Last night, Christmas Eve, my partner Joe made us a wonderful dinner with Mussels and Duck. It was finger licking delicious. Normally I would prepare a nice hot chocolate after dinner, but we were so full and the evening was warm. Yes another warm Christmas in Miami. Unlike most of the United States and Europe there is no snow here nor blizzards. And even though it was too warm for hot chocolate, I feel blessed that I do not have to go out and endure freezing temperatures.
But for all you who are surrounded by snow or who just love a great hot chocolate, here is a recepy for a very rich hot chocolate:
Serves eight to 10. 550g dark bitter chocolate, chopped into small pieces 500 whipping cream 1 litre whole milk 60ml dark rum Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a saucepan, boil the cream and milk, pour over the chocolate and stir to melt. Mix in the rum and serve.
Here are some of the paintings that will be for sale at the Holiday Art Bazaar on December 5, 2009.
Besides the above paintings from the series "Fresh from the Fridge", I will put several nudes for sale.
10% of my sales I will donate to the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station. This is a wonderful organisation dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife in and around Miami's Biscayne Bay. I have visited their facility several times and I have seen the great work they do. (http://www.pelicanharbor.bizland.com/)
So if you are in the neighbourhood and feel like doing a bit of artistic Holiday shopping and at the same support a great cause, please come to see and buy my work at the
Holiday Art Bazaar Exclusive, One Night Only, Meet the Artists, Buy Art! Type: Music/Arts - Exhibit Network: Global Date: Saturday, December 5, 2009 Time: 6:00pm - 9:00pm Location: The Mutiny Hotel, 2951 South Bayshore Drive, Coconut Grove, FL 33133
The Swine Flu is the topic in the News as well as on the minds of many parents. It is a killer flu, as the news makes us believe, killing children and elderly people. Capable of wiping out whole villages.
Remember the Bird Flu a few years back... another killer flu. The only thing that really spread around the world was fear, not the Bird Flu. But the fear was justified as we were told that this was a killer flu.
Isn't that the case of every Flue? A "regular" flu kills about 400.000 people per year. So far the Swine flu killed about 8,000 worldwide. To create the vaccine for this killer flu, the actual cost is about the same as the creation for a "regular" vaccine, but people are asked to pay almost twice as much.
I will not deny the possibility that this Flu can spread around the world in the next few weeks/months and kill many more. But that is what happening every year during Flu season. I am not an advocate of denial but some skepticism is always healthy.
Let's be honest, the best way to prevent any flu is to take good care of yourself and your family with healthy well balanced food, washing hands and other sane measurements that you can apply without a 40 dollar vaccine.
But don't take my word for it. Do your own research, find the facts and make up your own mind. Use a little skepticism until the Pigs really can fly.
I go downtown to the Government Center Metro rail Station at least twice a week. There is a square in front of the building that I have to cross from the Bus stop to get into the Station.
Like many squares it is always filled with all sorts of people. You can see the homeless gathering there on the outside of the square. The religious ones, who try to convert you to whatever they believe in, stay close to the stairs and escalators to catch as many souls as they can.
You also see the occasional security guard in their "golf" carts being present, the cleaning people cleaning all around and people running towards the metro they have to catch.
And then there are the vendors, little tables with fruits and vegetables, home-made jewelry from China, and water bottles.
Monday morning I was crossing the square on my way to the entrance when a vendor on my right sneezed really loud. So loud that it made me look at him. And there he was, trying to hold his saggy pants up that obviously dropped because of the sneeze.
He squatted a little to stop his pants from totally falling down, kept the front up with the tips of his fingers and I realized that he had sneezed into his hands and he was holding his pants up with snotty hands while trying to keep them dry.
I know it is not nice but I was laughing my head off.
Yesterday I passed him again and I noticed that he was wearing the same pants but this time with a belt.
I started my first painting of a new series. No more fruits and vegetables but back to the nudes. Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of fun while painting the series "Fresh from the Fridge" but now I started "Balance".
My idea's for paintings come at unexpected times and places; never when I am in the shower. A few weeks ago I went with the bus to downtown Miami when an older man entered the bus. He could not walk well but he was a true acrobat getting thru the bus to the back using the poles en those leather loops (that you can hang on to while standing). I was looking at him and how smoothly he went across the bus and then this painting popped up in my head, and then another and another. I opened my little notebook and started sketching.
I don't know how I get from an older man on the bus to nudes in a painting, it is just how my imagination works.
In a previous blog I mentioned the fact that I was going to have a exposition in a restaurant in Coconut Grove in Florida. That was suppose to be in June. Luckily, and I mean that, I was given some more time to be able to create work that is up to par to what I want to show.
I am not the kind of artist that produces a painting per day like your average Plein-Air painter who is forced to paint this fast because of the limited time Mother Nature gives him/her to work on a painting.
Normally I set up a painting quite quickly and with set-up I mean the initial sketch on canvas and the underpainting in two or three colours. I use underpainting because in this way I can block the larger schapes on the canvas without "losing" myself into details at this stage. Also because the colours in the underpainting will deepen the final colours. Nothing is definite in this stage, as I start to observe it. Is the composition the way I want it to be, do I need to change or add anything to make it "work"? In this phase of my work it is very easy to change anything if I want to.
My next step is to work on the background and a little bit on the subject itself. Again I will not go into the fine details but I work on the colours and shapes. I work on the balance between the background and the subject . The background is very important to me because I want the background to enhance the subject - no matter if it is a nude or a pair of apples - not to overpower the subject neither to just let it be a colourfull filler of canvas. This is the part where I look at my painting for hours at a time without actual painting. This frustrates my partner a lot as to him I am doing nothing and often he remarks: "I thought you were going to paint today..." "I am." is my reply and I see him thinking "Whatever, next time I will stare at the dishes and tell you that I am cleaning them."
In the third stage I am working on the little details and finalizing the painting.
So what are we talking about time wise? I normally work about 2 to 3 weeks on a painting (which includes drying time as I work with oils). Because I know that it takes me time, I usually work at two paintings at the time - not more because of limited space.
And sometimes ... I paint one in a day, from start to finish, like I did yesterday. In less then 8 hours from start to finish I painted Pullo, my red cat, out on the porch.
Just to contradict everything I said before. Oh well, that is life!
Last night was the festive opening of the Summer Salon Exhibition at the Windisch-Hunt Gallery in Coconut Grove, Florida. It was a very special evening full of different forms of art... not just paintings but also poetry from Jerry Wade and Jonathan Rose, life music by Zip Robertson and a fashion show with Handbags from Debra Cortese and Ceramic Jewelry by Jennifer Trujillo.
A portion of ALL sales from this show will be donated to NEAT STUFF (http://www.neatstuffhelpskids.org/). This is a non-profit organization that provides free brand new clothing, shoes, accessories and gifts to meet some of the basic needs of abused, neglected and other children in distress, allowing them to dress with pride and dignity, inspiring their self worth.
It is a wonderful show and more so because the body of work within the Summer Salon is so diverse and covers a wide range of styles and subjects. Yet our curator, Cucui Beguiristain, managed together with Annamaria Windisch-Hunt to make it all coherent.
The Summer Salon is showing untill the end of June and worth a visit.
I submitted three paintings for this show :
"After Ten", Oils and Acrylics on canvas, 10" x 14"
Some people were wondering who my model was for this painting....
"Getting Ready", Oils on Canvas, 12" x 12"
"A Last Look", Oils on Canvas, 10" x 14"
But now a more personal note...
I always get nervous before an opening and this evening was no exception. I guess this is my version of stage fright, not that I am afraid to forget which painting is mine - like actors are afraid to forget their lines, but the knot in my stomach feels just as real.
But I had wonderful support from my partner (he is truly the wind beneath my wings), my friends and everybody else. And with such support the knot shrinks quickly enough for me to enjoy every bit of the evening.
When I knew I would have a solo at the Focaccia Rustica in Coconut Grove, I also realised that this would not be the place to hang nudes. It is after all a family restaurant. And this implied that I had to come up with a new body of work. To be honest, I went blank at first. For days I stared at two empty canvases and all that came to mind were nudes.
One afternoon my partner asked me why I didn't start painting and I replied: " Paint what? I have no other subject on my mind than nudes."
He suggested to go out and look around the house, to see if anything would inspire me. But Iam not a plein air artist - ok, I never tried it and the large amount of hungry, bloodsucking mosquitoes outside doesn't make it very inviting for me to try a landscape out there.
Then he said to me: "Why don't you look in the kitchen, maybe there is something in there that will give you ideas."
And so I did, not that I am normally so obedient, but I was blank and he tried to help me. I opened the fridge... nothing yet, no celestial flash of inspiration. Then I opened the vegetable drawer in the fridge and I saw a variety of fruits and vegetables, each with their own colours and shapes... and there it was... my source of inspiration: Fresh from the Fridge.
I know it will be a great show, ....if I can save my models from being eaten.
Last week I finished this oil painting. Actually the female nude is done in oils and the background is mostly done in acrylics.
It is not a massive painting, not by the subject and certainly not by size (10" x 10" - 25 cm x 25 cm).
Alas this photo does not show how beautifully the golden background and all the other colours highlight the female nude.
So here it is... a confession! I am not good at taking great shots of my own paintings and it frustrates me. Ok, my little digital camera - which is older than 5 years - might be partly to blame, but I know somebody who takes wonderful shots no matter what camera is in his hands.
I am able to take some wonderful shots of other subjects, just not of my paintings.
And that is one of the reasons why I keep my "focus" on painting!
As I said in my previous blog, I would make two new envelopes to replace the one that was stolen from the display at the gallery.
And so I did...
The one on the left I did in soft pastels and I was inspired by a work from Degas... but his work was a naked woman and because I wanted to send it by snail mail (with a post stamp by USPS) I changed the figure into a ballerina (and I love ballet).
Now I will keep my fingers crossed to see if it will arrive at the gallery and in what shape....
The one on the right, I made on Saturday. I was going to the gallery anyway, so I thought I could take it with me. It is finished, it is dry.. (acrylics dry fast).
I put it in my handbag close the zipper in one swift movement and I see a piece of the envelope sticking out between the teeth (do you call it teeth?) of the zipper...
They say that Dutch people are known to be calm under stressfull circumstances... well, there was nothing Dutch about me when that happened.
Picture this.. Me jumping around him while my partner is trying - very patiently - to release the envelope from the zipper without too much damage and he did. And of course this all happened minutes before we had to leave had go to the gallery.
I decided not to take it with me as it was somewhat wrinkled, but two days of rest did the envelope good and I am pleased to let you know that I will release it from my care this week.
So to make a long story short.... No thief nor handbag can stop me!
About a month ago an Art Gallery in Coconut Grove, FL made a call to artists to send in their Mail art. Mail art, for those who do not exactly know what this is, is art created on an envelope or a handmade postcard. It can be anything, drawing, painting, mixed techniques, stamps, prints... you name it.. all is possible. But it have to be send in by mail with a post stamp
I participated and send in this little jewel.
Today I went to the same gallery to hand in a painting for a new exposition that will start with a nice opening on Saturday April 4th. While I was there the owner came up to me and told me that my envelope was stolen from the display.
I went over to the display... checked every envelope - believe me there are a lot - and while I was searching the whole display I could not believe it....
Mail art may not look like much to some people, but an artist put time and effort into it and it is work on display! Somebody walked in and grabbed it... yeah, it is gone.
I will make a new one.... darn, I will make even two new ones! And although I am upset with the person who stole my mail art, I have to admit...
I make ATC's, which stands for "Artist Trading Cards".
They are miniature works of art created on 2 ½ x 3 ½ inch card stock. They are originals, small editions and, most importantly, self-produced. The concept of ATC is the person-to-person trade, as well as trading by mail. The basic idea is the card-for-card trade between artists and not to sell the card to another artist.
On the other hand are the ACEO's, which stands for "Art Cards, Editions and Originals". These are for sale. The reason for this is, of course, that ATC's are made to be traded!
But while artists were happily trading cards, the general public was left out in the cold, having no Art Cards to trade. A group of artists realized this, and quickly made their cards available for sale at remarkably low prices so that everyone could join in the fun! They became highly appreciated collectables.
So every time I create an ATC, I ask my self the question: do I want to trade or sell...? The latter turns an ATC into an ACEO... Don't forget the concept of the one is the opposite of the concept of the other...
This could turn into a dilemma!
But you know what... I have so much fun in creating the ATC's.... I think that is more important and not what label I or anybody else want to stick to it....