Monday, May 26, 2008

True Memorial Day

memorial day
My Uncle Al transitioned last year. He was well into his eighties and along with him went many important untold stories. Always the perennial big kid, he was absolutely my favorite uncle.

Uncle Al served this country in the big one: WWII. I knew he fought on the front battle lines in Germany as I remember the SS helmet and other war stuff he brought back (which later disappeared). But what I didn't know was that he was part of the very first U.S. military liberators of the Auschwitz concentration camp. The definitive first on the scene. I didn't know any of this because he NEVER spoke of it. He said very little to my aunt who never pressed him, and vaguely recounted to my cousin (his only daughter) of his recollections. Not even to my mother, the sister who adored him. A few years ago he received a letter of thanks and apology from the government of France. What??? One can only imagine the implications of his lifelong silence.

Today I honor my Uncle Al with reverence and much love. I miss you Uncle. What I wouldn't give for another afternoon with you to knock down a few beers and say thank you.

"In war, there are no unwounded soldiers". ~José Narosky

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Horse Path

Here's a new one for the Blog Store:

"Horse Path" 8"x10" oil on canvas.

I'm pleased with the colors in this piece. Using and applying split complementaries always creates a strong palette.

"All colours are the friends of their neighbours and the lovers of their opposites". -Marc Chagall

Sunday, May 18, 2008


"It was just a very lovely ride". Kent Desormeaux to Donna Brothers after pulling up.

I've heard and read all the reasons to hate Rick Dutrow and despise Big Brown. Those of you who ruminate on Dutrow's drug use, gambling and otherwise typical seedy race track life should be aware that he is indeed not far from the mainstream and certainly not out of the ordinary. The CEO Todd Pletcher types, while justly admirable, are few and far between. Dutrow represents the motherlode cast of characters on the backside. If you're offended by the Dutrow's of the industry, then you require your horse racing to be pristine and sanitized. You're missing out on some of, yes, albeit rough but sincerest of fascinating people.

The explosive acceleration of Big Brown when asked was nothing short of phenomenal. Horse racing needs a hero.

Dutrow sends his big horse to Frankel's barn. "It’s always good to have someone like that to talk to and try to get direction when I’m not sure what I’m doing". Hmmm. Very interesting. Now's not the time to get faint-hearted, Rick. I say don't change a thing. Bobby will tell you the same. Whatever it is or isn't - it's working. This horse is creating champions regardless of the entourage.

Steroid tests on all the runners in the Derby and Oaks came back negative.

It were not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion that makes horse races” - Mark Twain

Thursday, May 15, 2008

New for the Blog Store

retirement"Retirement" 8"x10" oil on canvas

Pearly morning light is what I felt in this piece. Relaxing contentedly, enjoying the bird calls and savoring the warming, aromatic air. A lone horse? Probably not. Just dozing in semi-solitude, being a horse.

"Again the early-morning sun was generous with its warmth. All the sounds dear to a horseman were around me - the snort of the horses as they cleared their throats, the gentle swish of their tails, the tinkle of irons as we flung the saddles over their backs - little sounds of no importance, but they stay in the unconscious library of memory. ~Wynford Vaughan-Thomas

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Doggie Painting

rhodesian ridgeback"Neuman"

Michael suggested that I post a dog painting to inform that I take commissions for canine portraits. I didn't want to use a previous client's piece without permission, so I really enjoyed creating this one of "Neuman, the Rhodesian Ridgeback". He belonged to a client who hired me to paint favorite horses and people several years ago. While photographing at their barn, I was quite taken by Neuman, having saved the photos of him all this time.

My recollections of Neuman: he was reserved, a bit distant, yet still approachable. He freely growled disapproval of people or events in his space. I avoided eye contact with Neuman, but he was decent with me. Tall, athletic and a strikingly handsome dog, Neuman loved to run which he routinely did to an over-heated exhaustion as portrayed in the painting. Michael thinks I captured his personality of Joe-coolness perfectly.

"If you get to thinking you're a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else's dog around". - Will Rogers

Saturday, May 10, 2008

My Talented Peers

straight away oil on canvasThere are so many equine artists now. Back when I finally realized it made sense to paint what I know, hardly anyone painted the subject. Now, there are entire "guilds" and "associations" representing the horse in art. Where did they all come from?

Some of my horse-artist peers are awesome, truly talented and I'm inspired by their skills. And of course, others are simply dreadful. I've made up a moniker, calling them the "4-F" painters - lovely, pleasant paintings of foals frolicking in fields of flowers. Sentimentality abounds in this genre. I've been reprimanded for this sarcastic opinion, but hey, these artists will never go down in the history books.

Even some of the good artists get stuck in a loop of replicated work. It sells, so let's paint it over and over. The work's incredibly good but the subject, style, format, even colors are reliably predictable, albeit tiresome. There's a camp that states an artist must decide "what kind of artist" to be; i.e. determining focus, discipline and direction, as if it's either/or. To be or not to be a gallery artist, outdoor show artist or museum artist. I say, why can't an artist be all and do all?

Being a creative person implies that one is in a constant state of pushing envelopes, continuously exploring every element and not fearing failure.

The above left painting is my latest: "Straight Away", 12"x48" oil on canvas. It's a different angle of horses breaking from the gate. Application of paint is loose brushwork with a thick, energetic background utilizing a palette knife.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

New! Blog Store

I'm starting something new, a Blog Store. You won't find this on my website - yet. I've been working on a series of smaller canvases to diversify my subject matter and experiment with technique and palettes.

Here's the first:
nightscape"Nightscape" 8"x10" oil on canvas

I'm interested in portraying water. A night scene seemed appropriate. This piece was created using a very limited palette of cadmium red light and pthalo blue.

To make it easy to purchase, I've listed it at right with a "buy now" button linked to PayPal.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Back to the Artwork

Life goes on. After three days of emotional e-mails and phone call from folks I don't even know regarding Eight Belles - I'm back in the studio and yes, I'm still painting thoroughbred horse racing subjects. Because that's who I am and horse racing is what I love.

Another shout out from Hot Springs: In the April/May issue, author Lisa Wilson wrote a great article about my exhibit at Gallery Central during the Oaklawn meet.

Lisa and her hubby, D. Arthur Wilson are well accomplished artists in their own right. Check out their site here. I'm honored that Lisa thought enough of my work to showcase it in the Hot Springs TravelHost Magazine.

Thank you Lisa!!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

And So It Goes

eight belles
big brownI woke up this morning thinking I'm glad I'm not Larry Jones. Nope, wouldn't want to walk down the shedrow and face a barnful of devastated help with long faces in tears. Heavy hearts, heavy sighs, as a suffocating pall settles over another workday.

I've been reading the recriminations, hysteria and lots of speculating blame from the internet blow hards. Of course, the majority coming from non-horse people who - sorry - just don't know. This is so unsettling for ALL of us. Every horse person in the world has been through a similar type of tragedy whether it's racing, eventing, polo, driving, or just plain trail riding on a Sunday afternoon. Yes, we have.

Larry Jones loves his horses. You can see it. This quote by Jones to the local Courier-Journal in Louisville: "All we had to do was gallop out, stop and come home," Jones said. "The race was over. All we had to do was come back and be happy."

Congratulations to Big Brown and his connections. He looks like a monster. Reminds me of the connections of Bernardini in the '06 Preakness. Who, you ask? There you go...