Friday, June 28, 2013

"At The Ball Game" Found A Great Home For Sports Fans

 Hello folks!
My painting "At The Ball Game" was purchased by the Green Diamond Gallery in Ohio!
 Green Diamond Gallery is a private baseball museum located in the heart of downtown Montgomery, OH. It has one of the greatest collections of baseball memorabilia outside of Cooperstown. Here is a Youtube video someone posted on them a from 2010. My painting is not in the video, they only bought it this week.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Rainy Days And Mondays

What I've got they used to call the blues
Nothin' is really wrong
Feelin' like I don't belong
Walkin' around, some kind of lonely clown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

Some of you know the song, some don't. Some of you are smiling because you can instantly relate, others are puzzled as to why I am posting this. I am posting this because sometimes trying to do something you love for a living can make you feel this way. I freely admit that I feel this way sometimes. I also freely admit that I love the Carpenters...and I am straight, have a girlfriend, mentioned her here before... still love the Carpenters.

I think the verse of that song is often overlooked today. We prescribe drugs, recommend therapy, self help books, and gurus, all to combat something which very often is nothing more than the blues.

I am not a doctor and certainly don't want to preach but I do like to share. Here are ten things I have noticed recently that bring me down, and how I have dealt with them. This is not a one way conversation and I hope some of you reading this will share your experiences as well.

10. Facebook - I have GREATLY reduced the amount of time I spend on Facebook. I miss conversations with about ten to twenty people but unfortunately, the other thousand or so friends of mine were posting things that were bringing me down. They were not doing it deliberately, I just don't always need to see or know what every other artist in the country is up to, what shows they got into, and how many paintings they sold. I'm not against them posting it, I do it too. It's part of the business, and I'm sure I'll be back. I just needed a break from it. I have been spending more time posting on my "fan page" because other peoples posts don't show up on the side. I function very well in my own world. I need to stay there, however I do invite anyone to stop by.

9. Don't Skip The Workout - I do the 10 minute workout or go for a walk after I wake up and then start working. I go for a walk on the beach at least three times a week, It's a great way to start the day and I notice that I paint better on those days.

8. Don't Get Mad At The Work Or Yourself - Develop a checklist as to what you expect from what you are doing and be able to accurately determine whether it is good or bad. Recognize why it is bad and fix it. This may seem like a simple rule but without the ability to determine what is wrong with your own work you will never get better. Getting mad, throwing things around, crying hysterically when a painting isn't going well*, will get you nowhere. Be calm, figure it out, keep going.

*That one was for the ladies reading this. Men - if you have ever cried hysterically because a painting wasn't going well you need to watch a few movies. The Magnificent Seven, Oceans 11, anything with Steve McQueen, Jimmy Stewart, Sean Connery, or Frank Sinatra. Also Clive Owen is modern day cool. If you are a man who has ever had on a pair of skinny jeans I would suggest watching these movies as well.

7. Check email and social media after dinner, not in the morning. - If something online is going to upset me, the last time I want it to be is first thing in the morning. I like after dinner because just before bed is also a bad idea for the same reasons.

6. Be grateful for what you have already - I'm always grateful when I don't wake up with a sore throat. Having a sore throat is one of the worst non-serious things that can happen to a person. The funny thing is, that most people never think about them until they get one. Not me, I am grateful every morning that I wake up without one...Unless you happen to be bizarrely suffer from chronic sore throats, It will help you start your day off happy.

5. Don't say "good enough" - I think when people say "it's good enough" then you know it is not your best work. I am not saying that everything has to be the best in the world. I am saying to have a standard of quality you set for yourself and try not to fall below it. In fact, always trying to get better and better. I don't try to make my next painting the best one ever. I just try to make each one better then the one before. If I know I can make it better though, I do.

4. Do whatever it takes to make your work fun. - If it is not fun you will hate doing it. Sometimes when I go to a figure drawing class I am uninterested in the model. When that happens, I will do caricatures or slightly cartoon them. Sometimes I make up stories in my head about whatever it is I am working on. And sometimes I just need to paint something that excites me even if I don't think it will sell.

3. Don't compare yourself to other painters. - It is so easy to go to Ebay or Daily Paint Works and say "What!!  That thing is at $300.00. WHY!!!!???? Just try not to look. If someone is selling well, it has nothing to do with you. Only two things can happen from you looking. One, you will feel bad if you are not selling as well, you may even get angry if you think your work is better. The other thing is that you may be tempted to copy some element of what they are doing, which is even worse. Stay on track, keep your thing going, (or invent your own thing) whatever it is, and make it happen. Other people have no place in your work. - Except to buy it.

2. Don't get mad at Ebay or auction sites - This is a big one because it is easy to fall into. Let me give you an example. You have a painting on ebay that is one of your better paintings. It has been up for the asking price of $49.00 and it has no bids. Suddenly it gets a bid in the last ten seconds, and sells for $49.00. You are fuming!!!! On Ebay it is called "sniping" If the painting had that bid in the first ten seconds maybe it would have created some interest and had a chance to sell for more money. Instead, someone hid there interest just to get that painting for the best price they could, which is crippling to you... and it happens all of the time. Don't get mad, after all you posted your work there. Be grateful it sold at all. On the other hand, I don't think that many people realize that the great deal they just got is killing you. It also hurts them. In order for the painting they just bought to go up in value, people need to know who you are. I could and will, make a separate blog post on this at some point.

1. Never let anyone, ever, tell you you can't. - (If you are a reasonable person that is)  If you are trying to date Jennifer Anniston and you are a 300lb software programmer in a torn Star Wars T-Shirt, your chances are slim. But if your goal is realistic, or even slightly realistic. Don't let anyone stop you...actually, if you are a 300lb software programmer looking for Jennifer Anniston, give it a shot, hey you never know. Surround yourself with people who support what you do and encourage you. If I hear "you can't, I can't, he, she, or it can't", I walk away. Tell me how you can, never why you can't.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Variety Of Pears

I was really happy with the way the apples turned out against the dark background. Pears really aren't in season I am told, and so the market didn't have quite the selection they said they would have in a few months. I am planning on doing a few more like this, same size, 10 x 20, with a dark background.
Peaches, grapes, and oranges, and watermelon could be in the near future. I am also thinking mushrooms would look good against the dark background as well...I am also taking requests on these, but I will ask that you do not request an item unless you are considering bidding on it. 

When I took the photo of this set-up, the painting was finished, which means that the pears had been sitting out for over a week. Normally I take a picture of the set-up during the drawing stage that way the fruit looks the same in the photo as it does in the painting. As I look at this now, I almost wish I had started a second painting from the same pears. I like how they have turned different colors as they have rotted. Oh well, next time.

"A Variety Of Pears" 10 x 20 Oil on Panel

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Wave XII

This has been the hardest wave painting I have done so far. All of the really bright green and blues, and the subtle shifts in value were difficult to paint. There are things I really like about it and other things I think have room for improvement. I like the feel of the piece and the color. I think the paint could have been applied more deliberately...I think I will try this one again.

6 x 8 Oil on Panel
It's up for auction


Monday, June 17, 2013

That Jerk On Facebook Who Ruined Your Day

It's a random Tuesday morning. You've got your cup of coffee, feeling pretty good about the world. Maybe check a few emails and then start painting. You respond to a couple of people, go to FB, hit the "like" button on a few things just to let some friends know you saw it, and have a look to see if the painting you posted the night before has any comments on it. Wow! It has 24 comments!! "Great Work, "love it, nice job, how much for this one", etc and then all of a sudden you see "I don't know what all the people above me are raving about, I think this painting sucks" - and WHAM, there goes the whole day.

I made this story up, but how many times have you seen this happen: someone posts something, and someone else makes a comment that is clearly innocent or meant to be funny, and then a third party jumps down their throat over it. Or worse, you post a great Macaroni and Cheese recipe and someone posts:

 "Obama is the reason I can't eat it anymore! Damn Liberals ruined Mac and Cheese!"
 ...and your thinking, ok, thank you mister nut-job.

 Go to any news website and just read the comments below a story. It is really unbelievable.

If your anything like me, this will make you want to stay off of Facebook completely, and I did recently for about two weeks. And then I remembered something from years ago...

My fathers best friend, who I call "Uncle" to this day, owns  a bar I started working in when I was thirteen or fourteen years old. Over the next fifteen years I worked in all sorts of bars and restaurants. I bartended, cooked, waited tables, worked the door, parked cars once or twice, and was a bouncer for a summer. I think I have done every job in a restaurant you can do. Bartending was my favorite and I stuck with that until after I graduated from art school. I have bartended in at least five places in three different states.

When you work in bars and restaurants you meet ALL types of people. If you stay in the job long enough, you are going to get into a fight. I have seen and been in, quite a few fights. I never started any of them, it's just part of the job. Most of the time we were just trying to get people outside the place for insurance reasons, but you can still get hit trying. While working at these places have met a lot of tough guys. Really tough guys.Most of the toughest, you would never guess it by looking at them. Some were professional, polite, good tippers, others - not so much, it varies. But they all had one thing in common. Tough guys are not big on talk. I have never met a tough guy who opened a fight with "I'm gonna kick your @&$!" In fact, the big mouth in a bar, is almost never a tough guy, usually the opposite. I'm sure there is an exception, but I've never seen it.

I would bet alot of money, that no real tough guy, has ever insulted anyone on Facebook. it's not a tough guy thing to do. Could you see Sinatra telling someone off on FB?...actually, could you see Sinatra posting on FB at all? How about a mobster. Do you know what you would call if it they posted "your dead" on someone's FB page and then killed them? That would be called "evidence".
Most smart "tough guys" try to avoid leaving evidence.  Because I like old movies, I use Jimmy Stewart as an example of strong, but honest and fair at the same time. Stewart wasn't just an actor, he was also a Brigadier General, many people don't know that. Very often when faced with a situation that requires "delicate handling", I think to myself "What would Jimmy Stewart do?"
Mostly it comes down to a few things that are supposed to be learned in Kindergarten. Don't raise your voice, respect your elders, and treat people the way you would like to be treated yourself. So to anyone who has ever been, slighted, attacked, or insulted online - just smile and know that in real life, the person attacking you is most likely a door-mat for pretty much everyone they know, and taking it out on you...

Happy Posting!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Yellow Pomegranate and Cherries


This painting is definitely one I will remember! I knew the yellow pomegranate would be fun to paint as soon as I saw it. I figured it would go well with cherries.When cherries are in season - everything goes with cherries. I began the painting as usual on the first sitting. On the second day, I put my standard background on. I didn't like it. It didn't make the orange pop enough. i thought about just leaving it alone because I was already at the six hour time limit, and when they go over it, it gets expensive. I decided the painting was more important than sticking to the time limit.

I carefully wiped the background off, and put a second one on. Still no good! I did that five times before I came up with the one in the picture. The painting took far longer then six hours but I think it was worth it, the greenish color really makes the orange pop out.

6 x 8 Oil on Panel

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Free Minnie For "Joining" This Blog!!

For the first year that this Blog was up, I thought I was talking to myself here. I think the free book helped change that. The book had over 10,000 views in the first week. Since I originally posted this, A winner has been named, but I have decided to leave it up because I am going to do it again next year!

I know I have many more watchers then that because most people I know personally, are watching privately.  I don't understand why watching a blog is a big secret when some of these people post things on Facebook I wouldn't tell a priest. If I like a blog, I'm OK with people knowing it. I would say that almost no one even looks at who is following a blog if the number is over 50. If a blog has 13 watchers, maybe then you'll have a peek, but some blogs with 3,000 followers, I doubt very many people are sitting there saying:

"What!!!! Steve is following the Hot Dog Blog, he said he never eats meat!" 

I really doubt that happens much. 

My point is, I have decided to have some fun and try to get a few more people to follow publicly! In September of each year, I will randomly pick the name of someone who is following this blog publicly and they will get a free 6 x 8 Minnie! - based on the images below.  

Click "Join This Site" to the right and then click "Follow Publicly". That's all there is too it to enter!

I want to keep this simple. I am going to write down the names of everyone publicly watching on a piece of paper and pull one out of a hat. Yeah, old school, I like that. On Sunday the 15th of September, I will post the winners name on this blog. They will have one week to contact me. If I don't hear from them by the following Sunday, I will pick another name out of the hat.

The painting will be a commission based on the images above. I am giving away one 6 x 8 Minnie fruit or vegetable still-life of something similar to what I normally do.  I'm trying to do something fun for everyone who likes my work. All I ask is that the winner not take advantage. Be reasonable. For example, don't ask me to paint a pile of shredded cheese next to a statue of a small wooden Indian.
If you absolutely have to have that painted, I would love to, as a separate paid commission. 

(No: Eggshells, Baseballs, Toys, Metal, etc) Fruit and vegetables only with a simple background.

Winner will have to pay $10.00 for shipping to the USA or whatever International Shipping rates that apply.


Thursday, June 13, 2013


Wave XIII. I can't believe I'm only on number thirteen. It seems weird to be so new at something.
I have painted hundreds, maybe over a thousand still-life paintings, and definitely hundreds of portraits. More figure drawings then I could add up. To be on number thirteen is a strange feeling.
I always feel like I am learning, even with a new still-life, I try to do something I have never done before, but with these waves I learn many things all at once each time I make one.

This one is my favorite so far. It's probably not the best one of the series, but The shadow under the crest is much more difficult to paint then it might look. Well, at least it was for me.

I think I will keep this one for a while, and not sell it. It's a 6 x 8 Oil on Panel. June 2013

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Mangos And Coconut


Growing up in NJ I never remember eating too many Mangos as a kid. Down here in Florida, they are everywhere. My Next door neighbor has a mango tree. When they are in season, I get to eat as many as I want. As far as painting them goes, I love how they start out green and get more and more red in them.

6 x 8 Oil On Panel

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Curtain Call Paintings

Recently someone sent me an email saying that my work reminded them of another painter who was lining up objects all in a row similar to mine. I thought it was a good time to post them all going back to number one, painted in November 2005.

Curtain Call XIV 2009
When I started this series in 2005 I heavily researched it to make sure no one else had lined up fruits and vegetables like this. I checked art books and Google and found nothing. Bottles of alcohol lined up, sure, but nothing like these. I googled, paintings lined up in a row, horizontal still -life, 12 x 40,
Long fruit and vegetable paintings, etc.

Curtain Call XIII 2009
I try really hard never to deliberately copy a painting I have already seen. What I found when I went to their site was that all of their work was done recently. Not a single painting from before 2011! I told the person who mentioned it to me that actually my series was older and most likely they saw my work and not the other way around. I was told "Oh, don't be upset and jealous now" - Thankfully they were not standing near a flight of stairs.

Curtain Call XII 2009
I came up with the idea because I really hated still-life paintings. I found them contrived and boring.
In order to keep my own interest, I decided to pretend they were characters on a stage taking a bow,
after the painting had been completed. Originally I was calling them Long Vegetable Still-life, but then an actress friend of mine heard the point and said, that's called a curtain call. So, I titled it Curtain Call - again I thought it was an original idea.

Curtain Call XI 2008

Number one and number two were part of my first solo exhibition in Arizona in 2006.
They were the first two paintings to sell out of that show. I thought, hey, I must be on to something here.

Curtain Call XV 2008
When they sold, the gallery owner asked if I could paint two more. I always do two at a time with a similar feel but different objects. People seem to like to buy them together.

Curtain Call XV 2007
When I see that another painter has done something, I try to stay away, not from the subject but at least from the layout and or composition. Especially if it is a teacher of mine. For example, I will never paint NY Subway scenes, Daniel Greene has done it. Out of respect for him I will never do it. And yet, another student of Dan's is copying him to the point that the work looks identical. Makes me sick, I met him once, I can't look at him...

Curtain Call VIII 2007
I know it is hard to separate from a student teacher influence but at least try! I know my drawings look like High Focus Drawings from the School of Visual Arts but I don't sit there and copy the book, I try to have my own take on it. When anyone asks, I tell them who my teachers were. I have a friend who asked if  he could do something similar to what I am doing, would I mind? He said he would give me credit o the work. Of course you can do that, I said!!! I was impressed that he offered credit without me having to mention it. In my book, I gave credit in the beginning to Daniel Greene and my drawing instructors. Most people just want a little credit.

Curtain Call VII 2007
When I decided to do wave paintings I googled it to see if anyone else was doing them.
Well, a few people were including one of my favorite painters, Daniel Adel. I was crushed. I didn't want anyone to think I was ripping off Daniel Adel, especially him! I friend of mine said, it's the ocean, a few people have painted it before, and you have your own look to your work. If anyone asks just give him credit for the influence. If you start painting engine parts and crumpled pieces of paper, then he might be pissed. I'd like to add that Daniel Adel's wave paintings are the best I have ever seen.

Curtain Call VI 2007

I am really sick of people thinking it's OK to help themselves to the art world like it's the buffet table at Red Lobster and no one is looking. Art, to me, is about having your own opinions. Not copying something because it sold.
Right now, as soon as something sells, there are a dozen people lined up saying - "oh, that sold for how much? I better make one too!"

Curtain Call V 2007
I don't even like copying myself because something sold...but I have no choice. The market is set up so that many painters, who have no other means of income, have to paint constantly, and sell for far less then they are worth just to pay the bills.

This post may sound like I only want to be around people who agree with me, which is common. Actually, the opposite is true! I want to be around people who aren't like me, who don't even agree with me, but do the best they can do.
I like people who have their own ideas, and present them in an intelligent way. Unfortunaltely many of those people are afraid to open their mouths in public. I get that. Hey, do you feel that way?
Are you reading this and thinking, "I wish I could say what I was thinking most of the time"... - go add me as a friend on Facebook, I 'd be happy to call you friend..

Curtain Call V 2007
It is hard to come up with an original idea when you are trying to make five, ten, twenty, or even one painting a week. I get that. It is the reason i turn them into characters. I figure If I paint what is DIFFERENT about an apple, rather then what is the same. I can line up twenty apples in twenty paintings and they all will be different. Sometimes I see a painting of fruit all lined up, and it is the same apple over and over. I think, great, not only did they swipe my idea, they missed the point too.

Curtain Call III 2006
I also never understood the idea of working in someone else's style. This is big in illustration. Painters are recognized by style, before name in many cases. Stealing a style, is like stealing a name or a credit card. It's like wearing someone's underwear. Hey, get your own, I'm using mine!!

Curtain Call II 2005
Back to the original point - This was number two. As I said, painted in 2005!
This is the first time I have lined them up all in the same place.
I was really amazed at how much I have improved of the years.

Curtain Call I 2005

Number one!! The first in the series. I had just started painting still-lifes when I did this but as I look at it I remember liking the flat onion as a character. The two pears slightly touching, etc.

Now, before someone sends me the angry email or posts a comment saying, my great grandpa did this exact type of painting in 1832...blah, blah, blah. I'm not saying it has never been done ever. I'm saying, if it has, I didn't see it. I do think it is possible for two people to come up with the same idea. I'm talking about the "cheats". The ones who see something and copy it, who go to a gallery and see a painting and think "I have to try that". That is not inspiration, it's theft. To deliberately paint something, because it sold, or because they liked it and wanted it for themselves.

For my friends who know and understand what I'm talking about - I know you are smiling too.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Wave XI


This one is a study for a larger painting I am working on.
6 x 8 Oil On Panel

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My Book Is Finished And Available For Download!

Hello Folks!

It is finally finished! I can't even believe how long it took to put together a twenty five page book.
The demo itself took far longer then six hours. Even though I timed the painting time to six hours,
when you add up all of the time added by getting up to take photos, it was more like ten hours.
Then all of the photos needed to be cropped, adjusted, and resized. Then the writing, and the editing...Oh boy, the editing...almost three full weeks to put together a twenty five page free book.

I hope everyone likes it!!!

Happy Painting,


Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Variety Of Apples

"A Variety Of Apples"
Private Collection - Palm Beach, FL

This is the first apple painting I have done with a dark background, well one this dark anyway.
The thing I like about painting apples is how different they are. I know I have said this before, but the reason I line them up is to emphasize the differences. I spend many hours at the market sifting through the apples looking for the most unique, oddly shaped apples I can find and then I put them next to regular apples so that the differences stand out. Notice the lean on the middle apple - I love that! The long stem on the apple second to the right is also something I was excited about in this painting.

Notice the difference in the above painting?
I very seldom make mistakes that are this big in a painting but since I did, I figured I would post about it. Originally in the set up I had two more bright yellow apples. They were so light that they were practically white. I found the contrast to be too much against the dark background, in fact it was hurting my eyes working on it. Even though I was reluctant to start over after having put so much work into it already, I knew the painting would be stronger. I always say "The more you don't want to make a change in your painting, The more important it is to make that change" i followed my own rule. I had really liked the big light one on the left. He was my big, white, dumb, slow moving, character, you know the one I mean, don't pretend you don't. Even though he didn't want to get painted he was a very tasty apple.
I think the painting is better off without him.

Above is a shot of the finished paintings and the apples on stage. I think it gives some perspective to see the apples next to the painting.