Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Nostalgic Candy

Acrylic on gessobord, 14 x 11"
Painting #219, 2013

I came across this candy jar at Chapters Book Store during the fall of 2012. It was priced at $15, but probably contained two dollars worth of candies. The art of presentation and packaging really caught my eye which compelled me to buy it. The translation in French of Nostalgic Candy for the Canadian market should be "Bonbons nostalgiques". "Friandises d'antan" translates to Treats of Yesteryear in English which sounds equally sweet. 

The art book that anchors the composition is one of those amazing Taschen indispensables written by Kerstin Stremmel. The frontispiece for Realism is Gumball XV (detail) by Charles Bell. The first time I witness a solo show by a Photorealist was Charles Bell at the Louis K. Meisel Gallery in New York City during the month of November, 1994. This is a nostalgic homage to Bell, the type of artist I technically aspired to become in the earlier stage of my artistic career.  At the time, it just seemed quite impossible to paint like that. The book itself is a general overview on Realism with the likes of Eric Fischl, Lucien Freud, Edward Hopper, Tamara De Lempicka, Georgia O'Keefe, Gerhard Richter, Charles Sheeler, Grant Wood among others and two more Photorealists- Chuck Close and Richard Estes. 

This painting will be part of the 15th Anniversary Celebration Group Show of the Elliott Fouts Gallery running from January 4 to February 6, 2014. 

Participating gallery artists also includes: Christopher Stott, John Karl Claes, Gale Hart, Susan Hoehn, Bryan Mark Taylor, Anthony Montanino, Joe Santos, Kathy O'Leary, Deborah Bonuccelli, Vito Antonio Ferrante, Sandy Delehanty, Samantha Buller, Gary Pruner, Philippe Gandiol, Susan Shoger, Kathrine Lemke Waste, Terry Pappas, Judy Nunes, Manuel Nunes, Teresa N. Fischer, Gregory Kondos, Micah Crandall-Bear, Vic Vicini, Bill Chambers, Randy Brennan, Tod Steele, Jeff Nebeker and Tim White.

photo provided of EFG

Elliott Fouts Gallery
1831 P. Street Sacramento, California, USA , 95811 
Phone (916) 736-1429 
e-mail: efgallery@sbcglobal.net


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Glass Decanter at the MET

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 14 x 11"
painting #218, 2013

While my previous painting was inspired by a tumbler from the Museum of Modern Art Store, this one is from the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

During the final day of our escape week-end in New York City this past February, my wife and I had the immense pleasure of meeting Hyperrealist painter Cesar Santander who kindly gave us a quick tour of the highlights of the Met. We then parted ways by noon time and made our way to the American Wing Café for lunch before heading back to the airport.  The American Wing features the Charles Englehard Court, a grand multi-level atrium flooded with natural lighting which showcases sculptures, architectural elements, stained glass and art glass. The ground floor has amazing Tiffany stained glass murals.

The previous month, I had acquired an original Louis Comfort Tiffany Favrile glass vase for my own collection and was able to find similar pieces in an adjoining room which houses decorative art.

The decanter and glasses featured in my painting are attributed to Jersey Glass Company of George Dummer (1824-1862) and can be found in the upper level of the atrium. It was displayed behind glass, but my SLR camera was able to focus properly on the vessel and eliminated any kind of glare. I took the photo as a vacation snapshot, but when I saw the image of my PC screen, it had all the elements for an elaborate glass study. It is one of the most intricate imagery that I have painted thus far.

This painting is currently on exhibition in the Walking in a Winter Wonderland group show at the Fog Forest Gallery. 

To acquire this painting, please contact the 
Fog Forest Gallery 
14 Bridge Street, Sackville, NB. Canada
(506) 536-9000 or e-mail-gallery@nbnet.nb.ca .


Thursday, November 21, 2013

New Art Book- Arte y Libertad VIII ( Art and Freedom VIII)

Art and Freedom VIII

The art book Art and Freedom VIII (Libro . Annuario Galeria Artelibre / Arte y Libertad VIII) published by Galeria Artelibre located in Zaragoza, Spain is just in. I'm very fortunate and grateful to have been invited to take part in this edition and was given a 4-page spread. I'm in very select company with over 100 top realists and hyperrealists painters from around the globe, several of which I've admired for many years, while many other talented artists were new to me.

The book cover jacket is graced by a 
Don Eddy painting. The polyptych, Broken Dreams was on exhibition earlier this year in NYC at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery during the month of January, and I had a chance to admire it up close.

You may order a book from this link - http://www.artelibre-store.com/libros/

Saturday, October 5, 2013

American Art Collector #96 / The Still Life Invitational

 American Art Collector - October 2013

My artwork currently appears in the October 2013 issue of American Art Collector (#96) on pages 124-125 as part of The Still Life Invitational, opening today at the Elliott Fouts Gallery in Sacramento, CA. This exhibition has been held annually during the month of October since 2010, and I've had the privilege to take part in all four editions.  

L- Life in Delft, gifts for Griet, 12 x 12", acrylic, 2013 - SOLD l
top R- Mondrian Tumbler, 11 x 14", acrylic, 2013 - SOLD l
bottom R- Peanuts come to Life, an homage to Charles Schulz, 11 x 14, acrylic, 2013 -SOLD l

This year's other participants includes the talented Bryan Mark Taylor, Christopher Stott, Elizabeth Barlow, Jelaine Faunce, Joanne Tepper, Judy Nunes, Leigh-Ann Eagerton, Teresa N. Fisher, Todd Ford & Vic Vicini. 

My three entries as shown in the image above will be included in the group show that runs from October 5-31, 2013.

To inquire about these paintings please contact:
Elliott Fouts Gallery  
1831 P. Street Sacramento, California, USA , 95811
Phone (916) 736-1429
e-mail: efgallery@sbcglobal.net

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mondrian Tumbler

Acrylic on gessoed birch panel, 11 x 14"
Painting #217, 2013

Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) was a Dutch-born artist who is mostly recognized as one of the pioneers of Modern Art and is the epitome of the abstract painter. He is one of those artists whose entire body of work could be described as transient. Evolving from representational to non representational forms of art. Initially starting out with Impressionism, Pointillism, Fauvism, Post-Impressionism, Cubism then transitioning to more abstract forms of art. He is a major contributor to the Dutch De Stijl or Neoplasticism art movement. He is most celebrated for his grid-like paintings of vertical and horizontal black lines; using the primary colours, red, yellow and blue and placing them in contrast to the non-colours black, white and grey. He spent much of his professional life abroad in Paris, London and New York City. 

As mentioned in the previous post, this past January, my wife and I travelled to New York City for a 4-day winter getaway. During our previous past three visits to the Big Apple, we had always visited the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). This time around, we only had time for a quick stop at the MOMA Store to browse through their art book selection. Upon entering, I saw these Mondrian Tumblers on a shelf which I simply could not resist. They are made exclusively for the museum. The composition for this painting needed to remain minimalistic and simple. My love of painting with the primary colours and glass made it an easy decision to pay homage to this artist. When ever I see a Monopoly Game board, I think of Mondrian.

photo from our visit to the MOMA in Oct. 2010.

Interesting trivia- During the 1920's in Paris, Mondrian became a very accomplished ballroom dancer. 

This painting will be included in the upcoming group exhibition, The Still Life at the Elliott Fouts Gallery, October 5-31, 2013.

Elliott Fouts Gallery  
1831 P. Street Sacramento, California, USA , 95811
Phone (916) 736-1429
e-mail: efgallery@sbcglobal.net


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Life in Delft, gifts for Griet

Acrylic on gessoed hardboard, 12 x 12"
painting #216, 2013

Girl with a Pearl Earring is one of the world's most famous paintings. It's has often been called the Dutch Mona Lisa, or the Mona Lisa of the North. This Johannes Vermeer's (b. 1632, d. 1675, Delft, Holland) painting has been copied countless times by other artists or incorporated in various fashion in original pieces of art by many others. Little is known about Vermeer's life. Many of the models whom have posed for his paintings have never been specifically identified. With the passing of time, he was forgotten after his death. His artwork only came to light 200 years later. He is regarded as one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden age.  

Some speculates that the model used in ''Girl with the Pearl Earring'' might have been Magdalena Van Reijven, an art patron's only daughter or Maria, the artist's eldest daughter of which he had 11 children. My approach for this painting was to explore the unknown model behind the painting that was brought to life in Tracy Chevalier's fictional 1999 novel of the same name whom was given the name of Griet. I first came upon the novel in 2003, just prior to the film release based on the source material. The storyline is from the point of view of Griet, a very young woman who goes to work as a servant in the Vermeer household after her own father, a potter and tile maker suffers severe burns from a kiln explosion. The imaginary narrative leads to how she came to pose for Vermeer and the relation she entertained with the artist and his family during her brief stay there.

Chevalier paints life in Holland with a lot of historical details and nuances giving it a sense of authenticity and believability. I read the book with immense interest. When the film was released in theatres it became a magical visual spectacle of what life in Delft during the mid 17th century might have been like. Being able to venture inside a make believe Vermeer studio and how they brought everything to life is a visual feast for any painter. The movie itself was not filmed in Delft but on an existing movie back lot in Luxenbourg. The period film stars Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth in the lead roles, and was directed by Peter Webber. Johansson was nominated for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for best actress and did win the BAFTA that year but for another film, Lost in Translation.  I loved the fact that they were able to find an actress to play the role of the other servant named Tanneke, who looks exactly like the model in Vermeer’s ''The Milkmaid''. Other details like Vermeer's possible use of a camera obscura to create source imagery for his painting (click HERE). Description of pigment used for paint colour. In one scene when art patron Master Van Ruijven confronts Vermeer upon viewing the new commission painting his wife Emily, ''Woman with a Pearl Necklace'', he asks, ''Is this Indian yellow.....distilled from the urine of sacred cows fed only on mango leaves? You glazed my wife in dried piss!". Click HERE for movie scene. Interesting titbit, on Wikipedia, Van Ruijven's wife name was named Maria de Knuijt.

My painting, it is as much of an homage to Vermeer, but even more so to Tracy Chevalier. In order to create a visual narrative that was based on the Griet character during the final scene in the novel/film, I had the idea of incorporating a new tile to replace the one given by her father that had been broken by one of Vermeer's jealous daughter. While browsing on eBay I found this amazing hand painted Blue Delft tile with the scene of the city itself. It is also known as Delftware or Delft earthenware. The tear drop pearl earrings I used were also an eBay find from a seller living in China.  In the final scenes of the film, Griet leaves the Vermeers to return home, crosses a canal on a arch bridge and then soon after, Tanneke arrives at her house and she is given the pearl earrings as a gift from the artist. In the book, Griet does receive the earrings as a gift, but the circumstances are much different. Since the Blue Delft tile features row houses, a canal and an arch bridge, it really contributes to the narrative for my composition. 

Girl with Pearl Earring, c. 1665
Johannes Vermeer
Mauritshuis, The Hague

In real life, Pieter Van Ruijven had amassed approximately 20 of Vermeer's paintings during his lifetime. After his death, and that of his heirs these were sold at auction in 1696 for approximately 70 guilders each.  Arnoldus Andries des Tombe, a Dutch army officer later purchased ''Girl with a Pearl Earring'' at an auction in The Hague in 1881, for only two guilders and thirty cents. At the time, it was in poor condition. Des Tombe had no heirs and donated this and other paintings to the Mauritshuis in 1902. In the movie, the painting being acquired by Van Ruijven is ''Woman with a Pearl Necklace'' with his wife Emily modelling the same type of pearl earrings as in ''Girl with a Pearl Earring''. The two models also share the same facial features upon close examination. Personally I think that the model in both of these paintings is the same person. The turban she wears only adds an element to distract the viewer. Furthermore, these two paintings are dated one year apart. Then again, the same pearl earring appear in several other paintings on different models as does the ermine-trimmed yellow jacket shown below. 

Woman with Pearl Necklace, c.1664
Johannes Vermeer
Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

The Mauritshuis Museum is undergoing major renovations and is closed until mid 2014. However, a few masterpieces of the museum including ''Girl with a Pearl Earring'' is currently on tour in the USA. Earlier this year these were shown at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco. They are currently at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and later next month will be travelling to The Frick Collection in New York City. 

I am a great admirer of Vermeer's artwork. Only 34 paintings have been attributed to him (view them HERE). During my travels, I've had the privilege to see 22 of them. These are housed at the Rejksmuseum in Amsterdam, the National Gallery in London, the Louvre in Paris, the National Gallery in Washington, DC, the Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston, the Frick Collection and the Metropolitan Museum of Art both in New York City. My personal favourite is ''Milkmaid''. 

And yes, I did use Indian Yellow in bringing Griet to life.

This painting will be included in the upcoming group exhibition, The Still Life at the Elliott Fouts Gallery, October 5-31, 2013.



Not all Friday the 13th are unlucky. This past May 13 2016, I've had the immense pleasure of visiting the Mauritshuis in The Hague. The following day, my wife Suzanne and I strolled the canal streets in Delft. My longing to visit the land of Vermeer finally came to be during a 2-week backpacking trip of Belgium, The Netherlands and Norway. 

 The Mauritshuis (Art Museum), The Hague

 Girl with a Pearl Earring - Johannes Vermeer
The Mauritshuis

The Mauritshuis

 Location as featured on the Delft Blue tile in my painting, Delft Holland

Delft, Holland

 One of two tombstones of Johannes Vermeer inside
the Oude Kerk (Old Church), Delft. 

Painting on loan from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Elliott Fouts Gallery
1831 P. Street Sacramento, California, USA , 95811 
Phone (916) 736-1429 
e-mail: efgallery@sbcglobal.net

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Post-Modern Times

Back in June, I was contacted by Stephen Smith, the founding publisher of rather new art publication called Post-Modern Times. The magazine really caters to aspects of realism and aesthetics in art. I am very fortunate to have been invited to participate in volume 2, and was granted a six-page layout to showcase my artwork. I am in very select company, because several artists whom I have admired greatly in the past are either in this issue or the inaugural volume.

A digital and/or in print copy is available through this link by clicking HERE.  It is published by the Birmingham Free Press

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Peanuts come to Life, an homage to Charles Schulz

Acrylic on gessobord, 11 x 14"
painting #215, 2013

Ever wondered how and why the comic strip received the name PeanutsThe origins goes back to the theatre, where the cheapest seats were those way at the bottom floor and where people purchased peanuts because they were the cheapest snack. If they disapproved of the performance, they would throw peanuts at the actors. If they would shout insults, the announcer would reply, "No more comments from the Peanut Gallery". The term Peanut Gallery was later adopted for the children audience featured in the Howdy Doody TV Show that originated in the late 1940's. 

In 1950, Charles Schulz approached the United Feature Syndicate with his best work from a comic strip named Li'l Folks. But since the name Li'l Folks was too close to the names of two other comics of the time: Li'l Abner and Little Folks, and in order avoid confusion, the syndicate settled on the name Peanuts, after the Peanut Gallery featured on the Howdy Doody show. Peanuts was a title Schulz always disliked. In a 1987 interview, Schulz said of the title Peanuts: "It's totally ridiculous, has no meaning, is simply confusing, and has no dignity—and I think my humour has dignity." 

Last year my wife bought a jar of Planters roasted peanuts which immediately ignited the whole concept. A few weeks later while strolling in a local antique shop, I found an issue of LIFE magazine dated March 17, 1967, featuring the protagonist and his dog with the headline reading: "The great Peanuts craze - CHARLIE BROWN and SNOOPY WINNERS AT LAST". This would become the perfect vehicle and element of contingency for my composition. 

The 1967 LIFE article reflected that despite the fact the 'Peanuts' characters who were born to be losers, in contrast, the popularity of the comic strip had attained new heights and had started a craze around the world. 

 "At scores of colleges, Peanuts characters are the biggest people on campus. In Vietnam, pilots fly into combat with Snoopy painted on their planes. Records based on Peanuts have sold millions of copies ("Snoopy and the Red Baron", "Return of the Red Baron" by the Royal Guardsmen). And even before it opened last week, a new off-Broadway hit musical,You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, had sold tickets to admirers as far away as Nebraska. Dolls, cards, clothes and other Peanuts paraphernalia make up a more than $15 million-a-year business. Charles Schulz describes himself as "100% Charlie Brown." But unlike Charlie, who has lost a 123-0 baseball game, Schulz as a youngster pitched a no-hit, no-run game- and is today several times a millionaire". 
- LIFE Magazine - March 17, 1967.

In 1967, the comic strip had a following of 90 million readers a day. Before the passing of Charles Schulz in 2000, it had reached a milestone of 355 million readers in 75 counties.

Needless to say, the popularity of the Peanuts lives on in comic strips reruns. Snoopy is featured on the front of the Metlife blimp.   Most recently, a song entitled Charlie Brown was featured on the 2011 Coldplay album, Mylo XylotoThe musical, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown has been a popular choice for amateur theatre productions because of its small cast and simple staging. It won several theatre awards during it's original 1967 run. During the 1999 Broadway revival, it would receive a Tony nomination for Best revival of a musical and won Tony awards for Kristin Chenoweth as Sally and Roger Bart as Snoopy in the best featured actress/actor categories. It is currently playing until the end of the month at the Woodland Opera House, in Woodland CA, near Sacramento. I am quite certain that the audience won't be throwing peanuts at the actors on stage this time around.

This painting will be included in the upcoming group exhibition, The Still Life at the Elliott Fouts Gallery, October 5-31, 2013.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Passing of a Great Artist

Meeting Alex Colville at the Owens Art Gallery,
Sackville, NB

It is with a sad heart that I learn Wednesday of the passing of one of Canada's greatest artist. Alex Colville, 92 died peaceful at his home in Wolfville, NS. Today, I read a CBC on-line interview where his daughter Ann mentioned that "If he would get letters from young artists, aspiring artists, he was tremendously kind and took a lot of time to respond to these". That statement rings very true for me as I have five reply letters with great advise to work hard in order to find my way as an artist. 

During my formative years as an aspiring artist, the surrounding milieu of Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B. kind of became a pilgrimage place for me. It was where he received his Fine Art degree and later thought art for almost 20 years.  It gave me great insight into his artwork that was so regional and yet he had attain great national and international recognition. That a local artist was revered as Canada's painter laureate was certainly a great source of inspiration for myself and countless other realist artists, as the images he created are forever etched in the consciousness of our nation. I had the privileged to view several of his retrospective exhibitions including Alex Colville: Paintings, Prints and Process, 1983-1994 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal (1994), Milestones at the National Gallery in Ottawa (2000), the Dow Gift in Wolfville (1997) and Return at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia among others. 

I had the enormous pleasure of meeting him during the opening reception of his gift of preparatory drawings to the Owens Art Gallery during the spring of 2002. When I introduced myself, he quickly asked me, "Are you the runner?". I was so touched that he instantly recalled me writing to him. We had a very pleasant and animated conversation. To me that spoke volume of the man and artist he was. Confident in his role as a respected and celebrated artist and even better as a great human being. He remained active well into his late eighties. He will be missed. His essence and artwork will live in my heart forever. Condolences to the family and all of those who's lives he has touch.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Kool-Aid Days

Acrylic on gessobord, 12 x 16"
2013, painting #214

This is a gallery commission piece. The client is a collector of both Crown and Ball Mason jars, so this was the main requirement. I was pretty given much given carte blanche as far as the composition goes. As a still-life painter, objects often present themselves in daily life. If I have a visceral response to them, I will just buy them on impulse because one day these will serve as my muses to inspire an imagery worth considering. I have been holding on to these Kool-Aid packs since 2007. The teal tinted Ball Mason jar on the left and the hand- made paper drinking straws were both purchased on Etsy in 2011 from different vendors from Florida, the sunshine state. Last fall, I was lucky enough to acquire these Crown Mason jars from a local seller on Kijiji. These are in mint condition, so I was truly surprise to see the year 1948 on the bottom.

Kool-Aid was invented by Edwin Perkins. All of his experiments took place in his mother's kitchen. Its predecessor was a liquid concentrate called Fruit Smack.To reduce shipping costs, in 1927, Perkins discovered a way to remove the liquid from Fruit Smack, leaving only a powder. Perkins moved his production to Chicago in 1931 and Kool-Aid was sold to General Foods in 1953. Hasting, Nebraska, the town where the fruity thirst quencher was invented still celebrates a yearly summer festival called "Kool-Aid Days" on the second weekend in August. The title is in homage of it's inventor.

I remember as a child that we use to buy individual packages like these at 6¢ each from a nearby corner store. On hot summer days, we'd go swimming at the beach and upon returning a pitcher was soon empty with three kids going for refills. Check out this classic 1970's commercial - HERE.

-Gallery commission 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Our past, present and future according to Suess

Acrylic on gessobord, 12 x 12"
Painting# 213, 2012-13

This is my third painting paying homage to Dr. Suess. The first two featured our pet goldfish Maurice who is still alive and well and will mark his 3rd anniversary with us next week. I was contacted by one of the galleries that represent me in early fall of 2012, after a patron happen to see "One fish, two fish....gold fish" on their website. Since it had already sold to another collector, I agreed to do a commission piece for them. During the past decade, this patron had acquired several of my paintings, so I submitted several images for their approval which included this more personalized composition. Putting my own spin on the image, I continued along the lines of the postage stamp series and fabricated a First-Day cover. I used a fish in the Suessville postmark to indirectly add Maurice in the mix. The postage stamp I used was issued by the US Postal Service in 2004, marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Theodore Suess Geisel, (b. March 2, 1904). I decided to omit USA in order to create a more fictional territory for the narrative. The remaining of the objects were suggested by the clients for possible inclusion.

My previous two posting on Dr. Suess does include a few biography notes. Instead of being redundant , I came across this very appropriate video on YouTube that appeared in Rocketboom News. Then anchorwoman, Molly Templeton does an astonishing and clever delivery of a rhyming prose as an homage for author/illustrator's birthday. Click on image below to play, or click HERE

Molly Templeton (aka- Mememolly) of Rocketboom News

-Gallery commission