Thursday, January 31, 2008

San Francisco

This weekend The Woman and I will be travelling to San Francisco. Since I began painting cityscapes in earnest I've made an effort to travel to at least one new major city each year. Thanks to the fact that a portion can be written off as a business expense and for the need to expand the subject matter of my paintings. This year by chance we (I) picked San Francisco, mainly because I've never been to the west coast.

The plan for this trip began with a teacher that The Woman works with, her husband is a pilot and offered us very reduced stand-by tickets. Seems that they get a slug of them every year for friends and family. The whole deal though is that you really have to go when other people don't, so you need to avoid busy holidays. So that is how we ended up picking the first weekend in February.

I also get a weekly list of travel and hotel deals through an e-mail from travelzoo and after we picked the date and while I was Christmas break, the very hotel that we wanted to stay at ( The Tuscan Inn at Fishermans Wharf ) showed up on the list at more than 50% off. It was a sign, so with some of the reservations made ( I do like to have some type of agenda - rental car, hotel, Alcatraz tour ) we will be off for the weekend.

Of course they are calling for a snow storm and we are going to San Francisco during the rainiest month, but The Woman is lucky and with her luck the weather will be unseasonably warm and dry there. Hopefully I can get some good photos for future paintings and just have a good time with my best friend checking out a new place.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Another thing that is upsetting to my usual facade of self control, is wind. I really don't like it, it makes me nervous and have a feeling of some type of impending doom. Along with the snow and cold last night came the howling wind whistling through trees making odd noises like some large unseen force in the darkness growling and groaning looking for prey.

At least in my studio it was somewhat quieter, the basketball game was playing and I was busy painting. There was no need to hurry to bed, because I would just lay there awake and listen to the strange and terrible noises. Later in the evening when I was really tired I found my way to sleep.

I have looked into a wind powered generator to help myself feel better about wind. My theory is that if the wind is making me money I may be less bothered by the beast. This is still only in the looking stage and is at the very least years away from any type of unit. So in the mean time I'll be up pacing when the gusts come calling.

As most of the readers of this blog would know, The Woman and I have four wonderful children. Two have their own careers and lives in cities that are way too far away for parents likings, but they are healthy, successful, and we hope happy. The younger two are moving into the late teen years, and on their own way to becoming adults. The youngest, Kaleb, is active in some sports all of which he hates. He hates the practices and the time they take away from other important activities like video games. His current despised sport is wrestling, although he says he hates it, he is quite good at it.

Wrestling for the uninformed is not like the kind you see on TV. You can't smack your opponent with a chair or or jump off ropes. If that were the case Kaleb would love it. No it is three minutes of torture for the parents of the children trying to pin the other to the mat in some contorted painful looking hold.

The other aspect of wrestling is that the meets are usually long and almost always somewhere else. Last night was no exception, an away meet at Chidix Normal. Normal is not really that far from East Peoria, just down the interstate about 30 minutes, on a normal day.

Yesterday started off like a great day in January around 40 degrees in the morning then climbed to the mid 50's. The Woman and I made plans to go to the meet and started on our way about 4:00 PM , the temperature had dropped to the mid 20's. By the time we had made the 30 minute drive to Normal we were in an almost white out snow storm, temps in the teens, accidents at most intersections, and got to the meet about 5:15.

We did still manage to get to the school before the event began and saw our son wrestle. He pinned his opponent in the third period, or less that three minutes. After the meet another white knuckle drive home, the total time four hours . These are the trials of parents everywhere, you want your children to be active and involved. What they really means is that YOU are the one that will be active and involved.

After the trip I would vote for any candidate that would start legislation that would give other motorist the right to disable or revoke driving privileges for some of the people we meet on the road. Maybe all licence plates should be cell numbers so you could just call the morons and tell them to move over, park it and walk, speed up, slow down, or any thing else that annoys me at some moment. I have toned down my initial request of some type of bazooka to just put them out of their misery.

Any way we all made it home and safe and after a quick dinner I still managed to get some painting in.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


An e-mail came the other day with the new application procedure for the show at Junction City and the show at the Peoria Riverfront both put on by the Peoria Art Guild. The Junction show is for artists that are within a 100 mile radius of Peoria and I have had good luck with being accepted at that venue. The Riverfront show is a highly respected national show and I have as of yet been good enough to make the cut, but I keep trying.

The talent pool that you are competing for a spot with is impressive, these are truly the rising stars in the art community and you better bring your a-game or stay home. This year I am working on a series for the jury of four diners. The first one I started last week and it is called simply "Diner". At 24" x 48", it is a night view of the Cherokee Diner in New York and if this first painting is any indication of the quality of work I can produce - sometimes I even amaze myself - I do believe it turned out very near to what I wanted.

The next diner is the same one - I will start " Cherokee Diner" probably tomorrow as I have to drive to Kaleb's wrestling meet south of Springfield tonight - an hour and fifteen minutes there to sit on hard gym bleachers and then an hour and fifteen minutes back. I thick that tonight is not going to be a painting night.

The next diner will probably be "Munson Diner" also in New York I am not sure if it will be a night or day scene. I have both photos but the quality of the night one is a little lacking, although I think it would be the most stunning. Something about the reflections off metal and chrome, lite up signs make night scenes pop.

This weekend The Woman and I will be going to San Francisco for the weekend to get some images of another city. I plan on getting photos of Fog City Diner and Lori's on Powell Street among other's so I not sure what the fourth diner will be yet. Stay tuned

Over the holidays my oldest son, Kristopher, came home for an extended stay. We don't get to see him that often as he has been working in the UK for the past year and looks like he might be over there for at least another six months. Although he has been busy with his job, traveling to various cities in Europe, and teaching himself to play the guitar, he has agreed to work on a web site for my art. I got myself Frontpage from Microsoft and tried to get it done myself, but any time I take doing that is not painting and that sort of defeats the purpose of needing a web site. I sent him on his way with some images and a general idea of what I'm looking for and he left me with the job of getting a domain name.

I looked over the possibilities and they are numerous, things like ( since the .com / .net were already taken - seems that there are a lot of Tom Gross guys out there - a bunch of good looking bastards I bet ) Then I started looking at what the images that I hope to sell are - cityscapes / ballparks / neon signs - nothing really stood out. Then I just searched for the exact thing that I do - acrylic cityscapes - and I could not believe it it was available. So the domain is mine and Kristopher I hope will have something shortly and we can get the hosting taken care of and all the web people can flock to site and buy lots of art.

The Chrysler Building

After addressing the neglect of Peoria, I moved right back to New York, and what is one of the most recognizable images? The Chrysler Building . Standing outside Grand Central Station I managed to get some good shots of the top of this fabulous art-deco building (thanks to my Canon digital camera). The painting is 24" x 48" and it turned out pretty much as I wanted finished about a week ago and will be a winner this summer, if it doesn't sell first. $1500.00

Making Up For Lost Time

After the Grill House the next canvas up was of Peoria. Although I live here and have painted a lot of different scenes of the city it seems that sometimes the demand for Peoria art is surpassed by other places. I have found a larger group of people that what scenes for the larger cities ie: Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and even Vegas. So I have for the past year or so sort of put Peoria images on the back burner. Now that I have my new best art buddy, the wide format Epson 1800, that gives me the capability to produce my on giclees to sell at shows I've gone back to creating things for every town that I want to show in. Maybe it is the mid-western values that caused them to shun the originals, or maybe the price, but they flock to the browsing bin for prints. My prices on them don't hurt though, because also coming from the mid-west I know they are just cheap and looking for a deal. Cutting out the middle man has been a boon to business since I can sell the for what I was paying for them.

The scene that I picked out to do was of, the Spirit of Peoria, a paddle wheeler that has become a fixture on the riverfront. I finished it over the Christmas break an have since already put the prints into production. Just yesterday I dropped off the first framed and matted copies to the Peoria Art Guild gallery store and told them the price 13" x 13" black wood frame under glass out the door for $80.00 ( that means that I will receive $40.00 as the Art Guild gets half - don't even start we artists know it hurts ) . Their response was you are going to sell the hell out of these, I hope so.

The original is 48" x 48" and is being listed for $1500.00 - don't like the price - buy a print.

Sorry for the delay

Since the last blog, the Leg Lamp was lost to a wind storm the weekend before Christmas. The holiday season has pasted, presents opened, returned. The New Year came and wrestling began in earnest for my youngest son. I have got some actual painting news though, through all the hubbub of the season I did manage to get into the studio and finish some pieces.

Early December I finished the Grill House, located at Coney Island, it came out of it OK. I'm not as impressed with as I thought I would be. Because it was a view from under an overhang looking out onto the boardwalk at first it was exciting, but as it neared completion it was just a little too gray and gloomy. Not exactly the look I was going for, but at least I saw it through to completion. Most of the pieces that I work on are the same way though, when I sketch them out or visualize them in my head they are much better than when I'm finished. Very few do I like to look at later, maybe I'm too critical and look at all the faults or see what I could have spent more time on. The problem is that I have SO much I want to paint and can't wait to get to the next better project. Anyway here is the Grill House - the piece is approximately 32" x 24" and since I have to price things ( because my friends say I give too much stuff away ) $1200.00

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