Thursday, January 20, 2011

Department Store Art

A couple years ago, I took some photos of a New York department store's window displays with my i-phone. A couple of the pics turned out great and seemed ready made for a painting.  So far, I have painted two.  Below are the original picture and then my painting.  I hesitated to display my first one because the picture of the painting is so bad (you can see a huge glare and I took it with my i-phone which has a terrible camera).  I'm displaying it anyway and I will take a better picture at some point. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Gold by Donald Hall

Pale gold of the walls, gold
of the centers of daisies, yellow roses
pressing from a clear bowl. All day
we lay on the bed, my hand
stroking the deep
gold of your thighs and your back.
We slept and woke
entering the golden room together,
lay down in it breathing
quickly, then
slowly again,
caressing and dozing, your hand sleepily
touching my hair now.

We made in those days
tiny identical rooms inside our bodies
which the men who uncover our graves
will find in a thousand years,
shining and whole.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Carvaggio Study, continued

In a previous post, I mentioned I had started a Caravaggio study. I am posting pics of the last several sittings here to see the progress. As a student of oil painting, I find these studies very educational as it forces me to focus on technical details of the painting that are hard to see if you just look at it. I started this originally as just an effot to "draw" the figures in darks and lights and now I have begun to glaze some color. I'm pretty close to being done with the study as my goal was not to "perfectly" render this (since I can't!), but to understand some techniques better and learn what I need to work on next to advance my skill. Also, it should be noted that there is a huge difference between painting a picture or painting a painting and drawing from real life in terms of difficulty and approach. In a study like this, I find that I am really just focused on how the other artist rendered the subject rather than on rendering the subject the way I would see it. (I should also mention that these pics were taken with an i-phone and the quality of the photos generally suck.)

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Little Diddy

I love this tune composed by Jeff Beal. It was the original theme to the show "Monk", but then was replaced and moved to the end of the show. The tune is very reminiscent of guitar genius, Django Reinhardt - here is a wonderful Django tune I randomly pulled (featuring Freddy Taylor vocals). Of course, they are all wonderful!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Walt Mason: The Big Men

Here is a post I did in 2009 containing Walt Mason's poem "The Big Men" - a quintessential example of the 19th century American spirit.

The big men dare, and the big men do.
They dream great dreams, which they make come true:
They bridge the rivers and link the plains,
And gird the land with their railway trains;
They make the desert break forth in bloom,
They send the cataract through a flume
To turn the wheels of a thousand mills,
And bring the coin to a nation's tills.
The big men work, and the big men plan,
And, helping themselves, help their fellowman.
And the cheap men yelp at their carriage wheels,
As the small dogs bark at the big dogs' heels.
The big men sow while the cheap men sleep,
And when they go to their fields to reap,
The cheap men cry, "We must have a share
Of all the grain that they harvest there!
These men are pirates who sow and reap,
And plan and build while we are asleep!
We'll legislate till they lose their hair!
We'll pass new laws that will strip them bare!
We'll tax them right and we'll tax them left,
Till of their plunder they are bereft;
We'll show these men that we all despise
Their skill, their courage, and enterprise!"
So the small men yap at the big men's heels,
The fake reformer with the uplift spiels;
The four-eyed dreamers with theories fine,
Which bring them maybe three cents a line;
The tin-horn grafters who always yearn
To collar coin that they do not earn.
And the big men sigh as they go their way:
"They'll balk at the whole blamed thing some day!"

-Walt Mason, c. 1910

See the post for more on Walt Mason.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thomas Anshutz

Below are two paintings by another 19th century artist that I admire, Thomas Anshutz (1851-1912). He was a student of Eakins, one of my favorite painters.

The Ironworkers Noontime (1880)

A Rose (1907)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Jusepe de Ribera

Jusepe de Ribera was a 17th century Spanish painter very much influenced by Caravaggio. I was not familiar with Ribera until recently and I love not only his tenebrist style but his subject matter as well. He did a series of Greek philosopher paintings, and from some quick googling, it appears there is some controversy over whether some of the works in this series are copies or originals and who exactly they are supposed to represent. Here are two of his paintings I really enjoy.

Prometheus c. 1630

Aristotle c. 1637

Friday, August 20, 2010

Caravaggio: The Stolen and the Not So Stolen

I have been working on an oil study of the painting The Taking of Christ, or The Kiss of Judas, by one of my favorite all time painters, Caravaggio. Little did I know that this painting was stolen several years ago by an international gang of art thieves and recently recovered. Here is the story and the picture of the recovered painting.

Knowledge in a Bottle

Been real busy, so here is a post from a while back, Knowledge in a Bottle.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Jefferson, Voltaire, and Turgot

When I visited Monticello, I noticed two busts prominently displayed above the front door in the Entrance Hall, but I did not recognize the figures. Surely, whoever Jefferson might have chosen to grace his entry must be vital. The tour guide informed me that one bust was Voltaire, the quintessential man of the Enlightenment. No surprise there. The other bust, I was told, is Turgot. Hmmmm.

Well, it shouldn't surprise me that in a lecture I recently heard on the history of economic thought, the late Austrian economist and historian, Murray Rothbard, held Turgot to be among the seminal economists of the Enlightenment period, a pre-Austrian whose work and insights championing free markets and laissez faire pre-dated other Austrians by almost a century. Rothbard's paper on Turgot can be found
here and in more detail in the two volume set, An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought. Rothbard considers Turgot superior to Adam Smith and his work to be within an intellectual tradition linking Cantillon, Say and the Austrian tradition beginning with Menger and Bohm-Bawerk in the 19th century through Von Mises and continuing today. That Jefferson had pretty good taste...

The two busts are modern plaster copies of the originals by the famed sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. The originals have not been located, but notes found after Jefferson's death indicate their location to have been the Entrance Hall. Jefferson's home also contained busts of Washington, Marquis de Lafayette, Benjamin Franklin, John Paul Jones, and others. I highly recommend a book titled The Worlds of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, which is a beautifully illustrated encyclopedia of the works located there. The Monticello site has a virtual tour of the home including the Entrance Hall.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk

One of my favorite singer songwriters of the last ten years is Rufus Wainwright. He combines virtuoso technical ability with rich vocals, poetic lyrics, soaring melodies, and a theatrical flair for the profound and dramatic.

While some songs feature just Wainwright and his piano, his later work is often accompanied by rock instrumentation or a symphony orchestra, displaying complex layering and harmonies with an operatic feel. Wainwright is an opera fan and likes Franz Schubert's Lieder. Some of Wainwright's songs are described as "popera" (pop opera) or "baroque pop". Many of his compositions are densely packed amalgams of strings, horns, operatic choruses, ragtime rhythms, with a warm vocal timbre.
Here is a video of him performing "Foolish Love", the first song off of his debut album back in 1998. And here is a video of a rather informal performance of one of my favorites, "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk", along with the lyrics.

Chopin Etude Op. 10, No. 3

Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) composed 27 etudes meant as solo studies for piano.

Chopin's √Čtudes are the foundation of a new system of technical piano playing that was radical and revolutionary the first time they appeared. They are some of the most challenging and evocative pieces of all the works in concert piano repertoire.
Here is one of my favorites -Chopin Etude Op. 10, No. 3, performed by Valentina Igoshina. Enjoy.