Sunday, January 22, 2017


I decided to take the month off from working in the studio and it was both a positive and negative endeavor. The latter was a bit troubling because I didn't miss painting or experience a yearning to return as Michael predicted I soon would. The positive side was that I didn't experience a yearning to return soon at all! Contradictions aside, the time off was well-spent in contemplation, research and meditation.

Always studying other painters and their work, I find that looking at the work of my living peers reaps the most beneficial results. It's impressive that there are so many extremely masterful painters among us.

Here a few of the many I admire:

Tibor Nagy's loose translation of both urban scenes and landscapes are beautifully abstract. The surface contains wonderful mark-making: brushwork, palette knife applications and incisions, scumbling, scraping, etc., leaving the first layers to show through to the surface. His color palette is subdued and sublime:

Nancy Boren is a risk-taker. I have studied this painting over and over and I believe it's a perfect example of pushing the envelope. The background heron is overlapped by the figure's face and touched by the far wrist. It works - as evidenced by winning the Bronze Medal at the National Oil Painters of America 2016 exhibit. Gorgeous piece:

Swedish-born painter Odd Nerdrum's art is influenced by the likes of the great masters such as Rembrandt and Caravaggio. Figures on large-scale canvases tell modern yet timeless stories of human experience in a lyrical landscape. Surface texture and a classical subdued palette inspire me to simplify, simplify, simplify. And always tell a good story:

I couldn't make it this year but it's on my bucket list to study with Morgan Samuel Price. She's a remarkable plein air painter, tackling complex subjects that she seems to effortlessly pull together. I want to observe her edit the complicated Florida flora (and fauna) as she works her magic with light and color:

Mark Boedges works in layers of transparent paint, removing, re-applying, adjusting until he achieves his desired effect. Hints of Richard Schmid? You know and working in Vermont alongside the Putney Painters but emerging with a distinct and beautiful voice of his own. Strong stuff.

Fear not, I'm back at work with a vengeance and with renewed inspiration,

Monday, January 02, 2017


I'm beyond mid-life crisis age-wise but I'm experiencing the symptoms. Bored with the muse and disillusioned over changes in the racing biz, I'm restless about the future direction of my artistic life. There's a new crowd in the paddock who possess different goals and priorities. Ownership has undergone major restructuring and the "Kings & Queens" in the sport no longer reign supreme. Race track management have their own profit-driven agendas with little respect for tradition and history within a very old and storied sport. Loud, repeated calls for proactive changes in medication use, infractions, after care for retired horses, moral responsibility, etc., are agreed upon by the industry insiders but are rarely enacted and those that attempt to implement change are confronted with bickering power struggles. It's wearisome to an old race tracker like me who dearly loves the game.

Over a year ago I channel surfed onto a PBS documentary that quickened my pulse rate. I won't spend a lot of time explaining, you can read about it in my blog post here. The abbreviated version: Indian Relay. Tribes compete in a horse race (of a very different color) that I found to be excruciatingly exciting. I was so jazzed and inspired. Re-energized, if you will.

The plan was to attend their national championships taking place in Billings, Montana after the Saratoga race meet concluded. For reasons that would require another blog post, it was not to be. Undaunted, I returned to the documentary, studying it in it's entirety - frame by frame. With my knowledge of equine anatomy and referencing the scenes illustrating this extreme, dangerous sport, I decided to forge ahead anyway.

This is the first of several planned paintings:

The title is Chaos, and for good reason. This is the thrilling part of the race - the exchange of riders as the team catches the incoming horse (at a gallop) while the rider simultaneously leaps off in mid-air and then frantically swings/jumps/leapfrogs onto the next. Collision and confusion. Pure adrenaline. The riding skills and horsemanship are superb. All bareback.

You know I'll be there this year, for sure.