Monthly Archives: May 2009

Apres la Descente

This is my preliminary drawing in paint of “Orpheus After the Descent.” The canvas is 18×18. I’ve sketched in figures of my Orpheus and the tigers in Cadmium Red, because it is easily absorbed into other pigments. It also contributes to an underpainting in warm tones for the shadows of the tunnel entrance. I’ve begun a larger painting of Orpheus “Before the Descent,” but set it aside while I took care of several commissions. I’d always intended to use this picture of my model, Larry, from the same photoshoot, in a second, smaller painting. The addition of the tigers became a possibility when Larry told me a friend of his had both a tiger and a lion as pets. Voila! It just fit the myth. So heartbroken is Orpheus, after losing Euridice again — just after he’d nearly regained her — that he plays his harp at the Entrance of the Underworld in hopes that he will be given a second chance. Here is an excerpt from Bullfinch’s Mythology:

Seven days he lingered about the brink, without food or sleep; then bitterly accusing of cruelty the powers of Erebus, he sang his complaints to the rocks and mountains, melting the hearts of tigers and moving the oaks from their stations. He held himself aloof from womankind, dwelling constantly on the recollection of his sad mischance.

So! I’m heading back to the studio to start adding some color! Au Revoir for now.

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Coconut Macaroon Pie II

This subject is a commission and because my first version had a funky composition, I painted the pie again….classically centered.

My exciting news vis a vis a new painting project is that I’ve located some PIGS to paint at last. I’ve need pigs for my rendition of the Circe myth and it’s been proving an obstacle, but this week on my way to my friend Josephine’s house, I passed a pen with a very likely-looking pink fellow in it. I determined to stop on my way back. The “fellow” turned out to be a sow, complete with family, but there did seem to be a husband in the background, a boar with a black middle. I drove into the driveway without hesitation and introduced myself (with business card) at the back door. The Lady of the Manor gave me permission to return with a camera, so I’m thrilled!

For today, another poem by John Donne:

The Triple Fool

I am two fools, I know,

for loving, and for saying so

In whining poetry;

But where’s that wiseman, that would not be I,

If she would not deny!

Then as the earth’s inward narrow crooked lanes

Do purge sea water’s fretful salt away,

I thought, if I could draw my pains

Through rhyme’s vexation, I should them allay,

Grief brought to numbers cannot be so fierce,

For he tames it, that fetters it in verse.

But when I have done so,

Some man, his art and voice to show,

Doth set and sing my pain,

And, by delighting many, frees again

Grief, which verse did restrain.

To love and grief tribute of verse belongs,

But not of such as pleases when ’tis read,

Both are increased by such songs:

For both their triumphs so are published,

And I, which was two fools, do so grow three;

Who are a little wise, the best fools be.

Coconut Macaroon Pie, Oil on Canvas, 6×6

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Coconut Macaroon Pie

Coconut Macaroon Pie is a specialty of Brewery Creek, a very popular micro-brewery and eatery in Mineral Point. It’s generally served with a decorative drizzle of chocolate sauce too, but I thought that bit was too perishable to stay perfect while I painted, so I left it off. The whipped cream melted in about five minutes, a good indicator.

Here is another poem by John Donne:

Love’s Diet

To what a cumbersome unwieldiness
And burdenous corpulence my love had grown,
But that I did, to make it less,
And keep it in proportion,
Give it a diet, made it feed upon
That which love worst endures, discretion.

Above one sigh a day I allow’d him not,
Of which my fortune, and my faults had part;
And if sometimes by stealth he got
A she-sigh from my mistress’ heart,
And though to feast on that, I let him see
‘Twas neither very sound, nor meant to me.

If he wrung from me a tear, I brin’d it so,
With scorn or shame, that him it nourish’d not;
If he suck’d hers, I let him know
‘Twas not a tear, which he had got,
His drink was counterfeit, as was his meat;
For eyes which roll towards all, weep not, but sweat.

Whatever he would dictate, I writ that,
But burnt my letters; when she writ to me,
And that that favor made him fat,
I said, if any title be
Convey’d by this, ah! what doth it avail,
To be fortieth name in an entail?

Thus I reclaim’d my buzzard love, to fly
At what, and when, and how, and where I choose;
Now negligent of sport I lie,
And now as other falconers use,
I spring a mistress, swear, write, sigh and weep:
And the game kill’d, or lost, go talk and sleep.

I’m continuing to read about Mary Queen of Scotts and Queen Elizabeth I, this interest inspired by Philippa Gregory’s novel, The Other Queen. Gregory paints an alarming picture of suspicion and fear in Tudor England, where a personal avowal of faith or sympathy could bring an accusation of treason. (In Gregory’s book, this malaise of distrust emanates from William Cecil, Lord Burghley, about whom I was certainly given another view. I’d formerly thought of him simply as Elizabeth’s wisest advisor. From another perspective, he was a man who created enemies where there formerly were none.) I wondered how bad it really was and am reading further to find out. A succinct, fun to read, and enlightening account is Her Majesty’s Spymaster by Stephen Budiansky.

Coconut Macaroon Pie, Oil on Canvas, 6×6, Commissioned

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German Chocolate Cupcake

In about two minutes, I’m going to eat this! Today is my first Open Studio and Gallery Day for the season (May through October). I’ll be back later to post a poem, but I’ve got a couple more hours to paint.

I’ve just purchased and begun reading a biography of John Donne, entitled The Reformed Soul by John Stubbs. So with reference to that I’ll post a Donne poem:


Oh, to vex me, contraries meet in one:

Inconstancy unnaturally hath begot

A constant habit; that when I would not

I change in vows, and in devotion.

As humorous is my contrition

As my profane love, and as soon forgot:

As riddlingly distemper’d, cold and hot,

As praying, as mute; as infintite, as none.

I durst not view heaven yesterday; and today

In prayers, and flattering speeches I court God:

Tomorrow I quake with true fear of his rod.

So my devout fits come and go away

Like a fantastic ague: save that here

Those are my best days, when I shake with fear.

German Chocolate Cupcake, Oil on Canvas, 6×6, $200.00 USD


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