Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Rear End Year View

Champ the wonder dog sits patiently awaiting the New Year to come through the door.  And feed him.

Wow, can you believe it's time once again to reminisce about the year gone by?  2012 was a year unlike any other. 

Not really.  But I heard that it's customary to say that about departing years.

It started the same way as every other year-- in January-- and progressed through the calendar in usual fashion.  I remember having a New Year's Resolution to achieve world-wide acclaim as an artist, and sell my work for millions of dollars.  I'm pretty close to achieving that goal, if you disregard the fact that I'm still totally anonymous as a painter, and my pictures are traded for Pokemon cards.  But I'm so close, I can smell it...

Looking back through my efforts in 2012, (pronounced Twenty-Twelve) I can see good times and good art, along with mediocre times and so-so art.  But isn't that why we look so eagerly to the coming year?  To start afresh?  To right the wrongs of the previous year?  To grow, and learn and finally achieve our potential? 

Or is it to breathe the same sigh of relief as when we narrowly miss having a car-accident?  You know, "Man-- I'm glad I made it through that!..."

So, allow me to skip through some memories; the sights and paintings of the year, and end the chapter of life that was 2012.

The year started with a trip to Hollywood with my daughter, Leigh.  We were participating in a show about ghosts called My Ghost Story.  I've blogged about it here.  The best part was getting to the Getty Museum with Tess, an old Air Force friend I hadn't seen in 30 years.  Fame is 15 minutes long.  Friends last a lifetime. 

Leigh at the Getty checking out a Medieval pop-up book.

Then it was back to work in Maine.  Here's some stuff from early in the year.

Morning Reflections

Birches-- I've never posted this one.

Appleton Hills

Then I finished up a big one;  After years of 12X16's and 14X18's, at 3ft high and 4 feet long, it was my largest painting to-date:

Horse Pull

Sometime in the Spring, I got interested in doing my pictures vertically.  Before, I always laid down to paint, but then I decided to stand up.  And that made my compositions become vertical, too.

Up River

Noon On The River
The two paintings above show the Eastern River, near my home in Pittston.  The painting on top depicts a lovely spot a short hike from my home.  Below that is a picture I did from the edge of my back yard.  It may not be great, but that one I did plein air. 
Below is one of many scenic spots in the Boothbay Botanical Gardens, in Boothbay, Maine.  
Garden Falls
Garden Falls, and Noon On The River where done plein air in anticipation of the summers plein air events.  At the height of this blisteringly hot summer I hit the road to New Hope, Pennsylvania to a paint-out hosted by the inimitable Howard Cooperman and his lovely bride, Edye.  Howard owns the Bucks County Gallery Of Fine Art, (where I have a few of these pieces hanging) and I couldn't wait to slap some paint with about 20 very admirable artists.
I found this painting along the river, and added some touches before the artist got back..

Wondering where I can get more punch.
On the way back, I had to stop in Stockbridge, Massachusetts to say hello to  my hero, Norman Rockwell:
Let's see.  On to Fall, and more surf and turf:
Sebasco, Maine views
Then I thought, "I know-- let's do portraits!"


But, you know, I also had some fun whipping out the old pencil--

From life


From a photo

And that brings us to my latest picture, and probably my last for this year.  It's called December Fields.  I've wanted to paint a picture of this house since the day I moved here.  I finally got around to it:

So, that's my year in paint and pencil.  I'm really looking forward to what lies in store for 2013. 

Anybody have any Pokemon cards left?

Have a Happy Holiday!


Friday, December 14, 2012

And The Angels Wept

It has been a sad day today, hasn't it?  Mindless insanity in Connecticut has my heart heavy, but what I feel pales in comparison to the horror and devastation that twenty six families are enduring right now. 

I suppose for the next few years December 14 will hit us as hard as September 11, April 20, November 22, or December 7th once did.  But as always, the day will inevitably come when this date blurs in with the rest of the calendar.  Schools across the country will deal with this with more and more security; More lock-downs, more armed guards in SWAT Team regalia roaming the empty halls, more security screening at the barricaded front door, more check-points before gaining access to school campuses.  Schools from Grammar to College will look more like fortresses-- or prisons-- than places of care-free learning.  Many folks will look back wistfully on the days when students were free to come and go as they will, and such precautions weren't necessary, but hey -- it's the world we live in these days...

Meanwhile, it is deemed that nothing can be done to impede the criminal from obtaining the weapon that allows such atrocities to happen.

There may be many who wonder how a just and merciful God could allow such tragedy to happen to innocents.  It is impossible to see into the mind of the Almighty, but I wonder if possibly He is saying, "And I'm going to keep letting this happen until you all wake up!"


Friday, December 7, 2012

Dear Mr. Santa

Dear Santa,

How you doing?  And the Mrs?  Please send her my regards.  Wow!  Can you believe another year has flown by?  I tell you, the leaves of the calendar were dropping faster than my prom dates dress.  Or does that put me on the Naughty List for saying that?  Regardless, this year I've prided myself on how good I've been.  I'm sure it hasn't been lost on you. 

Anywho, I'm sure the elves enjoyed taking a break from making gifts for the good girls and boys.  I mean, this was an election year, after all.  Am I right?  That said, I'm sure your coal suppliers were working overtime!  Hey, anything to keep 'em busy, I guess.

I want to thank you for your present last year.  Remember, it was a T-shirt that said, "Don't Starve The Artist!"  But as you may recall, what I asked for was not to be a starving artist.  Oh well-- I guess it's the thought that counts...

This year, I have a short-- but important list (because artists do "important" things) of what I'd like for you to bring me.  So if you can get the elves working on it, I'd appreciate it.

First off, I've been doing a lot more plein air stuff this year, and while what I've been cranking out is OK, what I really need is a set of Plein Aire Paints.  You know, the ones that have the sparkling blue of the sky, the luminescence of a summer cumulus cloud, and the brilliance of a sunset.  I'm pretty sure you last made a set for Willard Metcalf and Daniel Garber.  Mine must have been made by the "Meh" Paint Company, because they don't shimmer and shine like theirs.  Please have your elves whip up a batch of the good stuff.  I need every color you can make.  Thanks.

Of course, paints are well-nigh useless without brushes-- unless you're Jackson Pollack.  But my brushes don't seem to accurately portray what I'm trying to paint.  So, if you could throw in the Church or Bouguereau set, I'd find a use for them.  It seems to me like every one else has a set.  Just have the elves hold up on making any more smart phones. Aren't there enough already?

One last thing I'd like to see busting out the seams of my stocking is better painting ideas.  Right now it seems like every time I come up with an idea for a painting, I see that someone else has already done it.  And usually better.  What I need is my own brand of unique, not someone else's.  Have the elf that came up with the Chia Pet work on this one, will you?

OK, that should just about do it.  I know you'll be busy enough, soon enough.  I mean, you've got to cram in a whole lot of stuff in one night.  How are the reindeer holding up?  I'm sure the other reindeer are chomping on the bit to finally get a chance to take the trip.  You know, no one ever mentions him, but I heard Rudolph's brother was nick-named "Flashlight Ass"!

Or does saying that put me on the Naughty List again?

Peace On Earth, Goodwill Amen



Friday, November 23, 2012

Alive and Kicking

This time of year, well actually the third Thursday in November, we like to pause between bites of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and jellied cranberry sauce, (there is no other kind) and remind ourselves of what we are thankful for. 

For myself, I am grateful that I've given up trying to appear fit and trim.  Bring on more of that Pecan Pie!  And damn right I want ice-cream on that!

Now that I got that out of my system, I thought I'd give all of my regular readers of Maine-ly Painting (and you know who you are) a nice treat, and show some real art.  Both of you who read this regularly know that I have a deep affection for the great painters of the past.  Be they the 19th Century types like William Bouguereau, Jean Leon Gerome, Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer, or 20th Century Illustrators like Norman Rockwell, NC Wyeth, Tom Lovell and Dean Cornwall.  But one type of artist I rarely mention are those that are very much alive and producing work that I think is the equal of any artist of the past. 

So without further ado, let me show you some art by some artists that make me want to quit right now.

Leading off is Jacob Collins.  He's a New Yorker who was born in 1964.  He had extensive art training and today runs the Water Street Atelier, the Grand Central Academy of Art and the Hudson River Fellowship.  (More information can be found here)  He's a classical realist in that he uses techniques of the Masters from generations past.  But what I love is the contemporary feel he gives his work.

Check this out:

Man, the treatment of the sheet is worth the price of the painting, alone.  He's no slouch with a Still Life either.  Just look at the glow he gives this orange:

And last but not least, he's a triple threat in that he does exquisite Landscapes as well.

Great--now I can feel inadequate in all three disciplines of art...

Moving on, I bring you Daniel Sprick.   Like Collins, Mr. Sprick predominantly paints from life as well.  Where as Collins uses a dreamy attitude in his work, Sprick has a no holds barred, show-it-as-it-is mentality.  But, if I had one wish to have as a painter, I'd wish for Daniel Sprick's eye.  Just look at the power of observation that Sprick uses in this painting:

Sprick lives in Colorado, but was originally an Arkansas boy, having been born there in 1953.  He had extensive training to develop his talents, and uses traditional methods and techniques-- all of which he's a  master of. 

I'm always blown away every time I see one of his portraits.  Now, a lot of people would look at them and say, "My, that's just like a photo!"  but let me tell you, no photo can reproduce what Sprick sees and paints:

Yeah, just let a camera try that!

About twenty-five years ago, I stumbled upon a book called The Illuminated Landscape.  It showcases the artwork of Peter Poskas and the landscapes he had done of the Connecticut farmland.  I highly recommend you go to Amazon and buy it. Really, you'll thank me. 

Born in 1939, but still going strong, I had the wonderful opportunity to see his work up close and personal in Thomaston, Maine (less than an hours drive from my home) at the Haynes Galleries.  Poskas doesn't have a web-site, so I linked him to that gallery.

As a landscape painter, I can only look at his work and wistfully say, "Why can't I do that?"  He embodies the style and technique that I want to achieve in my work.  Whenever I start a landscape painting, I think to myself, "How would Poskas treat this scene?"  With all due respect, you can have your Richard Schmid's and Scott Christensen's-- I'll take Peter Poskas every time.

And who wouldn't when you look at these beautiful pieces of Art?

Even though I know these images are a tad bit fuzzy, I still think it's painfully obvious; The man knows how to handle light.

I don't have a lot of biographical info on Mr. Poskas, but I do know he used to do a lot of studies plein air in preparation for his studio pieces.  Nowadays, he doesn't do quite so much of that.  Having seen his work in person, I know he paints on masonite panels, just like I do!  So... we've got that in common... 

Just a few miles away in South Thomaston lies a little gem of a gallery that houses some of the best Maritime paintings you can find. (OK, and maybe a few of mine, as well).  It's called Art Of The Sea, and is a representative gallery for John Stobard, another of my painting Gods.

Stobard was born in England in 1932, and found out early on that he had an affinity for history and drawing.  He made his big debut in New York City in 1965 and made quite a big splash.  Pardon the pun... He has since become the leading historical marine painter of our times.  If you want to take a step back in time, whether it be the coast of Maine or out in the deep blue sea, Stobard can take you there in his meticulously researched paintings.

Before they rotted away, these two schooners were stuck in the mud in Wiscasset, Maine:

I saw the painting above personally in the gallery.  Stobard is a master of the Moon light, as you can see from this awesome piece: 

And again, he researched the crap out of all of his depictions of maritime history.  If Stobard paints buildings along the waterfront, rest assured-- they were there.  Heck, I bet he even researched the proper ice to use in the painting below:

OK, maybe I'm joking about the ice part, but he sure did research the vessel he portrayed.  But his work isn't just schematically correct.  His paintings are Art.  Full of color, design and drama.  You don't have to know the history he shows you, just appreciate the scene, beautifully shown.  To me, that's a rare gift.

So there you have it, my favorite current artists.  They are some of the guys that I look up to and emulate.

And they are very much alive.

More than I can say about that turkey I ate yesterday...


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

L 7

After spending an inordinate amount of time this year laboriously working with the glazing painting technique I use on slick masonite panels, I thought it would be great fun to break out the big brushes, palette knife and rough canvas, and have at it.  So what did I just do?

My usual thing on masonite panel.

I can't help myself, I guess.

But I thought it might be mildly interesting to relate how this particular painting came about.  Maybe a 3 on the interest scale of 1 to 100, but mildy interesting, none-the-less.

Every once in a while I take my lunch on lovely summer days in the shade of a big ol' maple tree in my back yard.  We built a stone patio around its base, and there's almost always a pleasant breeze gently wafting through, and it's just a nice place to take a break away from the heat of my studio.  But no matter how interesting the book I brought to read with my lunch (yodels and ring-dings) is, I almost always wind up staring into the leaves above me and enjoy the color play of light as it shines through the verdant canopy and illuminates the branches.  It always makes me think of one of the great landscape painters of the 19th century, William Trost Richards, and more explicitly, this painting:

You know how it is.  We painters see something interesting to us and we say, "Someday, I'm going to paint that."  That's how it was with this painting, and my maple tree.

Now, I'll send you back in time to Memorial Day of this year, when I was wandering around the Boothbay, Maine Botanical Gardens in search of a painting.  I wrote about it in this blog post.  Before I eventually found a site I wanted to paint plein air, I did some sketches of other spots.  One sketch I did was this one of a boulder sitting all alone in the woods:

It is exactly that: a sketch.  It's also a little incomplete looking because the bugs were eating me alive as I had both hands occupied in doing it.

So as I was pondering the ever-present question of What To Paint? a couple of weeks ago, and rummaging through my sketch book, my mind combined all of the elements I mentioned above.  The tree.  The old painting.  Summer. Lunch.  Ring-Dings.  That and one other thing--

I had a 12X12 inch frame kicking around that I wanted to use.  So I went square.

So instead of rough canvas and palette knife, I used a panel and my usual technique.  Here is the picture after I had it drawn on the panel, but before I hit it with paint:

And there you have it, all the inside scoop of where this painting came from.  Nothing deep and emotional here. 

And for an old L7 like me, that's just the way I like it.


Thursday, November 1, 2012


For those who know me, (and you know who you are, even if you refuse to admit it) it is no surprise if I admit that I'm not really an emotional kind of guy.  I'm just a meat and potatoes, black and white, tell-it-like-it-is sort of person.  The pool of my emotions runs about ankle deep.  It shows in my paintings, doesn't it?  Needless to say, there's not a whole lot of "I wonder what that means?" in my pictures.  There's a simple reason for that:

Re-read the above.

But I do see beauty in much of what I observe.  It's just that I prefer to show it to you as faithfully as I can, and not try to interpret it for you.  I'd rather let you feel your own emotion.  My feeling is that if I think something is cool, then you probably will too.  You know, a "Hey-- Check this out!"  type of approach.

I am not unique in that like many painters, one of the things I think is really cool is the interplay of light and shadow.  It strikes me as somewhat humorous (and a tad bit pretentious) when I hear painters say that they "paint light."  As opposed to what?  Darkness? But I digress...  Anyway, I've long been intrigued by the play of light that comes filtering in through my studio windows.  I liked the way the color of the light affected the color of the shadows.  But I couldn't very well just paint a window, could I?  I needed to have something to show the affect.  So I thought about having someone standing there and looking out the window.  Sure, it might be a figurative painting, but in my mind it would really be about the colors of light.

As I have mentioned before, I am a huge fan of the great illustrators of the past.  I like the paintings they did that tell a story.  Therefore, it isn't enough for me to just show a bored model staring off into space, looking like they are in a catatonic trance, or worse-- dead.  I like for them to be doing something.  When I put a figure in my painting, I want you to be able to guess not just what they are doing now, but maybe what they did before, or what they might be doing after.  I want them to be part of a larger story. 

So that leads me to the idea of the painting above called Homecoming.  It started life as this thumbnail:

I envisioned this as an older gentleman looking through the blinds.  I had bought some vintage clothes recently, and I wanted to paint them.  So what better excuse than using them in my painting of a window, right?  Nothing deep about that.  Problem was, I didn't have an old guy to wear them.

So, I'm thinking to myself, "where can I get an old guy to pose for me?"  And that led me to a Doctor I know.  You wouldn't know it, but the old duff I painted is actually a well respected surgeon!  But you'll also notice that he's not wearing my old clothes.  That's because he posed for me on a hot August afternoon at his place on the coast.  I figured I'd dress him in the painting, if you know what I mean.  I originally wanted a somber kind of picture, but Doc was in a jolly good mood, so he kept smiling while he posed for me.  I also figured I'd change that in the painting process.

Now, all of this was back in August.  I had to set this on the back-burner due to my foot surgery, and a couple of commissions I was asked to do.  I've also spent a large amount of time preparing for my mother to move in with Ellen and me here in our house.

And then, the whole meaning of this picture changed.

You see, my mom lives by herself near Philadelphia, about 400 miles away from me and the rest of her children and grand-kids.  We all would get down there as often as we could, but that only meant maybe two or three times a year.  Mom's older now, and living alone is becoming more and more difficult.  And maybe, deep down, I was thinking of her in my thumbnail of someone waiting at the window.  So her coming back home is a good thing.

And that's what my painting became.  It went from a painting about how light affects an old man looking out a window, to the joy of an elderly man as he sees a loved one coming up the walk-way to is house. The window is dirty; there's dust and cobwebs on the glass ornament, but there is pleasure in his expression.  Something good is happening.  I didn't need the props, his face tells the story.  And maybe-- just maybe-- his apparent delight is really an expression of my mom's feeling of joy at coming to live near her family again.

Hence, Homecoming.

Well, this painting's in the books. I'm already gearing up for the next picture.  I'm thinking it will be of a lonely boulder nestled in the deep dark, menacing woods.  You know-- really emotional.

Because that's how I roll...


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Master Class

Constant readers of this blog (and at one time numbered as many as two, but has dropped a bit since my mom stopped reading) know that I am a huge fan of the master Illustrators of the early to mid Twentieth Century.  You know, guys like Howard Pyle, NC Wyeth, Harvey Dunn, Dean Cornwell and of course the King himself: Norman Rockwell.  Why?

Because I want to learn from them.


Well, Jeez-- Look at them!

The above is a Harvey Dunn.  Harvey was obviously illustrating a story that involved a dogsled team.  How many of us today would depict an image like this like the way we'd take a photo of it-- as a horizontal shot?

Dunn had that option, I'm sure, but he went with this dynamic, in-your-face perspective.  He wraps the action around that birch on the right, which gives the whole picture a bounding sense of movement.  Oh, and he painted a brilliant snowscape to boot.

Here is (in my opinion [which is how IMO looks spelled out]) the best moonlight nocturne I have ever seen painted.  It's by Dean Cornwell:

Raise your hand-- how many of us have painted moonlight scenes as pretty much a daylight landscape, but grayed down to simulate moonlight?  You know, the way those old Hollywood westerns used to portray night time scenes.  Did your picture come out looking like this?

Damn right it didn't!

The Dean has this one down perfectly.  This, my friends is real moonlight.  But take a look at the abstract shapes of the figures and shadows.  The dark, swirling shapes add to the menacing effect. There is color here, but moonlit color, not subdued sunlight.  Check out how Dean tied all the elements together;  the tent pole goes through the Bedouin on the left, whose shadow and ancient rifle intersects the bad guy on the right, whose shadow curls back to the tent.

I keep yearning to paint a nocturne, but then I look at this and ask myself, "Could I ever make it that good?"

The man who started the Golden Age of Illustration was Howard Pyle.  He was a master craftsman, being versatile in pen and ink, watercolor, and of course oils.  This is a touch of Pyle:

Pyle knew that the best way to show action is to run it off the page.  Like the way he did in this depiction of the battle of Nashville, fought near the end of the Civil War.  He didn't contain all the action within the frame.  These soldiers are a river flowing and sweeping past us.  Dynamic.  Oh, and like his pupil Harvey Dunn, (who taught Dean Cornwell) this is also a very true realization of a landscape.

The thing about these paintings isn't just the technical expertise and creativity of these great Artists.  The designs they used could translate just as easily into landscape and seascapes.

No, really!

To tell you the truth, whenever I'm playing with a new idea for a painting, I ask myself , "how would one of these gentlemen approach the subject?"  I have a long way to go, and a short time to get there, (to quote Jerry Reed in Smokey And The Bandit) but at least I have templates to follow.

And they didn't do anything overtly new, here.  All of their compositional elements are tried and true painting maxims.  But what they did was to make their paintings live, breathe and jump off the printed page.  They needed to make their paintings as dynamic as possible to please their viewers.

You know, guys like me:


Friday, September 21, 2012

My Left Foot

Thoughts while wearing a disco shoe...

OK, I had some elective surgery a couple of weeks ago on my left foot.  If you are like me and was thinking that removing the knotty little lump that was just under the skin on my instep would be like taking out a small mole; no big deal, then just like me--

You'd be sadly mistaken.

Two weeks of crutches, hobbling and limping had my body an aching mess.  If, like I, you thought it would be easy to come on down to the studio and get to work--

You'd be sadly mistaken.

Nothing proves how much I walk around when I draw and paint than sitting in one spot and trying it with my foot propped up.

I'm almost 100% better now.  My body is still a mess-- that's per usual-- but I can at least walk and stand when I work.  Who knew that a foot operation would be such a pain in the ass!

I have some paintings hanging in a lovely gallery in South Thomaston, Maine named Art Of The Sea.  The gallery is home to some spectacular marine artists, and they are having a show of marine paintings.  I didn't get a chance to make the opening reception a few weeks ago, but recently Ellen and I made the trip to that pretty, quiet coastal town to check it out.  To my utter delight, I have three pieces hanging right next to a John Stobard original!  Mr. Stobard is the dean of maritime painting, and I have been a huge fan of his for twenty years.  His work is in museums and collections around the world.  I had a chance to meet him last year at the gallery reception.  He was surrounded by painters like me, who were in awe of him.  I chickened out, and didn't go up to him.  What was I going to say that he hadn't already heard?  "Hi, I'm a fan, and I can't paint anywhere near as good as you."?

You know, maybe it's a double-edged sword to hang next to such a great artist: On one hand, people viewing his work might notice mine.  Cool!  On the other hand, people looking at his spectacular painting might not even give my stuff a passing glance.

Whatever-- At least I noticed!

These are two of mine hanging next to Stobard:

I'm currently working on a commission of two paintings.  Now, some painters will tell you that they don't like to do them because of the fear that commissions stifle artistic creativity.  I, on the other hand, usually enjoy them because, first-- I don't do them if I can't use some creativity, and second-- they give me a chance to paint something I might otherwise not have done.

The paintings are to hang together as a left and right thing, but should also be able to stand on their own. 

Here they are with the underdrawing showing on the panel, to give you an idea:

The fun with this commission is I'm painting them simultaneously to keep the same feel and color of the scenes.

The hard part with this commission is that I'm trying to paint them both simultaneously to keep the same feel and colors.

I've said it before:  Inspiration comes from the strangest of places.  Our local church has great yard sales.  Along with moldy books and stained sweaters, they usually have interesting stuff.  Last year I picked up an old chair, thinking I could use it as a prop some day.  This year, Ellen's son Luke was staying with us, and I thought it would be fun to take a break from landscapes and such and do a portrait.  So, I put him in that old chair.

 Here is the painting, Luke:

Now, Luke's a nice guy and all, but I really wanted to paint that chair!  I set it up and painted it from life, as I did with his shirt.  I dressed a mannequin to do that:

Yeah, it's a dress-maker's mannequin.  I had to be sure I didn't give Luke too much cleavage...

Boy, the season sure has changed here in Maine!  It's that time of the year when I need to run the heater in the morning to warm the studio up, and the A/C in the afternoon to cool it down.  Oh well, before too long I'll be shoveling a path through the snow to get down here to the studio.

 I have a feeling it will remind me of surgery on my left foot...


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Floating Down Denial River

The other day I was up in the loft of my studio, looking for some stretcher bars for a project I had in mind.  As is usually the case, when I start one thing, I soon get distracted by another.  Since the loft is also the home of mis-fit paintings, I started to look through them.  Every once in a while, I stumble upon an old reject that I think I can rescue.  Anyway, I was looking at these (too many) sad paintings-- heck, some had even been in galleries-- when I stumbled upon an atrocious, foul, monumentally horrid piece of crap painting of mine.

You might think I'm being hard on myself here, and maybe you're right.  If you disregard the extremely poor drawing; overlook the impossible perspective, never mind the banal composition, and close your eyes to the dull, muddy, uninteresting colors, you would be left with a painting that might be better served as a liner for a parakeet cage.

It was so bad, I felt like sticking my face near a wasp nest in hopes they might sting my eyes so I wouldn't have to look at it anymore.

It was so bad, I looked up pictures of Judge Judy in a swimsuit on the internet so I could burn the image of that disgusting painting out of my mind.  Yeah, I know-- torture.  But it had to be done...

The offending painting was done plein air a few years ago.  But here's what makes this tale all the more embarrassing-- I actually put this wretched piece up for sale in a wet-paint auction.  Yeah, back when I squatted down and produced this piece of "art" I honestly thought someone would pay money for it!  Oh, dear Lord!  What was I thinking?!  Surprise, surprise!  It didn't sell.  Well, needless to say, with the help of an exacto knife, this monstrosity is no longer a part of the Mizner Catalogue Raisonne`.

Now, I had done far better pieces long before I did this one, and I also like to think-- hell, I know-- I've done far better since.  So, I kind of shrugged it off as, "hey, they all can't be winners..."  But then the other night I woke up bathed in flop sweat.  The thought had come to me:  Sure, my ability to paint may have improved, but has my assessment of my paintings gotten better?  Am I better able to recognize a badly done piece now, than I was back then?

That's a slippery slope, isn't it?

You see, I usually judge the success of my painting on how close it comes to my original concept.  Did I do what I wanted to do in the way I wanted to do it?  The overwhelming majority of the time, that answer is "no."  The viewer of my painting, however, doesn't have my vision in mind.  All they have to look at is the painting.  But my success in doing what I originally envisioned doesn't necessarily make it a good painting.  The ability to see my work through other's eyes is called discernment.  I sure as hell didn't use discernment then, that's for sure!  But if I can't trust myself to assess my painting, how can I discern how others will see it?

Doesn't one need to have some self-confidence to be successful?  You know, the "To hell with what they say!" mentality.  I can't very well become frozen with doubt about every painting I do, can I?  Nothing will ever see the light of day, then.  So, I guess you can add that to the long list of things to think about when painting;

Is this painting as good as I think it is, or am I merely floating down denial river?

I really need to work on this, because I know one thing with absolute certainty:

I never want to see this again!