Sunday, February 28, 2010


He believes that to live is to evolve. His work has always changed. He does not like to repeat. When he found his own voice he was in his early 30s. The first 15 years of his life as an artist he searched for it. When it started to sing it was coupled with termoil. The images reflected such.

The End 36" x 48" acrylic on canvas 1974

Today he sees change coming; In 2006 these collages appeared in the midst of his realist period.

Skulls #1 30" x 22" collage on paper 2006

Skulls #4  22" x 30" collage on paper 2006
He made 5. For Skulls #1  he used an old reproduction of Michaelanglo's Last Judgement  from the rear wall of the Sistine chapel in the Vatican City, Rome, Italy.
For Skulls #4  he used his discarded watercolors. It would be another year for it to take effect.
Skull Composition #1 24" x 30" acrylic on canvas 2007

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Another Good Day

It was areally cold night in the normally warm Houston. It was snowing when he got home at 8 PM after breifly teaching an Art Appreciation class to a surprising 15 students. "Why did they come on such a night? " He believes that they must enjoy the entertainment.  This kind of weather shuts Houston down. There they were so he gave them their share of what they were there for...a 10 question  multiple choice scan-tron test then he told them to "Go home.It's cold and wet out...GO"
Today the Professor got up to ice on his windshield and waited for the wipers and the defroster to do what they do. The design class was about half there, not bad, and the day began. Cut&Paste, Colored paper, primary&secondary colors Face as a design...pratice learn you must repeat the basics. The thing is to get students to carry these ideas into more advanced classes. Some do, some don't. The responsibility is to expose, encourge, and entertain.
Painting class arrived and the Professor settled in  to paint. "There are two things I love: To paint and teach. maybe one more.... never mind"
He has new cds of  the after WW2..Norman Ganze's Jazz at the Philharmonic the original recordings 1944-1949. Early Dizzy, Bird, Powell, Roach, Jacquet. He went to these concerts/jam sessions in the 50s at the Chicago Opera House with his first love  This the music he remembers. good feeling music, after the war music. Good painting music.His picture developes to the bop bop doo de bop bop. See below
 Stage 4
This is the picture in his studio class room; the grouping work is interesting, so much for the lonely artist in his garret. 

                                                              Stage 5
At 3 PM this is what how it ended. Time to leave it to ferment.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A new Picture

When the Professor arrived for classes Monday  there was a group of his Design students outside the classroom door...that was good. He  checked on their progress and presented a new problem. The Professor  began a new picture in the adjoining classroom.. As always he works in class, he does not have a separate studio. It is a large picture for him, 36" x 48". By contemporary standards this is not  but he does not think size is important anymore. He did many large pictures years ago only to have them sit in storage. He has seen too many pictures that depend on largeness for importance; think  them  16" x 20" and they become trivial.   This size is good. He begins with lines and shapes and what ever is brewing within him . They watched him and added comments; he enjoys this.
It started as a mountain landscape and ended as an island or a  land's end or maybe a land's beginning. This is the beginning. Wednesday he will rethink and revise. He thinks by drawing and painting. It is a good dialogue.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Day in Class

The Professor started his Design class at 8 AM. There were three students out of the 20 enrolled.
They were all there the first day of class a 2 months ago. After that a few are always there and he now knows who will arrive 15 minutes late and who will arrive 45 minutes late and who may or may not arrive and he knows who will leave after an hour because it is a 8 AM class and they are just not prepared to work that early.
He thought he going to present a new problem, but those who were there had not finished the previous problem. He explained that problem again because they did not understand it or were not in attendance. A few more drifted in, some without the correct material (colored pencils) and they did not know what was going on since they were not at the previous class. That class was on Presidents day which was not a school holiday, but their excuse is that they thought it was.
Like the blind leading the blind they attempt to explain the problem to the arrivals.
The Professor again explained the problem which was about color: primary and secondary colors and complementary colors and warm and cool colors and the use of color triads in a design. Examples were shown using a Power Point Presentation. It is now 9 AM and there are 12 students in class. He explained again. "Any questions?" "No."
The problem is to make 3 designs on three sheets of paper, the subjects, one to a page, are sun, moon, and star. The subjects to be embedded or disguised within the design. It is a Design class and the Design is the imporant thing.
Each design to use a different color triad consisting of a pair of complementaery colors plus one more color of their choice, black and or white can also be used. They begin and he expains the problem again to his students as he walks the room. All is now well.

Here are two paintings. The Professor was teaching at Rice University in 1969 when he painted the one on the top titled The Queen  of Sheba  in a pointalist manner. It has perished; he remembers not when or how. The other was done in 2009 titled The Place You Lost again using pointalism. The circle continues.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Big Rock Candy Mountain

The Big Rock Candy Mountain 
48" x 60" acrylic on canvas 2009.

They watched him create this painting in class. He always paints in class because it gives his students a chance to see his creative process. He keeps his eye on what his students are doing while leaving them to pursue there own creative directions. They do not try to imitate him. It's alright if they do because this is a beginning class and we all start by imitating. He began his career with Van Gogh and Nolde and Gorky and many more. All art is evolved from other's: it is the artist's task to make their ancestors their own. His are apparent in all his work.
They asked, "Where do you come up with these images?"
"From years of memories, painting experience, knowledge of art history and the need to change and
"Do you work from drawings"
"I draw as a form of thinking and these become paintings. They are a point of departure; generally I start from lines and shapes.  The source of my current paintings are the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico. I hike them in the summers."
"Why paint them so abstractly?"
He replied, "I began this abstract series in 2008 after spending 12 years learning to paint realistically, working from photographs that I had from my past, including hikes in the mountains. Painting realistically was a challenge for me to do what I had never done."
"You mean you were not taught to paint realistically?"

Waterfall #3 36" x 48" 2007
"No. In the 1950s, we were encouraged to be abstract nonrepresentational artists and the rules were tossed out. It was a fun time in "the art sandbox", but for me it was not satisfying. I discovered I was not  nonrepresentational; I liked to paint stories. I had to learn the rules on my own by studying art history, looking at paintings and teaching. And I shared studio space with an artist who was taught the basics and from whom I was willing to learn.
"In 2008, my inner muse told me that I had learned what I needed and I began again armed with my new knowledge."
They said, "This is a life long process."
"Yes" he said, "Better Start."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bruegal's Peasant Dance: A Renaissance Rave

"Why are your showing us this?" they said.
"It's one of my favorite paintings.  Mr. Peter Bruegal is perhaps the first painter to portray peasant life, the previously unobserved classes." 
"It's a coarse subject for the 16th century, but classically composed," he continued. "Perfectly balanced. I am crazy about the positive/negative shapes right in the center".
"It's a painting about the joyous rhythm of life.  Think Willie Nelson and the Texas two step. The musicians are playing,  the townspeople enter into the dance released from their daily chores, large and full. There is food and drink.  Throughout there is a sexual intensity, see the woman drawing the man into the house with the red banner and the kissing couple." 
"It is elegantly inelegant," he finished.

Breaking Storm

"We'd like to see one more," they said. "We are not sure we understand what these mean"
What do you call it?"
"Breaking Storm," he replied.
"How does a storm break'?"
"Storms break when they're over.  When they're all used up. See the sun shinning on the clouds and the mountain top?" he said.  "The storm is over."

Waterfall: Thoughts on Courbet

"Can we see another painting?" the class asked.."
"Ok, here it is."
"What is this supposed to be?" they said.
"It's a waterfall,inspired by Courbet's numerous Source paintings."

The Medusa Gorge

The Medusa Gorge 22" x30" acrylic on paper 2009

"He said, "It's called The Medusa Gorge. A professor at school suggested the title. I often ask for titles. I used to title them as Landscape Number 1, etc. Now I enjoy playing with poetic titles.The gorge is a colorful, but dangerous place named after the Medusa, who turned men to stone if they looked her in the eye.  She was killed years ago by Perseus. He cut off her head and placed it on Minerva's shield. I called it such because of it undulating crevasses"