Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Wow, oh wow!! It's been two months since I've written anything!!!
Well, it's just been...strange, lately. September just sort of got away from me, and October was Health Issues Month, with two stays in the hospital because of heart flutter (I think that's a less severe version of atrial fibrillation, but I'm not sure). AND dealing with a strained arm and a knee that hurt so badly I couldn't walk on it at all. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) to the rescue -- but those drugs are kind of bad for me.
So now I'm on blood thinners until the cardiologist can do an ablation procedure on me -- zapping tissue in the heart to cut off some misfiring nerve impulses that are causing the flutter.
I've also been finding that some of the meds I take -- like for high blood pressure -- must be the cause of the fatigue I feel constantly. (I suspect the after-effects of taking OTC sleeping pills was doing that, too -- I'm giving those up!)
But I need to get going somehow because there's an art show next May I'd like to enter. It's near Pasadena, CA, where blurry-looking paintings are more popular than the detailed works I do. I'm trying to come up with a good compromise -- maybe a scene with fog or something. Haven't decided yet.
So -- I hope I can put out some good paintings that will work in the Pasadena environment and that will still be true to the style I love.
Stay tuned. I'm sure gonna try to write more often!
Thursday, September 7, 2017
What happened to August? I just realized I didn't make a single blog post in the month of August! Now it's September. Wha...???
Well, I'm here now! Just in time to show you my latest surreal painting, Semblence of Artificial Humanity, 16" x 20" / 41cm x 51cm.
|Semblence of Artificial Humanity 16" x 20" / 41cm x 51cm|
As usual, I can't explain what it all means. Its meaning is in the eye of the beholder: YOU, dear viewer!
Keep watching for www.SurrealMark.com. I hope to have that site up before year's end.
Saturday, July 29, 2017
Ambiguous Strangers is the mysterious name I gave to my latest mysterious and surreal painting.
|Ambiguous Strangers 18" x 24" / 46cm x 61cm|
I'm simply painting the ideas and images that pop into my head -- dreamscapes; lands that seem like they could exist, but don't -- except in an artist's mind.
Enjoy, and contemplate!
(This piece and others will appear on a yet-to-be-launched website called www.SurrealMark.com. I hope to have it up later this year).
Saturday, July 1, 2017
I didn't realize it has been almost a month since I last wrote about what I've been up to lately. What's wrong with me??? 😁
OK, since I wrote about the redwood painting I finished last month, I've decided to spend some time working on surreal pieces that I've been wanting to do. (I also worked on a logo design for someone, but that's another story).
|Art Show 11" x 14" / 28cm x 36cm|
Simply by looking at this, you're getting a peak into my subconscious. I have no idea what it "means," if anything. It was something my brain conjured up while sleeping. But it was supposed to be an art show I visited, with paintings hanging on a long maroon-colored curtain, people looking at the works, and a young woman who is gripping "hands" with the curtain, fingers interlaced. Again, I have no idea what it all means.
I decided to paint the scene as I remember it, ignoring some of the formal elements such as composition. I doubt I'll be attempting to sell this work, anyway -- it's really just for me.
More surrealism to come!
Thursday, June 8, 2017
In Paradisum II (Latin for In Paradise #2) is my latest painting.
|In Paradisum II 20" x 16" / 51cm x 41cm|
|In Paradisum II (Detail)|
I can't say that this is my Tour de Force of redwood forest paintings, but I'm working toward it. Hence, the Roman numeral I for the first piece I did, and this is the second. I expect there will be at least one more that will be my best redwood painting ever!
The first time The Wiffee and I were in the redwoods was in June, 1982. We visited Redwood National Park; in particular, Lady Bird Johnson Grove in early morning. I planned on taking lots of pictures but was disappointed when the sky was clear and sunny. It's difficult shooting photos in an old-growth forest because sunny patches next to shadowy patches exceed the range of film. So the sunny spots wash out, and the shadows turn completely black.
But we continued hiking in, went around a hill, and all of a sudden, like an answer to prayer, we walked into a section of forest that was enshrouded in a light fog, with sunbeams breaking through the trees and the very air luminescent. With the tall coastal redwoods and ferns, with rhododendrons and Douglas irises in bloom, it looked like we were in heaven! I had never, before or since, felt like I was standing in the cathedral of God's own making.
Lady Bird Johnson Grove is on a ridge at about 1,000 feet / 305m, so instead of peering into a deep, dark forest of overlapping redwoods, the sky is visible beyond the trees. Thus the sky appears blue, lightly foggy or densely foggy (as it was the second time we were in LBJ Grove in 1984).
I decided not to paint any critters this time. No hidden bunnies or birds, just a group of irises that may not be noticed by the viewer right away. (In Paradisum III will have critters, I predict!)
I've wondered which I would enjoy living in more -- the desert or the redwoods. Still, I don't know if I would ever again feel the way I felt that day in June, 1982, when I rounded a corner and entered the glowing mists of heaven.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
My latest painting was a commission for someone I know who lives in Washington state. The location is somewhere along the Ida River in Leavenworth, WA. I've never been to this location, but the person sent me a pretty nice photo to work from.
|Ida River 18" x 24"|
|Ida River - Detail|
I hope the new owner will enjoy the painting for the rest of his life.
Saturday, May 6, 2017
Springtime comes a little later in the high desert than it does in lower elevations. We're at about 3,000 ft. / 915m, so if you made several trips March - May from the lower desert (where, in some places, the elevation is near sea level) to the Mojave, you would see a progression of flowers working their way up. Except you'd also see different kinds of flowers!
Today for Cinco de Mayo, I took a fast trip through the higher areas of Joshua Tree National Park. I wish the sky would have stayed clear and blue, but sometimes, nature has its own schedule.
Still, the picture-taking was worth it. Sometimes, all I really need are visual notes on what is blooming and where. In some cases, I'll shoot details I might need to paint leaves and flowers up close -- then, the overcast skies can actually be helpful in lowering the contrast of the photos. And I have at least a gazillion or two photos of the Park with the lighting I prefer, but today's pictures add information that I may not already have!
These are a few of the 75 or so photographs I took today:
|Inside the west entrance to the Park|
|Desert mallow in Lost Horse Valley|
|Near Keys View|
|Horned lizard, same specimen as above|
|View into Twentynine Palms|
|Near Twentynine Palms|
Anyway, I hope your Cinco de Mayo was fun. Overall, mine was!
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Today is Earth Day -- 22 April 2017. I'm glad this tradition has found an ongoing place for people to reflect on what we need to do to save the planet...and ourselves.
Every Earth Day, our little town has a celebration in the town's community center, with arts and crafts vendors, displays and info from environmental groups, music, face-painting and other fun and educational stuff. I decided I would do a little experiment and paint a bunch of little landscapes (6" x 6"/15cm x 15cm; and 4" x 4"/10cm x 10cm) and sell them with mini easels so they would be considered tabletop art instead of wall art (a common excuse is: we're out of wall space, no place to hang more art). And they would be very low-priced -- $25 for the 4x4s, $45 for the 6x6s.
This was how my setup looked at opening time:
As you can see, I brought along a few framed wall-art pieces, too. Here are images of what the miniature paintings look like:
|6" x 6"|
|4" x 4"|
Another artist friend and I agreed -- this is why we don't like doing art shows anymore. Doing them can be quite expensive, one works one's rectum off getting ready, the artist can go through a lot of exhausting work just setting up and tearing down -- and the return for all this may well be zero or close to it.
So -- for whatever reason, these types of venues just don't work for me. I really don't understand why, and I don't feel like wasting the time or money on trying to figure out why.
Friday, April 14, 2017
I've sure gotten behind in my blogging!! Between being sick in March, finishing a painting, putting my 3" x 5" note cards together (see the previous post) and now preparing for a show next weekend, it's been a little crazy!
Well, here is the latest painting:
|Pastoral Landscape 18" x 24" / 46cm x 61cm|
I couldn't resist including some cow parsnip with the cows. This is the plant with the clusters of tiny white flowers. Apparently, some people are sensitive to this plant which can cause a severe poison ivy-type rash if one brushes up against it. (Apparently browsing herbivores can eat the stuff without toxic effects). Also, insects tend to avoid munching on cow parsnip, too.
I've been wanting to do a classically-styled landscape like this for a long time, and I've finally done it!
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
I just got over a cold that seems to be quite, uh, "popular" these days -- seems like EVERYone's got it!
But before I contracted the pestilence, I did manage to produce and deliver a set of 5" x 3" / 12.5cm x 7.5cm note cards to the Joshua Tree National Park Association that are now being offered in at least one of the Park's visitor centers. The cards feature an image of one of my paintings, Sentinels, include an envelope and are currently selling for $3.95 each. One of the park rangers informed me the cards are selling well!
The image features a painting I made in the early 1990s. This is a typical iconic view of what the Mojave desert portion of the Park looks like...I figured this might go over well with visitors to the park.
This is the display rack that holds my note cards in the Visitor Center in Twentynine Palms. For now, it's nestled among jars of scented candles!
I think -- but I'm not sure -- that all of the visitors centers will have the note cards available. That would be nice -- Park visitation has been increasing over the years, and the peak have just arrived with the profusion of desert wildflowers thanks to the generous rainfall we've received over the last few months!
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Whenever I start thinking about making money with art, I sometimes consider other styles I could pursue that may be more saleable in southern California while continuing with the ultra-traditional look I really love -- but painting those works for myself.
California impressionism is big in the Los Angeles area. Or: I could try a more abstract version of the desert scenes I love.
Then again, I've always liked the traditional Chinese watercolors of the huge mountains and forests, while somewhere in the view is a tiny human and/or shack, dwarfed by the magnificent scenery surrounding him or her.
I made some mockups of a painting I made years ago to see how it might look if painted in these other styles. My photo-editing software couldn't replicate the look I would create, especially as a Chinese watercolor. So I included an image of an actual watercolor that I would attempt to do as a desert landscape. ☺
|Sentinels in Various Computer-Generated Styles|
|Example of the Real Deal!|
So -- which look would YOU most like seeing on your wall??
Monday, February 6, 2017
Most people I know have learned by now that I love bunnies. (Guinea piggies, too!) We have a pet bunny, but I love the wild desert cottontail bunnies that live outside, too. They're so cute. And adorable.
I do put food out for them every evening before sundown, along with chicken scratch for the quail (and other assorted birdies). I also give the bunnies sliced carrots or apple and some romaine lettuce.
The wild bunnies sort of / kind of trust me, but only to a point. When I go outside to feed them, they gather around, but they keep a safe distance from me -- usually. Normally, they "freeze" until I walk past them, then -- supposedly when I can't see them -- THEN they may move a bit away from me.
On occasion, a bold bunny will show up and take food from my fingers, then run off with the goodie to eat it.
In one case, I was able to help a critter I called the notch-eared bunny. S/he had a long cactus thorn stuck in its forehead. There were times it would get into a "boxing match" with another bunny -- common among disagreeing rabbits -- and the bunny with the thorn would scream because its opponent often hit the thorn and made it hurt more.
But because this particular bunny came up to me to take a goodie, I was able to pull the thorn out!
This is the notch-eared bunny (no thorn) coming to get an apple goodie:
Sometimes it's fun to see how different bunnies interact with each other. I had missed an opportunity to get a picture of a blacktailed jackrabbit touching noses with a desert cottontail, but at least I did manage to take a pic of a baby (left) and adult (right) bunny together.
I'll leave with a portion of lyrics from an old (1949) song by Spike Jones and His City Slickers, Ya Wanna Buy a Bunny? about someone with a Shirley Temple voice who apparently didn't know that bunnies totally understand multiplication:
Bunnies bunnies bunnies bunnies everywhere.
There's bunnies on the table and there's bunnies on the chair.
Bunnies on the sofa and there's bunnies on the floor.
And there's some new ones coming through the door. MORE!!
Monday, January 30, 2017
A Fantasy in White (18" x 24" / 46cm x 61cm) is my latest painting. A little different from my usual subject matter!
Although I've never gone to any tropical areas, I'm familiar with the overall look as well as many plant species from my studies in ornamental horticulture many years ago.
The scene was inspired by a spot in the Los Angeles County Arboretum -- a "jungle" planting that includes a cluster of tree ferns that formed the basis of the painting.
I visited there in 2012, saw this view, and I knew I would have to paint something similar to it. In addition, the Arboretum has peacocks running around loose. No white ones that I've seen, just the usual (but stunningly beautiful) India blue peacocks. I've never seen a live white peacock, only a taxidermy specimen in an antique store.
Incidentally, peacocks can be white either because it's their coloring (their skin and eyes are pigmented), or they can be albinos, with pink skin and eyes. I painted a white, not an albino, critter.
The painting depicts a rain forest typical of the lowland tropics of Central and South America. Normally I work to keep my painted habitats "pure," but this piece has non-native (to Latin America) species in it: the Hawaiian tree ferns (Cibotium chamissoi), the rabbit foot's fern in the lower left (from Fiji) and, of course, the peacock.
I've included some details from the painting, some intentionally easy to miss if one views the original piece.
It's hard to say if I'd ever again do another painting like this...so much detail to paint!! Maybe next time, I would create a view where I (the painter) am standing further away from the scene rather than standing IN it!
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
I first started doing "real" outdoor art shows in February, 1989. The first was in Palm Springs, CA followed by several others. The best part of those shows was getting to know some of the other artists who, like me, returned to do the shows as they came along.
One of the artists I met was a photographer who sold small framed prints of his pictures. I often wondered how well he did with his enterprise. He was a Seventh-Day Adventist, a Protestant Christian group that believes the traditional Sabbath day, Saturday, should continue to be the Sabbath and not Sunday as most other denominations believe.
The art shows were typically three-day shows...Friday - Sunday. Well, this fella was ready to sell on Fridays, closed up his booth on Saturdays, and returned on Sundays for more sales and to take it all down at the end.
I have to admire him for his dedication to his convictions, but I always wondered how well he could do by missing out on an important sales day -- Saturday.
Maybe he had retirement income going for him and selling photos was not his #1 source of revenue. Obviously, he felt it was more important to attend church than to be present at the art shows, in spite of possibly missing out on filling his wallet a bit more. Perhaps God would reward the guy in non-material ways than are much better than money.
I suspect the photographer is no longer of the earth -- he was already along in years in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I'd guess he is in the Lord's presence now, reaping the eternal benefits of his commitment to God.