Temptation of St.Anthony of the Desert (a fellow and his pig)

 

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Just moments ago I finished up a drawing of the abbot of the desert St. Anthony. This well intentioned saint who sought to avoid worldliness and the corruption that follows only found himself in the thick of it. Anthony is my muse (as he was to Bosch, to symbolists such as Flaubert and to many  Surrealists), I turn to him time and again and have lost count as to how many works I have devoted to this early father of the Church . But one attribute of the anchorite that I particularly love is the company he keeps, pigs. The pig is found in many depictions of the hermit but this  is the first time I have worked one of my favorite beasties into the composition.  I’m sure there will be many more.

In this depiction I tried to incorporate,in a whimsical way, classical elements to depict worldliness ; not that I feel humanism is corrupt but classical sculpture can certainly raise one’s pulse.

 

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The Temptation of St. Anthony of the Desert (and his pig) 

2016 graphite and pastel on paper

18 by 24″ 

My love of pigs is personal, being a vegan I have a particular attachment to this highly intelligent and sensitive creature . David sponsored a pig for me this year as a Christmas present, her name is Sweet Tea and she is well tended to by the loving folks at Ironwood Pig Sanctuary. Although I wish she lived with us we can easily visit her in Tuscon AZ, we plan on visiting her at least every boxing day. This image is from the day we first met, as you can see she is quite adorable and friendly. It is delightful how pigs rush to you when you enter their compound, ever greedy for treats and attention.

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Sweet Tea

Like I mentioned Anthony is often depicted with a pig, this little gem of painting by Lelio Orsi (1511-87) is one of my favorites at the Getty, I search it out whenever I visit.

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On my last visit I noticed this wee little pig pawing at the anchorite’s robe as fervently as my pug Viola.

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As I mentioned I will be sure to return to Anthony time and again, my very sweet and very talented friend, the artist and musician Henry Kitchen offered to pose, sending along this funny photo. He is actually a perfect Anthony, right down to the hoodie.

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I’m sure to take him up on the offer very soon.

Until then, back to painting, good night.

Orpheus’ Lament

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This morning I put the finishing touches on my Orpheus “tapestry”, a large, unbound canvas that I started during my summer stint at PAFA. It is my largest studio painting yet, when I was a decorative painter my work could easily exceed thirty feet or so ( and many stories off the ground) but my studio work thus far has been restricted by the parameters of my work space. PAFA offered me four empty walls, seemingly endless possibilities . 

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Orpheus’ Lament

2015

acrylic on unbound canvas

59 by 93″

Due to the size of the painting (and my own ineptness) I cannot seem to adequately capture the entire image without some sheen and loss of detail, so I will post detail shots:

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(my homage to Redon and Fred Stonehouse)

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Merman, I like this fellow, he is rather sexy.

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This fellow, actually his eye, was the only element of this painting that was considered redeemable by the faculty critique at PAFA. Apparently I am still nursing wounds. Since leaving the program I have had quite a bit of existential angst , have I any right (or abilty) to declare myself an artist. My consolation has been to just work as honestly as I can, and see what happens.

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I listen to far too many podcasts while I work; for those who have enjoyed the podcast Welcome to NightVale , they might recognize the winged character watching over Orpheus.

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I like this fellow-frankly I like them all; hence the somewhat dizzying composition. They become family, I can no sooner eliminate them then I would flesh and blood friends.

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My only formal training is that from a Russian iconographer , that is abundantly clear by this character, who has become sort of a personal avatar.

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These two are inspired by Greenmen , the universal bond of man and the natural world . That bond is the basic inspiration for the painting, a favorite theme, one that has been explored many times over, Orpheus’ playing upon the lyre and so moving the natural world, that all manner of flora and fauna gather at his feet. Trees uproot themselves and mountains roll towards him, all weeping at the bitter sweetness of his song. This Roman mosaic captures that moment beautifully .

Roman mosaic depicting Orpheus Phrygian surrounded by the beasts charmed by the music of his lyre

 This large painting was first a simple watercolor of faun, but it provided unexpected inspiration when I found myself in Philadelphia without my usual “crutches”, namely my large resource library. A library that is often a boon and sometimes a curse.

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While in Philadelphia I would often visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art, passing by the monumental 17th c. tapestries designed by Rubens. The scale and the color palette provided much inspiration. I particularly admired how the waves were translated in the weaving.

IMG_6852All in all I am satisfied with this painting, I’m rarely (ever?) completely satisfied but when I feel I have gone as far as I can with a painting then I consider it finished…for the time being. I will go back to oils, but I was happy that I persevered with acrylics for this painting. With the weather here in LA now not so wretchedly hot I was better able to manipulate the medium. When I left Philadelphia I could barely look at this painting (or the others I had started), but now I feel I absorbed what I could from the experience and feel I expressed myself as authentically as possible . The final image is of the painting before I shipped it to LA.

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August 12th 2015

For those in the States I close with an amazingly appropriate Thanksgiving image. I feel as if I could have painted it. It is courtesy of the great artist Judith Schaechter and her ever-amusing Facebook feed. It is particularly appropriate to end with her in mind because she offered me such support and insight while at PAFA. A great inspiration and an incredible artist.

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The Proposition

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The Proposition

2015

oil on panel

8 by 10″

I just finished this painting moments ago; it is a companion to a relief print bearing the same name.

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Now off to tend to the beasties.

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 Post Script: kind words concerning this painting my my new favorite podcasts Pleasure Town.

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Link: http://pleasuretownshow.com/blog/

Krampus Fever

My friend Ken recently gave me a few 19th c. “scraps”,  once popular for Victorian keepsake albums. Usually they are gooey eyed children holding posies but Ken knows my taste and gave me Krampus ephemera. I was delighted and inspired. The following is a sampling of what I have been up to.

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 Blue Krampus!

2014

four plate relief plate on paper

total dimensions 9 by 12″

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Blue Krampus II!

same as above.

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Krampus!

artist’s proof

I’m enclosing the wonderful little scraps Ken gave to me, my studio is awash with happy blue devils. I couldn’t be more pleased. Thanks Ken!

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Until next time, be well,

Lg

Sophia, the Apotheosis of…

I have been reading several books concerning gnosticism, schisms and the early church fathers. Most are academic but piece of fiction has been a great pleasure,Flaubert’s monumental The Temptation of St. Anthony. The edition I have has a very handy glossary which has made this mad jumble of opinion/characters/branches somewhat manageable.

That said I do not suggest that I understand fully all the various manifestation of gnosis. But one manifestation of the Supreme One, the aeon Sophia (wisdom) is of particular interest. My understanding is that she is the mother of Zoe (life) who brought light to Adam who apparently lacked a spiritual spark. I’ve attempted to depict that seminal moment in my painting Gnosis…and the Old Gods Were Pleased.  Link to that painting: HERE

This painting is an icon of the blessed Sophia, mother of wisdom and truth.

I like the idea of focusing upon being an icon painter to the Old Gods.

IMG_4854Sophia, the Apotheosis of…

2014

oil on panel

18 by 24 inches

My interest in gnosticism was sparked by a BBC-In Our Time podcast; I had skimmed over some Elaine Pagels books off and on, but this short podcast brought clarity to a perplexing and fascinating subject. I’m addicted to the In Our Time series,  it has become a constant studio companion. If interested you should listen to the following link HERE.

A bit of good news fell in my direction this week, on my way to yoga I popped into a gallery with some wonderful paintings, work that I really related to on a visceral level. Chatting with the proprietor of the gallery was very pleasant and informative, I exchanged cards which I feared presumptuous. But happily he emailed me the next day to schedule a studio visit. That was quite exhilarating and the wonderful news is that  he would like to include me in some upcoming shows he has planned.

The Old Gods must be pleased with my icons to bestow such good tidings.

Namaste,

Lg

eye in hand

 

 

A Day’s Work

Nicolas Poussin once said, when comparing himself  unfavorably to the hyper  manic Carravagio, that he felt his day had been productive if he painted one face. I often feel  that way as well. If today’s accomplishment is any indication, I emulate my beloved Poussin.

Below is a detail of an oil painting I am now working on. 

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unfinished detail of a larger composition

As I paint, the pugs rest, Viola standing guard atop a UPS delivery. If being a painter is tough, being a painter’s dog is tougher.

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Getting ready for date night with the spouse, Thai  for dinner then “Noah” which releases today.

Have a great weekend, be well,

Lg

Postscript: for my friend Richard, an update on “Noah”. Well worth seeing, big mythic spectacle. We saw it at the Sunset Blvd. Arclight where they often have actual costumes, sets, props etc. on display in the lobby. The following is the costume of Noah’s nemesis Tubal-Cain. Thought you mike like the jewelry designs. 

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and Noah’s costume

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Loki- a new relief print

Today was a good day, at least studio wise . A bit of painting in the morning, a lovely run to clear the mind and then relief carving . I decided to use two blocks, frantically carving before class this evening and the following artist’s proof is the result .  I ended up running a series of ten-next week I will run another.

I’m not usually pleased but this little bugger delights me.

I hope you like him as well;I’ve named him Loki, after Wagner’s “Ring”.

 

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Loki

Two color relief print on paper

paper dimension 8 1/2 by 11 inches

2014

I’m enjoying this class at the Craft Museum,walking distance , a  wonderful teacher, warm and encouraging and just a great group of folks, all at different levels, all trying to express themselves with line on paper. Making stuff, not just consuming stuff.

Speaking of consuming this print, and soon others, is available for purchase through my Etsy account :  Link to my account

Well, I  must eat, about to pass out, but until next time, be well,

Lg

A Case for Doodling

I have consistently high blood pressure which is maddening, I’m fit, I’m vegan, I exercise daily, I practice yoga and yet the numbers soar. My doctor advised I buy a home monitor (if you want to feel decrepit, buy a home monitor) and now I have the added delight of watching the numbers rise on a daily basis.

This morning I decided to experiment, ordinarily I fuss trying to stay still as possible when using the device. I naturally run high on nervous energy,even sitting perfectly still causes me anxiety, a creepy Catch-22. My experiment was to draw during the monitoring. I was happily but not really surprised to see my numbers close to the desired range(125/83 whereas target blood pressure is 120/80).

I was delighted, it has been years since the numbers have been this low. I have known that when I draw my breathing becomes less frantic and I can experience a bit of calm. But perversely I always feel as if on some level drawing isn’t “real” work; I do not  regularly show my sketchbooks to others. And yet I doodle and draw all day, often with a weird sense of guilt. But this morning’s numbers have liberated me a bit from that ridiculous thinking, I’m not wasting time or procrastinating-this is therapeutic !

The following are a few pages from my sketchbook from the last few days. To a new and reasonable acceptance of doodling.

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the following two were from dreams the evening prior:

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Well that is it for now, off to yoga, then doodling perhaps. This evening one of my prints is in an exhibition, tonight is the opening. I’m so lame, I should go, but I would rather paint , will see what happens.

Until then, be well,

Lg