Monday, December 27, 2010

6 Things I've Learned in 2010

Instead of the usual yearly list of "What I Did" accomplishments for 2010, I thought I'd make a bit of a shift in my thinking and contemplate "What I've Learned: 2010". For your thoughts and comments as well:

 1. Persistence is key if you have ambition without resources. Goals are attainable with a bulldogged mindset and focus, but it does require...time. It takes longer to launch a project requiring capital and the lack of funding means the components must be executed in affordable increments. So, my multi-canvas pieces are created on carefully graphed paper and gradually constructed as my budget allows. That's okay because I know if I stay firmly committed to my ideas, they'll come to fruition eventually. They always do, even if they're stacked up in the sky like commercial aircraft on holding patterns.

2. Less is more. I'm living the simple life through necessity, not choice. The recent recession took away a lot of things from me. Yet in the present moment, I have everything I need. That's empowering. When you finally realize that the latest gadget with unlimited apps will never fulfill your basic longings, life takes on a new clarity. I choose to stay connected to the life force surrounding me, not the things.

3. I know who I am as an artist. I am finally aware of what drives my urge to create. I possess vision that is uniquely mine. Although I'm not 100% sure of the source, I recognize that speed, motion and direction inspires me and I can express passion in my paintings without succumbing to sentimentality. Take that, all you romantics!

4. I'm good enough. Although we as artists constantly strive to achieve excellence which is a healthy goal, we must also balance a respect for our own accomplishments, intellect and abilities. A self-pat on the back is reassuring and makes us a little less crazy. I'm doin' okay. And you're doin' okay.

5. A strong support system is imperative. My husband, friends, family, peers, and neighbors provide encouragement and bolster strength. Yes, I will disappoint. Sometimes the more you do the more is expected. I am making amends to those that deserve it. Integrity compels me to do what is right and good even lessons happen. When I become anxious and impatient, affirming this truth sets me back on the path to acknowledging my divinity. Thank you, thank you God.

6. Goals for 2011? Of course I have a business plan in place that evolves as necessary. I'm learning to relinquish my iron fist control (just a little) as I accept that I work too hard, try too hard, never sleep enough and never play hard enough. Where's my canoe?

"Stand in the middle of a crisis to invite the next stage of evolution to appear." - Michael Bernard Beckwith

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's an Ah-Ha Moment

You may be wondering why the miniature paintings I've previously posted are of ocean scenes. Well, there's a couple of reasons.

Last year when my gallery partner Jackie Schindehette conceived the idea of creating mini oils for the holiday season, I thought it was a wonderful concept. A client could purchase an original painting for gift-giving (or self-gifting) that was affordable and we could produce and frame multiple pieces.

In theory.

Turns out, Jackie effortlessly painted tiny lovely landscapes, flowers, water scenes and even birds (at least it looked that way to me). On the other side of the studio, I struggled with the teensy format until going bonkers and gladly handing over those microscopic canvases to her.

After much soul-searching, I concluded that the large equine subjects I paint with unrestrained va-voom just didn't translate into a miniscule format.

Shortly after THAT realization (duh) I had a huge epiphany. Looking at all the paintings in my studio and recalling how I felt as I painted them brought me to an enlightened state of awareness: I have an intense desire to paint subjects in motion. Yup - movement, speed, direction, flow and all those mobile adjectives are indeed the source of my artistic inspiration.

Seriously, why does it take some of us so long to figure out the obvious?

"An artist's working life is marked by intensive application and intense discipline." - John F. Kennedy

Friday, December 17, 2010

Last Chance Mini

There is still time to ship this out quickly...I know there are plenty of you out there who wait until the last minute to do their shopping. I cater to you.

miniature painting Miniature original oil on canvas, 5"x7", framed $50.00

Punctuality is the virtue of the bored. - Evelyn Waugh

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why You Should Collect Art (from a collector's viewpoint - not mine)

Rarely does a show excite me as did "The Unseen Eye - Photography from the W.M. Hunt Collection" currently on exhibit at the Appleton Museum of Art here in Ocala. Why? The collector, W.M. Hunt has written a transcript accompanying the exhibit that illustrates his passion for collecting in an intensely personal and accessible narrative. I'm not easily impressed but this is a must see show.

My fellow artists would do well to recognize the importance of describing and speaking about their own artwork as well as Mr. Hunt depicts his emotional connection to his collection.

The DreamNo gallery labels, only numbers which are listed on a photocopied checklist describe the photographs. Purposely ignoring these, I wanted to experience the images without bias to Mapplethorpe, Arbus, Weston and other well-named photographers. Interspersed throughout the images is signage containing the honest, forthright and engaging feelings of Hunt written in the first person. This open invitation into the psyche of an obsessive collector makes the show absolutely extraordinary. We get to be voyeurs.

Here are a few of his quotes:

"I was a very unhappy child, full of melancholy and depression, full of dread and sadness. I was capable of great good humor and generosity, socially skilled, but I was fraught with anxiety and feelings of loss. I can’t get over how collecting offered me insight into so much of this. One of the successes of the collection is its consistency in terms how the images relate to me. When you look at this collection you don’t, in fact, need to know anything about me, but there is a through line that is amazingly consistent. It is my unconscious."

"I have always felt that I have been an enigma in need of sorting out. Collecting did that."

"Collecting photographs is a completely visceral experience, an epiphany. You know you have found a great one when the hair on the back of your hands stands on end, your heart pounds, and you can’t move your feet."

"Collectors are obsessed, ravenous for this one and then the next one. People who do not collect, won’t. They don’t connect with this intense, obsessive force. Too bad. It is huge fun."

"Great art is insistent. It demands a visceral response: unease, awe, relief, and it calls for contemplation. It resonates like a primal chord. The earliest mark making strikes me as a spiritual response to living, a primitive attempt to find or create meaning."

"Insist on engagement. Wrestle with what’s difficult. Pretty is boring. Seek intensity."

"Escape, intensity, pleasure, I like those things so I have to remind myself that my reaction or W.M. Hunt Collectionreading of a photographic image is mine alone. But as I have said, it is only my truth."

These quotes are only a few excerpts barely scratching the surface of Hunt's fearless openness. These are the people we create art for. At least we'd wish for them if we had a choice. The passionate who wear their hearts on their sleeve. I'm buying that painting because I love it and it speaks to me.

“Look, look, look. You have to look. It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. Pry, listen eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long”. - Walker Evans

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Another Mini

Our exhibit at VoilART Gallery + Studio will showcase miniature original oil paintings beginning tomorrow, December 1st. A great way to start a collection, add to, or help someone start a collection of original artwork. Or, just give as a really, really nice "little" gift.

ocean paintings"Rolling Wave" oil on mounted canvas, 5"x7"

If you're interested, please respond soon. The last mini sold quickly and I've provided a "Buy Now" feature to make it easy for you to purchase, especially if you can't visit the gallery. Reminder: it's only $50. and it's FRAMED! Check out the sidebar to the right:

I've been doing a lot of abstract painting lately, extremely abstract. No brush, no paint, no canvas, I just think about it. - Stephen Wright

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Market Has NoTaste

As an avid fan of marketing guru Seth Godin, I subscribe to his blog and eagerly read each updated post. I hope he doesn't mind me sharing his short but effective essay that spoke volumes...hey, it's what I've been talking about. How apropos:

When it comes to art, to human work that changes people, the mass market is a fool. A dolt. Stupid.

If you wait for the market to tell you that you're great, you'll merely end up wasting time. Or perhaps instead you will persuade yourself to ship the merely good, and settle for the tepid embrace of the uninvolved.

Great work is always shunned at first.

Would we (the market) benefit from more pandering by marketers churning out average stuff that gets a quick glance, or would we all be better off with passionate renegades on a mission to fulfill their vision?

"I am an idealist. I don't know where I'm going but I'm on the way." - Carl Sandburg


Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Mini's

In my lastest newsletter that I just know you read with unabated enthusiasm, I mentioned that my gallery VoilART! is hosting a holiday exhibit of miniature original oils sized 8"x10" and under. Entitled "Marvelous Minis for Merry Making", these little jewels are an affordable means to start a collection, add to a collection, and of course, become a most thoughtful and creative gift.

As promised, I'm posting as they are painted for those of you who can't visit the gallery here in Ocala.

No more excuses of jam-packed walls that simply cannot squeeze in another square inch...these little lovelies will fit perfectly on any tabletop or spruce up a shelf.

oil painting of Pacific
Behold - memories of the cold, cold rocky shore of the Pacific when I lived in the bay area in California. It's approximately 5"x7" and framed to boot. Only $50. For an original. That's also framed.

In case you don't subscribe to my newsletter (and I can't imagine why not), here is a link to view it.

Avoid the ho-hum big box...

"If you work from memory, you are most likely to put in your real feeling." - Robert Henri

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sense of Place

I really, really wanted to finish this painting begun last summer in my vendor booth at Saratoga. It's a warm up, stretching my pigment muscles and feeling the milieu of time and space, intending to transfer that aura to my mounting commission work. When your brushstrokes caress the canvas, you're getting it. Ya just gotta feel it, breathe it and taste it to paint it good.

Saratoga backside"Barn Scene, Saratoga", oil on canvas, 16"x20"

It captures those soft mornings on the backside when the sun filters through the many big trees. People and horses are more relaxed and visitors are pleased to be able to tour the barn area. Must be the negative ions of nature. I know this because Michael had a stable there in the early to mid 80's. I so resonate with this place and it took me many years of persistence to get back my foothold.

There are beautiful race tracks across the country but there's only one Saratoga. It's a destination. A place to aspire to. A keeper of history with infamous records and facts and many stories both well known and whispered. Saratoga keeps it's head above the troubled waters. Owners dream of running and winning there. Graveyard of favorites, that it is.

"A man doesn't learn to understand anything unless he loves it." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ocala Art Festival

I'd like to invite you to attend the Ocala Art Festival this weekend. It's located at the McPherson Government Complex, 601 SE 25th Ave in beautiful Ocala, Florida (my home sweet home). Please stop by and visit me in my booth: E33. The weather will be perfect and you can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the rows of compelling and diverse artwork.

Remember, the holidays loom on the horizon and purchasing a special piece of art is a creative gesture of hip thoughtfulness. Way cool. Avoid the big box stores with the same old repetitious merchandise:


"Each time you purchase a piece of art, you're investing in a piece of history and in another person's life. " - Diane Overmyer (well said, Diane)

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Like an Old Friend

This original oil on canvas is back in my own studio, VoilART! in downtown Ocala. I won't share with you the why's, from where or who because I guard the privacy of my collectors and galleries. Suffice to say it's great to see it again and I give my old work mixed reviews. Myriad technicalities I would have confronted differently though I'm impressed with the level of power portrayed. I remember how I felt while creating this piece. There's always that one horse with an attitude who can be relied on to behave badly at the worse time. It's dangerous and exhilarating, maddening and glorious.

starting gate"Blue Blinkers" oil on canvas, 60"x48"

If you find it interesting, click here for more info.

"A good picture, any picture, has to be bristling with razor blades." - Pablo Picasso

Saturday, October 02, 2010

How long did that take?

Someone is looking intently at an artwork, turns to the artist and innocently asks: "How long did it take you to do that?". Ugh.

It makes an artist cringe. Some artists, feeling defensive, reply with a flippant "My whole life!" To an artist, the question insinuates perceived worth. I used to patiently consider the question an ice breaker, a safe way for the viewer to engage in conversation because they are not sure how to approach otherwise. Now I'm suspect.

Time, labor, materials, size. It's frustrating to deal with so much attention to physicality. I don't mind discussing technique. It's the reference to time = $$$ that increasingly annoys. If I say a canvas took me half a day because the painting session was immersed in a zen-like creativity, the reaction is...polite respect. However, numeration involving pained hours and hours (even months) spent on a piece concurs head-nodding monetary merit. Calculating value by the hours expended in a creation of art is not an indication of what it should cost.

"My whole life" really is. Accrued skill takes a lifetime of patience and persistence. It parallels general life experience and evolves into a total package as the artist becomes the art and the art IS the artist.

"The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run." - Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Musings About ArtPrize

Twenty-four hours or so remain in the first round of public voting. The top ten (from over 1,700 artists) are announced this Thursday and the voters will continue to choose winners from that drastically whittled list.

This is the second year for the competition and it has attracted some impressively flashy installations containing all-encompassing shows of light, sound and movement. These extravaganzas seem to be the front runners for attention grabbing (and votes) along with varying pieces of incredible originality. News of the quarter million dollar top prize has spread across the planet and this year's entries are on mega-steroids boasting a cast of collaborators. So, what chance has a 2-D traditional oil on canvas (yawn) even if the format is large and multiple and explores boundaries of speed and spatial relationships?

Not much, even if last year's winner was a gigantic oil painting of open water by Ray Ortner. That was last year...this year's entrants include a 25,000 lb. flying pig, after all.

My experience with ArtPrize has been nothing short of amazing. Being chosen by a private curator to exhibit at the DeVos Place Convention Center was an extreme honor. My piece hangs just inside the front doors and is viewable from the street. It's my personal magnum opus and assures me that I CAN be competitive, especially within genre. Yes, I'm already planning for next year. Oh, and I did get a nice shout out on the local news station's website: see it here.

"Some people don't like competition because it makes them work harder, better." - Drew Carey

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Vote Up Code: 41451

If you're in Grand Rapids, Michigan for ArtPrize:
AND you love horses and painting:
For your consideration, please see my piece at the DeVos Place Convention Center:


It's nine separate canvases joined together to create a cohesive image. My inspiration came from an old found black and white photo. I developed the flow of the canvases to echo the direction of the horses coming around the turn. Total size, approximately 13'6" x 13'6". For more info, click here.
My vote up code is:

Thank you!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On My Way to Saratoga

So here's my first racing painting after my self-imposed hiatus. Unfinished and waiting for something. Or someone.

unfinished oil paintingunfinished oil on canvas, 36"x48"

I'm inclined to believe that information is directed to a person constantly and from all manner of sources. As I went into the zone with this one, a voice was incessantly nagging "don't finish it." My intention was indeed to finish in time to take to Saratoga. Fresh off the easel. Michael spurred me on as well.

As time drew close, every manner of interruption manifested to thwart my efforts. Weird. Especially because I'm an over achiever. This painting most certainly should be completed.

I'll hang it on my tent wall and paint "your horse here" or "your silks here".

"There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear." - Buffalo Springfield

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Tabletop Art

Here's my answer to the statement: "I don't have any more room on my walls for artwork":

Tabletop art!

gicleeThese mini canvas giclee fine art reproductions are 5"x7" and suitable for tables, your desk or that tiny wall that just needs "something".

miniature art
Almost any of my images can be a mini, provided that the size is rectangular in format. Vertical as well as horizontal.

tabletop printsIt's not my original idea. My studio partner Jackie sells the heck out of these with images of her Florida landscapes.

Only $25.00. E-mail me if you'd like to add one to your collection. Yes, you DO have room.

Saratoga update: The heavens are conspiring to make my dream a reality. An anonymous donor sent a check off to NYRA for my vendor fee. Another wonderful donor is sponsoring my housing and a couple of angels have provided expense money. I'm SOOO blessed. The $10,000 target I initiated is at $6,500. and I'm confident that I'll realize the balance or pretty darn close through sales, unexpected income, etc. I'm overwhelmed and very, very grateful.

ArtPrize update: The DeVos Place Convention Center has chosen my entered piece "Diagonal" to exhibit in Grand Rapids, Michigan during the ArtPrize competition from Sept. 22nd to Oct. 10th. I'm in great company and honored to be a part of this incredible event.

What you need to know about the past is that no matter what has happened, it has all worked together to bring you to this very moment. And this is the moment you can choose to make everything new. Right now. - unknown

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hello Muses

I can't express how incredible it feels to be back painting thoroughbreds. My face hurts. I haven't smiled this much in eons. I might actually be pleasant to be around.

I'm also back working full bore in the studio.

While my sabbatical from horse racing spawned some interesting paintings - all the jumpers, foxhunters, appaloosas, pintos, yearlings and splashing water horses all resembled thoroughbreds. Replete with long legs, graceful slender necks and the fine features of an inquisitive face.

I could pull the tortured "you have no idea what an artist goes through" spiel, but I think you do. There's inherent danger in turning away from a passion that's firmly rooted in DNA.

In fact, I was quite miserable but I'm much better now.

"So cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can't fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal." - William S. Burroughs

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Shark Tank!

I’m throwing myself into the shark tank!

I have been invited by NYRA to exhibit in the artist’s “village” close by the paddock at Saratoga for the entire meet. This is a dream opportunity for me. If you’ve spent time in Saratoga, you know how expensive it is, therefore, I’m seeking some sort of creative financing to assist with my initial expenses. ROI could be in the form of 1. a painting(s) valued for at least the amount of funding but probably much above or 2. interest on a loan or 3. investment and percentage either long or short term in my growing business. My estimated cost is $10,000 covering vendor fee, housing, stocking my inventory of gift items, travel, etc., however any amount is helpful. Along with excellent references and an impressive resume, I consider myself a great ambassador for horse racing. Visit my website to see the professional caliber of my artwork:

If you are interested, please contact me at or 352-671-7469

horse racing

"There are no rules about investment. Sharks can be good. Artist's dung can be good. Oil on canvas can be good." - Charles Saatchi

Friday, June 11, 2010

Reception at FTBOA

thoroughbred race horseShe'll Heir winning the Cinderella Stakes at Hollywood

If you're in town for the OBS Two-Year-Olds & Horses of Racing Age sale next week, I'd like to invite you to attend an opening reception for the Equine Art Exhibit at the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders's and Owners' Association. Upstairs in their light and airy gallery, you'll find an diverse selection of artwork along with some fascination racing memorabilia. There are some surprises, I can promise you. Monday afternoon, June 14th from 2-4pm. All welcome.

"Honestly, I expected to get a cold reception because of my subject matter. But when editors took a look at the story I had to tell, and saw that this was not a parochial story at all, they really warmed to it." - Laura Hillenbrand

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Memories

Memorial DayLike most, I get misty thinking about my personal connection to this somber holiday.

My grandfather (dad's dad) Samuel John Crute, was killed in action in North Umberland, England during WWI. None of us know much about him as my dad was only three years old. A small framed photo of the toddler was recovered from the pocket of his uniform which I believe my brother, Samuel Reid Crute still has today.

My favorite uncle (ma's brother) Albert M. Salisbury was a veteran off WWII and the Korean War.

heroic veteranAlbert M. Salisbury

It wasn't until after his passing a couple of years ago that his wife, my Aunt Ruth, informed me that he had been one of the first American liberators on the scene at Auschwitz. He never spoke of it and refused to discuss it - even with her. Imagine my pensive contemplation for never having a clue and the life impressions of what he likely witnessed.

Both of my brothers served in the military: the aforementioned Samuel Reid Crute and Richard Allen Crute.

True bravery is shown by performing without witness what one might be capable of doing before all the world - Fran├žois de la Rochefoucauld

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fair Hill Races

Finally! We're back on the road.

All my years spent as a race tracker created a gypsy alter ego. Although I no longer wear skull bandanas around my head, I still savor the freedom of the open road, even if only for a short time. Some of my greatest inspiration manifests from the sense of place I experience as the landscape whizzes by.

Tomorrow (Sat. May 29th) I'll be participating as an exhibitor at the Fair Hill Races in Fair Hill, Maryland. If you're attending, be sure to stop by my booth so I can show off my artwork to you. First time to the steeplechase? Tradition, history and philanthropy permeate the milieu as well as excitement, fun events and lots of parties.

Fair Hill also offers pari-mutual wagering. Did that get your attention?

fair hill racesPhotos by Maggie Furbay & Walt Mateja.

steeplechaseEach handicap is like a hurdle in a steeplechase, and when you ride up to it, if you throw your heart over, the horse will go along, too. - Lawrence Bixby

Sunday, May 09, 2010

For Your Consideration...

Ever see a copy of Variety before the Academy Awards? Lots of wooing and courting going on in those full page ads.

In a couple of weeks I'll be full-bore schmoozing as I vie for the attention of vendors at ArtPrize. Ever heard of this? It's an amazing art project that takes place within a three-square mile radius in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. From September 22nd to October 10th, artists from the entire planet take over the city. The organizers of the event step out of the picture after venues and artists have registered. "Venues" are exhibit spaces offered by both private and public entities. It's then up to the venues and artists to become smitten with each other.

I entered "Diagonal". That's the big nine-canvas piece that currently sits languishing in pieces in my painting rack. Even my downtown studio ceilings are not tall enough to accommodate. I've had the opportunity to exhibit it twice and I must say, it's impressive. So far, my magnus opus.

oil painting
Okay, I know that painting is passe with the art history/museum curator/trade mag/auction house or otherwise snooty art intelligentsia (you know, those who don't create art but supposedly are the know-all, end-all insiders with dubious opinions). But an amazing painting by Ran Ortner took the whole enchilada last year and that provided enough conviction to enter.

Which leads me to the good stuff: the winners are chosen by public vote. People's choice. And the people still like paintings.

"True, I've been a long time making up my mind, but now I'm giving you a definite answer. I won't say yes, and I won't say no - but I'm giving you a definite maybe." - Samuel Goldwyn

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

PRB - Post Recession Blues

Every artist feels restless angst about their artwork at certain points in their career.

During the bad economy, my productive approach morphed from innovative creating to...well, what the heck will sell. Although my business is optimistically increasing now, I seem to be affected by a bit of boredom and uninspired malaise. No doubt a result of losing sight of why we become artists in the first place.

But there's hope! As I floundered in the "what will sell" mode, I also found myself experimenting into new genres. A New England native with salt water in my veins - ocean paintings seem only natural...

seascape paintingOcean painting sketch, oil on canvas, 11"x14"

It's the foam that's important. The foam will play the leading role in a near-future painting.

"Blue, green, grey, white, or black; smooth, ruffled, or mountainous; that ocean is not silent." - H. P. Lovecraft

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Elin Pendleton Workshop

Elin Pendleton live!!! right here at VoilART!, my gallery + studio in downtown Ocala. Only a couple of spaces remain if you're interested in attending her week-long workshop.

elin pendletonI've been an admirer of Elin's paintings for many years. Now I'll finally get to meet her. Loose, energetic brushwork, beautiful color and great horses of course.

Elin teaches a color system to accurately convey every time of day, even foggy, nighttime and backlit subjects like the gorgeous painting pictured above. It's all simplified. Struggling with color? Not after Elin gets finished with you! BONUS: participants will also exhibit their paintings created in the workshop at VoilART! during the downtown First Friday Art Walk, May 7th from 6pm - 8pm.

The details:
Elin Pendleton Color Boot Camp Workshop
May 3 - 7, from 8:30am - 4:00pm
at VoilART! Gallery + Studio
108 E. Fort King St.
Ocala, Florida 34479
(located one block south of the central square directly behind Bank of America)
$450. for five intensive days of painting and learning from this renown artist.

And yes, we have parking!

Contact me soon: or my studio partner Jackie Schindehette.

"I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma." ~ Eartha Kitt

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Wild Weather at Cedar Key

Made it to the Cedar Key Art Festival this afternoon, however the weather threatened to shut it down. That's spring time in Florida. However it's always fun to spot my artist peeps working their stuff and enjoy a brief visit. ALL the artwork was top shelf and impressive.

Cedar Key My good friend Linda Ballentine Brown's booth was a colorful visual feast. This cowgirl presented a mix of the ranch life she lives and the islands close to her. I was so impressed with her creativity. Very fun.

art festivalI haven't seen Diane Cahal in quite some time. We met years ago during the Ocala "Horse Fever" project (Linda too!). Her photography is captivatingly clever. I just love this piece of an artist's figure manikin mounting a horse manikin and hanging on for dear life - then galloping off in a dreamscape. Incredible. Below is a detail.

Unfortunately the weather turned nasty. The festival wrapped it up early and we were treated to marble-sized hail. Never made it to the bar for Coronas out on the deck.

"Look for me in the whirlwind or the storm. " - Marcus Garvey

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What I Learned Today

Teachers with ideas and vision: Priceless.

Teachers at the Eighth Street Elementary here in Ocala implemented a week long Art Fair along with the usual Science Fair. Local musicians and artists were recruited to help make it a go and that included moi. I was assigned five consecutive sessions with first and second graders (anyone got a Valium?). Turned out to be a fantastic way to test drive the silly riddles and horse drawings to the actual target readers of my long overdue book.

After the first session I briefly chatted with a teacher about the financial cuts to art and music in public schools. You've read the research. This particular teacher stated how the arts effectively draw children out of their shells. I don't recall that aspect in the studies I've read. Sure enough, as session two gets comfortable on the floor I spot a withdraw, sullen and seemingly disinterested child sitting at group's edge. He wouldn't look in my direction at all. As I show off my goofy drawings and invite participation, this child slowly becomes involved and by the end of the session is
actually enthusiastic! Right before my eyes...

All I can say Think art and music aren't important in a cash strapped school system? I ask you to reconsider.

Here are some photos I promised of last weeks painting demo at Ocala Art Group. Thanks to artist Sally Smyth who is first Vice President and show coordinator for sending them to me.

“The question is not whether we can afford to invest in every child; it is whether we can afford not to.” - Marian Wright Edelman:

Monday, April 19, 2010

Evinston Paint Out

Okay, you all know I'm not cut out for plein air painting but that doesn't mean I'm not intensely curious about my fellow artists who practice the genre. Today I ventured to the highly anticipated Evinston Paint Out just a bit northeast of McIntosh and approximately 20 miles north of Ocala.

Three of my artist buds are participating: VoilART! partner Jackie Schindehette, Nancy Moskovitz and program/poster artist Linda Blondheim, all who have blogs listed at right. Directed to Fair Oaks Farm by Nancy, this spectacular property avails itself to artists and visitors alike during the paint out. Greeted by Linda and Henry (Studio Dog), we secured a golf cart (generously provided by the property owner) and embarked on a self-guided farm tour.

This is old Florida at it's pristine finest.

Fair Oaks FarmHazy skies filtered down through these fairy-tale oaks.

Evinston Paint OutThis oak is so enormous that the lower limbs bend to the ground. What history do you think these trees have witnessed? Civil War? Indian Wars? Cortez and his army? Michael is awed.

Wood and SwinkMary Jane Volkmann paints a lovely scene at the water's edge. We met at Epcot a few weeks ago.

The Evinston Paint Out continues through this week until Saturday, April 24th, ending with a reception at the President’s House at University of Florida for the Patron’s Gala at 6:30 pm.

"I don't believe in making pencil sketches and then painting your landscape in your studio. You must be right under the sky." - William Merritt Chase

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tally Ho & Dreams of Kansas

A couple of years ago I invited Florida landscape painter Linda Blondheim to a hunt meet of Misty Morning Foxhounds out of Gainesville. We both took hundreds of photos and had a grand time. Horses, hounds, nature and friendly folks who take time to enjoy life - what's not to love? And did I mention the rest breaks for mimosas?

Creating these smaller pieces provides opportunity to experiment with various color theories. One of my favorites is split complementaries. In this painting, the dominate color - a warm shade of orange in the ground the subjects are standing on crosses the color wheel to it's opposite - blue. The split is actually the colors on each side of the blue complement - here being blue-violet and blue-green. The blue-violet dominates the shadows and the blue-green occurs as a strong under painting in the background trees. It's not as complex as it sounds. A decent color wheel illustrates clearly.

foxhunting"Anticipation" oil on canvas, 11"x14"

The inspiration for the next piece came from a conversation with a mid-western collector. My imagination kicked into gear as he described the summer storms rolling across the plains in his native Kansas. He recounted bright eerie light washing over the landscape as the dark storm clouds gathered in the distance. Not unlike Florida.

Do you like my lightning?

storms"Nervous Yearlings" oil on canvas, 11"x14"

Yesterday I gave a painting demo at the Appleton Museum of Art for the Ocala Art Group. I hope I inspired them with my oddball perception to passionately embrace their subject matter and inject it with stories of their vivid experiences.

Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, March 29, 2010

Painting at EPCOT

International Flower and Garden Festival

Fitting that I would be assigned the United Kingdom with my English/Irish ancestry. Smashing!

EpcotI loved every minute. The architecture inspired me. Interacting with the guests as I painted was pure pleasure. Most of us artists never miss an opportunity to yak up our inspiration and technique to anyone who'll listen. Children provided special delight with their inquisitive questions and comments. Kids today? Smart far beyond years. I was so impressed with their intense study of my works in progress and resultant thoughtful remarks.

My foray into plein air painting caught the eye of one Mom who requested that daughter be a quick study included into this street scene. A special gift for Dad. I answered yes of course, and painting was sold.

plein airSame for painting below except it was Mom's friend and accompanying daughter.

United KingdomThe results were new friends visiting from New Jersey. Thank you for making my day so extraordinary!

International Flower and Garden FestivalI'm honored to have been invited to this prestigious event. The generosity of everyone involved was amazing. The EPCOT staff was absolutely incredible and wonderful to work with. I think I behaved myself and hope to be invited back next year...

"Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language." - Walt Disney

Monday, March 22, 2010

Painting at Epcot

Studio painter I am.

So it was with great curiosity that I considered an invitation from Florida landscape painter extraordinaire Linda Blondheim. She organizes a group of painters to ply their craft at Walt Disney World's International Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot. After assuring me there's plenty of architecture for subject, I decided what the heck. You see, I don't care to paint landscapes; i.e. trees, bushes, grass, etc. There's all that green and miles of branches and gazillions of leaves, blades of grass and on and on and on. How to edit all that bramble? I'll gladly leave it to the specialists. Therefore, you'll find me in jolly ol' United Kingdom painting castles. Perhaps I can improvise a knight in shining armour aboard a mighty steed. March 26th - 28th.

In other news: here's my latest painting:

horse in water"Water Training" oil on panel, 20" x 16"

It's tight, a bit stiff, but I'm quite happy with the lighting and water effects. More info on the piece here: Water Training

"It seemed to me that it was possible to translate light, forms, and character using nothing but color, without recourse to values." - Pierre Bonnard

Monday, March 08, 2010

After the Extreme Cold

Fast and wide, the Oklawaha River put on an extraordinary show today. Our very wet "dry season" combined with an unprecedented cold winter created conditions of rarity and delight.

oklahawa riverThe water was incredibly high and the current swift.

alligatorsAnd oh, the alligators! The critters were out in numbers as the air finally warmed above the water temperature.

reptilesMost were timid, however, as if the extreme cold had left them feeling vulnerable. Even the usually congenial turtles who adore striking a pose would have nothing of our stalking canoe. Snakes were not to be seen and I searched for them in earnest. Most likely still sleeping away the deep chill.

ocala national forestOnly the big guns allowed approach and even they slid into the watery depths as we neared. Nervous was the atmosphere.

gatorsNext month will mark the beginning of breeding season and caution will be the operative word. The gators will become territorial and hold their ground making even a seasoned reptile lover such as myself hesitate. But today I was queen of the river!

I have an underwater camera just in case I crash my car into a river, and at the last minute I see a photo opportunity of a fish that I have never seen. - Mitch Hedberg

P.S. As we returned to Gore's Landing, a big fish suddenly propelled itself high out of the water towards me - barely missing the canoe. For a micro-second, in mid-air, our eyes met with astonishment and our mouths went agape. It was the heart-pounding moment of the afternoon.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


We artists can sometimes get lazy. Relying too much on photographic reference, our paintings can conjure a feeling of artifice. They stiffen and fall flat. Feel contrived. Overly orchestrated.

To avoid the bland, I turn to drawing from scratch. I love to draw and wonder why I don't sketch more often. Other artist's drawings intrigue me. Drawing can illustrate line, direction, speed, chains of bodies in space, ovoids, nuance, milieu, tenor - okay, so I'm sounding like my art history professor and you get the point.

In an attempt to express the dynamic:

ocean horse
equine sketchhorse drawingI considered foreshortening the front leg. In a large canvas this could be effective, on this small panel I decided it would look awkward.

horse in water"Lively Wave" oil on panel, 14"x11"

Fun exercise. It ended up with a slightly Asian feel. Like it? Make me an offer...

When you do dance, I wish you a wave o' the sea, that you might ever do nothing but that - William Shakespeare