Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What's Cooking in the Studio

I have been starting a couple of Modernist landscapes. I am working from photos I have taken of Rainy Lake and the Review Islands (Crow, Mallard, Gull, Hawk and Fawn Islands). My thoughts about these paintings have been careening from one idea to another as I am discovering what these paintings are about for me.  I often start a series of paintings with a sense that this is the right direction for my work even though I can't explain why.

As I paint I have been pondering this selection of subject matter: landscapes done in a style reminiscent of early to mid-Modernist (1880's - 1930). Why do this? What, for me, is the connection between the style and the subject? The North, the Rainy Lake area, harkens back to an earlier time for me. When I travel to the Review Islands I think of growing up and visiting my grandparents who always lived on a lake. Like the historic buildings on the Review Islands, my grandparents' houses were not filled with the newest technology. Some items in the houses dated back to the 1800's. Having been born in the early 1900's and never having lived in a city of appreciable size, their ways made their home a unique and pleasant visit. For me, early and mid-Modernism handling of the water in these paintings gives me the same feeling of being a kid and watching the patterns on the water for hours at a time and allowing my imagination to become one with the sparkles, ripples and waves. I think of dock spiders and sitting and fishing with my grandfather, I think of hunting for crayfish under rocks in Agate Bay. Even now, on this cold Minnesota night, I can conjure up the feeling of the sun on my shirtless back and neck, the feel of my hand hovering in the warm air and then slipping slowly into the cool water to quietly lay on top of a slimy rock. Then, the slow extraction of the rock to find my prey laying still, as if its hiding place had not been removed, as if it was a rock itself. Finally, the plunge to grab the prize before it squirted away to another rock not that far away - and the process would start again. Memory, like this Modernist technique, is odd in its ability to focus.  Sometimes it takes the complexity and depth of events and packages them into a simple emotional experience of appreciation.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Oil Painting: Dinner (unfinished)

Dinner (unfinished)
Oil Paint on Canvas
48" x 48"

This large canvas is part of a small grouping of paintings within my larger series called _Edibility_. This small group of large canvases is exploring meals that we eat. _Dinner (unfinished)_ is a completed painting about food that is not processed or prepared to be eaten. What we consider edible is a funny thing.  We have food products that do not nourish the body, we have food products that harm us, and we have food products that are very healthy but you have to process or cook them to make them edible. We have odd cravings when it comes to food.  Perhaps the strongest craving we have for food is a craving for convenience. In order to have something quick, easily accessed, we are willing to eat items that actually are not good for us. We will eat food that can sit on a shelf for months, or even years, and not change its basic structure or freshness. This says a lot about us as a species.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A New Year Deserves a New Website

I have revamped my website, stripping it down to essentials, and adding simpler navigation. I was visiting a friend's website and thought her work was so well presented, cleanly, simply, that I decided to change it up on my website.  It had been awhile since I'd changed much on the site, so it was due.  I hope you like the new look. You can visit it at Let me know what you think!

Monday, January 9, 2017

2016 Was A Good Year!

Mixed Nuts
30" x 40"
Oil Paint on Canvas

2016 was a good year at my studio. I started the year in a group show at the gallery of 801 Washington in Minneapolis. Last winter and into the spring there were fun watercolor classes held at Jack-in-the-Pulpit Studio. From the beginning of the year, right until the end, I have been busy painting - producing 24 paintings this year! I'm also very happy to say that I have been painting bigger, with a few canvases 48" x48" or larger. I sold several pieces, many cards and one hundred and sixty fine art prints. Its been a good year at Jack-in-the-Pulpit Studio. With two shows and probably a studio sale coming in 2017 I am looking ahead with anticipation!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Watercolor Class Begins this Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Watercolor class begins this Wednesday, January 11 from 6:30 - 9:00 pm at Jack in the Pulpit Studio. For more info and to register:

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Elections, Images and History

The last few months have been home to some stunning events in this country. The results of the presidential election were unexpected and have created a lot of concern and anxiety. There seems to be some possibility a foreign country has tried to unduly influence the election. The Dakota Pipeline protest has pitted peaceful water-protectors against public law enforcement that have decided to protect a large company that does not have permission to dig the land they are on. Sometimes it seems like the world is going, as they used to say, "to Hell in a hand basket."  As I sit in my studio painting, I am aware of a world around me crumbling. I am aware of my privilege to be able to sit in my studio and paint while these events unfold.

Part of the craziness that people feel is the way in which words and symbols are now twisted and used to hurt people instead of to help them. Politicians and media take images and words that used to be positive and sow doubt about their meaning, about their value.  As I research the early Modernist movement in art, I can't help but think about similarities. After all, it was the greedy and political actions of the upper-class in the late 1800's that eventually led to the Great Depression - much like our recent Great Recession.  The early- to mid-1800's, with the rise of the Industrial Age and the middle-class, and the subsequent rise to wealth and power for a few families, were very tumultuous times. The Modernist movement in art, before there was mass media or an internet, was one manner in which the days' problems could be framed and discussed. From its inception, the Modernist movement was a struggle against institutionalized parameters of success which used idiomatic symbols to express a conceited sense of the common. Modernism was seeking something more. The true Modernist sought authenticity through presenting a personal individual view of the world, as opposed to the institutionally accepted view of the world.

We are trying to do the same these days, but those who dictate images and words to the masses seem to have upped their game and gotten ahead of us. It won't be easy to reclaim a societal perspective that is based on the personal experience of millions - after all, how do you do that?  There are certainly lessons to be learned from Trump, Clinton and Sanders and how they galvanized large segments of our population. The fight is there -- a fight to make a country that works for all of its citizens, not just a few.

A New Year and a New Website

There's a new look to my website: Easier navigation! Bigger images!
Check it out!