Poem: For Penny

With the broken-hearted language of the abandoned,
the orphan spoke into the rising smoke
above the campfire.

Her voice carried through the smoke and sparks
into the night beyond
where everything is sky.

The spirits conjured there
were kind and full of yearning,
like her.

Every word was clear.
Across these many years I remember them still.
“We all find love, right, Tommy?”

The hard laughter of the others
choked the answer in my throat.

In the silence
the night grew chill
and stole her away.

“Yes, Penny.”

Jason Milburn at William Busta Gallery

Jason Milburn, who has maintained a studio in NE Ohio since graduating from the Cleveland Art Institute 10 years ago, is showing a passel of large drawings at the William Busta Gallery. The cartoon-inspired ink drawings are populated by vaguely familiar figures in suburban scenarios that are awash with anxiety and menace–‘High School Art Teacher in Hell,’ so to speak. The drawings…

My Prison Studio

As a member of a Federal works program, I taught art in community centers in and around Dayton, Ohio. My fellow teachers were performers, musicians, and artists of all types. The director himself was a dancer and leader of a troupe when not directing us. Artists rotated weekly to the centers, usually in pairs, sometimes alone. Some…

In the Studio 3/17/13

Poor light yesterday, Saturday, but good light today. The lake came alive this week and although it’s cold–mid-30’s–the waves and whitecaps already  remind me of summer. Here’s a shot of some of the things I worked on today. I finished the drawing of the larger one and decided to plunge ahead and start the under-painting.…

Lawrence’s Annoying Paintings at the Cleveland Museum of Art

I have nothing against Thomas Lawrence, indeed, I like his work, but—good grief!—he could make some annoying paintings. The Cleveland Museum of Art has two of the offending paintings hanging side-by-side. Lawrence (died 1830) had well-earned success throughout his life. A prodigy, he found success early and later became President of the Royal Academy. He…

Tips for Using a Grid

I frequently use a grid to enlarge designs for paintings. It’s my preferred method for transferring designs from one medium into another (except watercolors). What do I use to create a grid? Good question. The grid should be visible enough to see—doh!—and not  easily rub away, but not so visible that it appears in the…

Transferring Designs to Canvas

I routinely transfer designs as I rework subjects in various mediums. There are several standard methods for transferring designs to a target surface. One long-used method was to prepare a cartoon to the exact dimensions of the target wall or canvas. Once the design was fixed, it would be transferred by one of the following methods: Covering…

Turpentine Tip

Put some Venice turpentine  into your everyday turpentine (10:1 turpentine to Venice turpentine). You could substitute larch turpentine or Canada balsam for Venice turpentine, both of which are easy to obtain. The admixture of Venice turpentine firms the turpentine without overpowering it. I sometimes use the mix to thin paints, and as an additive in…

Spray Varnish

Varnish is a sore subject. I’ve nearly spoiled some of my own paintings with poor varnish, and I’ve had so-called ‘professionals’ ruin paintings (one frame shop owner in Trenton, NJ left brush hairs in the varnish coat then obliterated the painting’s surface trying to get them off—grrr). Any artist that draws with smudge-able material, such…

In the Studio 2/17/2013

A productive day with a lot of good sunlight.  I finished two self-portraits this morning (a gouache and another pastel-gouache), almost finished the drawing for a new still life (oil), then worked on the oils in the accompanying photo this afternoon. Why so many self-portraits lately? It’s not because I’ve developed a new found self-fascination–hell…