Sunday, October 23, 2016

"Kelp Forest Wonders" (oil on stretched canvas; 22" x 28")

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The kelp forest is a forest, but not a forest of trees. It is a "forest" of seaweed called giant kelp. Giant kelp grows in cool coastal waters where sunlight can reach a rocky sea floor. From several images, I imagined the wonders of kelp forest, filled with life, including a sea lion, which almost looks like a mermaid. The bubbly sunlight filters down to the rock bed; giant kelp sways with the flow of ocean water; and colorful fish swim in groups. I want to swim with them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

"Detail from Velazquez's 'Juan de Pareja'" (oil on linen; 12" x 9")

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In 1648, as court painter to Philip IV of Spain, Diego Velázquez was sent to Rome to purchase works of art. Velázquez brought with him Juan de Pareja, a slave, who served as an assistant in the artist's workshop. During his stay in Rome, Velázquez executed an oil portrait of Juan de Pareja.

Velázquez painted the portrait of Juan de Pareja, who was of Moorish descent, in his workshop, as an exercise in preparation for his official portrait of Pope Innocent X. The Pope, a ruddy-faced man who would be depicted in the bright pink and crimson robes of his office, presented a tricky study in both color and composition. Additionally, since he would be executing a portrait from life, Velázquez would be forced to work quickly while still capturing the essence of the pope's character.

The "Juan de Pareja" reflects Velázquez's exploration of the difficulties he would encounter in the Pope's portrait. To compensate for a restricted palette of colors, Velázquez adopted a loose, almost impressionistic style of brushwork to bring an intense vitality to his subject. Juan de Pareja (circa 1610 – 1670) became an artist in his own right, and in 1654 he was freed by Velázquez.

The Portrait of Juan de Pareja was purchased by the Metropolitan Museum in 1971. At the time, the purchase price of over $5.5 million set a new record for paintings at auction. (The above information is from Wikipedia.) The hefty price tag tends to blind the viewer's eyes from truly seeing the portrait. During the three-week-long study of its detail of head and shoulders, I was mesmerized by Velazquez's brushstrokes and his penetration of the subject's intelligence.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

"Lucky" (oil on stretched canvas; 14" x 11") sold

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"Lucky" is for Ali.  Lucky was a 'sheprador'--Lab and some sort of Shepherd.  He was Ali's mom's best friend.  They got him at a shelter when he was 5 and kept his name.  He had been returned there twice, and was a really sensitive guy.  He was amazingly well behaved, and loved his kitty friends he lived with--chased them, slept with them every day.  Ali's mom called him "McDreamy" because she thought he was the most handsome dog on the planet.  He loved snow and would roll and roll the second he got outside when Chicago got enough.  He died when he was 13.

Monday, October 3, 2016

"The Bennetts" (oil on stretched canvas; 20" x 16") gift


I have been working on this important double portrait for three months.  It has been an emotional experience as I was saying goodbye to both the former US Senator Bob Bennett and Mrs. Bennett, whom I have known for almost ten years.

Senator Bob passed away this spring after a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer.  Mrs. Bennett is moving back to Utah to be near her family.  The portrait is a farewell gift to express my deepest condolences and gratitude for her friendship and loving musical education for my only child.  Having lost her grandparents as a baby, my daughter became attached to Mrs. Bennett, not just as a flute teacher, but as a surrogate grandmother.  We will miss her very much.