Stag

16.5" x 19.5", oil on wood panel, wood frame

 

 

There is wonderful forest close to my Midwestern home, strangely and officially named, Miami Woods. it is part of the North Branch River Trail, a path stretching through Chicago and its suburbs. This 20 mile long sinuously winding trail borders the shallow waterway, and crosses many busy streets. My neighborhood swath of land is larger than most of the other sections and is free of cell phone towers. I like to call it the Bermuda Woods because if you try to send text messages, they appear to deliver, but they never arrive.

 

A thriving deer population like to congregate in the Miami Woods. They are not afraid of humans but they are wary. They shy away from men with expensive cameras, who creep up on them with their shiney cyclops eye. Dogs give them alarm and they will quickly retreat into the thickets when an unruly beast strains his owners leash.

 

The does, young and old, might graze beside a quiet human, perhaps a few feet away, but they offer no affection. Sometimes I talk to them and they raise their heads so sweetly as if I am a gigantic bird with a peculiar song.

 

One cold winter day, four does walked through an opening in the fence that separates the wood from a commercial parking lot, where I had just emerged from my car. The largest approached me, while the others trailed behind. She actually trotted up and nuzzled my hand. I believe she had mistaken me for someone else, but all four did not run away. They waited for me to produce a tastey morsel. Since I had nothing to offer, I had to retreat.

 

 

 

 

Eating Dandelions

16.5" x 18.5" oil on wood panel, wood frame

 

Ah, at last, Springtime and the flourishing of wildflowers and fragrant shoots!

 

You may wonder how these dear cross the busy streets to get to other sections of wood, because they do. On rare occasions you may even see a carcass by the roadside, an unfortunate resident who was caught out, crossing the dangerous way. The does know, they are safe with their young family, crossing beneath the bridges, wading the shallow river.

 

 

 

 

Ducks

12.5" x 15.5", oil on wood panel, vintage wood frame

 

 

In the same wood I often spy a number of bird species. I love the Mallard ducks and their aptitude for three realms, air, woods, and water. I think they are probably most at home in the water because they have a boat like shape and bearing.

 

 

 

Large Hanging Canvas Paintings

 



Armadillo Woman Balancing

50" x 40", acrylic on canvas, curtain rod, 2012

 

 

Now, on to a hot and humid clime. The Armadillo is a pervasive creature in Florida, always looking ancient and slightly awkward. Because its eyesight and hearing is not as fine-tuned as other animals, it can be startled easily by a hiker in the woods and it will sometimes jump in the air, not out of terror, it would seem, but indignation. Many times, its loud rustling in the underbrush will frighten the hiker first, but the Armadillo is quite harmless. Many home owners in Florida hate the little beast because it digs holes in their manicured lawns, seeking juicy grubs. I say, have at them! Dig to your delight and rid the land of ravenous insects that might rid me of my vegetable plants.

 

 

 

PelicanPainting

Pelican, 45" x 58", acrylic on heavy canvas, curtain rod, 2012

 

 

This piece was inspired by my many swims in the Atlantic Ocean. It is a wild feeling, the dark waters, with god-knows-what swimming beneath them. Above, squadrons of Pelicans fly, and dive, and sit like boats on the surface of the gray-green waters. In this painting, the Pelican is eating "fish women" and two of these beings have mask-like faces that resemble the Maiden Spirit masks of the Yoruba people of Nigeria, West Africa. The maiden spirit is a representation of young women who have died before birthing any children. The spirit of these women reserve a special place in community ceremony because they have no direct descendents to carry out the gratitutde rituals to the ancestors, (to them, in other words). Therefore, the community is tasked with this duty to ensure that their spirit force is placated. My feeling is that all of life should be honored in a similar way. Everything is eating everything and the eaters are connected to the eaten.

 

 

 

ArnadilloDreamingPainting

 

Armadillo Woman Dreaming

40" x 47", acrylic on canvas, curtain rods, 2012

 

Here we have the Armadillo, looking a bit like an angel, fast asleep in its burrow while Spring calls the land to renewed life.

 

 

 

 

Tortoise2Painting

 

Tortoise Woman #2

52" x 38", acrylic on medium weight canvas, wood 2012

 

Tortoise #1 and Tortoise #2 are portraits of the Gopher Tortoise, a gentle indigenous Florida reptile. I lived in a house that had a resident tortoise in the surrounding lands and she visited my yard daily. I would follow her slowly as she foraged, just to see which weeds she liked to eat. Since I like to study wildflowers and their properties, I discovered that some of the plants she ate were the same ones that people can eat, if they wish to do so, or if they are pressed to do so. The Gopher Tortoise is a dried-mud color and at first glance she may appear homely, but if you gaze long enough at the patterned grooves on the surface of her shell, you will be amazed by the geometric shapes that seem to flip, and shift, and merge into other shapes, in a pleasant psychedelic way. I tried to capture this phenomena in the paintings. The Gopher Tortoise is a keystone species, one who digs many burrows that she abandons regularly, and in this way she shares or provides shelters for more than 350 other species. What a heart! I love this creature.

 

 

 

Tortoise1Painting

 

Tortoise Woman #1

52" x 39", acrylic on canvas, wood, 2012

 

 

 

PeregrinePainting

 

Ms. Peregrine Falcon

51" x 27", acrylic on heavy canvas, curtain rod, 2012

 

I consider this a very interesting piece for the following reasons: I did not like the painting once it was completed and I knew I could do nothing more with it. Because of storage problems in my home, I decided to hang the narrow piece in a thin space of wall across from my bed. When resting, I would gaze at the piece and in this way I grew to love it. I know this sounds strange and I concede that it is! (Something in the order of an arranged marriage where the partners grow to love each other, despite their initial emotional detachment). However, the beauty in the piece comes from the agile pose of the Falcon and the way it always seems to be staring at the viewer, even when you shift your position. Now, this sounds like those silly portrait paintings in movies, with the eye balls cut out, and real eyes looking through, but of course, it is different. The Falcon's stance and glare is so commanding and fierce that I now find the piece comforting, like a guardian that spurs me on to a more courageous engagement with life. This piece was inspired by a viewing of a Peregine on a powerline, as portrayed. She swayed a bit, using her tail to maintain her balance. I tried to capture that motion with three phantom tails faintly painted in the foreground.

 

 

 

PossibilityManPainting

 

Possibility Man

34" x 32", acrylic on canvas, 2012

 

 

 

This was one of the first paintings my friend and mentor Bill Moll influenced. He said "stop, it is done". I was incredulous but I listened. A week later, I agreed with him. William Moll was a great teacher at Oakton Community College. He retired in 2014. He was one of those rare instructors that never flaunted or bragged about his artistic genius. He had the ability to gaze at any piece of unfinished art work and after a few minutes, he would explain how the piece could be resolved in the most advantageous way. Bill's painting class at the Skokie campus had about 8 regular students who faithfully signed up for his instruction for many many years (20 perhaps?). He also had several new "young" students every semester. By the end of that grading period, the young ones were skilled at creating very beautiful paintings. His style of teaching was gentle and effective, bringing out the best in the beginner as well as the advanced painter. Bill and I traded artwork and this was one that he acquired for his vast collection. I am very proud and thankful to be a part of his treasure. Thank you, Bill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BirdbathPainting

 

Into the Birdbath

66" x 68", acrylic on medium weight canvas, curtain rods, 2012

 

What you have here is a painting based upon my ceramic birdbath, an essential feature of my backyard, especially if I find myself in a big city. Summertime in the hot fetid metropolis is a place where concrete towers soak up the sun the way that bricks around a fireplace store up heat. This leaves birds with paltry water reserves, especially on a so called "Ozone Action Day". And even when the weather is fair, a lack of water for our featherd friends is always a danger. What one does not realize is that many insects also visit the city watering hole. In this painting I have featured a chimerical bird man beside the masks of hornets who are as plentiful in my backyard birdbath as the birds. Squirrels, racoons, skunks, possom, and others (rats?) benefit from a source of water, but be warned, once you start this offering to the wild, the wild will expect it in a habitual way, and if you forget, or the bath gets upset and turned over, all will suffer.

 

 

 

AfterPartyPainting

 

 

Ms. After Party

51" x 31", acrylic on heavy canvas, curtain rod, 2012

 

I took a walk through my neighborhood Nature Center, Emily Oaks, in Skokie, Illinois. Usually a serene experience, I was chagrinned to spy many anomolies on this waning summer day. Behold, an icecream cone tossed into the pond, the cream dissolving to leave colorful sprinkles floating on the surface. Fish and turtles take turns stabbing at the deteriorating mass of sugar. Balloons set free, find a resting place on the surface of the water while bright orange cheese curls bob like little boats before the foraging residents. Nibble, nibble, nibble, spit, spit, spit, (the wild creatures are curious and always hungry but, ultimately, this sort of food is rejected). The pond, a voluptuous feminine refuge, is a little patch of wild in Skokie. As such, it will rebound in the cool of night, washing away the decadence of the party, after the party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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