ARTWORK CONFIDENTIAL: A Gallery and some back story, too (it’s fun, free to peruse and it’s what I love to do)

I think it a fine thing to admit to artistic eccentricities if you are strong enough to hang the the results on your walls and to share your vision with others, because it’s laurels if you do well, or your being shown the door if you fail.

I really hope that you get a bit of an idea why art is a central focus in my thinking; any form of expression, be it music, poetry, art, dance or plate spinning for that matter are essentially the same thing to me  (okay, the jury is still out on spinning plates to The Sabre Dance).  For me the drive is to fulfill the image’s demands, and the image tells me what it requires.  

It is the telling of a story, the emotions and observations that I must express, or whatever mad idea I need to to eject from brain and heart and let fly into the universe.  

These images and related back story highlight the circumstances of how they came to be and other insights.  However, I assure you that I am very perplexed at how, when I find myself pleased with my attempts I am humbled to remember that I am my own worst critic.  That fact isn’t quite as terrifying as it used to be.

Indeed, I find that this stance prevents excessive hubris and reminds me that that it’s quite alright to be dedicated and that means working with an eye for my most demanding of clients – me.

I have come to see what it really says about me, and that is rather than being a negative thinker and self-direct that negativity inward, I make these images with the aim to better myself.

Being critical is all part of the ethos of being creative.  It is essential.  It is a process that is beneficial for if you use subjective forms of expression, you must evaluate that expression to ensure you are true to your path, that you are not a deluded nutbag or a charlatan blowing smoke up your own (or anyone else’s) butt.

Here, friends, is the illustration of my learning: failure, change, success and setback, moving toward a goal .  I hope you enjoy them.

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This is where I went very often to hang out, create, think, and have experiences; the beautiful Golden Gate.  It is probably my favorite spot on earth.  I was taking photos with my video cam and a couple walked by and had this stuffed rabbit.  The rabbit agreed to pose for a photo and I made it somewhat psychedelic, very carnival, and I love that feel of energy in SF and I loved living among such fun and exciting artists.

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See my info card on this work below.

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I loved this and it is in a dining room of a business associate in Connecticut.

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I totally love my mom, and at her house in Florida I asked her help in executing an idea I had.  She held a sheet up over the window to soften the very blue light, I used a single 40 watt bulb on a small lamp, a 12×12 mirror tile, and pearl shampoo and of all things, chocolate sauce from the fridge for contrast and depth.  Mom stared at me like I was from Mars and said, ‘You’re pretty weird.”  High praise indeed.  But this photo is only balanced for light and a little warmth in the color adjustment, but very, very little.  I love this madness.  There are three works from that fun experience and it proved forever to my family that I may be weird sometimes, but it’s good weird.

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This hibiscus flower is one of the smallest sized varieties I have ever seen, so of course, being contrarian, I make it look like the size of a hubcap and rendered in a comic strip treatment in a photo editing software.  Way fun.  Nutso color!

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These were in a friend’s garden in Florida.  They are Apple Blossom Amaryllis and they are absolutely gigantic.  I shot this outside in the coming dusk.  I love horticulture, and bulbs and lilies in particular, but when I saw the outcome of this photo I decided that I had made an image that as flowers go was the best I had created to date. This flower’s petals are incredibly thick and fleshy and it stands almost 2-1/2 feet tall.  The graduated green to white and pink is to say the least.  A very impressive flower.

 

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I decided that I would try to mix colored light and use it exclusively in some photos and portraits.  It originally was an attempt to create dynamic work using reflection and refraction and controlling the result.  These are wonderful lead crystal that were presents from a friend.  Using yellow, red, blue, pink and green light and a mirror, the decanter and the vase were transformed.  I love this technique.

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The first time I met my friend Marino was a photo shoot at my apartment.  We had established a rapport through a  mutual friend and online, but had met on that day.  He was wonderful to work with.  He is sixty-five years of age.  I was astounded at his musculature and I like to do body study, so I  took this photo and made three different edits of it.  This I like best.  It reminds me of 1600’s Dutch anatomy sketches, but carefully augmented with primary colors.  I learned a great deal in that shoot, and made a good friend.

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Wild and I loved making this work very much.  Everything in this painting is just popping right out of the frame.  It was in a dining room in Boston but don’t know its location now.  It is a combination of many techniques and media and is based on musical notes on an invisible stave.  The media: ink, gouache, crayon, pastel and whiteout.  I used my fingernail to make certain highlights deeper and have a sense of depth by scratching them out of the paper.  In person it’s quite the colorful work!

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There’s a certain sense of frustration when a photo of your work can’t effectively capture the color and depth of a painting, but this instance is unusual in that I scanned the only copy I had –   a scanned image that was an instant Polaroid.   The edit to even remotely resemble the original was a real balancing act.  The subject, Crocosmia, I wondered who I sold it to because I simply could not remember, but it’s been found; it resides at the farm of my friends Heidi and Curtis on Martha’s Vineyard.  There they produce Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt.   I am so grateful to know that this painting, which has a very special place in my ‘art heart’, is living with good friends and is appreciated and loved enough to be lived with for all these years.

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This is another Florida flower from a friend’s home, and it’s a Nun’s Lily.  I had never seen one before.  I took the photograph in almost pitch darkness with a flashlight and the only other light from the sky.  I edited several different versions of this photo since I like a challenge and this photo was almost impossible and worse, only 1MB of data in the file.  I am fond of yellow and decided to try for a wet-look, saturated, unusual result.  Got it, I think.  Sometimes working on color alone is a learning experience but the abstraction is just as enlightening and teaches me much.

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Same photo, maxed out in the blue/yellows and with a virtually non-existent background, like floating in space.  Outer space.

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In learning to use editing software as a worthy tool and not resorting to the ‘instant fix’ simply because it’s easy, I spend time trying to understand how to produce subtleties the software is capable of producing.  I used this more intensive, less automated approach for this self-portrait.  I wanted to create the illusion of a pastel work, including smudging, and a soft colored background that was more ‘authentic’ to me. My goal was met; however, this may be the single most software-intensive work I have produced to date.  The process involved roughly eighty or so sensitive software steps.  It’s forever burned in my brain as the lesson: No Slacking – you gotta do the work.

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There are some delightful photos from this series, portraits that show my friend Jim beaming a fantastic smile!  I am always interested in composition, geometry, light, drama, tension – many elements that serve the work and force me to make interesting creative choices.  This example it is an edit that removed virtually all of his identity because it is a geometric body study that is in my view hypermasculine and genuine. I use it as an example to show others the variety of my work so they understand that I approach things rather differently but always honor the simple and powerful with reverence.

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This wonderful swirling vortex of light and color is the inside of a paperweight that my mother owns.  It is remarkably small and with my video camera was an interesting object to shoot.  I shot this on her sun porch in the middle of Hurricane Wilma, and let me tell you that the stunning dichotomy of shooting this lovely photo with a piqued intensity of  concentration while surrounded by a whirlwind of pounding rain, lightning, flying palm fronds and the threat of flooding at my feet – well, it was such an experience that I used it as the illustration for a collection of solo music that I wrote and performed called Some Big Deal.  It’s also (with two others of the set) included in my book Devolving in Eden.

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My eyes are laser-blue and are a family trait.  I was re-editing a lot of old photos that I had managed to save after a computer failure, and although I had lost half, by serendipity I later discovered the remainder on an unmarked disc.  During an editing sessions of self-portrait work to learn software processes,  I realized I had completed a group of photos that did not have my eyes in them at all, or my eyes were covered with sunglasses.  So I rectified that by taking this photo, removing every other element but my eyes, brows and the bridge of my nose, changed the saturation of color and made the result into a purposely indistinct horizontal shape in a square frame.  Anyone who knows me instantly recognizes me not only physically but in attitude as well.

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This is a bas-relief at a museum in Orlando, and that wall is a remarkable work; the color is neon-bright and is mesmerizing.  I found it quite interesting because in spite of its upbeat coloration it is somehow inherently frightening and seething with potential violence.  I was so enticed and intrigued by it that it was used as the illustration for a poem of the same title in my book Devolving in Eden.  You can see the book and read it almost in its entirety by clicking on the book image button for a preview.

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This painting is a memory of a landscape near my current home.  It is a flat piece of farmland in Farmington, CT, a place where one night I saw for the first and only time I saw the Aurora Borealis with my own eyes.  I drove through this area each morning when I worked in Hartford.  In the spring the morning fog settles on the land, the sun illuminates it and dead corn stalks, weeds and the budding foliage through the mist is an image I keep in my heart, although the painting itself has been lost.  I hope whomever has it loves it.

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Walking down Market Street to my office in San Francisco’s Financial District in the morning after a night out with the guys would have been unbearable had it not been for the very forgiving morning fog and cool clouds that fly through the early morning sky, glowing, lovely and so comforting.  They soften everything and make it a little magical, too.  If you look closely at the top left you can see stars in the velvet of the coming morning; it is a wonderful memory of my old home.

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I was heading to my car in a lot near a friend’s house in Orlando and I took this photo of the glowing dawn clouds in a flawless, almost Mediterranean  violet sky.  In a puddle on the ground, of all things! I then turned the photo upside down and the result was it seemed as though the parking lot asphalt that was drying was a ripped tear across the image.  It always reminds me to carefully consider and observe the simple, fleeting wonders that just fly by us.  I am always happy to capture such images and I am quite fond of this.

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Learning elements of design can drastically change your entire approach to the way you see the world – and yourself.  I made this self-portrait to exaggerate color, texture and light to be a ‘religiously inspired Italianate feel’. But it was so much more to me than that.  I saw many things in the work from my personal perspective: a beautiful, haunting, sad, ethereal and fragile image; yet there is clear determination and a sense of discontent and concern that comes through it.  It found its place as an illustration for a religious-themed poem entitled Tyrant in my collection of poetry, Devolving in Eden.

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A second shot in the colored light technique of the same two pieces of crystal with a distinctly different composition and a more energetic vertical thrust.  I really do find the technique interesting and have recently purchased a set of LED lights that are remote-controlled, color-mixable individually and are going to be a lot of fun to discover how I can change and augment this technique.

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Third in the series of colored light work and this one reminds me of how in these compositions even subtle changes of angle and reflection/refraction of the glass can be interesting study, fun and a good lesson in being consistent with your work, your methods and your directed energy in its creation.

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My friend’s house in Florida was one interesting shot after another for me.  A passion-flower, crimson and exotic, picked from a plentiful vine for the purpose of contrast against a beautiful green plant pot excited me, but then . . .

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. . . it REALLY got crazy with that single flower.  I shot it in close-up and it somehow became in my mind a half plant/half animal kind of life form creeping across the table.  It still is a surprise when I see it for it seems to be alive in a very different, very unusual fashion and it seems to be alien, off-world.

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And now for a little bit of nonsensical fun that I just cannot help but enjoy.  With certain people or with certain photos, my brain says, Hey, What’s the Story?  I blow it all up by making a single-panel story, always fictional and completely out of character of the person, and they are pure fun and whimsy.  Besides, I just can’t seem to resist: I like to take these things to the absurd sometimes.  This is not a cat named Stanley but a cat a friend had named Trigger.  He always seemed to be a bad kitty and therefore required being told, “Bad Kitty!”, but any cat owner can tell you that they manipulate us like total pros and we know it; that is of course the moral to the story.  Below: Marino gets into an argument on the phone but teaches us a lesson.

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Marino was a good sport!

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This is a close up with a deep depth-of-field of three very small glass jellyfish paperweights that I own.  It is a rather painterly expression of tone and form, and the curve is so pronounced yet subtle at the same time.  The tone was the exercise for me, though, and to use as little processing as possible in its creation.  I don’t always stick with wild image editing or coloration;  I believe that the image itself directs the creator and tells them what they need.  The axiom, ‘Simplicity is elegance’ is a good rule to remember and the harmonic elements of this image are captivating to me.

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Moody, dark, but light on the horizon.  This is Castro Valley in San Francisco taken from a vantage point to the west. I was soaking wet, but there was something driving me to continue shooting in spite of the downpour.  When I saw this photo I originally thought it was unusable, but in a last-ditch edit attempt I found a scene that was in such contrast to the beautiful and fun Castro Street that it is in my client viewing portfolio and it is to me an observation that would move someone who lived there most especially.

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Same day, same rainstorm on its way out over to the East Bay and I am thrilled to have this memory in my head and heart.  Several of the other shots in this series were lost, but there were three that were saved, and each time I look at them I am profoundly homesick.

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Best friend, incredible artist, performer and his awesome alter-ego, Uta Schrecken.  This photograph is entitled Uta Schrecken: Portrait Number 1.  It has been for me a delight on so many levels and so completely shows that Uta Schrecken (my friend Michael Gilbert, who inhabits this whirlwind) is a master of the art of ‘giving great face’.  There’s no one person who so makes me go nuts in the crazy-wild-fun art department and it has been a true pleasure to have chronicled the many moods of Uta.

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This is one of the earliest watercolors I attempted.  The very first attempt to use watercolor I decided to collectively title ‘Mud Pies’ and were total failures.  Watercolor is a very difficult medium to work with and takes great technical skill; it is a challenge to any ‘paint pusher’.  But this example surfaced and I caught a piece of it that made any sense at all to me.  It was an exercise in learning how differently colored backgrounds change the perceived color of any foreground elements.  I’m going to try watercolor again sometime when I have endless patience and see if I can do better.  If you want to meet a friend of mine that is a real and true master of the medium, meet Richard Bolingbroke, who is one of the most technically astute watercolorists I have ever had the pleasure to know.

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I have been blessed to have surrounding me some of the most talented people I could wish for, and anyone that admires people who try to experience simply everything – and doing it with finesse and grace  – please, meet Heather Cherry.  This photo she took of herself backstage prior to a performance with the Marin Shakespeare Company.  I edited because it was such a great photo and I had the idea to make this into a ‘magazine spread’ kind of edit, and wow, got it, I think!  She can walk a tightrope, wrangle lawyers as an assistant, make people say, ‘WOW!’ when she ropes a steer, cause a swoon with her incredible honeyed, sexy, throaty voice, and she will make you one hell of a turkey gravy if you’re exceptionally lucky!  And note the review by the Guardian – that’s not fake – it’s real.  She is hella oh yeah wow!

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I end the show with yet another self-portrait, but this one is not for effect, it’s simple, direct and a good illustration of me (I know, there’s several self portraits, but it’s only because I was the only person around when I wanted to shoot).  But this is quite accurate, I think, but what do I know?

THANK YOU FOR TAKING A LOOK AT MY WORK.  If you like it please message me and tell me what it is that you liked and why; it’s good to know the elements to which you respond.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed them!

If you have questions, again, please get in touch.  And if you like anything else about my blog, please, subscribe or follow!

 

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