Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Got a e-mail yesterday from a friend that works at ArtsPartners ( a central Illinois agency to help promote art) with the heading "Must". The e-mail, written by a Doctor of Psychology went into depth about the different needs that a person encounters through life. He likened it to rungs of a ladder. the first are the basic needs - air, food, water, shelter. Then comes others like - transportation, occupation, and so on. At the top of his ladder is the rung of destiny, what is your purpose on the planet. For artists it is a "must" - paint, create, sculpt, weave, whatever our media we must do it.
The e-mail was good but the rung was too high, speaking as an artist, I "must" express the creative side or risk falling into melancholy. I think for non-artists the rung must be higher to purchase art. Don't get me wrong I would paint for nothing ( but don't tell anyone) , but the simple fact that even art supplies cost money makes it necessary to sell our work. People who buy art must be in a position to have all the lowers needs met. ( Your not going to but a vase for flowers if you don't have anything to eat) I not so sure about the artists though, it seems that the ones that are striving to attain some greater plateau , hunger after acceptance are the artists that achieve greatness. What kind of paintings would Van Gogh have created if he had not lived such a turbulent life.
So artists "must" .

Monday, November 26, 2007

Great Thanksgiving Weekend
Took a long break from work to spend time with the family over the holiday. Charlie, our oldest daughter, came home from Des Moines. Visited with many friends and relatives, ate lots of food, played board games with the family, and generally recharged the batteries.
I did manage to redo the lamp shade of the "Leg Lamp" and get it erected in the front lawn, but that was about the extent of "work" that was done this weekend.
I now need to focus in on things that need to be finished for the start of the holidays. The Bohemian Christmas Show that is going to be the whole month of December. Also I really need to get a display put together for the Clubs at Rivercity to display the ballpark prints. I have some brochures put together and just need to get a stand up sign and some of them framed for the lobby.
Have finished 60% of the detailed portion of "Grill House" the Coney Island scene I'm currently not working on enough.
I will try to get a photo of the "Leg" up on the blog site soon. I don't expect as much buzz about it as last year. Since now it's old news in the area. But then you never know who may find it new and exciting. It is really easy to give directions to my house again, just turn down the road and drive till you see a 14 foot leg lamp.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Weekend Update

Not much painting took place, the new lampshade took center stage. With, what seems to me, the early arrival of Thanksgiving, focus has to be on getting the "Leg Lamp" back in good order for the holidays.
The Woman also decided that I needed to finish some home repairs, as attention would be drawn to the front of our house. For those of you that don't know, the front of our house has a "faux porch". When we moved in it was very plain looking and needed some type of architectural feature as a focal point. We decided on a non-functional 25' wide porch. We went and got city permits for a "faux porch" and for the most part it is like any other porch except the door is just screwed into the wall. May times over the years has unsuspecting people came up to the door and left packages - tried to deliver pizzas - our to visit, only to find no doorknob. We had removed the soffit when we installed the new roof last year, so we could cut vents for the attic and it needed to be replaced. I was reluctant but The Woman convinced me that I really needed to address the problem, and like always The Woman was right.
Also worked on scanning old photos for a gift for my Mother for Christmas. Last December I purchased lots of equipment for my studio... computer, printer, camera, and software. One of the cool things was the Sony Vegas Movie Maker Software. Really haven't worked with it too much but found that it was really easy to load the photos, add titles, and special fade affects. Hope to figure out how to add music.
My sisters are always trying to out cheap everyone at Christmas this will be great, I can get my Mother this frame loaded with all her old photos set to music, and she can see them anytime she wants. For my sisters I can just burn a DVD of the same thing and they will have a meaningful gift - for the price of a blank disc - try to out cheap that.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday Already !!!

I just looked at my desk planner and it's Thursday, what happened to the first part of the week. I did manage to start " Grill House" the scene at Coney Island on Monday. I also managed to get a good shot of "Yankee Stadium" and get an artist proof out as well.
Tonight the Bohemians are meeting at the Rhythm Kitchen to pass out postcards for our Christmas Show that is coming up fast. Next week it will be Thanksgiving, my fourth favorite holiday. ( The list goes - Fourth of July - Memorial Day - Labor Day - Thanksgiving - etc. ) I personally like holidays that buying things and visiting people aren't a part of the celebration. At least we get a four day break for Thanksgiving.
Picked up supplies for the new lampshade for the "Leg Lamp" last night, so far my holiday decorating expenses are $20.00. I still have to spend some time putting it together, but the buzz is already starting. Even The Woman is excited about its arrival. OK maybe I'm exaggerating, but at least she said she would help.
Another quest that I have been working on is the scanning of photos pirated out of my Mother's house. I want to put them on a digital frame so she can have them visible - instead of in some box in her basement. This is harder than I thought it would be, not just because of the scanning but the total disarray that is my Mother's photo storage. A big sea trunk filled with small boxes. What ever happened to scrap books and photo albums? Oh well if I can get it done it will be a goo gift for someone that I never know what to give.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Yankee Stadium is finished

This is the first photo, taken in my studio just as I put the paint brushes down. It is not the finished copy for printing, that will probably be shot tomorrow. Just thought I should at least get something up as soon as it was finished.

Friday, November 09, 2007


We set off to see the Cubs at Wrigley Field North, at the new stadium Miller Park. Miller park is, so far, my favorite stadium. The ease of parking ( 8.00 to park in secure lot with bands and tailgating galore - as opposed to 20.00 at U. S. Cellular in a location that I was grateful it wasn't a night game ), the wide sidewalks that glide you to the entrance, and the the amazing retractable roof stadium. The Brewers have a first class facility, although I have yet to start the painting. For some reason the Brewers don't have a large fan base yet, and since I primarily paint these to sell them --- let me think --- I'll paint others first.
The game was the great the lower bowl filled with Brewer fans the upper bowl filled with Cub fans. My brother-in-law, Mike Thompson, and his family had came to the game with us. Some venues are easier to get tickets to, there is no way to get eight tickets to some of the games, without going through some broker. Even though for some reason there are always guys standing outside stadiums with stacks of tickets for sale.
The grass is in on the Yankee Stadium painting and I should have it finished this weekend, barring some unforeseen delay in me getting into my studio to complete it. The only pressing thing that I have to do in the next few weeks is to replace the lamp shade on my Leg Lamp. For those of you who don't know, this will be the second year of my ultimate lawn decoration for the holidays. I put up a 14' Leg Lamp in my front lawn. Last year it caused quite a stir in it's debut, I made the local news and was picked up by the national UP feed and there were articles as far away as Pueblo Colorado. All under the heading of " Electric Sex" - an homage to the line from the movie "A Christmas Story" - Nothing says Christmas like the soft glow of electric sex .
But after a month out in the elements the lamp shade portion of the display was beyond repair and needs to be replaced, I am hoping the leg portion weathered the storage of the summer months. I have already been asked numerous times if it is going back up I have scores of people that wish to have photos taken with it. It was cool to see sometimes, three or four cars parked outside with families filing up to take there turn posing in front of the Leg.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Moving along

The outfield wall is in, sill have some sign work to finish. One of the major differences with ballparks, other than Wrigley Field, is the amount of advertising in the park. It seems that every square foot of open vertical space is covered with signs. They are interesting in themselves, W B Mason, UTZ Potato Chips, and Duane Ready. These are not names that midwesterners are too familiar with and all are totally absent in Wrigley Field. ( Except for the new Under Armor logos on the outfield doors ) All the advertising is outside the ballpark, the famous Budweiser red roof, and billboards on rooftops. But let us remember ( and blame) the gum giant for starting the craze of corporate naming of the ballparks. For now I am forced to name future paintings titles like "Petco Park" , "Minutemade Park", " Pac Bell Stadium", and "Coors Field".
We are constantly besieged on a daily basis with information ads, on the tube, in our cars, even on the web. So I might as well get used to the fact that they will also be in the paintings that I create. I will draw the line at some point, I will never paint Preparation H Park , hows that for a stand.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Seats are in

Last night finished the right field seating area at Yankee Stadium, tonight it is on to signs. Dare I think that I could be finished sometime this weekend? The time change is a good time for an artist, it is dark when you get home so you can do outdoor things, might as well paint. I'm down to the outfield wall, and the trademark white fence around the upper outfield wall.
I am unsure of my next painting, I have sketched out a panel that is a scene from Coney Island, but the area galleries are requesting more city images of Peoria. I also have Fenway Park ready in the wings, but I know that I will put that off for awhile. Two ballparks in a row would be a tough road. The ball sell well and people are eager to see them, although I don't find them as exciting as some of the other pieces.
I think I will follow my original plan and paint the Coney Island scene. It is of the boardwalk from inside an overhang, so I really like the dark foreground to the sunny shops in the center. It should be a visually stunning piece.
You can tell that my mind is already finished the ballpark and moving on, this a dangerous time, as I don't want to hurry through the remain areas of Yankee Stadium just to start something new.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Weekends are hectic

The weekend always offers the promise of more time to complete things that are needed to be done . These promised hopes are often fleeting, I did get the inground pool completely ready for winter. Antifreeze in the filter and all the return lines. Another goal was to attend a baseball card show in Peoria to see if my art would fit in to that type of venue. But between two get togethers , one with family , and the other a benefit that I had donated some prints for, Saturday was toast.

Sunday time change, the longest day of the year surly on could get some painting done. But after church it was off to the JFL banquet for a four hours of torture, just too finally receive a trophy. I did manage to slip into the card show on Sunday, and spoke to the organizer to request to added to the event next year. I hope that I will do well there as no one is doing anything like these and it is a targeted audience. Also the banquet wasn't a total bust either as I got a chance to see the new East Peoria Convention Center and to speak with the ex-mayor who asked me to be a volunteer member of the committee to plan events at that center. The one that I have been pushing for is an art show that would coincide with the East Peoria Festival of Lights. FOLIPE has been going on in East Peoria for many years and is a major draw for tourist to the area around the holidays. The parade of lighted floats starts the event off on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, then the floats are parked at locations throughout the city and lite until the weekend after New Year. Some 100,000 visitors from across the country come to take in the sights, shop, and of course visit the casino. It has been on the top 100 bus destinations for the last ten years. It would be a major art show because of that fact alone, hopefully it can be put in place by next season.

Tonight is the annual dinner of the Illinois Art League, an organization that is fastly loosing it's revalence in the local art community. Aging membership and replication of goals by more powerfully supported other arts groups have eroded its uniqueness. I am still a member and serve on the board, but without real and drastic changes in the leadership that too will be come to an end.

So the bottom line is that I probably won't be in my studio until Tuesday evening. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel - I just hope it's not an oncoming train.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Yankee Stadium is Coming

The work on Yankee Stadium is moving along, step by step, seat by seat, it is moving. By far the most tedious aspect of painting ballparks is the seating area. I have decided not to put fans in the stands, not that it is difficult because they would only be a few brush strokes. I like the way the stadiums look void of the distractions of the occupants.

The next stop on that first year of ballparks was US Cellular Field formerly Comiskee Park home of what would be that years World Series champs. The boy, Kaleb, and I scored great tickets through a business connection at DHL . First base side about 15 rows up from the dugout. Upon arriving at the park and parking I warned Kaleb about the rivalry between the Sox and the Cubs. I told him that the south siders did not like the north siders or their fans so don't use the term "Cubbies" or we could be in trouble. Almost on cue as walking in a group of Sox fans appeared in front of us all wearing T-shirts that read in bold letters CUBS SUCK. We made our way to our seats and too our delight ( and mainly Kaleb's delight) it was dollar hot dog day. Wow a teenagers dream cheap and plenteous eats. Contreras was on the mound against the Blue Jays. After a while we toured the outfield area of the newly remodeled stadium, Kaleb thought it was way cooler than Wrigley and somewhere in the course of the day he became a Sox fan. It could have been the fact that Sox fans seem a little edgier than Cub fans or he like the black and white logo or the guys T-shirt that sat behind us that stated " Wrigley Field - Worlds Biggest Gay Bar " . Who knows, but to this day he has been true to his team.

The painting "US Cellular" 24" x 72" was sold as soon as it was completed, prints are still available for $35.00 and are 4.5" x 18.5"

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Old Busch
As soon as I started talking of my plans to paint all the ballparks in the country, my friends who are St. Louis Cardinals fans started telling me that I had better get on the stick and get my tickets for Busch Stadium. It was the final year for the stadium and it would be torn down at the end of the season to make way for the New Busch. I got on-line and quickly got my seats, April 23rd, second row from the top a great game against the Astros - pretty sure it was Carpenter vs. Clemens. Learning my lesson from Wrigley Field, I took our wool top coats and other winter apparel to the game. Good thing , let me tell you any game in April you better be ready for cold weather when sitting in the stands. My wife, Tina, and I had a great time , got my photos and little did I know at the time how many more opportunities I would have to get more.
Later that summer got a chance to attend another game and after go on a tour of the facility, got photos for future paintings of things like looking out of the dugout, camera sitting on home plate,camera on outfield grass looking in, camera on right field foul line. I actually stole some dirt from the dugout area, I have it in a souvenir cup in my studio- it has sunflower seed husks in it - who knows they could be from La Russa or Pujols. I though that maybe I could include small containers in some print orders. All in all, we attended the final year of Busch three times, not bad for scrabbling for those April tickets.


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