Archive for the ‘ Tomatoes & Knives series ’ Category

Small & Smaller

Taking a break from the Browning Shotgun series to work on a few small pieces for the Swan Coach House Gallery’s annual Little Things Mean A Lot holiday show. Everything must be 8×8″ or smaller.  I pulled elements from still lifes – a calla lily from QWERTY, a box of vintage shotgun shells, and a brace of doves from Sweet Sixteen, and a typewriter ribbon from Herald Square. I added a sliced tomato because I like painting them.

Went to Binders and chose a variety of shapes and grounds; three 5×7″ wood panels, a 6×6″canvas on wood and a 6×8″ masonite board. My notion was to paint quick, loose oil sketches, and to leave the wood panel backgrounds unpainted. First reality check – realizing I needed three sanded coats of gesso placed precisely beneath the area to be painted. That was the end of ‘quick.’

First, the vintage box of shotgun shells on basswood panel, 5×7″. I abandoned the idea of loose, though it won’t be to my usual finish. Some edges are wobbly and a couple of ellipses aren’t right yet, but I’ll fix that on the next round. And there is lettering yet to come. Maybe four days in all? Hanging on to the idea of not painting the wood panel background, but that may change. My plan for the wood sides is to rub on a very light coat of stain – thinking a dark honey.

Best time I had today was painting the pair of doves on a 6×6″ canvas on board. Did a faint drawing first, then painted wet on wet. This is what works as a loose oil sketch – feathers, in three tones. Once it dries I’ll do a bit of layering and highlighting, because I cannot resist the textured edges of the feathers.

I’ve done two passes on the tomato on the 6×8″ masonite panel. Need a couple layers on the background, and probably another four rounds on the tomatoes themselves, though they might surprise me.

Tomorrow I’ll start the calla lily on a 5×7′ basswood panel. The panel is gessoed, sanded and ready to go. The lily’s appeal lies in its sensuous curve, subtle variations of pale neutrals, and a tiny flash of green stem. The simplicity of it should work well with the wood panel background.

The fun of this show for me, is trying things out. Plus the near instant gratification of seeing an idea through in the space of a few weeks instead of multiple months.

Edinburgh knife

Gratitude is varnished and tomorrow will be heading over to Mason Murer, the last painting delivered.
The show runs from Friday, April 13th, until Friday, June 8th. The artist reception is May 18th.

Tomato & Scottish Dirk

Still life of local tomato and grandfather’s sgian dubh set up in the garden of the Macpherson’s B&B in Edinburgh.

 I can’t express how delightful the Macpherson’s were. The dirk, freely offered, is a family treasure, and they even helped me scout the markets for big, ruddy tomatoes. The hardest part was finding a five consecutive minutes of good afternoon light in the temperamental weather. Sunshine was fickle and fleeting, but I was lucky, and more than once.

I’m loving putting the images out into the world and reading the responses. You never know who will be struck like a bell at the sight of your work. 

Turning to the next series, which is underway.  I’ll start posting about it after Friday’s debut.

Art show deets

Please join me 7pm, Friday 13th, for the opening of the spring show at Mason Murer Fine Art gallery Click on the link for directions.
The show runs through May 12.

New series: Answered Prayers
In 2004 I was lighting candles in Italian churches and praying for my family’s happiness. I didn’t know what I was praying for until later, when I learned what makes each of them – including me – happy.
Harmonium, 18×36″, oil on canvas

More Tomatoes & Knives

Sometimes I find the knives, sometimes they find me. I audition tomatoes at the farmers markets.

Saturday in the studio

First I varnished three paintings from the Answered Prayers series. Next I did a final round on Uzbek.

Here’s a detail of the engraving. The canvas is rougher texture than I usually use, but I wanted it for the shadows.


After lunch (shrimp, mango and pears) I tackled the Walking Dead. The seeds need work and the wet glitter on the tomatoes, but it’s close.

Aphrodite, Walking Dead Tomatoes, drawing

One of those overlapping times in the studio when I’m starting a new series, still doing photography for the last one and fiddling with tomatoes and & knives on the side. A full rich life.

Added the lettering to the page of script, darkened the shadow. Starting to add a little of the juicy gleam and pick out the edges of the seeds.

Here’s the current state of Aphrodite after adding lots of purple to the shadows on the torso. It’s still more distinct that I have in mind. I’ll think about it while I work on the letters carved on the stone wall and add heft to the candelabra.


The new series is all on horizontal.  Though it barely reads in a photo, for example can’t see the dozens of trees I drew on the right side, here’s that drawing I was working on Tuesday.

Walking Dead Knife details

Yesterday was spent on The Walking Dead knife, and adding layers of color to the tomato on the far left.
My favorite bits, barely visible at this point, and the drips of seeds and tomato gelée that are stuck to the top of the handle and blade. Bracing myself to attempt the block letters.

Uzbekistan Knife

Worked on Uzbek today. The knife itself, which – oh joy- reflects the yellow tomato. Love the handle made of horn, and there is marvelous scrolling engraved on the blade. I’ll be adding that at the very end.
Added layers to the other tomatoes. Deepened the mottled colors of the shadows that I noticed are in the Mardi Gras spirit – green, yellow and purple

in progress

First, the start of  Tomatoes & Uzbek knife. One layer on everything but the knife.

Now for Answered Prayers; Aphrodite. I figured Valentine’s Day would be the right time to place the vanishing-in-the-shadows torso. It’s supposed to be more of an apparition than a realistic element. I still don’t know if I can pull it off, but I’m stepping up to the plate.

Finally Tomatoes & The Walking Dead Knife. Actually did the background one day, the tomatoes another, and the knife today. It’s like going to summer camp, after a day wrestling with the Answered Prayer series.



The big black block letters of the script will get done last, after the background is as dry as it can be, so I can clean up black edges with turp. I have lots of surface detail to go on the tomatoes and and the knife.

Tomato trio finished

All done. All 10×10″ and oil on canvas. Varnishing day is Thursday. Starting two more today.

Love bouncing between these and the Answered Prayers series, whilst planning the next series. Need a massive  (for me) canvas something on the order of  24×48′. Heading to Binders next Monday.

Tomatoes & Edinburgh Sgian Duhb
Tomatoes & Global Knife (Sold)
Tomatoes & Carpenter Knife

Global +Tomato

I spent the day on Global Knife, tackling the handle with its pattern of dots. Added more colors and layers of paint on the blade, and revisted the tomatoes themselves. Did  layers of scumbled yellows and reds, and started picking out the fine details on the seeds and creases in the tomato stems. Getting close to final highlights.

About to draw the next one – either Tomato and Walking Dead Knife or a knife from Uzbekistan. Good times.