Saturday, August 25, 2007

Alphabet blocks

8/24: Alphabet blocks, oil on canvas panel, approx. 5x3 in. Not for sale.

I ended up making them kind of wobbly somehow, but I think they're still cute. My wife let our daughter start playing with some of these wood blocks this week, and she has a blast with them - lining them up and sliding them along the window sill, transferring them from one container to another, hitting us with the hard corners....

Scots Gaelic word of the day:

brèagha [brē'-ə]: lovely, fine.

I used to take refuge in studying less-than-useful things (and always will, to a lesser degree), the way some people would turn to strenuous physical activity or alcohol. Immersing myself in something like Gaelic when I was home from art school one summer helped take my racing mind to a place where I felt it could be held still, as well as get broadened a little at a time. I had a teach-yourself book with tapes to listen to and at some point I was sure I knew enough to converse with a Gaelic speaker, if I'd wanted to converse with anybody, except I spent only a summer at it and very soon forgot most of what I learned. A few years later when (thanks to my dad) I had the chance to visit Edinburgh, I would have been near clueless had I heard or read any Gaelic, and today I maybe remember half of one percent. But the word brèagha always rang in my mind - it was beautiful, perfect and fine, one of those rare words that reads and sounds, to me, to mean exactly what it means. I never had a fetish for Scottish things, but the Gaelic (really, any authentically Celtic-derived) stuff is seriously beautiful, though challenging to get a real sense of. I'll never claim to be an expert, but I hate when you see mass-market mishmashes like "Celtic Woman" or gross deceptions like the use of Irish bagpipes in the soundtrack of Braveheart, a movie about Scotland. (I like to annoy my wife with this complaint. I don't care that Mel Gibson chose also to shoot it in Ireland or that the modern bagpipes wouldn't have even been invented yet. But come on.)

I had always hoped to someday have a kid, and although the idea of a little boy version of me running around was nice, for some reason I always "knew" that if I were to be blessed with a child it would be a little girl. And often with that thought came an image of the page in the glossary of my old Gaelic book and the feeling I got every time I had read the word brèagha, so much that I knew that that would be her name. My wife kind of liked it too.

I don't know what Scottish people think of the word, but interestingly you'll find it is given as a name to dogs more than people (there's maybe a cat), if you look it up. Back when I was in Edinburgh I even met a dog named Breagha owned by a very nice man. I think it is sort of funny, and I hope my daughter doesn't hate me for it later. That is, when she's done hating me for the weird spelling.

Tha i brèagha an-diugh.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Work in progress(?): Alphabet blocks

I didn't have much time last night so I kept this to under an hour. Maybe I'll finish it tonight. Yesterday I made it into the local Jerry's Artarama for the first time (don't ask me how I'd never known it was there before) and quickly looked over their Gamblins, Williamsburgs etc. just as they were closing. Tried some Gamblins here for the first time (on a little 5x3 panel) and I think they may change my life.... I guess this is how seriously out of touch one can get when he has given up painting for long periods of time.

Not to disappoint my die-hard collectors ; ) but I've upped the starting bids for any pieces 5x7 and larger to $45 - to help offset outrageous eBay fees, gas prices, effects of global warming and such.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Granny Smith

Granny Smith, oil on canvas, approx. 6x4 in. SOLD

8/22. I added the colored areas just for fun. The darkest one is Egyptian Violet, but it didn't reproduce well at all.

Old English word of the day:
æppel [ăp'-pəl].
I love Granny Smiths.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Williamsburgs, oil on canvas panel, approx. 5x7 in. SOLD

8/21. This one could have been done in one session, considering the total time put into it. They may not be the best paint tubes, but they feel Williamsburg-y enough for me. I think I got the oily, peeling labels all right, and I felt good for a while as I thought that a part of the label on the leftmost tube achieved something close to the quality that I love in Bonington - the light along the bottom edge of the oil-stained paper made me think of some of his pictures of boats where the light just sings perfectly in the sails. Then I ruined it. But I think that part still looks ok. And if my rendition of the Williamsburg employees' chicken scratches aren't legible, the tubes are Mars Violet, Prussian Blue, and Egyptian Violet. I must have gotten them on sale because I hardly ever need these colors. The Egyptian Violet is one awesomely BEAUTIFUL color, though, like wow....

I am a dork. I have been slowly learning Old English the last couple of years, and I had never knowingly come across the word for "to paint." The thought occurred to me again as I finished this painting. Surely they had such a word, for things got painted, and there were people who painted those things. Was it Latin-based (like much of their vocabulary), from "pict-" or something like it? It shouldn't be, as the idea of paint didn't start with the Romans, and this would just get me mixed up - as I knew the "Picts" in Britain were so called by the Romans because they painted their bodies, and that the Anglo-Saxon name for them was Peohtas - my mind then would get stuck in the p's. Finally I went to this wonderful site, an electronic, searchable(!) version of the meaty Bosworth and Toller Anglo-Saxon Dictionary from 1898. If I had a wishlist on here, a copy of this book would be at the top. Turns out the word I was looking for is one I had seen a lot, the same as "to meet."

Old English word of the day:
métan [mā'-tän]: to paint, depict, adorn, draw.
(métere: painter. méting, métering: painting.)
Related to metan [mĕt'-än]: to mete, measure, compare.
Ic eom métere.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Work in progress: Williamsburgs

8/20. Worked a little more on this one. I thought it could be neat to show it here in stages. Don't know what one might learn from it at this point except that I've tried to give some solidity to the tubes.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Banana, oil on board, approx. 6.5x9.5 in.

This actually was one of the first daily paintings, from 7/26, but it was real muddy looking so last night I lightened the background. Earlier in the evening I had tried to work on sketches while trying both to pay attention to and tune out a cranky toddler, and I just didn't feel like working later. I did get about twenty minutes into a new painting of paint tubes, then blah.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Onion #2

Onion #2, oil on canvas panel, approx. 6x4 in. (8/18)