A While ago

My artwork is the result of being in the moment when I travel and when I paint.  I use everyday events as my palette and my camera my “net”.  I catch people in landmark (mostly) locations doing what they do, living their lives.  There is a sense of wonder for me in each painting.  The painting, Rush Hour III is one of those paintings.

Rush Hour III arose from one of many trips to New York City.   Since early visits to NYC in the 1990’s, I have been fascinated by the excitment of Midtown.  There is so much excitement with the traffic and the crowds dodging the traffic that I’m always caught up watching the interplay between people and car traffic as well as people and pedestrian traffic.  I love to watch people crossing the street usually in the crosswalk but not always and how they are trying to beat the light.  I’m usually taken by pedestrians in crosswalks coming my way sort of like me swimming upstream.  The photos below are such instances
where I’m opposing the pedestrian traffic.  But, the photo on the right is a freeze frame before the pedestrians take off.  It is a catch-your-breath moment.

The freeze frame pedestrian scene was so appealing to me that I had to do something with it.  The SUB of the subway sign was unnecessary since New Yorkers can relate to the N Q R W as the subway.  There was way too much foreground even though I love “Zebra” crossings such as NYC crosswalks.  There is only a hint of the zebra stripes in the painting.  The reflection in the window had to stay.  It was the calling card that creates wonder about the location and what’s on the other side of the street. I played up the suggested figures and tried to balance the cool buildings on the left and in the distance against the hot street light and crossing signal along with the reflection in the window.  Even though the bus appears to be going somewhere, everyone else is waiting their turn during “Rush Hour”.

I said if before but I’ll say it again.  Choosing the subject matter is the easy part of creating fine art.  Designing and composing a piece is essential no matter if it is still life, plein air or action photography.

More on Exhibits

Not all exhibits are created equal.  Some are essential and some are just down-right important.  The May Show at the North Canton Public Library Little Art Gallery and The Ohio Watercolor Society Watercolor Ohio are two that remain for this exhibit season.  Each of these falls into one of those categories.

The May Show is a feature that has been around for 75 years and I have been accepted and won awards there in the last 15 of those years. It is the unofficial kick off of the exhibit season in my little pond, Stark County.  It is where friends and artists meet to compete.  It is the field of rivalry among local fine artists.  The Ohio Watercolor Society (OWS) Watercolor Ohio holds a different importance.  OWS is a prestigious art society.  It too is a field of rivalry but the outreach is statewide and regional rather than local.  Competition is a collateral benefit but exhibiting helps forward the state of watercolor painting.  OWS has been around since since 1978 and I have been a part of it since 2001 and a signature member since 2006.

I was reluctant to report about these two exhibits any earlier than this.  The entry deadlines for both exhibits were very close together in early April.  I met the entry deadline and in both of  these cases and I submitted the same painting, 30 Rock III to both. Because I am competitive, I want to be sure to present my best work in order to be “juried-in”.   30 Rock III has a lot of promise.  It had been critiqued a couple of times with my art group and it won second prize when I entered it into the Akron Society of Artists member show last October.

Partial results are in.  The May Show turned around quickly.  The notification letter followed a couple of days following the entry date.  Notification is made via a self addressed stamped envelope.  My heart rate always rises when I get a notification letter just like when I was in college receiving an acceptance letter or grade report.  There is always that uncertainty.  I have been rejected in the past when I was certain of acceptance and accepted when I was sure that I didn’t have a chance.  Good news, I made the show!! But, I had to wait for the judges verdict.  I was hoping for the top prize, best of show.  The opening reception of the May Show was April 30 at the Little Art Gallery where the awards were announced.  More good news.   I won second prize in the watercolor category.  It is always a happy time to be recognized for my skill and creativity.  Dang, I wanted the top prize.  I’ll have to wait till next time.  I hope I “get in”.

The OWS jury process is different than the local May Show.  Digital images are submitted to the OWS website.  Artwork for the May Show is hand delivered to the gallery.  The OWS show draws a larger number of entries than the May Show.  I submitted my entry to OWS in early April at the same time as the May Show but the notification wasn’t scheduled until the May 3.  So, last week I got notification for Watercolor Ohio 2017 via email.  Again, my heart rate rose for the same reason as other such notices.  I don’t think it raised quite as high as it did for the May Show because the painting is such a strong watercolor piece being judged by a watercolor jurist.  Nevertheless, I made the OWS show.  Now the waiting begins all over.  Judging for awards follows hand delivery to the exhibit venue which is Columbus Ohio early in June.  Seems like there is a lot of entering and waiting.

Stay tuned for updates.


Exhibit Season – Pitfalls

I’m happy to be included in a number of exhibits this season.  In fact, there are more this season than any other.  Believe me, I am not complaining.  I have a couple of new exhibits, one in California with the National Watercolor Society and one in Kent Ohio with Gallery Ten, an artist cooperative.  The remaining three venues are Canton Museum of Art, The Little Art Gallery of the North Canton Public Library and finally, Gallery + in the at 78th Street Studios in Cleveland, my semi permanent exhibit space.

So how can problems result from these exhibits?  Many of my paintings are part of my permanent collection and are displayed on my home gallery.  My home is my own Art Gallery.  During this season, I adjusted the pieces on display.  Several taken from storage and several others taken off the walls.  It is like a game of fill in the blanks, literally, filling in vacancies on the wall with pieces taken from storage.

The pitfall comes at the moment when a weekly visitor arrives and is shocked that “something” is wrong in your kitchen.  Something is different.  Truly, a vacant spot routinely filled with one of the 30 Rock paintings is glaringly white.  Empty, void of color and shape.  I calmed our visitor and thanked her for pointing out the difference.  It did seem odd to me too.  So off to continue the shuffle of paintings.  I checked storage, thinking of a piece that is suitable to fill the spot.  There aren’t many available just a large vertical piece of St Mark’s Square in Venice and a Detroit Shoreway pinball piece.  Neither seem appropriate.  Then a bicycle piece comes to mind.  “Starting Line” from the short series of the 5 Boro Bike tour.  But, the painting is not in storage.  Now the hunt and cross examination begins.  Is the painting on exhibit?  Is it in Emily’s room, the cat nursery, our bedroom?  Then, it dawns on me.  Problem solved.

My paintings are standard in size.  This makes mats and frames interchangeable.  So, I confirmed that I did not lose the painting.  I did not exhibit it somewhere and forget to pick it up.  I checked in the flat file and the painting was safely sequestered there with other unframed paintings.  The frame for “Starting Line” was loaned to another bicycle painting for exhibit at Gallery Ten in Kent Ohio.  The frame and mat suited the painting and both paintings are bicycle theme anyway.  But, the dilemma continues.  I have a vacancy in the kitchen.  A large white space.

I settled on another bicycle painting “First Light” presently on display in the living room.  That painting was first displayed on that wall when our new kitchen was first unveiled a few years ago.  So the kitchen vacancy was filled which created a vacancy in the living room.  An abstract piece was chosen to fill the living room vacancy and now the home gallery is back in harmony with nature.  And, there is no lack of color….anywhere.


Return to the course

April 18

I ventured back to the driving range today following a winter season, surgery, re-hab and self imposed confinement due to pain in the backyard.  Yes, winter came first.  It always does and that causes me to set the clubs and shoes aside waiting for spring.  However, this time I was not certain about when I would be able to bring out my gear.  Then there was the surgery.

The surgery was the repair to a torn rotator cuff suffered at the Trapeze School of New York (TSNY) in 2014.  Why wait?  Maybe there will be time to say why later on.  But the surgery was undertaken on January 12.  It was not only a repair of the rotator cuff where two anchors were drilled into my humerus and sutures were used to pull the torn tendon into place so it could heal back into its proper position.  The surgery was quite a bit more involved to my surprise.  The torn labrum was repaired and the biceps tendon was detached in order to access the labrum.  The biceps was re attached or scarred-in lower on the humerus.  A “Mumford” procedure was performed on the A/C joint.  That is where the scapula and the clavicle are separated at the cartilage (worn out) creating a gap of about 3/4 inch.  All in all I got a lot more than I bargained for and I had to wear a sling while i waited five weeks before starting physical therapy.

Physical therapy was no snap.  It was six weeks of three visits per week.  The physical therapy assistants were gentle and considerate of the healing process.  I wanted to go a lot faster than they were willing to allow me to do so.  They saved me from hurting myself.  Finally, at week five, I was allowed to use heavier weights (3 to 5 pound) and at six weeks after seeing my surgeon I was released to my own care to continue exercises at home.

I continued exercises at home and started swinging a practice golf club in the backyard.  The exercises were tolerable but the practice swings were not.  I had pain when attempting to make a full swing.  I would try one day and lay off two or three.  I even tried hitting the racquetball around too but that along with the practice swings set me back.  Finally today, 13 1/2 weeks since surgery, I was able to make a full swing with the practice club without pain.  So, like the impatient person I am, I raced off to the driving range to see if I could hit a golf ball without pain just as I did with the practice club in the backyard.  Yes, I did.

I started with the lob wedge then the sand wedge then the 4 iron hybrid then the driver.   Then I chipped and putted a while.  No chance of swing induced pain chipping and putting but, I kept working at the game.   I’m happy to report that  so far, there is no pain.

I am happy with the swings, the chips and putts thanks to recovery time but, even more than that, the way I was able to stay down on the ball.  Deepak Chopra stayed with me.  Thank you and Leela.  I might say more about Leela later but for now she helps me play the game inside my mind.

Now, rest until racquetball at 6 AM.  Then see how it goes.  So far so good.

All Aboard

The train or I should say the plane is about to leave the station.  I am looking forward to days away in the sun, then surrounded by my second family of in-laws and finally the warmth of the Middle East.

We are returning to Siesta Key Florida in a couple of weeks.  This will be the ninth time to visit the Gulf coast of Florida.  Siesta Key is such a wonderful destination no matter what time of year, April, May, August or October.  We haven’t tried the other months but certainly enjoy the ones mentioned here.  Although the vacation is but a week, it is enough for me.  I love the beach only so  much but I have time to read and do some curriculum planning and even visit the Ringling Art Center to attend a life drawing session.  Life is good on vacation.

Summer will allow us to attend the wedding of a nephew in up state Vermont, Burlington. The last of five nephews will be married in July.  This should be fun because we will be able to visit with the West Coast crew along with the Colorado contingent coming from Boulder.  It is just a weekend trip but should be a great time in July.  Who knows, it might be hot there.  We attended a Spring graduation there a few years back and nearly froze.  You can never plan around the weather.

November is a “bucket list” trip.  The Holy Land excursion with National Geographic takes us through Israel to the great biblical sites with the aid of a Nat Geo guide.  We will visit all things religious and political and Israel has them in abundance.  We will visit with leaders of three great world religions, Judaism, Christianity, & Islam and hear both sides of the two state controversy, Israel and Palestine.  And since we will be in the region and considering this to be a once in a lifetime event, we will go to the ancient city of Petra, Jordan.

All of these travel experiences offer great opportunities for paintings.  I will be well armed with my camera equipment and sketching materials.  All trips, all events hold the promise of an opportunity for me to relieve a moment in time whether it is reviewing the photo reel or designing a painting from the reference materials or actually making the painting.  Then the icing on the cake is exhibiting the painting near or far.