Monday, December 28, 2015

Feeling Unsettled? Jackson Pollock is the Cure.

(Jackson Pollock Mural)
The mad dash to get ready for the holidays and the whirl of activity which follows always leaves me feeling a bit scrambled. That and the fact that I'm reading "The Muralist" by Shapiro gave me an urge to feature Jackson Pollock the "slash and drip" artist in my blog. I'm using two sources almost exclusively so you can link for more information.


In the twenty years between his arrival in New York City to study art and his premature death, Jackson Pollock had emerged as the most original painter in America--famous for his unprecedented physical involvement with the act of painting.

Pollock's first mentor was Thomas Hart Benton. In 1930, Pollock left California before finishing high school to study under the famous regionalist painter at the Art Students League in New York. He was Benton's student for the next three years.

(Pollock's "Thomas Hart Benton" period)
Pollock's 1934 painting of a frontier journey connects his teacher's energetic style to his own roots in the American West: the scene may have come from a family photo of a bridge in Cody, Wyoming, where Pollock was born. The abstract swirling patterns evident in this landscape help illustrate why Benton boasted that with him Pollock had found "the essential rhythms" of art.

Jackson Pollock, Untitled, 1933-1938, pencil and colored pencil on paper, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Anonymous Gift, 1990 (1990.4.8ab) © 1993 by The Metropolitan Museum of Art 

Pollock's sketchbook, containing more than 500 drawings, shows his continued efforts to organize compositions rooted in twisting counter shifts, as Benton had counseled. Pollock's early artistic training focused on traditional historical sources. Benton made his students study and reproduce the planar dynamics of European masterworks.

(During Pollock's "black pourings" period -- Murals)
Pollock preferred the fluidity of commercial enamel house paints to the more viscous texture of traditional oils. This choice allowed him to weave a more intricate pictorial web, flinging swirls of paint onto the canvas.

Total physical involvement of the artist defines this "action painting." Pollock spread canvas on the floor in his barn studio, or on the ground outside, and then splashed, dripped, and poured color straight from cans of commercial house paint. It was essential, he said, to "walk around it, work from all four sides, and be in the painting, similar to the Indian sand painters of the West." 

His friend and patron, the artist Alfonso Osorio, described Pollock's artistic journey this way: "Here I saw a man who had both broken all the traditions of the past and unified them, who had gone beyond cubism, beyond Picasso and surrealism, beyond everything that had happened in art....his work expressed both action and contemplation." 


Two more works-in-progress on my latest "Stir Fry" oil on canvas. 


Monday, December 21, 2015

Enjoy Each Blessed Moment and make Happy Memories

Greetings from Florida.
Join me to the tune of Sleigh Bells Ring.

Seagulls sing, are you listnin?
At the beach, surf is glist
A beautiful sight, a sunset tonight,
in a winter wonderland.

Stored away are the snow skis,
Here we stay in our short sleeves,
You sing a new song,
This is where we belong!
in a winter wonderland.

In the yard, we can trim a palm tree,
Then pretend to shovel lots of snow,
ll say, Do you miss it?, Ill say, No maam,
I feel younger by the minute dont you know.

Later on well conspire,
And grill some shrimp on the fire,
The plans we have made include sun and shade,
in a winter wonderland.
News Press, McGregor ©1993
(and thanks to my friend, Junie)

(My sister's festive house)

(Oak trees get a glimmer of Christmas in Florida) 
As we celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah and other religious and spiritual celebrations we need to be more respectful of each others customs and traditions. These practices are what make families strong and nations great. They are the threads that weave through society and hold people together. Our differences should not divide us, but create pattern, texture and variation.

Small people and small minds create walls. Character builds bridges. Character and empathy brought the Berlin wall down. Hatred diminishes, engulfs and finally destroys.

I found that by forgiving them (the Nazis), I held the ultimate power and the pain stopped. From Finding Rebecca by Eoin Dempsey (great book!)

Grace and forgiveness brought Gods son to earth in the form of a babe to bring salvation to mankind if they would but believe.
"Mother and Child" brush drawing in oil (My beautiful daughter Holly with her first daughter.)
Hatred nailed Jesus Christ to the cross denying His divinity but fulfilling prophecy found in Isaiah 53 and Zechariah that the Messiah would be born in a little town of Bethlehem. And He would be called wonderful, counselor, the everlasting Father the Prince of Peace.

Even non-believers get caught up in the spirit of the Season of Giving. For one blessed night commemorating the eve of His birth brotherly love is felt and experienced. Wars are often paused. Sickness is healed. The chains of hatred and sin are broken as people around the world worship His Holy name.
Palm trees wrapped in lights.
Sadly were in a political season of mud-slinging and division. This quote from George Orwell over 50 years ago still holds true. Wed do well to remember it.

Political language . . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. George Orwell

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah everybody! Have a blessed season.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Learn to Distinguish your Real Enemies from Manufactured Ones

"Leap of Faith" oil on canvas
To say our country is on edge is an understatement. Almost every week there is a tragedy, mob violence, a terror event or chaos. Its unsettling the way the mood of the country and new legislation and "executive orders" are altering the America we once knew.

In my latest read, the topic is Nazi Germany in the 40s. I'm searching for clues as to how the horrors perpetrated against the Jews happened? This quote jumped out at me: "Its amazing what years of conditioning and propaganda can achieve."

Today we don't know who to fear or whom to trust. Were becoming Schizophrenic and paranoid. Were losing our bearings. The foundation this country was built upon is slowly eroding before our eyes; at least that is how a majority of citizens feel.

(Work in Progress: "Stir fry" oil on canvas)
The Supreme Court has long ago ceased to rule according to Constitutional law and is legislating from the bench, something our founding fathers tried to safeguard against. Once you begin to tamper with established law and disregard principle, you are in muddy waters.

In spite of that, people are resilient. They will adjust and come together when necessary to preserve what is lasting and proven. For over 50 years people have mistakenly dismissed the idea of absolutes and values pushing them into the realms of relativity and personal choice. Mankind has become their own God determining for themselves what is right and what is wrong, what is good or what is evil.

Instead of elevating the best instincts within us, we are descending into a "survival of the fittest mode" in a descent to our primordial and animalistic leanings. Society is becoming less civilized and more antagonistic.

We are in awe when kindness raises its Godly head and we see, as we did in the San Bernardino, California terror onslaught a man shield a young woman beneath him taking a bullet for her and sacrificing his own life.

People of integrity and basic goodness are everywhere. Imagine if their concerted efforts at making the world a better place were concentrated or unified. There would be enough energy and strength to conquer our enemies, to repair and build the tearing fabric of our society. Prayer can also be a unifying force. Each of us in our separate homes asking our divine creator to heal our land and to mend our broken fences.

"Americana" acrylic on canvas
Some people would rather be hip and cool and declare that they are "not religious" or that they don't believe in a God who could cause such bad things to happen. My friends it is us who causes bad things to happen. We are given the gift of free agency, and we can use it for good or for evil. It's all about choice and turning our hatred into gratitude, and our mourning into forgiveness. Being dependent on God's grace and unconditional love is not a burden, but an indwelling strength for believers.

Whatever guides your life, learn to recognize who your real enemies are and not defame or condemn the people who seek to support and help you.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Redwing Blackbirds and Home

"Blending In" acrylic on 20 x 16 canvas in barn wood frame. Contact owner/artist.
or go to  Original "Blending In"
The air smelled heavy and earthy. The sun melted the last wisps of morning fog and warmed my back as I stood in the wet grass. A few yards away, a pair of male redwing blackbirds sparred in the underbrush, rising and falling like miniature conquistadors sporting shiny black satin and flashy red epaulets.

They lunged at each other, lifting exultant wings; their talons poised and threatening. Between lusty bouts, they perched on low-lying branches until the urge returned and they faced off again with aggressive thrusts and retreating pirouettes.

From the corner of my eye, a brown streaked bird with a long broad tail flapped into view. Was this plain, indistinguishable female the reason for this extravagant display of testosterone? She hovered over them casting her spell, flapping her wings like a butterfly on steroids.

First she tried to distract them by darting from side to side. Then she swooped near, pretending to protest their dual of love. When this didn’t work, she trailed after them as they whirled from bush to bush; a visual reminder of her stake in the outcome.

(This is where I often see redwing blackbirds mating and nesting in FL)
I left before their contest was over. I never witnessed the losing male’s defeat or the triumphant coming together of the welded pair. What I took away was an impression that later became a painting and brought back memories of Minnesota my second home.

The redwing blackbird is a year-round resident of both Florida and Minnesota. Their red shoulders and ebony black feathers make a striking contrast against the rolling sunflower fields of the upper Midwest where they flock in great numbers.

The male exposes red epaulets during the mating season and can become quite aggressive, even attacking passing hawks, crows or people who invade their territory.
Redwing, Minnesota’s sandstone cliffs are a favorite gathering place for many of these migrating birds, attracting hundreds of tourists each summer to this normally quiet city. In October, the changing leaves along the Mississippi River and the quaint antique shops lure additional visitors to Redwing.

In my finished acrylic painting above, I made the wings and feathers of the red wing replicate the petals of the sunflowers which inspired my title: “Blending in.” 

"Dregs of Winter" original drawing
Other bird drawings available

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Is it Still Possible to Love your Enemies or Must we Live in Fear?

(This is a composite of how I'm going to start my next painting "Stir Fry." Stay Tuned!)
In the 70s, I was working as a freelance writer. After completing several packages of four scripts each, I was contracted for another project. This time it was about families, featuring cultural diversity which was a hot topic in those days.

Mid-way between, I discovered that the real purpose ofdiversity" was not “inclusiveness” of those who were different from us, but a means of cramming everyone into the same old box for governmental control. The uniqueness of each culture and the beautiful characteristics of each race was intended to be camouflaged, distorted, and white-washed. The intent of the producer was to make everyone the same and thus equal.

Except for outward appearances, the differences between races and cultures was blurred rather than appreciated and celebrated. The control police love this. If they had their “druthers,” they’d want everyone to think, act and look alike; and, of course, all vote for the same party.

Needless to say, my treatment and approach for the script was far different from the one they had in mind. You could say we had a falling out.

Today, division and hatred is even greater than before. I guess this diversity thing didn’t quite work out the way they had expected. Our leaders want to lump others into racial and cultural groups to incite us into class warfare. Too bad they didn’t celebrate our uniqueness as I had originally suggested.

Now people tend to generalize and polarize using language and behavior: “All blacks are alike. All whites are supremacists. Italian’s are dishonest. All Hispanics are in gangs,” etc. Well, you get the picture. The blame game players and the hateful are trying to divide and conquer us. If we’d appreciated and explored our differences, even delighted in them, this wouldn’t be happening.

And to compound the fears that have already been instilled in us, another national crisis. Terrorism has struck again. The perpetrators seemed normal. They dressed like you and me. They had jobs, a baby, they blended in. They fit in with the politically correct speak.

The problem is Islamic Terrorists don’t think like us. Their religious texts encourage violence and murder against “the infidel” and those who don’t conform to their beliefs. These particular Jihadists were building pipe-bombs in their garage and stocking up on ammunition and assault rifles.

While they worked and played, and lived their normal lives, they were planning to terrorize and murder unarmed men, women, and innocent children. Many of whom were disabled. And all this mayhem was planned and executed in the name of their God, Allah.

That this could happen in America, a Bastion of freedom where people of all races, cultures and religions have lived together and played together for hundreds of years is unconscionable! Diversity is a good thing if people welcome the chance to get to know others in their schools and neighborhoods in order to celebrate their roots. But if we simply divide up and go into battle our differences encourage hatred and that becomes a dangerous thing.

Peace on earth sounds wonderful at this time of year, but only people working together for the common good can experience it. As the Christmas Season approaches, let us “love our neighbors and pray for our enemies.” Let us reach out in peace and fellowship, but also know in whom we can trust.

For those whose hearts are filled with hatred, “pray for those who despitefully use you.” We must recognize both the enemy within and without.

Fear is so widespread in our world today that we need a greater effort by everyone to “watch and pray” and to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” For those who mock prayer and condemn all people of faith, it is your right to do so.

As a Christian I’ve stood by and watched Muslim children in schools and universities given private rooms to pray while Christians have been denied meeting rooms or other accommodations.

I’ve seen cities close off streets so that Muslims might pray according to their beliefs, but at the same time watched my Christian brothers and sisters denied private areas in school because of their own beliefs and holiday celebrations.

Recently the Attorney General came out and declared that any hate speech against Muslims because of the latest Terrorist attacks would not be tolerated and there would be repercussions. 

Well, Miss Lynch, Christians have stood by and watched newspapers make fun of their beliefs and their prayers, and note that the actions of a few have been made the brunt of jokes and condemnation. May I remind you that our precious Constitution protects the rights of Christians, too?

We are constantly reminded not to blame law-abiding Muslims for the actions of Islamic Terrorists. Christian’s ask the same consideration: that the majority not be blamed for the actions of a few bad apples.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Christmas and Holidays Cement important Relationships

(My son and his family at Thanksgiving)
My dad wanted a boy when I was born. It became obvious when for Christmas one year, I opened my Santa present and there was a small green and yellow caterpillar tractor. My dad worked for Caterpillar in those days, and had purchased one of their models. I guess he had no one to give a tractor to except me. I was so disappointed, but tried not to show it. I had abandoned my dolls, and was confused by this boy toy."

When the gift exchanges were opened, and there were no other presents under the tree, I was listless and forlorn. My mother reached inside the topmost branches of the Christmas tree. Well, what's this?” she said pulling a small wrapped package from its hiding place. She read the inscription aloud: Merry Christmas, to Carol from Santa. My mouth must have dropped open as she handed me this wonderful surprise. 

My fingers flew as I tore the wrapping from the box. Inside was the wrist watch I had wanted. Although this strange Christmas started out badly, it finished on a high note. I had always been told that good things come in small packages. Now I believed it.

(A walk in the hills of Georgia)
Memories, whether good or bad, accumulated over time become the foundation that builds character and provides a springboard for who we become. Our preferences and choices come from these early beginnings. Like bits and pieces of energy, they mold and shape our personality; our likes and dislikes.

When people view a painting, they are drawn to a composite of colors and lines that relate to their experience and inner vision. No two people are the same. No two paintings are exactly alike. There are vibes that call out to us in a myriad of ways. Some people seek excitement and brashness. Others may be seeking recognition of something familiar. Still others may long for something hidden and long forgotten that reaches out and calls them back home.
(Work in Progress -- Peaches 'n Cream)
Whatever the reasons, pushing a painting on someone else in a triumph of salesmanship rarely brings contentment. Choosing artwork is much like choosing those intimate objects of our lives that are selected because of some secret wish or longing. The feeling is indescribable and personal. Sometimes we cant  explain the reasons ourselves. We only know that we must have it because it already feels a part of us.

Personal, unforgettable and totally unexplainable. These are the reasons people make the choices they do. Sometimes we do things for the wrong reasons and regret it later. For whatever reasons we may buy, it is not always about the money nor the beauty. The bottom line may be simply filling a void.

As Ive watched people, including myself, accumulate goods and services, Ive come to the conclusion that we fill up the emptiness of our lives with things. Not a good reason for purchasing something.

As we approach the holiday season, try accumulating pleasant and joyful experiences that become fond memories. These may well fill up those empty spaces just as well and for less money.