Archive for the ‘ Catch and Release ’ Category

Old Man Flint River

In the last couple of weeks I started another painting that’s part of the Catch & Release series.  This one’s working title is Flint River Totem. It’s on a 48×24 canvas – big for me.

Here’s the beginning, when it was still as much a drawing than paint.

I did a couple of passes after this, and the best day was when I worked on canvas upside down. Moss and water confuse the hell out of me unless I turn them into a natural abstract. Painting shapes and values is a piece of cake.

Today I placed the titular totem, which I made out of tying antlers and a deer skull together with jute. The totem is really wet now, but there will be a spray of yellow wildflowers coming out of the eye socket, and, of course, all the twine.


Three things about this image called to me. First, the glimpse of the Flint River, the same river that’s in the background of Collateral Damage. I love the sky reflected on the water and how the bend in the river lets your eye travel away into the distance. I expect to see Huck and Jim float by on a raft at any moment. I have always loved the last line of the novel, “But I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest…”

Second, the swags of Spanish moss, which we rarely see in Atlanta, but are all over south Georgia. It’s embedded in my childhood memories of the rural south in the summer. Right up there with red clay, chert roads, grape pop-cycles, the sound of cicadas, and the trickle of sweat.

Finally, the totem. It’s what makes it more than a generic landscape for me. It’s bound up with my memories of my father, and my idea of the protective spirit of the place, a genius loci.

In other art-related news, Collateral Damage was accepted in the Metro Montage show. It will be delivered July 2, the show opens July 11, and it will be there until September 9. They sent me two passes, otherwise it costs $8 to attend the opening. Never ever heard of charging to go to an art exhibition. It is the Marietta-Cobb Museum, not a gallery, so I guess they can do whatever they want.

Breaking for lunch. If I start again (vs nap which is very appealing on this humid, overcast day) it will be placing letters on typewriter keys.


lucky 3
Lucky, oil on canvas, 18×24″.
Elements; the family plot in Oakland Cemetery, rabbit caught trespassing in a Kentucky garden, votive candle from San Miguel de Allende, bird that kamikazed into kitchen window, father’s Browning shotgun.


All done but the varnishing.

It’s Show (Card) Time

blog card

I love to paint. Promote my work? Not so much.

The one part I unabashedly enjoy is giving out a show card. Modern times being what they are, I design the card online, upload the images, et voilà, it arrives at my door within the week.

I started handing them out today, and it’s as much fun as remember.



Counting Down

Feel the approaching deadline of November 21 like a physical squeeze. Of the six paintings I’m planning to show, three are done, including varnished. The other three are very close to completed.

Yesterday I worked on Sweet Sixteen, adding the bird graphic to the cartridge box, the brass caps of the shot gun shells and, my favorite part, working the woodgrain into the shotgun shadow. Still to do – the lettering on the box and highlights on the bird wings.IMG_1426

This Leads to That

Target Practice was inspired by LightGrid, a painting of the view from The Walking Dead‘s crew parking lot, down in Senoia. The dirt road and the pasture remind me of my daddy’s farm, where he and his brothers went hunting, and I flew kites with my cousins.

FB lightgrid

Starting Sweet 16

Now that Collateral Damage is set aside to dry, Game Over is nearly done, and the rabbit is coming along nicely, I started the Sweet 16 painting. Spent Monday adding a dove to the original composition and mixing paint.

Today I started painting, beginning with the target, then the shadow, and finally the birch-grained background. After five hours of work I put down my brushes for the day.  I am going to go look at some larger brushes this weekend.

I love this stage, when some shapes emerge, others are barely indicated, and mystery is still a big visual component.



A Gift from the Muse

Had another great day working on the painting formerly known as Uncle Wiggily, currently called Oakland. Deepened the dark shadows of the shrubbery, the tombstone on the left, and scumbled the urn and marble. Spent most of the time on the patterns of the rabbit’s fur. Next round, I’ll be painting individual hairs. Good times!

oakland 6
In the zone, painting from 9 to 1. Thinking about leaving the bottom couple of inches unpainted. Not sure it won’t make me crazy, but considering it.

This painting is one of those rare gifts from the Muse that develops as I envisioned it. No wrong turns or dead ends. It doesn’t fight me, it throws itself into my arms and calls my name.

It’s a gift, but it’s not free. It takes a lot of sustained effort, but it is effort that pays off instead of doing a big, fat bellyflop.

Tried three variations of cropping on the next painting, that typewriter and gun image. I want the typewriter to be slightly less than life size. It’s angled and there is distance to take into account, so I can’t just measure it and extrapolate. I almost decided, but am going to Kinko’s tomorrow to make one more enlarged image and try it under the acetate grid.

Origin Story

Where the ideas for my paintings come from, I don’t really know. I suspect some dark back room of my consciousness, a repository of memory and imagination that seethes and ferments while I am busy doing other things. This is a brief account of the genesis of my latest idea, hot off the griddle.

Back in April, I took a photo in the Shakespeare & Co bookstore in Paris of a typewriter on a table in front of a window. It’s in the front reading room upstairs, where I sat for a few hours one morning. I put a cropped version of it up on Facebook the other day as my header photo.

The photo includes the mirror on the wall that reflects the shelves of books and a bit of the banquet sofa that runs along the wall under the shelves.

I thought about putting a handgun on the table, and/or an empty bottle of bourbon and a broken glass, wadded up typewriter paper, an ashtray with a pile of smoldering butts. Decided I want to put the shotgun in the painting,  on the sofa reflected in the mirror. Not the whole gun, just a bit of it. And not in a blatant way. Something most people won’t even notice.

Today I am going to place the shotgun lying on a sofa in the house and photograph it at the right angle and lighting so it can be slipped in. I have a 24×36″ canvas in mind that should be just right.

It will bridge the typewriter and the shotgun series.  The significance to me is how the sudden death of my father fueled so much of my writing. For everyone else, there’s always Hemingway.

un – titled one & two

I keep confusing the notes for these two paintings and have just about convinced myself that they should swap titles. Luckily, it’s easy to tell them apart when I look at them.

Hw uw marbleWednesday I worked on this one –  the marble ledges and urn texture, shadows, color, chip and cracks. That kind of thing. Loved doing it. Also added the bit of jute twine that ties the rabbit to the gun barrel. Did more detail on the votive candle, which I bought in San Miguel de Allende years ago.

SotS eyeThis morning was an impromptu jaunt in a time machine. I picked up my palette knife and started mixing color at 9-ish. When I put down my brush, after what I thought was a couple of hours later, it was 1pm. I covered the background with another layer of dark browns and reds, brought up the bottom edge and narrowed in from the left. Made patterns of neutrals in the fur. The most focus was doing the rabbit’s eye and the ears.

hw sots head

Bailing on the Birds

After a morning at the gym and running errands, I painted while the thunderstorm rolled through in the afternoon. One of the good things about a canvas this size is there is always an area that’s dry enough to work on. IMG_0745

Adding another layer of dark green water and the ochre-toned tree reflections, plus the froth of the current. Thinly highlighted the edge of the wood bench that’s silhouetted against the water. Added grain and texture to the upright piece of wood. At the end of the day I scrubbed the last traces of dark green from the brushes on the meadow area, to vary the value. I’ll build pale,individual grass blades over that. Clusters of tall grasses will overlap the dark river, and the odd scallop shapes along the top edge will disappear into them.

I am struggling with the pheasant painting. It reminds me of the editing phase of writing: having to ‘kill all your darlings,’ as Faulkner famously advised. Many a time I had to cut entire sections that meant a lot to me but just didn’t work for the story as a whole. The harder I struggled make it work, the worse it got.

Right now I want to throw that bird painting in a dumpster, I’m so frustrated with it. I won’t, because I might have some kind of breakthrough, some way to alter the emphasis of the light. Hey, it happened for the big cloud painting. Two years after I gave up and turned it to the wall, I added the hill and it all came right.


For now, I’m bailing on the birds instead of spinning my back wheels, and starting one of the gun suspended over a target with shadows, and another one that’s a close up of the gun leaning on a massive oak tree trunk.