieces she selected for the show.
About "Claudius", she said it made her smile, that it had a mix of Pop Art and folk qualities, and it reminded her of Wily Coyote and the Roadrunner. She also mentioned my signature, how signatures are a rare element in contemporary art, and how meticulous I was in painting it. And she said, "I loved all of that". Which is fine by me.

Below are some other photos from the reception. I don't know, in some cases don't remember, all of whose work is whose, so apologies to anybody uncredited. I did know and like a few pieces not shown here, but my photography was bad, out of focus, etc, so not everything in the show is depicted here.

Juror and artist Polly Apfelbaum.

A small crowd around "Claudius".

The Art Mob's out today.

Becky is talking with artists Susan Whitmer and Steven Miller. Steven's cool painting was one of the ones I photographed badly, so it's not shown here. It deserves a much better representation.

This interactive piece entertained the kids, who loved the permission to drop debris into this rubber mat.

A beautiful painting by Nancy L. Brown.

Charlotte Smith.

Jay Maggio.

Ricardo Paniagua

Yep, that's an upside down table.

Here's the official checklist of all artists and their work.
1. Paul Abbott – "03_Paul Abbott_U#10.6.22A1_20x40_Photo&Digital"
photo mounted on plexi

2. Bill Barter – "Xetuk"

3. Bill Barter – "Zenuk"

4. Bill Barter – "Wituk"

5. Melissa Brown – "Toss and Gather"
rubber mats, cardboard boxes, stones, seeds, burrs

6. Nancy Brown – "untitled"
acrylic on canvas

7. Andrew Butler – "For Her"
latex on wood panel

8. Lou Chapman – "Venice Beach Roller Park"
archival inkjet print from Holga camera negative

9. Ray-Mel Cornelius – "Claudius"
acrylic on canvas

10. Laura Cummings – "Time’s Leftovers"

11. Madelyn Edwards – "The Jar"
oil on cardboard

12. Laura Ehrich – "Echo"
digital painting on sheer fabric

13. Cassandra Emswiler – "El Charco del Ingenio"
ceramic tiles, rocks

14. Cassandra Emswiler – "Over the river and through the woods…"
inherited painting, marble tile

15. Ricardo Paniagua Garcia III – "Tall Man"
household/spraypaint on canvas

16. Nathaniel Glaspie – "42nd and Beach St."
aluminum, canvas, hardware, household paint, Plexiglas, stainless steel

17. Lee Albert Hill - "…Crap …Back to Work in the Morning…"
perma stable chrome print on aluminum plate

18. Alan Hofstad – "Roses, close up"

19. Ronit Ilan – "Gathering"
digital photogaphy

20. Lance Jones – "Untitled (And There Was.)"

21. Lance Jones – "Untitled (And There Was.)"

22. Lance Jones – "Untitled (And There Was.)"

23. Patrick Lewis – "24 Hrs/10 Min. Ahead"

24. Jay Maggio – "Red Fushia"
oil on canvas

25. Mike Mahler – "The Divine Wound"
acrylic on canvas

26. Leighton McWilliams – "Elvis/Riviera"
giclee print from plastic camera

27. Steven Miller – "Drag"
acrylic on panel

28. Mark Murphy– "Cloudy"
oil on canvas

29. Yuki Ogura – "This is a table"

30. Yuul Paki – "(8 x 11 in.) 2"

31. Joel Sampson – "Gypsum"
archival pigment on paper

32. Patrick Schneider – "Library of Babel"
graphite on panel

33. Libby Sloan – "Nature’s Kaleidoscope"

34. Charlotte Smith – "Bovary’s Dream"
acrylic paint pile on wood shelf

35. Sally Warren – "Scrambled Denali"
inkjet on grafix film

36. Mike Whitaker – "Photo Contest 017"

37. Hsiu Ching Yu – "Omphaloskepsis 65"
charcoal & graphite