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As Rare as Vision Is

The Economy!?!?!

OK, so I gotta weigh in on the economy and what it means for us creative types.  First let me say that I am very fortunate as an artist.  Painting has always been a passionate hobby, so there was never a sense of having to sell out or compromise my vision.  I can do an abstract or a portrait or a Buddha or a turtle, and the sense of satisfaction from having something take form and shape is there .  Yes, I have a website and like to sell, knowing that my work is gracing someones wall, however, that isn’t why I paint. 

Last night I watched the movie “Modigliani” starring Andy Garcia, and, although not historically accurate in it’s details, it gave a glimpse into artists lives in Paris after WWI.  Most of these famous people, including Diego Rivera and Pablo Picasso,  were struggling to make a living in the face of a public that didn’t understand their art.  Many of them lived at the fringes of society, half mad and freezing, in dingy apartments filled with paints and canvases.  They were not strangers to adversity.  However, they had the strength and passion to keep on working and their creations continue to  move and inspire us today.  Modigliani was an alcoholic and a hashish addict who lived on the edge of poverty and madness most of his brief adult life before he died of tuberculosis.  His first solo exhibition was closed by the Parisian police because of its nude content. Yet, in spite of his struggles, he created timeless works of poignant beauty.   

So, will a severe economic crisis really change the lives of artists?  The answers to this question are complex.  Some will have difficulty buying materials such as paints and canvas and paper.  Some will find new, less costly avenues of expression.  Some will give up.  Some will emerge unscathed.  Some will continue to prosper.  Some will create works of art that will stand the test of time and be a testimonial to overcoming creative obstacles.   Perhaps works will emerge that give future generations a sense of what it was like to live and paint in these times. 

We will notstop creating.  Perhaps millions of pieces of art are being born as I write this blog.   I still believe that art is the lifeblood of human civilization and, short of total extinction, we will keep on drawing, dancing and making joyous music.  Because we must.  Hopefully something new and wondrous will emerge from the art world as a result of this adversity.  Maybe we are in the crucible of change.   We don’t really know.  As the contemporary Zen Master, Seung Sahn, said, “Only don’t know.”  Maybe that’s enough. 

So I give you a glimpse of my latest project, based on my recent sighting of a green sea turtle off Utila Island in Honduras.  The turtle has been around a long time.  Before there were dinosaurs, there were sea turtles.  So they have survived all sorts of adversity, and have a certain timeless quality.  This is what I want to convey with this painting.  The finished  work will be photo real and will take months to finish, given that I enjoy painting fine detail.  The head alone took  seven hours to complete.  This file is approx 30 mb, 14″ x 16″in size with a resolution of 248 pixels per inch.  It will look stunning on large HD monitors and so I will make it available as a digital file.  Keep checking the New Works gallery for details at  

Sea Turtle Epiphany

Sea Turtle Epiphany

So here is the basic layout of the body with a more or less finished head.  I will probably add a lot of background details since the reefs in Utila are so varied and rich in shape and color.  The finished painting will encompass more background and have a wider color palette.

I often have self doubts about the merits of my work but know that many of the greats also had the same inner questions, so, in that way, feel that I’m in good company.  I have been reading a biography of Matisse recently and he was quite tortured by the attitudes of his contemporaries toward his early work.  He was not respected by his father and even his primary art dealer, Vollard,  treated him shabbily.  Matisse doubted his own abilities for many years, as his work did not sell well and was often derided by the art critics.

That said, I cannot for an instant compare myself with Matisse, or indeed any of the great artists, but it is interesting to watch how I delight in a bit of positive feedback from someone who has seen my online gallery at  and sometimes feel a little sad that I haven’t sold anything from the site yet, despite lowering my prices 30% in January.  Maybe I’ll just blame the recession.  Yes, a globe-spanning scapegoat!

However, nothing will prevent me from continuing to paint for the rest of my days, even if no one ever sees my work.  I sometimes think there must be a deep vein of narcissism in me because I love looking at my paintings, over and over.  I have more creative ideas than time, and sometimes wish I had an agent or even a secretary who could do all the slogging for me.  So painter’s block really never comes up as an issue.  Quite the opposite, in fact I feel I will never realize all my potential.  Makes me almost want to give up blogging and get to the “real” work. 

Where do I find inspiration?  From looking at others’ work, obviously, and, since there are few utterly original artists, I don’t mind being lumped in with the non-geniuses.  I love experimenting with various digital programs and may start out with a pattern created in a CAD program, which is then altered in a graphics software, then colored with Painter.  End result is often absolutely unforeseen! 

The drawings you see here derived from an original pencil sketch, I call Up Against the Wall, with some shading slightly altered in Painter.  Then I took one of my linear mandalas and, using the cloner brush, painted the color pattern into the drawing.  So here we have a truly mixed media drawing/ painting.  I also cropped this work several different ways, enjoying the process immensely.  So here are two different versions:

Up Against the Wall 4

Up Against the Wall 4

Up Against the Wall 5

Up Against the Wall 5