“M” is for Mictlantecuhtli and his lovely bride Mictecacihuatl

On to “M”,  I could have chosen Maize, the Maya or Monkeys; but instead  I chose some serious tongue twisting demons. That shouldn’t really be a surprise. I hope against hope that I managed to spell their names correctly on the Primer; would be rather awful otherwise.Given my dyslexia and increasingly failing eye sight I have my fears. 

“M” is for Mictlantecuhtl and Mictecacihuatl

Mictlantecuhtl is Lord of Mictlan, the seventh tier of the Underworld, a realm he shares with his bride Mictecacihuatl. He is usually depicted as a skeletal bundle, all bleached bone and red spots. As is true with all Lords of Xibalba, Mictlantecutl is a trickster but famously stupid and easily duped. I hoped to depict the arrogance and foolishness buffoons often possess, hence the priapic serpent between his legs. His bride’s disgust makes me smile.

Detail of a Randy Fool

The following is the image that inspired my little randy fool.


The double headed serpent motif may be familiar to visitors to the British Museum, it is one of my favorite objects.

For more information concerning the mosaic I suggest this link from the British Museum A History of the World in which they discuss 100 objects that altered the course of history; a wonderful program.

Well that is it for now.

Working on a large painting for which my weary eyes are pleased.

I begin a printmaking course on Tuesday, very excited indeed.

Until next time,

take care,


Postcards from Miami, for an unwell Clive

Given that my friend Clive is unwell and taken  to bed rest I thought these recent photos would bring some cheer.

I boarded this morning from Ft. Lauderdale, arriving in San Diego a little dazed from the time difference. These images  were taken yesterday at Vizcaya, the Miami estate of John Deering which is situated upon the Biscayne Bay. Built between 1914 through 1923 the house and grounds are a marvel. Typical of the period it is a mad mash-up of the Italian Renaiisance and Baroque, pinches of Neo-Classicism thrown in for restraint and Rococo frivolity when called for. It is quite simply my favorite house in the States. Jefferson’s Monticello is of course a marvel, a close second in the race for my affections; but Vizcaya reigns supreme. It is a tremendously large house, rooms bloom more splendidly  from one to the next. Alas we are not allowed to take images indoors, a fussy precaution, this link is a gallery of interior images, well worth a peak. For more general information follow this link.

I hope the following  images speeds Clive along on his recovery.

Stone barge acting as dock for incoming guests.
View of Vizcaya and the aforementioned barge
An example of the very lovely Vizcaya pink.
One of countless caryatids.
Funny stone faces at every glance.
I just love her face.
The taste of the house and gardens tends towards the seductive, the male gaze particularly abundant. There are many such busts scattered about the grounds.
Living in the desert makes me ache for this sort of lushness .
I also miss little critters like this fellow. The ground at your feet is alive with movement.

I was able to find a vintage image of the interior, this being the entrance to the interior courtyard (now enclosed). Once again the seductive glance, this time from everyone’s favorite god Dionysis.

ca. 1917 entrance to Loggia

I’m going to close with an image of  Vizcaya’s designer, Paul Chalfin, essentially because I have a crush on him. I’m always having crushes on dead guys and given his good looks and incredible taste, he is just about irresistible. 

Paul Chalfin 1916 by Albert Sterner

Get well Clive!

 Until next time,

take care,


“B” is for Bats

I am preparing to leave for a brief vacation to Ft. Lauderdale to visit dear friends; in between packing I am determined to post my latest entry for my Primer of New Spain: “B” is for Bats.

Yet another reason for my deep affection for the Mesoamerican culture is its appreciation for the  winged mammals. Revered and feared, bats pop up multiple times in the Popol vuh, indeed there is a temple El Zots , Place of the Bats, devoted to them- I recommend checking out the link, there is a tremendous video of swarming bat madness .

But my own affection for bats is more tenderhearted, I love their vulnerable beauty, they seem to me so fragile and endangered by man’s irrational fear of them. Perhaps this protectiveness stems from childhood , bullies who I knew all too well, one day switched their attention from me to a little brown bat that somehow had fallen from its roofline perch. Exposed to the sun and the taunts of these vicious boys, the bat screamed in defense, a little high pitched awful sound. I was with my mother and she shooed the ruffians with their sharpened popsicle sticks away from the little fellow ( perhaps the idiots thought the little bat to be a vampire).My mother was afraid of bats, but she gently nudged him under the shelter of shrubbery, hoping against odds that he would survive dogs, the sun and imbeciles.

So this little  blue bat is in memory of that little brown bat-and my mother.

“B” is for Bats
watercolor on paper
11 by 18 inches

The following is a depiction from Copan, I love his frank randy silliness, I thought Clive might get a chuckle out of him.

Well I will be off for a bit, back next Thursday.

I have a large painting started and thankfully the initial penciling in looks as pleasing to me as it did last evening when I shut the studio lights. It will await my return, that is something I will look forward to.

until that time, take care,


Perseus, completed for now…

Today is my birthday, a monumental one I suppose, a half century.

One year ago, on my last birthday, I put together a post when I was about to begin this painting. The painting was based upon the Perseus myth, but in a bit of gay revisionism, fair Andromeda was replaced by fair Andromedus. The post had many images of wonderful interpretations of the myth, far more wondrous than this daub, I recommend you check it out. But my point was exploring the theme from a personal perspective ; I didn’t think it a big deal. The theme has been mined before, exploring the grace of the female form is never without a bit of titilation; why not have a bit of fun by switching the gender.

Most readers of that post didn’t seem to have an issue but one reader did, and boy was he vocal. I foolishly tangled with him off-line and by conversation’s end was ready to throw away my palette. Suffice to say I did not, with the encouragement of many kind folks, most particularly Clive and Thom, I have plodded on, determined to find a means of expression.

Today the painting is essentially finished, always bits of glazing and tweaks here and there, but for now, finished.

The following is the image, but remember, it is my birthday so you must only say nice things.

Tomorrow, tell me what you really think.

Perseus and Andromedus
oil on canvas
30 by 40 inches

The following are details, like photos of puppies and nephews, it is difficult to determine how many images are necessary. Scroll down when boredom strikes.

the ephebe in distress

details of our hero


and the villain

the sea dragon

and a birthday cupcake from my niece Grace, a virtual treat, she has a cupcake app! As if I didn’t already feel old.

from Gracie

So there you are, I will continue on my Primer, but I am  rethinking the Greeks, time to visit Olympus once more.

My sister shipped this wonderful bust of Pallas Athena for my b’day, she will be perched high in my studio, hopefully the Grey Eyed Goddess will  guide my brush strokes.

from Kat

“H” is for Hun Hunahpu, the Maize God

In my imaginings, Hun Hunahpu is the Zeus of the Mesoamerican Olympus. There doesn’t really seem to be one supreme deity, various cultures favored one god over another; but it is undeniable that Hun Hunahpu is a major player of the Popol Vuh.

Without Hun Huahpu , man would languish without nourishment; for it is with his sacrifice and redemption that he brought forth maize, teosinte to native people. Teosinte translates as teo, godly or sacred and cintli which translates as maize= godly corn.

It is this godly corn from which man is fashioned to serve the gods. Ancient teosinte was apparently tri-colored: golden, red and blue. Native people saw the similarities in their own lovely golden bodies, rippled with blue veins and able to release radiant red blood when cut.

This imagery is very rich to me, which is perhaps why I have fetishized Hun Hunahpu, a pagan Savior for New Spain.

“H” is for Hun Hunahpu
watercolor on paper
18 by 11 inches

Clive was (is?) working on a particularly fetching Gawain, I was enchanted by the fair knight’s porcelain skin; this motivated my own pale radiant god. I tried to capture the tri-color palette within the limitations of the Primer palette. I failed to keep it monochrome with only one color. The siren call of  my paint box gets me every time. I did want to capture the veining that  Mesoamericans read as blue, and the golden quality of my god is apparent .

What is also apparent  is the homoerotic nature of the painting. I may make another more chaste version, I may not. I know I wanted the Maize God to look physically and sexually striking  , he is after all a fertility god! The “subtly” placed corn cob may be a bit excessive, but I couldn’t resist the visual pun.

I appreciate the indulgence.

I am finishing up a painting in oil, another bit of male pulchritude, I will present him next week, the gods willing.

Until that time,

take care,


“G”is for Gold

It isn’t an original thought to believe that New Spain was built upon a foundation of stolen gold; the Spanish lust for what the Aztecs called teocuitlatl is infamous. What is perhaps less known is the Aztec belief that gold was the excrement of the gods; although of value, gold paled next to the luster of jade and the sparkle of the quetzal feather. That said, what was wrought by the Aztecs was of such wonder that the great Albrecht Dürer (the son of a goldsmith) exclaimed upon seeing the golden booty:

“Also I saw the things which were brought to the King from the New Golden Land: a sun entirely of gold, a whole fathom broad; likewise, a golden moon, entirely of silver, just as big ;likewise, sundry curiosities from their weapons, armor, and missiles; very odd clothing, bedding, and all sorts of strange articles for human use, all of which is fairer to see than marvels. These things were all so precious that they were valued at a hundred thousand guilders. But I have never seen in all my days that which so rejoiced my heart, as these things. For I saw among them amazing artistic objects, and I marveled over the subtle ingenuity of the men in these distant lands. Indeed I cannot say enough about the things which were there before me.” (source:Mary Ellen Miller’s The Art of Mesoamerica). 

Alas these “artistic objects” that so thoroughly enchanted Dürer were melted down for the crass value of their base metal.

With that in mind I present “G” is for Gold; the acclaimed metalwork rendered in my own particular  Babylonian Baroque style.

“G” is for Gold
18 by 11 inches
watercolor on paper

My figure of the enthroned Motecuhzoma II was based upon a sketch from a recent life drawing session. The young model was particularly louche , this suggestive pose seemed appropriate for the last Emperor of Tenochtitlan. But upon completion I realized with the addition of an obviously camp head-dress the emperor now had a closer affinity to  Henry Cyril Paget, the 5th Marquess of Anglesey (the notorious “Dancing Marquess”) than a noble King.

Oh well.

The Dancing Marquess – Henry Cyril Paget, 5th Marquess of Anglesey

I am now back home from a far too brief holiday, busily catching up, posts to follow.

Until that time,

take care,


“X” is for Xquic

Progressing forward on the Primer of New Spain.

As I mentioned last time I will be jumping about the alphabet. As I began with “A”, “X” seemed the logical choice. I chose Xquic, the princess of Xibalba. For those who have followed this narrative , and not been daunted by the tongue twisting names, you will remember she is the heroine of the Popol Vuh narrative. Having miraculously given birth  to the Hero Twins, I present her enthroned upon an “X” chair.

“X” is for Xquic
watercolor on paper
16 by 20 inches

The following is a detail (as the image is rather small) of Xquic and her sons the Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque. As I progress in this series I continue to paint the Twins blue. There isn’t  a tradition for this, I just like the effect, an homage to Clive Hicks-Jenkins.

detail of Xquic and the Hero Twins

This may be the last post for a bit, trying to tie up loose ends as we are leaving for a brief Independence Day holiday. We are going to Portland Oregon, it seems such a pretty and progressive place; far different temperament and climate from oppressive San Diego. We are both excited to get out of Dodge.

Until next time,

take care,