Monthly Archives: September 2008

Some Touch Ups

While I try to blog every week, that doesn’t mean I will not return to a painting and try to improve what I don’t like. I almost completely repainted the head of Bust of a Girl on a Red Chair (see June 5). I also repainted parts of the plate on Soile’s Sinful Chocolate Cake. Here are the results.

I’m working on a large piece right now, a scene inspired by Phantom of the Opera, and actually the most ambitious composition I’ve ever tried. It’s taken two photo-sessions with three models and my so much more camera-savvy photographer friend, Jesse, (who is also possessed of a great eye for emotional nuance and a good picture story), the purchase of a large mirror, the borrowing of a wonderful black-velvet and pearl encrusted dress, an encounter with a Photo Nazi at Walmart which almost caused me to burst a blood-vessel keeping my temper and remedied jointly by a much more rational employee at Walgreens and a vodka tonic to complete the cool down, a lot of consideration over which photos to use as reference and an entire day of drawing and composing the figures to fit the canvas (24×36). I’m about ready to start laying on paint.

…However, the Fall Art Tour, a three day event where hundreds of people — I hope (!) considering the economy — flood the community every year and visit the studios of working artists, is only 2 1/2 weeks away. The sixty hours or so I may need to complete the painting is entirely hypothetical at this point. My loving, duck-hunting hubbie is waiting for me to join him in Eagle River at our cabin for our yearly vacation. I’m trying to figure out how I can transport a large enough easle and lighting equipment to keep painting and be on vacation at the same time. Meantime my car is unfit to drive. Whatever it is that makes the back wheels respond to steering is broken. It will hopefully be finished tomorrow.

The Fall Art Tour is my big art event for the year and if the Phantom project even semi-makes it, it will probably be sporting a sign cautioning, “WET PAINT!”

Here’s a poem by Emily Dickinson that expresses (pretty well) what it’s like to be My Brain lately:

I felt a cleavage in my mind
As if my brain had split;
I tried to match it, seam by seam,
But could not make them fit.

The thought behind I strove to join
Unto the thought before,
But sequence raveled out of reach
Like balls upon a floor.

Bust of a Girl on a Red Chair, oil on canvas, 12×16, Private Collection

Soile’s Sinful Chocolate Cake, oil on canvas, 5×7, $110.00 USD


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Death by Chocolate Cake

I finished this painting two days ago, but didn’t eat any of it, just in case. It’s half gone now though. Wow! I do love chocolate. I thought about it all day at work and was at the fridge the minute I came through the door.

I do these dessert paintings from life, which is such a pleasant exercise because most of my figurative paintings must be done from photographs.

Here is a poem for this week’s blog by Michael McFee. It’s called:

The Angel

unhooks her wings after another long day.
They are her glory but also a burden,
binding her chest and making her sacrum ache.
She reaches behind herself to unfasten
them without the least hesitation or thought,
letting the sweaty wings collapse to the floor.

The angel scratches a ticklish spot
and starts to let down the radiant hair
sometimes mistaken for a halo,
unweaving her braid as gracefully
as she composed its strands long ago.
But how can those backward fingers see?

And then she slips off her slip in the dark.
My heart is tinder to that holy spark.

Death by Chocolate Cake, 6×6, oil on canvas, Sold

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Hazelnut Torte

Taste by taste and brushstroke by brushstoke, I’m enjoying becoming familiar witht he scrumpteous cakes at the Rolling Pin Bakery. This one is called Hazelnut Torte. I’m painting another right now called “Death by Chocolate”, certainly my preference out of the various ways to demise.

Here is a poem by Louis Simpson:

The Unwritten Poem

You will never write the poem about Italy.
What Socrates said about love
is true of poetry — where is it?
Not in beautiful faces and distant scenery
but the one who writes and loves.

In your life here, on this street
where the houses from the outside
are all alike, and so are the people.
Inside, the furniture is dreadful —
flock on the walls, and huge color television.

To love and write unrequited
is the poet’s fate. Here you’ll need
all your ardor and ingenuity.
This is the front and these are the heroes —
a life beginning with “Hi” and ending with “So long!”

You must rise to the sound of the alarm
and march to catch the 6:20 —
watch as they ascend the station platform
and, grasping briefcases, pass beyond your gaze
and hurl themselves into the flames.

Hazelnut Torte, 6×6, oil on canvas, Sold

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Raspberry Mousse Cake

I don’t even know what this cake is properly called, but it comes from the Rolling Pin Bakery at 2935 S. Fish Hatchery Road in Madison, WI. My friend, Josephine, and I just call it the Russian Bakery. If you’re anywhere near, drive over and get some. It tastes even better than I can make it look. While you’re there, you can take a look at some of my paintings. After September 17, I will have artwork on display there.

Here is a poem I like very well, though I hadn’t read it before five minutes ago:

Exhilaration is Within —
There can no Outer wine
So royally intoxicate
As that diviner brand

The Soul achieves, Herself,
To drink, or set away
For Visitor or Sacrament —
‘Tis not of holiday.

To stimulate a Man
Who hath the ample Rhine
Within his closet, best you can
Exhale in offering.

— Emily Dickinson

Pink Cake, 6×6, oil on canvas, Sold

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Oak Tree

“I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.

“Trees go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!

John Muir was a good man to ask about trees. He was also a good man to take with one on a walk:

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.

“The power of imagination makes us infinite.
— John Muir

Oak, 30×40, Oil on Masonite Panel, Sold

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