January 08, 2017

455 Love is Love

LoveIsLove455 Love is Love

6x8 inches :: original oil painting on gessobord

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I referenced a photo by @nilswachterphotography for this work. It was literally twice the work, painting two faces instead of one but I enjoyed the challenge.

Love is love.

Gosh, that feels good to say. We crush. We lust. We long. We imagine. And if we are lucky, even for one small moment, we get to love who we love. xoxo


Take to the Oars

OarsFor about 72 hours after the election, I found myself in a fog of fear. Fear that the needy, insecure and reckless caricature of a president, #DonaldDunce, would provoke unnecessary international conflict leading the world into war. The fog made me feel that I needed to make nice, walk on eggshells and promote peace as a zombie pacifist.

And then I realized that IF I love my country, allowing #DonaldDunce to continue without resistance is wrong. The right thing for me to do is throw away my fear and pick up my oar. Even when Pea Brains come by to respond to my expressions and say things like:

  1. "I follow you for your art, not your politics. Go back to making art."
  2. "Do you really want North Korea to have nuclear weapons?" (in response to my taking umbrage with #DonaldDunce's taunts toward North Korea)
  3. "You lost. Get over it."
  4. "Obama will be ... a bad memory ... Make America Great Again!"

And on and on ... making me feel hopeless ... causing me to wonder if I ought to put my oar away and bury my head in the sand. But you know what I have found? Thoughtful, logic-driven, well-read, compassionate patriots out-number Pea Brains. Michelle Obama stated in her final speech as First Lady: "Don't be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered."

Because ...

  1. To those who want me to go back to making art: (1) Art that incorporates political commentary (like knitted pussyhats) IS art and is protected under the first amendment and (B) I do not exist simply to provide convenient and tidy art-viewing opportunities for any one person.
  2. North Korea already has nuclear weapons. The point is whether taunting that nation questioning whether they can launch an effective one aimed at the US (as #DonaldDunce) has done is prudent.
  3. It's not a reality game show of losing and winning. It's about staying engaged with reality and participate in shaping America ... the land that I love.
  4. No matter his leadership, his calm, his diplomacy, his accomplishments, his polish ... I have come to realize that there are some who begrudge Obama and the last 8 years primarily because he is Black. And "Make America Great Again" is code for "Make America White Again." And for the women who voted for #DonaldDunce, I have come to conclude that they hate Black more than they love Woman.

So ... to those who may have been in a fog of fear like I was ... I want to say that you are not alone. We are many. We don't have to be afraid. Together, we can move mountains and cross oceans. The time is now to grab our oars and row.


January 04, 2017

454 Oar Girl

FullSizeRender-256454 Oar Girl

24x18 inches :: acrylic on stretched canvas

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This is the demo painting I made during the private painting session I taught in the studio today. Before painting, as we brainstormed ideas we decided to practice painting a girl in a canoe in the water ... and for me, I decided to add an exaggerated arm that serves as an oar.  It reminds me of when I was an undergraduate at UC Irvine and during some heated discussions in a writing class, one of my favorite professors said that no matter how difficult discussions get, it's important to keep thinking critically, keep reading, and keep my oar in the water ... to participate in the direction of conversations, the direction of the world.

As the painting was concluding, I googled quotes about oars and found this perfect proverb that I added:

"If the wind will not serve, take to the oars."

No matter how difficult.
More than ever.
I will keep my oar in the water.

Oar Girl (AKA #FangGrrr)


January 02, 2017

453 Kind of Blue

Flowersonstool453 Kind of Blue

6x8 inches :: original oil painting on gessobord

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I referenced a beautiful photo by @aquietstyle for this work. My daughter gave me a subscription to The Paris Review @parisreview for Christmas, my favorite literary magazine. In the most recent Fall 2016 issue that she also got me, I started to read an interview with poet, Ishmael Reed. Here's an excerpt.

Says Reed: "I was also very much influenced by George Orwell's 'Politics and the English Language.' where he advocated that you refrain from flamboyant language." Asks the interviewer: "What appealed to you about that kind of clean, clear writing?"

Says Reed: "It's like Miles, man. Somebody said that Miles didn't have the chops of Coltrane, who was a scholar, but Miles and Louis Armstrong went for the tone. You hear some of these guys playing like they're getting paid by the note. Miles was very disciplined, very smart. Spare. Kind of Blue is a minimalist masterpiece. That was my style, too, right up to today."

Refraining from flamboyance is akin to my father's musical conducting philosophy. No melodrama. No flailing of the arms. Just controlled, deliberate movements that allow the music to take center stage.

The depth of minimalism and non-flamboyance is how I aspire to paint and how I aim to teach painting. Strokes that are spare and not overworked. Strokes that are preceded by focused observation. A canvas that is that is poetically controlled rather than desperately groveled at.

January 01, 2017

452 Como Siempre

Como Siempre452 Como Siempre

6x6 inches :: original oil painting on gessobord

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Hope your first day of the year was good. Mine was a day just like most days ... coffee ... emails ... reading ... exercise ... cleaning ... painting ....

Como siempre.


December 31, 2016

451 Auld Lang Syne (Old Long Since)

Auld451 Auld Lang Syne (Old Long Since)

6x6 inches :: original oil painting on gessobord

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I referenced a photo by @tiffanieturner for this work. I always get a bit tearful on New Year's Eve as I listen to James Taylor's version of Auld Lang Syne. As I think of the people in my life, this is the verse that always gets to me:

So here is a hand, my trusted friend
And give me the hand of thine
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For auld lang syne

Thank you to all of my trusted friends who give me hope, humor, art, and intellect throughout the year.

December 29, 2016


For the Russian interference in the 2016 US elections as confirmed by the national intelligence agencies, President Obama officially announced sanctions today, including the ordering of 35 Russian diplomats to leave the US and two Russian compounds ordered closed. To this, President-Elect Trump said dismissively of the sanctions: "It's time for our country to move on to bigger and better things."

What does Trump think these sanctions are about? They ARE about trying to move on. You know ... like when a pussy gets grabbed without consent and she starts screaming at the top of her lungs for justice and the assaulter says "come on ... let's just move on."

#artdoesnotbackdown #resist


450 Petal by Petal

Rose450 Petal by Petal

6x6 inches :: original oil painting on gessobord

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I referenced a photo by @snapsofaustralia for this work. Even with a seemingly simple subject, I realize again and again that it's through not rushing, and not over-licking the paint that things stay fresh. Stroke by stroke. Petal by petal. Bird by bird.

December 28, 2016

449 At Rest

At rest449 At Rest

6x8 inches :: original oil painting on gessobord

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I referenced a photograph by @adi_slaus for this work. I enjoyed the challenge of painting an upside-down subject.

December 27, 2016

448 Force Yourself

Force yourself448 Force Yourself

6x6 inches :: original oil painting on gessobord

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Thank you Carrie Fisher, for being the damsel who took charge of her own distress. Thank you for not just imitating art but BEING art ... and reminding us that as much as there may be a force external to us that we can reach out to, there is also one within each of us that can be unleashed, if we want to. May you rest in our love and in peace.

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