Seven Hues for Subtle and Arcane Endeavors

#61 – Tuesday May 15th

The devil is in the details. The origins of this idiom have been attributed to several folks, most notably the writer Gustave Flaubert, art critic  Aby Warburg, and the architect Mies van der Rohe, and this week, it’s been the mantra for my efforts in the studio.

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve repainted these three figures, the red, blue and brown, (although those simple monikers don’t do the hues justice).  Van Dyke Brown, Colbalt Violet, Naphthol Red Light, Transparent Brown Iron Oxide, Quinacridone Burnt Orange, Anthraquinone Blue, Titanium White, and graphite combined, layered, and washed, one pigment on another, scraped, sanded then done again. It seems such a subtle and arcane endeavor but absolutely essential and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Our little heat seeking four-legged missile, known as Molly Teardrop, is 16 months old today. Molly has an innate need to be up high, and here she is, gingerly picking her way along a downed tree, for an audience of five (including Alta Bear who is not as impressed nor entertained, as we were).

Thanks for reading.


Force of Nature Blooming and Appropriated

#24 – Tuesday August 30th

Our Stapelia is blooming, and has the most amazing flowers. It was a cutting from a friend, simply stuck into a pot on the back porch table, and left to its own devices. It’s grown like a weed and like I said, produces the most amazing flowers. They’re huge, star like, cream with maroon markings, and seven, eight inches across, dwarfing the plant.

I’ve been using more reds in the recent canvasses. Combinations of Naphthol red, Quinactidone red, Quinactidone burnt orange, Cobalt violet, with daubs of Iron oxide thrown in . . . a wonderfully deep, dark, rich red.  In one of the new canvasses, I’d blithely drawn in these wave-like lines using my red mixture, and only after, looking at the photographs of my Stapelia in bloom, did I realize I’d unwittingly appropriated the markings of this surprising flower. I’m usually much more cognitively deliberate in poaching from my surroundings and stumbling into this spontaneous intersection, however small, is a delightful reminder of the power nature exerts over me. Organic abstraction indeed.

What’s in play this week ? . . . Tinariwen’s latest, “Tassili”. Tinariwen is a collective of Tuaureg musicians from the Sahara Desert region of Mali, and as expected, their guitar driven music has its roots in West African Music, but also influenced by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Elvis, and Bob Marley. The lead guitarist and founder, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, built his first guitar out of a tin can, stick, and a bicycle brake wire.  On Tassili, Tinariwen is joined by Nels Cline, guitarist from the band “Wilco”, two musicians from the band “TV on the Radio”, and New Orleans’ “Dirty Dozen Brass Band”. Seriously, listen and get your grove on.Tassili can be heard in its entirety here.

Molly Teardrop keeps growing and for a 7.5 month old pup, with a very svelte figure, she now weighs an astonishing 38.4 pounds. Molly promises to be a big girl, taking after her sire, Iron Will. On Sunday we had the pleasure to attend the monthly “Yappy Hour” sponsored by Arizona Cattle Dog Rescue. There were somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 Cattle Dogs in attendance, some with their respective humans, and some needing new homes. One of the remarkable dogs, Stevie, was blinded by an unknown person, but you can’t tell by the way he finds his way around, even playing fetch, by sound. Here is a photo slideshow of “Yappy Hour”  Molly Teardrop is in there somewhere . . . and ACDR’s website 

Thanks for reading.


The Finer Arts of Socialization and On Further Review . . .

#14 – Tuesday June 21st

The solstice. The longest day of the year and the “official” beginning of summer. In this neck of the woods, summer is in full force and we’re firmly ensconced in triple digit temperatures, with sun, sun and more sun. I’ve an easy truce with the heat, finding a simple routine best. Early morning hikes with the cattle dog, late afternoon cocktails with the girlfriend, and in between . . . a languid approach to the day . . . and when it does seem a bit much . . . we do have our strategies . . . a trip to the high country! And so it goes. This past week, we spent a couple of days up in Flagstaff, visiting friends, doing a bit of climbing and enjoying the cool mountain air. As an added bonus, our young Molly had the pleasure to be schooled in the finer arts of socialization by Alta and Kenai. Kenai, Molly, Matt, and Alta reasting after a day at the crag(Although I think Alta and Kenai found Molly’s exuberance mostly an annoyance and their patience a sign of what great pups they are!)

Just two weeks ago I wrote about the last mark being the most difficult one to make, and once again, I’m finding it all too true. Case in point . . . a painting I’ve featured in two posts, most recently on Tuesday May 31st. It’s a painting I’ve thought certain was complete . . . but on further review . . . wasn’t. At times it feels like I spend an inordinate amount of energy just looking at my canvasses, compared to when I’m actually doing something to them, but investing the time in looking as a precursor to the doing, seems to work well for me. Doesn’t make the last mark any easier, but it does make me aware of its necessity. 

Thanks for reading.