I am trying something new with oil pastels and mineral spirits. I am experimenting on a painting I had set aside, an acrylic painting of a lady, heavy with pumice and texture. I went at it with the pastels and then poured mineral spirits right on the canvas in big puddles. Then I took a large brush and just started going nuts on it. Using wide and narrow brushes, I like the way the oil melts into the puddles and becomes almost wavy.


I'm not sure where I'm going with it because I have never done this before but right now I'm digging it. Here's the painting in progress:

After he shook hands, he sat down heavily and leaned forward. His hair was uncombed, but maybe that was by design.


But his suit was way too big, and out of style, a little wrinkled and frumpy, like he pulled it out of his dad's closet or maybe his grandfather's. His trousers were too short for his legs. The tie didn't match. He was wearing some kind of beat-up silver and orange tennis shoes with white socks.


"This guy needs a job," I thought, "just so he can buy some decent clothes."


The Kid at the Interview. 20 X 20, acrylics and pumice. May 2015.



It's been a couple of years now since I started blogging and posting my art. I have been working on the premise that I would do a piece of art, then post it, and blog about it a little. My plan was to finish a painting and blog at least every two weeks or less. But it soon became apparent to me this plan was somewhat flawed because it meant that in order to post a blog, I had to complete a painting.


So in other words, I needed to be a very prolific artist.


This is nuts. This is a bad premise. This is not a good plan.


Working full time doing what I do for money, it is difficult to keep up this artistic pace.


Unbeknownst to most people, I am lucky if I do one good painting to every three paintings I attempt. Hence, for example, I will start a portrait of some lady smoking a pipe and after three or four days I look at it and say to myself (or even outloud) "I hate this thing."


Meanwhile, some unfinished abstract canvas is staring at me from a pile of unfinished pieces. I know the abstract has potential but right now it is boring. I pick it up and hang it on the wall. I turn it upside down. I lay it on the floor. I throw it back on the pile.


In frustration, I grab a blank canvas and do some crazyass painting and by some weird luck it turns out to be a pretty good piece of art. The crazyness may be another gal smoking but this time the painting looks excellent. This happens sometimes and I feel pretty fortunate when this happens.


But as of late, I haven't been hitting homeruns. The last bunch of paintings I have worked on -- well, they all suck I think. I'm in a drought. I have not been feeling it.


But I know the pendulum will swing back.


I used only four colors (mars black, titanium white, gray, light blue) to paint Cold Wind. This scene is from a photograph taken in western Ireland.


Cold Wind. Acrylic. 20 X 16. April 2015.

Some days just don't work out. You know, you wake up and stub your toe on the chair. The cat pooped in your shoe. You left the lights on your car and the battery is dead. In the case of this painting, a humongous mustard storm, the first ever, is slathering the countryside.


Mustard Storm, acrylics and gel, 20 X 16. April 2015.

A cold vodka martini with a hint of vermouth, an olive, and a little olive juice on a large gallery canvas. Yum.


Vodka Martini, Very Dry, Straight Up, Little Dirty.

Acrylics, pumice. 36 X 36 gallery canvas.


We have fracking, we have oil spills, we have Keystone, we have melting ice caps, we have extinctions, we have dammed the wild rivers, we have destroyed habitat, we have cut down our old forests, we have depleted the oceans and used the ocean as a dump for all of our plastic, we have polluted our lakes, wetlands, and rivers. And there's more we have done and much more we will do.


Politics and Money, 22 X 28. Acrylics, pumice, and oil sticks.

I revisited and repainted Poetry at the Brew Pub, a painting I thought I finished a few weeks ago. I felt the former look was too muddy.


This painting is based on a brew pub in Minneapolis.


I have been looking at Soviet-era paintings at the Museum of Russian Art and in various books, including Soviet Art 1920-1930 and Soviet Disunion: Socialist Realist & Noncomformist Art.  I appreciate the social evolution that lead to the creation of art depicting Russian men and women workers going about their everyday duties, whether it is running a steel mill, driving a tractor, building a massive dam, or sitting with friends downing shots of vodka. Plus, my dad was a steelworker in Pittsburgh and I saw these faces in the pubs that he frequented.


Poetry at the Brew Pub, 28 X 22 X 1.5 on a gallery canvas. Acrylics.