Saturday, March 29, 2008


Moonrise, oils on gessobord, 9" x 12"

The full moon was rising one breezy spring evening a couple of years ago, and I don't know what it was about the light or atmosphere that made the dissipating clouds glow with an amazing burnt-orange color, but it was so unusual, I took some photos.

I painted this small oil yesterday based on those photos. My palette is unusual because I mixed indigo with ultramarine for the sky. Indigo is not a pigment I use often, but it works here. The painting is selling for $100 as is. Shipping is additional and there is a $5.00 handling charge. If you are interested, please send me an E-mail.

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On a completely unrelated but personal note, today happens to be the 47th anniversary of the fateful day of my departure from Cuba and my arrival in Miami. It's hard for me to believe so much time has passed since my sisters and I, three very frightened young girls who had never spent so much as one night away from home, were put on a plane by our parents to escape the disaster overtaking our beloved island. We didn't know then that we were among the 14,000 Cuban children who would leave Cuba under what later became known as Operation Pedro Pan.

By 1961 Cuba was rapidly being transformed into Castro's gulag, but the signs were still unclear for many. Two weeks later, during the ill-fated Bay of Pigs Invasion, mass arrests would take place all over the island, with hundreds of thousands of innocent people detained in makeshift prisons.

Since then Castro's gulag has increased the eleven provincial prisons we had during Batista's time, to over 200 Dantesque prisons scattered throughout the island. The Castro regime has not managed to invest one dime in building or maintaining a civilian infrastructure, but they sure have perfected a system of total repression and control. About a hundred thousand people have perished in the Florida Straits trying to escape from the tropical gulag on rafts. Another two million of us live in exile, scattered all over the world. When will it all end? When will the Cuban people finally be free?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More onTangier Island

Tangier Island Waterfront, watercolor, 11" x 15"

This view of the buildings and structures along the Tangier Island waterfront was painted from a photo taken on a luminous summer evening. The painting is matted and framed with a simple copper-color wood frame and sells for $350. Shipping and handling is additional. Drop me an E-mail if you are interested. Thanks for looking.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tangier Island Crab Shacks

Tangier Island Crabs Shacks, watercolor, 12"h x 14"w

Last Summer my friend Linda and I spent a weekend on Tangier Island. Tangier is one of the two islands in the Chesapeake Bay that are still inhabited (the other is Smith Island). In all the years I've lived in Maryland, I'd never been to either island. The locals have developed a curious accent which has a hint of Shakespearean or perhaps just a British diction in it, and they make their living as they have for hundreds of years: fishing and crabbing. There are only a few choices for a weekend stay and for meals, and a simple life with golf carts and bicycles as the main mode of transportation.

We were there during molting season, when soft shell crabs can be eaten. Since the crabs undergoing molting show a specific progression and must be harvested before the shell begins to harden, the owners of the crab shacks check on their crabs every 6 hours or so, even in the middle of the night.

This watercolor was painted in late afternoon by the main dock where the ferry boat from Crisfield stops on the daily trip. It was quite hot, and there was a lone bench in the shade where I sat to paint. I wanted to capture the colorful crab shacks so typical of the Tangier waterfront.

As I painted, I could hear a conversation going on directly above me--my shade was a small shack with a sign for a boat for hire, and the occupant was obviously talking on the phone to someone. An older man on a golf cart driven by a teen-age boy who appeared to be his grandson, drew up to the shack right in front of me and the boat captain came out and chatted with them for a while as I continued to paint.

After they left, the gentleman came out of his shop and sat on the bench with me, and watched me silently. When I was about done, I started to put my kit away and he was all questions. We had a wonderful conversation which gave me ample time to appreciate the flavor of the local dialect. He wanted to know whether I sold my paintings and for how much. He then commented that my gallery prices were about what he could get for a bushel of crabs theses days.

The paintings is matted and framed and is going for $300. Shipping is additional and there is a $10.00 handling charge. If you are interested, please drop me an E-mail.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Little Light, Please

I'm having a hard time painting today, what with having a shiner and swollen face as a result of the dental surgery a few days ago. So, this photo is just for fun.

I've been taking a class in the fundamentals of outdoor lighting for my engineering job, and last week our instructor brought in an assortment of different light bulbs (technically known as lamps) for us to appreciate the large variation in sizes and shapes, as well as different sources of light. We all know incandescent bulbs are on their way out, since in today's energy-conscious world, incandescents use up too much energy for the amount of light they give.

The photo shows an unusual item: a 3000-watt incandescent lamp once used in the lighthouse at Lajes das Flores, in the Azores Islands. This lamp was used from the mid 1940's through the 1960's. The current lamp is a 1000-watt halogen lamp, amplified by the original set of Fresnel lenses.

Jose, the Lighthouse keeper in Lajes, gave me a tour of the lighthouse when I was there last spring as Artist in Residence. His father had been the lighthouse keeper before him, and now he keeps an immaculate lighthouse. You could eat off the floor of his machine shop, and every bit of brass in the tower shines like new. Most fascinating of all, he has kept a collection of old equipment which was used in the lighthouse since its inception sometime in the early 1900's and is in mint condition. I imagine someday all this will make a wonderful museum for both the children of Flores and visitors, and I commend him for his foresight in keeping these artifacts.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Summertime, pastel on Wallis paper, 9" x 12"

There is an old farmhouse on the other side of our main road where I like to walk. This is an older and more rural neighborhood, and the white clapboard house seems iconic of everything I associate with the classic rural Maryland life: the big expanse of lawn, the front porch, the flowerbeds decorated with old carriage wheels, and a tire swing under a tree.

There is something timeless about the image of this yard with the children playing on the tire swing that evokes everyone's childhood, when summer seemed to stretch on for such a long time, and one could linger in the yard after dinner as the fireflies rose in the twilight. I didn't grow up in such a house (Cuban houses are very different in style), but if I had been born in the US, I would have loved to live in a house like this.

This painting is now framed and going to RiverView Gallery in Havre de Grace where it is priced at $300. Send me an E-mail if you are interested.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Blueridge Mountain Fog

Blueridge Mountain Fog, 11" x 14" oils on Gessobord

A rainy, gray Friday last week inspired me to paint this oil from photos taken along Skyline Drive one spring evening a couple of years ago as the fog enveloped the mountains. I'm not sure I've captured the subtle colors of the fog, or the density of the cloud vapor amid the greens of the young leaves in the dusk.

After the painting dried, it took on more of what I was looking for, a certain depth and mystery. It's now been framed and will be going to Gallery 1683 in Annapolis tomorrow, where it is priced at $450. Please stop by and see it in real life, it's unusual and beautiful.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Another View of the Chama

The Chama River in the Spring, watercolor, 9" x 12"

Another rainy day here in Columbia... all the better to daydream about sunnier places for the time being. Not that I mind the rain, which we need for our spring flowers, but it's hard to see well enough to paint on a gloomy day. This little watercolor was painted on location in New Mexico, on the same stretch of the Chama River where I painted last September.

Early spring in northern New Mexico is announced by the apple and cherry tree blossoms in the orchards, but on this dry stretch of O'Keefe country, the cottonwoods don't open their dark buds until later in April. This was painted during the first week of April, when earth colors predominate below the turquoise sky. The river runs less muddy at this time of the year, the water a milky green that is hard to capture in paint but blends beautifully with the colors of the mountains.

Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Presage of Spring

Old Barn in the Spring, oils on Gessobord, 16" x 20"

Last night it was raining and for the first time this year one could hear the spring peepers starting their nightly chorus...a presage of the coming spring. Perhaps it was just a wishful delusion on my part, but it seemed the grass looked a little greener this morning. The temperatures are not exactly balmy yet, but it's not as chilly as last week.

This oil painting was done from a photo taken during a spring walk with my friends a couple of years ago at Chapman's Forest in southern Maryland. The upland forests were carpeted with Bluebells and Dutchman's Breeches, and the ancient tobacco barn looked so picturesque framed in Redbud and Dogwood blossoms, it just begged to be painted. This one will cost you a bit more, because it's larger than my usual blog offerings, but it's worth the extra amount; it's going for $350, a fraction of my usual price for an oil this size. Hurry up, don't pass it by, send me an E-mail.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Millions of Trilliums

Millions of Trilliums, oil on gessobord, 14" x 11" - SOLD

Last May I spent a weekend with two friends out in Virginia, at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and we hiked at a wildlife preserve known for its botanical richness. This area is home to the largest concentration of trilliums (Trillium grandiflora) known in the US, and covers this entire mountainside. There are literally millions of trilliums here. The flowers open white and gradually turn pink, but there are many natural hybrids across several species too, so the flowers vary from snowy white to deep cerise. Tucked along the paths, many other wildflowers bloom: Yellow Lady's Slipper, Showy Orchis, several types of violets, and many others... nature's perfect wild garden.

This was painted from my photos; I started last weekend and just finished it today (it's still wet). The rocks and trees invite you into the painting to "walk" among the flowers.

The painting is now framed with a nice gold plein air frame; it looks wonderful. I'm selling it for $450, at the moment it's at Gallery 1683 in Annapolis. Please stop by and see it--it looks better in real life.