Friday, December 30, 2016

2017 Is Coming!

Well, no matter what we might try, 2017 is coming...for better or for worse.

I'd guess that 2017 will be a time of healing for me. I'm not going to do much to promote or sell my art, and for that matter, I'll be slowing down the painting production as well.

Not that I don't have ideas in my head for images I want to get painted. Landscapes, surrealism, figurative (maybe). It's just hard to get motivated right now. 

I know I've worked REALLY hard for many years, and I think I've just HAD it! The year 1981, my senior year as a microbiology major at Cal Poly, Pomona, was the start of a strenuous time where I worked days, nights, weekends...with no time for play or leisure. That continued as I entered an internship in Medical Technology at the City of Hope Medical Center -- an incredibly stressful time of cramming information into my walnut-sized brain and learning lab procedures of clinical technicians.

Then came grad school, a time-intensive period of spending almost all of my time in the lab doing research.

Finally, the job searches and working when I DID find jobs AND trying to develop a career in the visual arts, first as a photographer, then as a painter. I expected science to support my wife and me while working toward the goal of painting full-time.

Eventually I left the science world and the unreliability of grant-funded jobs and went to work for a Christian ministry (and, of course, still painting and entering shows). Then in early 2001, I embarked on a full-time painting career.

So here I am -- 15 years of painting and trying to sell at galleries, outdoor and indoor art and museum shows, website... and I'm no closer to my goal now than I was 15 years ago. I've had a few successes here and there, but mostly, we lost a lot more money than I made. For 15 years.

Enough. I'm throwing in the towel. I'll still paint, keep the website up, still blog. But at the very least, I need a long break from trying to sell. Maybe a permanent break.

And maybe an adjustment in some of the meds I take, too. I'm too low on energy and motivation these days.

Hopefully by the next time I write, I'll have a new painting to share. Painting, and taking it easy at the same time for a change. I need to find the joy in art again.

Let's hope.

(Revised website: or

Friday, December 9, 2016

A Christmas Bunny

So -- what does one do if one:
  • is an artist;
  • loves Christmas;
  • loves bunnies? paints a Christmas bunny! A lop-eared bunny, in this case.

rabbit,bunny,lop ears,lop-eared,Christmas,green,red,Santa hat,cute,furry,whiskers
A Christmas Bunny               14" x 11" / 36cm x 28cm


Monday, November 21, 2016

Autumn Nymph

Autumn Nymph is finally finished!

pretty,beautiful,girl,woman,autumn,fall,maple,leaves,bird,indigo bunting,garlands,fantasy,red,orange,chubby,plump
Autumn Nymph     20" x 16" / 51cm x 41cm
I mentioned this painting on my previous post -- a gal taking in the beautiful fall colors of a maple forest (maybe even producing the colors!) with leafy garlands on her head and in her hands. I was going to title it "Goddess of Autumn" or "Queen of Autumn," but I really didn't attire her in a godly or royal outfit. Plus, she has a playful expression that one sees all the time on nymphs. 😀😀😀

And one item of blue, which turned out to be an indigo bunting. I originally thought of painting-in a blue morpho butterfly -- those neat flutterbies with the iridescent / metallic blue wings. However, their wings are brown on the undersides, and looking up at one would display more brown than blue. So I went with the bird instead.

Frankly, I've got a long ways to go when it comes to painting portraits or the figure in the classical-realism style I'm addicted to. I received some help with the face from friend and master painter Virgil Elliott. I've learned that doing this in my fast-drying acrylic adds significantly to the challenge. If I decide to pursue this subject matter, I may have to use oil paint for portraits. Or learn how to get around the problem of having little time to blend colors smoothly.

The woman was a former co-worker of The Wiffee's back in the 1980s. I took a series of photos of her -- she even had some ballet skills to help her look graceful and even more awesome than she was! (I shot black and white film -- I have no idea now why I did that instead of color!) She's a bit on the plump side, but "curviness" happens to be attractive, and even a turn-on, to me. I know lots of other males agree with me.

The painting sort of looks like the real person, but not entirely. Virgil suggested I spend a lot more time just drawing and improving my skills. I'd have to agree with him.

I don't know if I'll try to sell this, but I'm thinking -- this one may be just for ME! It was a great learning experience, but I need to get better at rendering the face and figure.

Like they say: Back to the drawing board!

This piece will appear on my yet-to-be-launched website, In the meantime, my landscapes still appear on my existing site(s):

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Still Working!

Phew! I can't tell you how glad I am that the elections are OVER!! The complaining and "the world's gonna end" stuff have started, and I think I'll take a break from Facebook for awhile until that dies down, too.

Meanwhile, I HAVE been working on a painting, although progress has been slow. It'll include a figure of a young woman, much closer than I normally paint figures (when I actually DO paint them). Being into the traditional / classical realist look, I want the gal to have that look to her. Frankly, I'm pretty inexperienced at painting or drawing portraits or the figure.

face,girl,woman,nymph,autumn,fall,pretty,beautiful, attractive,red

This is her face which, after consultations with a classical painter and friend, Virgil Elliott (at, we decided she's lookin' pretty good at this point. (Sorry about the glare on her hair at the upper right area).

She's going to be a "spirit" of fall, but I haven't decided if she'll be a goddess, queen, princess or nymph of autumn. I'm leaning toward the last one, since I didn't dress her in royally-elegant clothing.

So now I'm adding lots of fall maple leaves, a garland of leaves on her head, and she'll be holding a garland in her hands. The "nymph" is looking up at a yet-to-be-painted item in blue -- possibly an indigo bunting or those amazing metallic / iridescent Morpho butterflies. It will be the only blue in the painting, which will be predominately reddish-orange.

I think it'll be a neat piece when it's done, but I'm taking my time on it. It's gotta be done right!

When it's finished it will appear on a website I haven't created yet: In the meantime, my landscapes appear on my "main" website at either of these URLs:


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

An EASTERN Landscape?!?-

An eastern landscape?!? I thought Mark Junge was a painter of western and desert landscapes!!

Well, I love autumn colors, and although the West has its share, the East coast has all of the ochers, rusts, oranges and reds that make fall so much of what it is.

upstate New York,Hudson River Valley,Catskill Mountains,fall,autumn,storm,clouds,barn,silo,trees,farm,ranch,fall colors,blue sky
In the Catskills               11" x 14 '/ 28cm x 36cm              acrylic/panel
This is a scene we happened upon on a trip we made to upstate New York. The view, while less colorful than many other sites we visited, had the neat little barn or storage shed, a few other small buildings and a small silo. I don't know if this area was used to grow hay or if it was pasture land (there was a barbed-wire fence around the lot, which I didn't paint in). Also, the fence was mostly hidden by a "hedge" of small shrubs; again, I painted only a few in the foreground.

When it's actually fall, that's when I feel the most like painting autumn scenes. Seems like once we pass Christmas, all thoughts of painting fall or Christmas/winter artworks melts with the snow. (Actually, BEFORE the snow melts).

So for now, I'm indulging myself with autumn paintings. Maybe I can finish another one or two before the holidays are over.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

It's Autumn Again!

Autumn is a time when I tend to start getting excited. I don't think it's a migratory instinct.☺ It's the beginning of the colorful holiday season -- fall itself, then Halloween, Thanksgiving and finally Christmas. I love the festive look and the colors of these times.

I think it all started in the late 1970s when I discovered images of some well-made paintings of migratory waterfowl, especially mallard ducks (which I happen to love!) I bought several of these limited-edition prints, and I have them to this day. I typically keep them put away until fall, then I switch around other prints to hang these. They do a lot to establish a fall ambiance.

Owen Gromme,David Maass,mallard ducks,wood ducks,autumn,fall,waterfowl,colorful,Wild Wings

These are the first three prints I ordered from an outfit called Wild Wings. The top piece is by the late Owen J. Gromme, and the lower two are by living artist David A. Maass.

As one might suspect, duck hunters enjoy images like these because this is how their pastime looks -- early morning, ducks taking off and settling down, looking for breakfast. Well, I'm not a hunter of any kind, but I love ducks and I love fall colors. And, for me as a desert painter, David's paintings often show the "wide open spaces" that wetlands can be. In fact, Mr. Maass' works are typically nice landscapes that would "work" even without the critters. But with the ducks (or upland birds, as well), the landscapes become even more amazing!

Although I have rarely painted ducks, I still feel my own artwork has been influenced by painters such as Owen and David. Besides the prints I have, I feel I owe them a debt of thanks for inspiring me!


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Mystical Redwoods

The Mystical Redwoods is the title of my latest painting. The scene is a bit of a composite, but I wanted a view that shows one of my favorite moods of this amazing place.

Sequoia sempervirens,coast,coastal,California,redwood,redwoods,forest,old growth,fog,sunbeams,rays,ferns,rhododendrons,irises,girl,woman,walking.strolling,path
The Mystical Redwoods     18" x 24" / 46cm x 61cm

I wanted a light and luminescent fog as I saw in Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood National Park in June, 1982. It felt like I was in heaven -- I've never seen anything quite like it before except in pictures.

At the same time, I wanted a sense of being in Mother Nature's womb -- light, yet surrounded by a comforting and protective cloak.

For scale, I included a woman walking along a path. She's a bit hard to make out because she is quite small, but she's there! But one can see the enormity of these beautiful giants. And, this time around, I didn't include any other critters -- no bunnies, no birdies, no deer...nuthin else! Just a human.

My only concern is that I didn't paint enough trees for what represents an old-growth forest. But I decided to leave it. More paintings of the California redwoods are in queue, anyway.

The Mystical Redwoods isn't on my website yet, but I will feature it on a page that is not entitled "Desert Paintings."

(My website URLs are: and www.Mark

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Irrevocable Deadlines and Such

Here it is, Labor Day weekend, and I've had the phrase, "irrevocable deadline " on my mind a lot lately. It was a term I learned years ago in a class I took at Cal Poly University, Pomona on starting a small business. In that context, it was a reasonable date the entrepreneur would set for him/herself when the person expected to be fully self-employed.

I've done that -- several times, in fact -- but now I gave it a new meaning:

31 December 2016, midnight -- if I don't get overwhelming sales of paintings by then, at one femtosecond into 2017, I'm done with the art business. DONE!!!

I've been doing art as a business for 15 years now, full time. I'd say the quality of my artwork has improved tremendously during that time. But I'm absolutely no closer to my career goals than I was 15 years ago. I have a very small following, two or three repeat customers (who are pretty much full up on art), and an occasional sale or commission just doesn't pay the bills. I've been losing money every year until 2014, when I stopped keeping up the books because it was a waste of time.

I've done the things artists are supposed to do -- juried outdoor shows, galleries, participated in art exhibitions in California and Colorado. And spent a LOT of money and time doing that.

I offer prints on, but over the years, I've sold two small prints. That's it.

The only thing I haven't done is to travel wherever in the country I would need to go where my type of art sells. But I can't afford to do that, my pickup trucks have too many miles on them, and I ain't a kid anymore -- traveling is hard on me physically.

So -- I'm just DONE. I'll probably keep my website up, mostly as an online portfolio or personal art online art museum, but I may have some "BUY NOW" buttons there in case someone wants to buy a painting.

I'll keep painting -- albeit more slowly -- and I may take the time to look into other online artwork sites. I already posted images on; Instagram requires images to be uploaded directly from a smart phone which I don't have; plus, I wouldn't be able to crop backgrounds out or tweak images to make them look like the real deal.

At least I'm receiving Social Security, which brings in more $$$ than I EVER made from art sales!

In the end, there's both good and bad news in this. Year's end hasn't hit yet, but frankly, I'm no longer looking for any miracles. I've had this dream of making a living in the arts -- first photography, then painting -- for 40+ years, and it appears I have to let that dream die.

In just a few short months. My irrevocable date.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Redwoods, Redwoods...LOTS of Redwoods

I've been working on a painting of coastal redwoods, found along the coast of northern California. Well, I'm sort of working on it...lots of distractions and chores to do lately.

The scene I'm working on is a composite -- typical of the redwoods, but there's no one place (that I'm aware of) that will look just like it. I wanted something less literal...more mystical, something worthy of a place I think of as God's own cathedral.

 So far, I have several sources of inspiration, including some photos I took of Lady Bird Johnson Grove in Redwood National Park in 1982. One of the neat things about LBJ Grove is: it must be at the top of a hill, close to where the hill drops off. Instead of the typical dark wall of dense redwood forest, the sky is light even in pea-soup fog. I like both kinds of looks, but the bluish sky is awesome, in my opinion. (The following are scanned from 35mm slides).

Redwood National Park,Lady Bird Johnson Grove,redwoods,forest,fog,blue,ferns

Redwood National Park,Lady Bird Johnson Grove,redwoods,forest,fog,blue,ferns,iris,irisesRedwood National Park,Lady Bird Johnson Grove,redwoods,forest,fog,blue,ferns,stump

Redwood National Park,Lady Bird Johnson Grove,redwoods,forest,fog,blue,ferns,sun beams,shafts of lightRedwood National Park,Lady Bird Johnson Grove,redwoods,forest,fog,blue,ferns,sun beams,shafts of light

LBJ Grove is such an amazing place, especially when a light fog drifts in. Then the air itself luminesces, making the visitor feel like s/he turned a corner and stepped into heaven. Photos don't capture it.

Actually, the painting I'm doing now won't quite capture it, either. I'm after a different, moody, womb-like effect. I hope I can find the time and energy to finish it soon!


Saturday, August 13, 2016

"All Is Vanity"

"Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?"

This comment appears in the Bible (King James Version in this case), Ecclesiastes 1. The writer spoke of the utter hopelessness of his life -- all based on things and actions of which God would not approve.

I don't think I have much of a problem in that area, but the verses (and the ones that follow -- look 'em up in your Bible if you're so inclined) seem to be ringing especially true for me lately.

I'm getting old...OK, I AM old, and have been for a while. When loved ones around you die and the things/careers/educational goals we work so hard at just don't do what they're supposed to do, then we look at what we've really accomplished, it's possible to get to a point where everything feels worthless. Like -- what's the point? We get old, do stuff in the meantime, then die, and the world goes on without us.

What's it all for? What's the point?

Some people want to leave a legacy behind to be remembered by -- the closest to immortality we'll ever achieve here in this lifetime. But maybe we're fooling ourselves. I've often thought if I were incredibly rich and I could fund a new addition to a hospital, I would resist calling it The Mark Junge Center for Really Important Medical Stuff. No one would know how to pronounce my last name, and anyway, who cares whose name appears on the building. The Really Important Medical Stuff is all people want and need

In my head, I know whats really important and what isn't. But there's something depressing about reaching a stage where "all is vanity" is what it was all about.

Supposedly, painting was going to be my legacy of sorts...or, at least, a way to earn a living. In fact, the gift of knowing how to make money by any method seems to be a skill I never picked up along the way. I certainly worked hard at a number of skills -- science and art were the two at the top.

But it never really worked out financially, and now I'm just tired. The motivation to work at something seems to be gone. I could have a number of reasons for feeling that way, but I can't discount the sheer frustration of working hard for a long LONG period of time and being no better off now than I was many years ago.

So, that's it. At least now that I've been collecting Social Security, I can paint what I want to paint without even wondering if it would sell or not.

At least THAT thought is freeing! 


Oh, and don't forget -- you can still find me at:


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Heart of the Andes

Frederic Church,The Heart of the Andes,painting

Frederic Church,The Heart of the Andes,painting
"The Heart of the Andes," Frederic E. Church, 1859, 66-1/8" x 119-1/4" / 168cm x 302.9cm). Entire painting and a detail.

One of my favorite and inspirational paintings in the universe. This sucker is almost 10 feet long; yet, look at all the detail Church painted into the scene. I can't say for sure what the dimensions are of the "detail," but as you can see, he painted every leaf and stem. No blobs of paint that we're supposed to use our imaginations on. Church painted as much detail per unit of measurement as I do, but he did it on big BIG canvases! In fact, paintings like this are what inspired me to work that way.

The plant and animal life are accurate, too. I know some PhD. botanists who love Church's work because they can speciate the plants. This scene is a composite of views from Columbia and Ecuador and shows a number of habitats all at once -- from lowland tropics to the alpine mountain peaks.

So if you ever get to New York, get thee to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where this gem is hanging. Unless they've moved things, "Heart of the Andes" is directly opposite Albert Bierstadt's "Rocky Mountains."

Friday, July 22, 2016

Finished a New BIG Painting...FINALLY!!

I FINALLY finished a painting that's been bogging me down for months! Not because it was all that complex, but because I just couldn't seem to force myself to work on it. I guess larger paintings intimidate me a bit...more than they used to. And I never really liked working on big stuff anyway.

Mt,Mount,San Jacinto,cloud,enshrouded,clouds,desert,yucca,flowers,desert dandelion,Fremont's pincushion,animal,animals
Mt. San Jacinto from Morongo Valley      60" x 48"

The scene shows Mt. San Jacinto (west of Palm Springs, CA) as one sees it from the northern end of Morongo Valley. The piece features many of the plants and animals that live in this small rural community. (OK, you're not likely to see white doves there, but there's a reason why I included them).

Here are the animals that appear in the painting. Some are easy to find, others require more searching:

desert,animals,critters,cottontail rabbits,bunny,bunnies,lizard,Gambel's quail
Animals of Morongo Valley
This is obviously not a complete pictorial of every critter that inhabits this area. But these are examples of animals that live there.

Now, the white doves... This painting is being donated to a church (Church of the Lighted Cross) in Morongo Valley. White doves often symbolize the Holy Spirit, so it seemed appropriate to include a small flock of them.

Also, I normally would have painted this artwork in a horizontal ("landscape") format rather than vertical ("portrait"), but it needed to fit in a particular space. So vertical it is!

I hope the painting will be a blessing to the people of the church, the population of Morongo Valley and -- perhaps -- to the entire world!


Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Power of Art

In 1987, a movie called Fatal Attraction came out starring Michael Douglas, Anne Archer as his wife and Glenn Close as Alex, a woman Michael's character had an affair with -- and who would "not be ignored" by him. She expected more than a one-night stand, and things got out of hand as Alex invaded the married couple's life and made it a living hell. (Sadly, even the couple's pet bunny died in the process).

Fatal Attraction,Michael Douglas,Glenn Close,movie,movies,influential

I never did see the movie all the way through -- just bits and pieces of it on TV. But I remember the comments movie goers made after they watched the flick in '87 -- after seeing Fatal Attraction, they would think twice about ever having an affair; i.e., cheating on their spouses.

One movie did something that all the pulpit preaching couldn't do -- it made us aware of the consequences of making a bad choice.

Art -- good art -- has the ability to do that. It touches us in a way that verbal admonitions can't do. Art can pull on the ol' heartstrings and reach us at a visceral level, a level that is not always subject to common sense or logic. Rightly or wrongly, art moves people and makes us think in ways that mere talking cannot.

The late columnist, Paul Harvey once wrote a piece discussing this point:


by Paul Harvey

A nation might have died. Finland was so worried about menacing anarchists and so depressed over the death of Alexander Second that the nation might have rolled over and been Run over by the Russians.

But when the Finns felt their smallest weakest and poorest composer Jean Sibelius wrote something called “Finlandia” – An Orchestral piece that rallied the Finns long lost patriotic fervor, and they resisted the Russification of their land and lived happily ever after.

The Power of art over argument.

Nobody could have persuaded a generation of Americans to produce a baby boom – Yet Shirley Temple movies made every American want to have one.

Military enlistments were lagging for our air force until, almost overnight, a movie called “Top Gun” had recruits standing in line.

The power of art over argument.

Human history goes in circles. Majorities become fat and lazy ultimately to be overwhelmed by lean hungry minorities.

And the elevation of the downtrodden never relies on logic; it is instead facilitated by the persistent persuasion of gifted penmen.

British sweatshops for children existed only until Dickens wrote about them.

American slaves were slaves only until Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote about them.

Oh, yes, Lincoln himself credited her with having started the Civil War.

The power of art over argument.

More persuasive than any orator is the artist who can reduce complex considerations to a political cartoon.

Animal rights activists bemoan the difficulty of making most people relate to animals.
Yet once upon a time a cartoonist named Walt Disney created an animal character named “Bambi” and in one year deer-hunting nose-dived from a $5.7 million business – to one million.

The power of art over argument.

Statutes mandating more humane treatment of draft-horses were initiated by a book: “Black Beauty”

My generation’s first introduction to the man-animal kinship was through the books of Albert Payson Terhune about his collies.

The priority of all humanitarians should be the alleviation of suffering.

Public relations people – however gifted and properly motivated – have been frustrated in the human field.

Most every argument they advance got them denounced or derided. Logical argument on behalf of suffering animals has been met, at best, with only lukewarm success.

You want to convince the unconvinced, don’t call to arms call to “art.” Disney, Albert Payson Terhune, James Herriot -- who’s next?

Artists are time proved experts at transplanting hearts into the heartless.

These are the greatest resource of all of us who would make mankind.

I couldn't have said it better myself!


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Writing for the Arts

Writing for the Arts was the name of a class I took at California State University, Los Angeles in the late 1980s when I was finishing up my Bachelors degree in Art. I learned a lot in the class, and the professor (Sandy B.) was adamant about NOT writing in the "Artspeak" manner so typical of most art reviewers and critics. If you've ever tried to read that stuff, you know how utterly nonsensical and useless it is.

I was grateful that Sandy introduced us to a writing style that emphasized descriptive language -- wording that would form images in the reader's minds, using lots of adverbs, some adjectives and "good" verbs. As much as possible, I continue to try to write that way in what I would consider my "serious" writing (posts on Facebook are NOT included in that group!) One example of my "serious" writing appears on my website -- my Bio page (aka "Why Does Mark Paint the Desert?!?" -- you can see it HERE).

In addition, the following was an assignment for the class, talking about some early experiences (1970s) with selling my surrealist paintings at an outdoor art fair.


“Geez, that’s weird!” he said, pausing briefly, then turning away into the art fair’s forest of canvases, tinkling windchimes and seashell animals. The April sun gently warmed the barely-clothed bodies meandering down the narrow pathways.

“Really different. By far the best work in the show.” I looked up. The man, perhaps in his sixties, smiled, nodded and continued on his way.

A breeze softly lifted a lock of her long, reddish-brown hair as her mouth and eyes opened into perfect circles. “A surrealist! How neat!” She gazed at my paintings in wonder. “I’d love to buy one. Will you be here next week?”

“Probably,” I said.

She smiled. “Great! I’ll probably see you then.” I knew I would never see her again.

The flow of people seemed to stop momentarily, so I ambled over to my neighbor. “They never buy here. They only look,” he commented with the air of wisdom that comes only with long, hard years of experience.

“I think you’re right,” I answered. “I’ve gotten lots of nice comments, but you can’t pay the bills with nice comments.” He agreed.

An older couple appeared and looked at my paintings. I quickly turned, but they left before I could take a step. An older, bearded intellectual type stopped, thoughtfully puffed on his pipe, and spoke slowly.

“A Rod Serling of the brush” he said, continuing with a discourse on the meaning of my work. He told me things about my artwork that even I didn’t know. I couldn’t resist.

“Wanna buy it?”

“No, no,” he laughed as he walked away.

I had hoped to sell publishing rights to the story to The Artist magazine, but they wanted writing that showed the positive side of the artists' lives. Well, I'll admit my story isn't very hopeful, but it IS accurate!

Oh, well. At least my writing skills are still intact. I doubt I'll ever write a novel, but I can see trying my luck with writing some short stories. Author Ray Bradbury is one of my favorite authors, and he wrote some short stories that used some of this descriptive language in powerful ways. So -- maybe some day...