Sunday, December 18, 2011

Book Club: Late afternoon coffee with Oprah

14 x 14'', acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 
2011, painting #202

Where does inspiration comes from? For me it's often a sequence of events that ignites the idea. This past spring, I watched the last 30 episodes of the Oprah Winfrey Show. After 25 years, she was saying goodbye to daytime television and moving on to her own network, appropriately named OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network). During this same period,  I was browsing through the used book section at a Canadian Dollar Store here in town, when I spotted no less than a dozen books that were chosen as past selections for her Book Club. What are the odds, since the book display case is only a two sided, four feet wide rack. When I got back home, it all came to me, an homage to the grand lady of television. The next day, I went back and bought seven of them, adding to the four I already had purchased in past years. When I really think about it, over all those years, even if I had only watched 50 shows per season, it would amount to 1250 episodes.......1250 hours in front of the tube.  

She started her book club in September of 1996. The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard was chosen as the first selection. Viewers were invited to read the book and the author was often present for an audience discussion at the conclusion. During the fifteen years, 67 books were introduced to her viewers. Because of the book club's wide popularity, many obscure titles have become very popular bestsellers. Several novels have sold in excess of one million copies, this occurrence is widely known as the Oprah Effect. It is estimated that the sales of the ''Oprah Book Club'' editions has sold in excess of 55 million copies. The top five with sales figures as of May 2011 are:
  1. Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth, 3,370,000 copies
  2. James Frey, A million little Pieces- 2,695,500 copies
  3. Elie Wiesel, Night- 2,021,000 copies
  4. Cormac McCartney, The Road- 1,385,000 copies (after the book was selected, it was awarded the Pulitzer prize for fiction in 2007)  
  5. Joyce Carol Oates, We were the Mulvaneys, 1,348,000 copies

Many of the titles would later be made into film, such as The Deep End of the Ocean, The Reader, The Pilot's Wife, White OleanderHouse of Sand and  FogA Map of the World, the Road and Love in a Time of Cholera.

Around 1996, was also the period when she started to enlighten people by having spiritual authors with their words of wisdom. This was the time when I really started to tune in, and had my own spiritual awakening while reading Celestine Prophecies by James Redfield.  Many people viewed this as a menace to established religions vs church free spirituality. I view them as two separate entities, which I won't go into details, but both are connected to God or a ''higher being''. She would emerged as a spiritual leader in the process, which continues on her own network with ''Oprah's Lifeclass''.  In fact, the only book that I have read from the Book Club selections is A New Earth by  Eckhart Tolle, which is my all-time favorite spiritual book. However, I have read many of the other books that were introduced on air during these spiritual classes from authors like Gary Zukav, Sarah Ban Breathnach, Shirley McClaine, Dannion Brinkley, James Van Praagh, Carolyn Myss, Rhonda Byrne, Wayne  Dwyer, Richard Carlson, Betty J. Eadie and several others. These are the authors that bring enlightenment with what Oprah calls ''A-ha moments''.

For this painting, I went for the visuals. In this lot of seven books are no less than three Nobel Prize Award Winners. Toni Morrison and Gabriel Garcia Marquez for literature and Eli Wiesel for Peace. The titles are as follows (clockwise)-
1- One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (featuring a painting by Cathleen Toelke)
2- Stones from the River - Ursula Hegi (featuring a painting by Albrecht Durer)
3- Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison
4- The Bluest Eyes - Toni Morrison
5- Night - Eli Wiesel
6- A New Earth- Awakening to your Life's Purpose - Eckhart Tolle
7- Love in a time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez 

The Toni Morrison books are kind of hidden, but they are at the base level and they anchor the composition, plus she is one of Oprah's favorite person. I chose Love in a time of Cholera for a few reasons. It really complimented the color scheme of the cup and saucer. This Royal Albert demi-tasse with floral motif is called Camelot. It once belonged to my wife Suzanne's grandmother. When she died, Suzanne's mother Viola inherited the heirloom and displayed it in a curio wall cabinet for many years. Viola passed away, 6 years ago, she was an avid fan of the Oprah Winfrey Show.

In related stories, I've been sponsoring a boy from Haiti for three years now, specifically with money I earn from selling art.  I only get a letter from Wilky about once a year. The second letter I ever received was on January 12, 2010. It came with an updated photo of him. That evening as I was about to put his photo in a picture frame, I switched on the television as they were announcing and covering the devastation from earth quake that had just hit Haiti. The fact that I was holding his photo, also shook me. Fortunately for him, he does not live near Port-au-Prince and their area suffered minimal damage. On the same day I purchased the lot of seven books which including Love is a Time of Cholera, I was to receive the only letter from him this year. That day I read that his family had been afflicted during the recent cholera outbreak. He became gravely ill and one of his brothers almost died.

This past spring our 16 year old son was hospitalized for the first time in his life with viral infection that compromised his immune system. During this time he was reading Night by Eli Weisel for a book report in his English studies class. One morning as he had a fever of 104 F, and felt too weak to read, I sat at his bedside and read out loud a few chapters of the author's personal heartbreaking account of family rupture in concentration camps during WW2. 

I'm planning to do a complimentary Oprah Book Club piece next year taking a slightly different approach.  

To acquire this painting, please contact the 
Fog Forest Gallery 
14 Bridge Street, Sackville, NB. Canada
(506) 536-9000 or 


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mes ailes (My Wings)

14 x 18'', acrylic on gessoed hardboard
Painting # 201, 2011
This painting is a commission piece done from a photograph provided by the client. Operating from Oregon, Van's Aircraft is an American kit aircraft manufacturer, founded by Richard "Van" VanGrunsven in 1973.  These aluminium planes are sold as kits for self assembly. This  RV-7A  model from the Van's Aircraft fleet had received a striking custom paint job.

The painting was a surprise gift for her husband who was the original owner of the plane before upgrading from a two to a four-seater.

Speaking of planes, I've been invited by the Elliott Fouts Gallery in Sacramento, Ca to participate in a spring group show that will be entitled, ''Planes, Trains and Automobiles''. I will be taking a more conceptual approach for these paintings.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Feature- Interview by Carrie Waller

Let it Snow, 6 x 8'', watercolour
by Carrie Waller

Carrie's Creations is a blog that features the artwork of gifted watercolorist Carrie Waller. She recently started a weekly post series interviewing fellow blog artists. I am the lucky beneficiary of this week's Friday Feature. In one single interview, I am probably revealing more about my background and creative process than if you read my whole blog from the first posting.

To check out the interview link  or view Carrie's compelling watercolor paintings, do visit her blog.  Many thanks Carrie for this unique opportunity.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pops on Pop Art

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 2011
12 x 16, painting #200

The inspiration for this painting is a play on words that emerged during the photo studies I did for the painting ''Sally blowing bubbles, an homage to Charles Schulz''. Pops, a hard candy lollipop with a bubble gum center was introduced after Tootsie Roll acquired Dubble Bubble in 2004. It is a modern take from the Tootsie Pop, first introduced to the public in 1931, 80 years ago.

The art book is Pop Art, by Tilman Osterwold, originally published in 1990 by Taschen. This edition was part of Taschen publishing 25th anniversary, printed in 2007 featuring Roy Lichtenstein's M-Maybe (a girl's picture), 1965 on the cover. In reference to the book's content, an original Tootsie Pop appears in Richard Hamilton's 1956 collage, Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?

This is a milestone painting in my artistic career, as it marks my 200th original piece. I have been painting for 24 years. From 1987 to 2000, I only produced an average of two paintings per year, 27 in fact. I became more prolific in 2001 when I started painting for my first solo show that consisted of all new works. That 2002 show entitled Perspective would be the catalyst to jump start my professional career. My artwork is forever changing, but it doesn't get any easier with time. I found this piece to be especially challenging.  It might just be the fact that I'm tackling subject matter that I often find intimidating to paint. Rather than viewing it from a technical aspect, I try to focus more on composition, artistry and content.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Group Exhibitions

I live on the Atlantic coast of Canada. During the month of October, I am participating in three group exhibitions. One on the west coast of Canada and two others on both coasts of continental United States. Not so long ago, this occurrence would have been only possible in a dream.

The Still Life, an invitational group show at the Elliott Fouts Gallery in Sacramento California opened on October 1 and runs through November 2. The opening reception was held last Saturday on October 8. I have three paintings in this exhibition, and am currently working on a fourth that will be a late entry. I've been very busy of late with other aspect of my life and could not make the deadline in time. I am fortunate to be included in a very select group of artists that includes- Jeff Cohen, Jelaine Faunce, Teresa N. Fisher, Todd Ford, Russel Harris, James Neil Hollingsworth, Mary Ellen Johnson, Judy Nunes & Christopher Stott

The Elliott Fouts Gallery has done a phenomenal job in promoting the show. I am grateful and fortunate to have more than my share of exposure. Held over Klimt is currently the image on the gallery's website home page. Red Velvet Cup Cake, an homage to Thiebaud was printed in full color in the Sacramento Bee (newspaper) in the Arts & Museum section and Black Forest Cup Cake, an homage to Thiebaud appeared along with an artist's statement on pages 164 & 165 of the October 2011 issue of American Art Collector. This last painting sold even before I shipped it.

To inquire about the artwork please contact:

Elliott Fouts Gallery
4749 J. Street Sacramento, California, USA , 95819
Phone (916) 736-1429


photo on left- opening reception photo taken my Neil Hollingsworth, also featured - Andrei Palmer

In Atlanta Georgia, ''The Real Thing'', an invitational group exhibition celebrating the 125th Anniversary of Coca-Cola opened on September 16 and runs through the month of October at the Mason Murer Fine Art.  Among the artists taking part are Jelaine Faunce, Teresa N. Fisher, Todd Ford, Neil Hollingsworth, Kim Karlson, Otto Lange, David Malan, Rick McClury, Burton Morris, Michael Naples, Andrei Palmer, Christopher Stott, Sally Tharp, and Vic Vicini .

Mason Murer Fine Art
199 Armour Drive
Atlanta, GA 30324


Last but not least, my painting ''May Blooms in a Mason Jar'' was juried into the Annual International Representational Show - AIRS (2nd edition) hosted by The Federation of Canadian Artists that is based out of Vancouver. I've was elected as an active member in the fall of 2004. Several of my past submissions into their juried thematic exhibitions were rejected, so I am especially thrilled to have a chance to exhibit among a exceptionnal group of artists on a larger platform. The exhibtion opened on October 4 and runs through October 23.

The Federation of Canadian Artists was founded in 1941 by a group of influential artists, including Group of Seven luminary, Lawren Harris, it continues to operate as a non-profit organization with chapters throughout Canada.  Dedicated to its aim of gradually raising the artists’ standards by stimulating participants to greater heights of achievement.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Held over Klimt

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 2011
12 x 9'', painting  #199

Last year, my painting- Held over Monet was a result of discovering the fabulous art glass of Robert Held. This new painting is a result of history repeating itself. Of life imitating art and vice versa. Fast forward one year, our son Jean-Luc's soccer team was taking part in another tournament on Prince Edward Island in late July. Different town, different art galleries visited during down time, but same outcome. They win gold in the finals and I acquire another piece of his wonderful art glass. This painting pays tribute to two amazing artists.

Robert Held was born in Santa Ana California. He studied painting at Whittier College until ceramics artist  F.Carleton Ball crossed his path. Pursuing a Master's Degree in Fine Arts at the University of Southern California, Robert was awarded the graduate assistantship. At this time, he won the prestigious "Glen Lukins Award" for new work in ceramics. Upon graduating, Robert was offered a position as Head of Ceramics at a college being built in Ontario. He accepted the position becoming the youngest department head at the Sheridan College - School of Design.

In 1968, after a visit to the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, Robert Held discovered a new love: the art of glassblowing. He returned to Sheridan College inspired and succeeded in launching Canada's first college level hot glass program in 1969. This program allowed many Canadian artists to become skilled in this medium, and crowned Robert Held as the pioneer of art glass in Canada.

Eventually, Mr. Held left the teaching world, and in 1978 he began his own glass studio known as Skookum Art Glass Inc based out of Calgary, AB and operated there until 1987. At this time, he moved to Vancouver, BC, and continues to enjoy much success there today at his studio: Robert Held Art Glass, and also through the many fine galleries and gift shops that carry his work throughout North America, Europe and Japan.

Some works are inspired by the paintings of famous artists such as Monet and Klimt, while others take inspiration from photographers and even interior designers. This vase is from the California Poppy collection. This line was inspired by the famous impressionist painting ''The Poppy fields'' by Claude Monet. In keeping with the color scheme of the vase, in lieu of Monet I was inspired to use an art book of Gustav Klimt featuring ''The Kiss'' on the front cover to ground the composition.  

Born in 1862, Gustav Klimt was an Austrian Symbolist painter and the founding father and a leading member of the Vienna Secession movement, a group of artist who consciously rejected the academic style of the late nineteenth century. Even though he had formally studied art at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts. He received training as an architectural painter and was classified as an academic painter who could paint hyperrealist portraits. He became celebrated for his rich, complex, gold-dazzling friezes and portraits of powerful, chic woman from Vienna's turn of the century society. His artistic vocabulary incorporated esoteric design and eroticism, which was not always well received, including some commissions which were never revealed.  His work was greatly influenced by the Byzantine movement and he also was associated with Art Nouveau when the movement was at it's peak.

''The Kiss'' (1907-08) is a celebration of his deeply held belief in the transforming power of idealized love. Klimt himself is the male figure embracing his life companion Emilie Flöge. The art book's author Gilles Néret notes,  ''Klimt's otherwise dominating woman becomes submissive. She yields to the man, abandons herself to him, and sexuality shimmers through her clinging gown''. I read this passage during the time I was doing the preliminary drawing on paper. By the time I started to paint, it dawn on me that the position of the vase and window frame in relation with the image, casted a shadow on the woman side. The positioning of the heads creating polar opposites like a ying-yang and it's attributes. Ying is seen as dark, passive and feminine while yang as light, active and masculine. And of course the only red flowers from the woman's gown are cast in the shadow of the vase, which itself boosts flowers in the same color palette. It becomes easy to over analyse imagery and create a narrative when you have a connection the goes beyond the surface.

The Kiss was done during his ''Golden Phase''. During this period he used gold leaf prominently on the artwork, which brought him both success and critical approval. Many of those Golden Phase paintings were confiscated by the Nazi regime during WWII. The image below entitled Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1(1907) once belong to the Bloch-Bauer couple until it was seized by the Nazis and bought by the Moderne Galerie (now Österreichische Galerie) in Vienna in 1941. (The Kiss is also housed here). In 2006, after a lengthy battle, a court decision attributed the ownership of that painting and four other Klimt paintings to Maria Altmann, a former Jewish refugee and niece of the Bloch-Bauers. On June 18, 2006, on her behalf and the family's heirs, the painting was sold at auction by Christie's to Ronald Lauder (cosmetic mogul of Estée Lauder Co.) for a reported 135 million, the highest price ever paid for a painting in history. Later that fall, Jackson Pollock (No. 5, 1948) and William de Kooning (Woman III, 1953) would both eclipse that figure. The remaining four paintings owned by Maria Altmann were sold at auction for a reported sum totaling 192 million.

On November 2001, Ronald Lauder opened the Neue Galerie in New York City, an art museum a few blocks away from the Metropolitan Museum, dedicated to art from Germany and Austria. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I is the centerpiece of the museum's collection.

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1- 1907
Oil, silver and gold on canvas, 138 x 138 cm
 Neue Galerie, New York City

Next year in 2012, the city of Vienna Austria, will mark the 150th Birthday of Gustav Klimt with special exhibitions all over the city. We were born exactly 100 years apart, so I too will be celebrating a milestone, but under much less fanfare. 

''Anyone who wants to find out about me- as an artist,
which is all that's of interest - should look
attentively at my pictures.''

Book: Klimt, author- Gilles Néret, published 2007, TASCHEN

This is my third entry for The Still Life, an invitational group show to be held at the Elliott Fouts Gallery from October 1 - November 2, 2011            


Friday, September 9, 2011

Coca-Cola Bottles

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 2011
14 x 14'', painting# 198

I was invited to take part in a group show entitled ''The Real Thing'', celebrating the 125th anniversary of Coca-Cola. The art exhibition is set to open on September 16 at the Mason Murer Fine Art in Atlanta, Georgia. The headquarters of the world's most famous soda pop is also located here. The gallery received a request by the Coca-Cola corporation to host this special anniversary show for the general public and for it's 200 top shareholders

For this painting I was hoping to find some vintage bottles with white lettering. The same type of bottles that would have been in use when I was growing up. I couldn't believe my good fortune when I found some on a Kijiji listing from a seller who lived only 2 miles from my house.

Also in this composition is an early 20th century replica tray that boost the 1904 slogan ''Delicious and Refreshing - Sold Everywhere 5¢''. A later 1909 slogan, '' Whenever you see an arrow think Coca-Cola'', prompted me to use a carboard cut-out that I had picked up at a yard sale last summer on Prince Edward Island. I believe it was part of a larger advertising display. It had a retro look and I instantly recognized it's potential as a prop for a future painting.

The bottles from this painting were actually clear glass. I took the photo studies on our green tinted tempered glass patio table, that boost a green market umbrella and I slid a green place mat under the tray in hoping that some of the green would somehow be absorb by the glass, which it did. After doing a tighter cropping on Photoshop, I tweaked the color green a bit, and a new heighten imagery popped on the screen. 

My very first painting done in 1987 featured my wife with a Coca-Cola cup & straw. My oldest painting to sell done in 1989 was of a Corner Store with a Coca-Cola button sign. For this show, I was hoping to produce a piece that really had a WOW factor. With that said and many Coca-Cola paintings done over the past 24 years, this one is my very favorite.

Twelve artists are taking part in this exhibit which also includes the talents of Neil Hollingsworth, Jelaine Faunce, Teresa N. FisherTodd Ford, Otto Lange, David Malan, Michael Naples, Christopher Stott, Sally Tharp, and Vic Vicini .

Exhibited- September 16 - late October, 2011
Painting selected to be part of the Coca-Cola 125th Anniversary Invitational Group Exhibition held at Mason Murer Fine Art in Atlanta.


Update - September 7, 2012
This painting will be part of a group exhibition entitled: 

Saint John Arts Centre
City of Saint John Gallery
20 Hazen Avenue
Saint John, NB CANADA
(506) 633-4870

September 7 - October 27, 2012
Opening reception is on September 7 - 5:30 to 7:30pm

Please contact Handworks Gallery if you wish to acquire the painting.

12 King Street,
Saint John, NB, CANADA E2L 1G2
(506) 652-9787
e-mail - 


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Red Velvet Cup Cake, an homage to Thiebaud

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 2011
12 x 12'', painting # 197

In recent years, there has been a resurgence in the dessert industry with the Red Velvet Cake (click here). The redness is attributed when the red anthocyanin of cocoa is revealed during a reaction between acidic vinegar and buttermilk, although most recipes also include red food coloring. The Red Velvet cup cake in this painting is from the Cake Box here in Moncton. It is their best seller. In fact, if you want one, you have to go early during the day cause by mid afternoon there all gone. I had never heard of Red Velvet cake until last year. I ate some for the first time this past Easter, when we had lunch at the cafeteria of the Art Institute of Chicago.

This painting is a companion piece to ''Black Forest Cup Cake, an homage to Thiebaud'' that will be exhibited in The Still Life, an invitational group show at the Elliott Fouts Gallery in Sacramento, California during the month of October. In this rendering, we have a better view of the book ''Delicious, The Life & Art of Wayne Thiebaud'', by Susan Goldman Rubin (published by Chronicle books -2007).

Wayne Thiebaud, Cakes, 1963
oil on canvas, 152.4 x 182.9 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Continuing Wayne Thiebaud's biography from my previous post -
As a teenager, he worked in the animation dept. of Walt Disney Studios. Early in his career he was employed a cartoonist and advertisement designer. During WW2, he enlisted and served as a war artist (1942-45). During the early 1950's, he earned a bachelor and masters degree in art and would go on to teach art until he retired at age 70 from a full-time position at the University of California, Davis. He would continue to teach studio art and art history on a part-time basis afterwards. One of his most celebrated student is Mel Ramos.

Thiebaud's first solo exhibition was at the Crocker Art Gallery in Sacramento. Between the years 1954 and 1957, he produced eleven educational films for which was awarded the Scholastic Art Prize in 1961. The greatest break of his career came in the spring of 1962. He had travelled to New York City in search of finding a commercial art gallery to represent him. After many rejections, the Allan Stone Gallery took him in and organized a solo exhibition entitled ''Wayne Thiebaud, Recent paintings''. To everyone's surprise, even himself, the show sold out. A piece was even purchased by the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). This exhibition was followed by his first solo museum show in San Francisco at the de Young Museum. Later that year he was included in the landmark group exhibition, New Realists, at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York.

He has remained active throughout his life and his work has received some of the highest honors, including major retrospectives. As gallery owner Allan Stone once said, ''His work is about celebrating the Joy of Living''.

Please visit this 2001 CBS documentary segment for a quick life retrospective.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Black Forest Cup Cake, an homage to Thiebaud

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 2011
12 x 14'', painting #196

I'm a usually a healthy eater, but I have to admit that I have a sweet tooth. I have a weakness for desserts, chocolate and ice cream. Whenever I pass in front of a glass front counter in a grocery store, a café outlet in a mall or the front window of a pâtisserie, I come to a complete standstill. If the goodies are behind glass, it makes them even more sinfully delicious. The same can be said about a glass dome plate. I found this glass cloche at Wicker Emporium just down the street from where I live. Directly across from that store is a small outlet called The Cake Box where you can specially order fancy cakes for any occasion. Their main business is selling decadent cup cakes which in recent years is back in vogue and all the rage. TV shows on the W Network, The Cup Cake Girls and Cup Cake Wars on the Food Network are cashing in the hype.  Keeping the imagery very local is the window sill from our kitchen window looking into our unimpressive backyard.

This painting is an homage to Wayne Thiebaud, an American painter born in 1920. He is closely associated with the Pop Art movement. But unlike many Pop Art artists, his artwork does not survey items of advertising, commercialism or popular culture. His artwork celebrates objects found in mass culture. He's better known for his depictions of food products found in production line settings such as markets, cafeteria and diners...... notably cakes, pies, hot dogs, ice cream and candies. His oil paintings of food are often executed in thick, buttery paint, using bright and often exaggerated colors. Paint on cakes for example are applied to give the appearance of thick frosting. Other still life paintings included lip sticks, paint cans, shoes and gum ball machines.

His body of work also studies portraits and landscapes. Like many artists, composition and use of color and light take center stage. Inspired by French painters Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard, he paints with colors that seem to create their own light. His use of mediums includes oil, watercolor, pastel, graphite and printmaking. Click HERE for this Google link for an colorful sample of his artwork. My next posting will feature more bio notes on Mr. Thiebaud. I am currently working on a companion piece featuring a Red Velvet Cup Cake.

The book that anchors this composition is entitled, ''Delicious, The Life & Art of Wayne Thiebaud'', by Susan Goldman Rubin and published by Chronicle books (2007).

Mr. Thiebaud has lived the majority of his life in Sacramento California and will be turning 91 this coming November. For the second year, I am fortunate enough to have been invited to take part in ''The Still Life'', an invitational group show being organized and hosted by the Elliott Fouts Gallery also located in Sacramento.This is the first of hopefully four paintings that I will be submitting. The exhibition will open on October 1 and runs until November 2, 2011.

Elliott Fouts Gallery
4749 J. Street Sacramento, California, USA , 95819
Phone (916) 736-1429

Saturday, July 9, 2011

May blooms in a Mason Jar

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 18 x 14''
Painting #195, 2011

Yellow daisies, columbines, tulips and lilacs, these flowers are all perennials from our backyard garden. It's been two years already since my fast floral painting, and each time I find this subject matter somewhat daunting. I was truly compelled by the contrasts and backlight effect when considering this photograph I took for the study.

This painting is part of the Juried Exhibition 2011 which opened this week at the Moncton Gallery at City Hall. I haven't shown any artwork in Moncton, the city where I reside since 2007, so it a nice opportunity to remain in contact with the artistic community of Kent, Westmorland and Albert County.

Fog Forest Gallery 
14 Bridge Street, Sackville, NB. Canada
(506) 536-9000 or .

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 16 x 12''
2011, #194

The bottles from this work all have special significance to a lady client who commissioned this painting as a surprise wedding anniversary gift for her husband. The husband is a scotch whiskey aficionado and the bottle was purchased on the day of their engagement. It was shared between the best man and groomsmen before the ceremony as a toast. The two other bottles were served at their wedding reception.

This 15 year old scotch whiskey - rare single barrel select is from the Glenora Distillers from Cape Breton Island. The red wine is a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon from Liberty School Winery. Last but not least is 1998 bottle of Dom Pérignon Champagne. Named after the French Benedictine monk (1638-1715) who was an important quality pioneer of champagne wine.  Dom Pérignon is a vintage champagne, meaning that it is not made in weak years, and all grapes used to make the wine were harvested in the same year. It only becomes available after spending 7 years at the Moët et Chandon wine cellar. The most recent vintage available is a 2002. It is a prestigious wine often traded at auction. A lot of two bottles of the legendary Dom Pérignon Rosé Vintage 1959 sold for US $84,700 in 2008.

When I did the photo study for the painting, I did some pictures resting on the April 2011 issue of American Art Collector magazine. It featured the romantic image ''Love on the road'' by Colorado artist Ron Hicks.  Keeping in context that this painting was to be a celebratory image and an ode to love.......I was happy when the client selected this image. The positioning of the bottles and the glare created by the outdoor light on the glossy magazine cover only retained the couple's embrace as the focal point. The abstract effect created on the surface of the wine is also coming from the outside light. A combination of depth of field (out of focus) and an overcast sky with the light filtering through the still bare branches of the enormous pear tree in our back yard. I borrowed the title from a Marc Chagall painting of the same name that also features a kissing couple. Click here to view.

''Love on the Road'' was part of Ron Hicks's solo show at Arcadia Fine Arts in New York City that was held from April 16 - May 7, 2011. I was elated after contacting Mr. Hicks who kindly granted me permission to use his image for my painting. His artwork blends representational and impressionist styles. They are sensual figurative period pieces set in the the first half of the 20th century. By creating romantic frozen moment in time they evoke an emotional response as part of a larger scenario that the viewer is left to pursue on their own. You can explore the artwork of Ron Hicks at this link.