As I sit to write, I've decided to insert some pages from my past year's sketchbook, to appease the loyal readers whom I've neglected over this busy holiday season.  I like the range of these drawings, from random doodles to detailed studies.

I'm sitting by the fire with a glass of wine, my books scattered around me.  My wife, now seven months pregnant with our second child, is sleeping soundly on the couch.  Liam gave me a good fight tonight, but he lost- his head hit the pillow an hour ago, and he's sound asleep.  There's a terrible rainstorm outside, but I'm sitting inside with a pile of dry, chopped wood.  It' s one of those nights that I always wish for.  And so, as I sit by my fire (I don't mind being a cheesy Christmas cliche tonight), I find myself reviewing the past year.  I think about what went well, what went poorly.  What efforts succeeded, what was fruitless.  What was enjoyable, what was not.

The first event of the year was the most important, the return to Florence.  Half the reason was so that I could re-enter the Charles Cecil Studios, to study anatomy and paint the figure better.  But, there was another personal issue that had to be worked out.  To be perfectly honest, the other half of my reasoning in returning to Florence was to conquer some fears.  When Margaret and I had Liam, I found myself overwhelmed by the new responsibilities I had.  I knew all these concerns were common, but I was frightened at the thought of living abroad with children, of immersing my family in a different culture with a different language.  I was comfortable with staying put in New York forever, with an occasional week long vacation perhaps.  But, I was a bit too comfortable in my little world.  New York is great, but I don't want to be confined to anywhere due to my desire to remain comfortable.  I just found myself becoming just a bit too "safe."  Perhaps my reluctance to live abroad again was owing to the fact that my parents moved back to Ireland when I was a child,  back to where my dad was born.  I loved being there, though they found it very difficult, so much so that we returned back to New York a year and a half later.  My parents consider their decision to return to Ireland to have been one of their greatest mistakes, and it seems to have affected their outlook on life.  Who knows, for them it may have been a mistake.  But, I just didn't want to live in fear of anything.  And so, I had to learn to paint the figure, and I had to confront my fears.

Margaret and I moved to Florence on January 1st, 2009.  The next five months flew by, it was the most wonderful time of my life.  It was definitely difficult at times- Liam got very sick, and we needed to rush him to a hospital in the heart of Florence.  But, we emerged from the hospital with a healthy baby, and the courage that we had gone through something very difficult and had emerged stronger.  I would take Liam on walks, five hours long, holding him in my arms as I rambled through the countryside and alleyways.  Margaret adjusted well, and learned how to actively seek out friendship with other mothers, especially difficult in another country.

Margaret, Chiesa dei Micheli, Florence

At the end of our stay in Florence, I painted Anna.  It is a painting in which all of my artistic hopes were fulfilled, and past problems were ironed out.  With Anna, I was finally able to move beyond portraiture and into figurative painting, because I finally learned how to see the whole picture.  Anna is a painting which, for me, has opened up endless possibilities.

Anna, 55" x 32", oil on linen

Following Florence, our tenant moved out and Margaret, Liam, and I moved back into our house in Islip, New York.  I immediately resumed painting.  I was charged with a new energy that came from my figure studies in Florence, and from my visit to Sorolla's house in Spain.  Sorolla painted his world, he painted his family and friends with such intimacy and humanity.  I came back to Islip, back to Long Island, with a new confidence.  I eventually found a new, incredible studio that perfectly complemented my new vision in painting.  Here in Islip,  I would paint my life, with all of the power, dignity, and poetry found in my everyday world.  And so I painted Dan Acosta, the hefty, gentle spirited heavy metal rocker from the north shore of Long Island;  I painted Patricia, a wistful woman with striking, dark features who works at a local cafe.  I painted Murphy, a bearded Vietnam Vet who lives a town over; I painted Matt, my friend since childhood.  And most meaningful to me, I painted Margaret pregnant with our next child.

I will end this summary of my year in saying that, if I didn't go to Florence, I wouldn't have had the technical ability to paint any of these works I just mentioned.  Most importantly, if I hadn't gone to Sorolla's house in Madrid, then I would not have had the eyes to see the beauty in front of me.  Sorolla taught me not how to paint beautifully, but how to see beauty, which is infinitely more important.  This might be the single most important gift any artist can give to any other person.

Here is Sorolla's painting of his wife and child, and here is my answer to his work.

Sorolla, Madre, oil on linen

Mother, oil on linen

murphy, mid December

Murphy, 50" x 50", oil on linen

I am glad to say that, during the past week, I have been painting constantly.  I have a show coming up at the Salmagundi Club in Manhattan on January seventh, and so I've been painting eight hours a day.  I'll be hanging five works, three of which are still in progress.  In addition to this upcoming show, I've got a few portrait commissions running, a Christmas card that I am designing, and hopefully a painted present for my son Liam.  Never a dull moment, but I'm very glad to be so busy.

Here's the progress shot as of this week for my painting of Murphy.  On any given day in the week, I have a few friends stop by my studio.  Every person that comes in has enthusiastic reviews for this painting.  As well, people who have seen the progress shots over the internet have given me really great feedback on Murphy.  I'm glad, because I do feel it is one of my best works.  It's pretty important that a few other people agree, though.

Murphy is great to work with.  He sits pretty still, and yet is interesting, funny, and very sarcastic.  His voice is raspy, and his wit is extremely sharp.  The other day, Murphy and I went out for a beer after painting.  While sitting at the bar, another guy was saying that the social security system was going under because, when it was instituted, the government never expected that the average person would one day live to their mid seventies.  Murphy leaned over to the guy and growled "You'll never stick me on a floating iceburg with a frozen piece of salmon, you bastard."  I couldn't stop laughing, neither could the other people listening in on the conversation.  I also learned something new about the social security system of the Inuit in the Arctic.

In Florence, I learned how to paint in such a way as to keep the paint on the canvas very flexible.  Entire limbs can be moved with a little steel wool, some turpentine, and a few minutes of scrubbing.  The flexibility of oil painting is one of its greatest assets, and allows the painter to discover his painting as he works.  This flexibility allows me to think more in terms of a novelist who is developing a story and a character, than a wall painter who is covering square feet.  This is opposed to fresco, which is literally set in stone.  And so, I'm sure I'll be changing this painting as the next two weeks go by- who knows what this painting will look like on January seventh?

On a sidenote, I've been told that my son is "very advanced" in subjective, artistic thinking.  Mentioning this may seem pretentious, but these are the literal words stated by Kerry, my two year old son's daycare teacher.  She told me that she was doing a project in which the students were given yellow and red paint, and they would mix it to make orange.  Then, she went around the room and asked each child to repeat the word "orange."  Each child regurgitated the word "Orange", but when they got to Liam, he exclaimed in a horrific growl "TIGER.... RRRR... TIGER!!!!"  The teacher was very impressed with such an abstract association, though I was particularly impressed to hear that he growled.

curtis eller

Curtis Eller, 36" x 20", oil on linen

It is an outright conspiracy, I have decided to fill my studio with musicians as often as I possibly can.  While many artists will argue that it is possible to paint from photographs, I usually ask them "Why would you, when you can actually paint a person?"  Aesthetic and artistic reasons aside, I just would prefer to talk to somebody throughout the day.  Better yet, I'd prefer to have some musician in my studio, singing and playing a banjo as I paint.  It's just great.

If I could describe his music, I'd be a music critic.  I can't.  It is the banjo as I've never heard it, aware of bluegrass but playing ballads.  His lyrics were left me wondering if I was having my guts ripped out, or if he was being funny.

Curtis was born in Detroit.  His father was a bluegrass banjo player.  Curtis and his wife and child live in Queens.  He tours Europe a few times a year, for a few weeks.  The rest of the year, he does weekend tours of cities scattered throughout the States.  It's pretty admirable that he is a professional banjo player in a city that can be difficult survival for those with doctor's salaries.

So, how'd I meet Curtis?  Well, I'll have to ramble on a bit, and I hope I don't lose you.  Do you remember my blog a few months ago (Sept 5th) about my marble sculpting friend, Jason Arkles?  Well, Jason and Curtis were friends from way back when, and they have kept in touch over the years.  Jason mentioned to me that Curtis would be an excellent subject for a painting, and so I sent Curtis an email.

There seemed something too contrived about having Curtis pose still, because his wiry frame seemed to speak more when he sang.  He is the self described "New York's angriest yodeling banjo player" and I thought that I should take advantage of this.  I worked really quickly on this painting, as it is a fairly big canvas.  His body is all contrasting angles- his eyebrows are at opposite angles to his beard, his shoulder contrast his hips, his banjo contrasts his feet... You couldn't have a more interesting person to paint.  It's fun to do a painting whose subject could be dated as mid nineteenth century, save for the fact that he is wearing converse sneakers.  These photos were taken after three hours work, and so the paint is applied very broadly.  At this stage, the role of my brush marks is to suggest broad planes, rather than describe detail.  I can't wait to work on this painting again.

Visit Curtis's website and listen to his music at



As a young boy, I remember standing on my lawn as the sun set, staring at my arm.  I must have looked weird, turning my arm over, looking at my elbow, smiling as I bent my wrist, changing the angle of my hand.  The soft light gently reached across my forearm to the shadow that wrapped around the other side.  The light that hit my hand was strongest on the first knuckle, dissipated in brightness as the next knuckle disappeared into shadow, until the final knuckle was lost in darkness.  It was amazing to see these soft transitions, how you couldn't tell where light was beginning, and where shadow was ending.  As the sun slipped below the horizon, the light became, surprisingly, only more beautiful.  The light was no longer golden, the shadows were not black, it was vague, soft masses of light and shade, warm and cool.  And then in seconds, it was all gone, and it was just shadow.  I hope nobody saw me standing there, looking at my hands in aesthetic ecstasy.

At the age of fifteen or so, I was taking Irish music lessons with a wonderful old Irish fiddler, Pete Kelly.  We sat down to play the tune “In the Gloaming,” and as we worked our way to the end of the reel I asked him what the title meant.  He responded "In the Gloaming?  Goodness, sure you know what the gloaming is, don't you?  Why, it's that short moment before dark, when the light is the most beautiful that you'll ever find it.  It only lasts seconds, and in Ireland we call that the gloaming.  Well me throat's gone dry, sure you’ve a powerful thirst upon yourself, precious child- let's take us a dram of this here whiskey and …”  Okay, maybe some of the details are a bit off at the end, but he did say the first lines.  As he spoke, I was instantly transported into my memory of being on the front lawn, where I first admired that ephemeral light.  It was a consoling thought to know that somewhere out there were more weirdos, standing on their front lawns at dusk and admiring the light on their hands.

A few years later, I was reading Da Vinci’s journals, and I came across a segment in which he writes (I’m paraphrasing, because I can’t find my Da Vinci book right now) about how beautiful the light is at dusk, and how one should draw at dusk in a courtyard with dark walls.  I was not too surprised to read this, as his every figure is painted with this gloaming light.  His paintings and drawings are never of figures in midday, glaring sun.  Instead, there is this soft, mysterious dialogue between light and dark, where you don’t know where the one begins and the other ends.  The light is his poetry, the form is his excuse to celebrate it.

Da Vinci then goes on to describe “sfumato.”  When sitting outdoors at a fire, think of the white smoke rising above the flames.  It is rich and concentrated at the bottom, but as you look at the smoke rising into the sky, it dissipates so gradually that you don’t know where the smoke ends and where the sky begins.  Sfumato means smoke in Italian.

How does this apply to painting?  Look at the gentle cascade of light as it flows across the face of a young woman- you can’t tell where the shadow begins, and where the light ends.  Look at a cello on its side, and watch the light and shadow converse back and forth, the one disappearing into the other.   Some think that, by sfumato, Leonardo was saying that his paintings were smoky, in that there was a milky glaze over the canvas which lessened the value range.  I’ve stood before many of Leonardo’s canvases for long periods of time, and I'd have to say that an academic understanding of sfumato is altogether different from a "felt" understanding of sfumato.  In speaking of sfumato, Leonardo meant the poetry that results from the dialogue between light and dark and soft and sharp, such as you will see in an old man’s soft eyelid, lost into the surrounding dark of the bony eye socket.

Leonardo Da Vinci, study of a woman (with damaged surface of paper), silverpoint

Margaret, day four

My teacher, Charles Cecil, would always use the idea of sfumato in his critiques.  As he passed the easels of each student, he would comment "Too garish, please, are his cheekbones really that harsh, it looks like you've painted him as a depressed Russian novelist, you need more sfumato in the..."  And to the next student "Now, I know that her shoulder blade does jut far out of the darkness of her back- but do you have to paint it so harshly?  I mean, my goodness, it looks like you've painted her with some garish wings, it's a wonder that she doesn't fly away in scapular rhapsody.  Why not design something more beautiful, why not enjoy the sfumato that is playing over her form?  Try and undo the electric light mentality of our generation.  Get rid of those harsh contour lines, see the gentle gradient of the..." and off Charles would go, to the delight of all in the room.

Charles Cecil, Compagnac, oil on canvas, 30 x 60 cm

I rarely take a jab at any contemporary art, but I can’t resist saying that this is the tragedy in modern painting- many people are so preoccupied with things that they can’t identify the light flowing over the form.  Many painters think that their job is to paint objects- that’s not correct.  A painter paints the light that cascades over the objects.  It is the dialogue between form and light that is so captivating and so meaningful, that is why we paint, that is poetry.

murphy, matt, margaret, me, and helene

Murphy, progress shot- day three, oil on linen, 48" x 48"

Things have been going really well in the studio, lately.  For the past week, I have been painting with models in the studio, all day, everyday.  A few of those days, I didn't have time for lunch- not a bad problem, really. In the past, I usually paint still life work for half of the day- paintings of violins, boots, etc.  But recently, all of my energy has been in painting people, and so I'm excited with this group of paintings.

In addition to this, a close friend has come to stay with Margaret and me.  While in Valparaiso, Margaret and I met a French girl named Helene who could play the fiddle like the devil himself (assuming the devil is fond of Irish music.)  Five years after Chile, we have since met up in New York with Helene several times.  This visit, she is staying with us for one month.  Helene has studied the classical violin in France, jumped in with an Andean folk music band in South America, fiddled gypsy music with gypsies in Romania, played in the jazz cafes of Montreal.   She draws from so many traditions of music, and the resulting amalgam is an identity in music that is distinct and her own- ranging from a brooding Slavic dirge to a lilting Irish reel, from a guttural Andalusian cry to Bob Dylan.

So as I've been painting away these past four days, Helene has been playing violin.  She flies up and down the fingerboard of the violin effortlessly, and Margaret and I just listen in amazement.  In this photo, you can see that I've begun to work on the hand of Margaret.   I am only several minutes into this portion of the painting.  You can see that I've put down broad masses of paint, so that I have wet paint to work with.  Then into those broad masses of paint, I begin to paint in more details.

Margaret, progress shot- day five

Matt has also posed several times in the past few days.  I am excited about this painting.  You may remember Matt from ten or fifteen blogs ago.  While Matt poses with the guitar, he is plucking away at some random tune.  As he plays some classic Flamenco standard,  Helene jumps in with the violin.  The only problem I currently have with the painting is that I unknowingly placed the eyebrows too low, and as a result he looks a bit angry.  Mistakes of this sort happen when I paint for too long a stretch of time.  Like any other muscle, your eye gets exhausted and can't really see anymore.  Taking a break solves this problem.  I'll quickly move the eyebrows back up tomorrow, when he sits for me again.  Here is a photo of the progress so far- day three of this painting.

Matt, oil on linen

Most recently, I've begun this painting of Murphy.  Murphy is a friend of a friend who I ran into at a barbeque here in Islip.  He is a perfect sitter for a painting, his face is a story in and of itself.  I don't really know much about him, other than the fact that he won't accept any money for modeling.  He insists on doing this to support me.
After posing on Monday, I had to coax him into letting me pay for his beer at Lily Flanagan's, a pub around the corner from my studio.

These following photos are day two of my work with him.

Murphy, progress shot- day two, oil on linen, 48" x 48"

Murphy, detail, day two

the poachers

Fish in Boots, 9" x 12", oil on canvas

So, I’m laying in bed, sleeping, snoring away happily, and suddenly I’m awakened by the belligerent sound of the ringing of a phone.  I opened my eyes, and tried to figure out where I was.  I was home, in bed, and the phone was rattling, vibrating, and incessantly screaming.  I picked up my hand to smash it, then thought twice.  It’s still dark, who could be calling at this hour?

“Kev, it’s Dave.  I heard you were going fishing with your brother today?”

I contemplated hanging up immmediately, but responded with “no, magh brodger ichzt…” I coughed, tried to swallow, then swallowed again, in order to kickstart my vocal cords.  “No (cough), my brother is sick, and he called to say he didn't want to go.  What’s up, Dave?”

“Well, I wanna go fishing.  Let’s go.”

“No, my bed is warm.”

“See you in fifteen minutes at my house, Kev.”

We pulled into the beach parking lot just before the sun is up.  Littered around the shore were a dozen other giddy fishermen.  I wondered what pained domestic existence drove these men from their warm homes, to perambulate these desolate November beaches.  It was cold, freezing cold.  It was raining pretty hard.  We waited for a while, seeing if things would look better.  They didn’t, so we set out.

When we got to the water, we realized that the waves were breaking so far out that it was impossible to get the lines into deeper water.  We would have to cast twice as far, or walk out a few hundred feet.  Dave stared out on the horizon with visionary eyes, and I shrugged my shoulders and turned to go.  Fifteen steps later, I turned around to see Dave taking off his boots.  What on earth….

Wearing nothing but jeans and a sweatshirt, he happily hopped across the frozen sand and charged into the ocean.  I couldn’t believe it.  He was wading, barefoot, through the frigid shallows, so that he could throw his line into the deep water.  I hated him.  I knew I had to follow him in, or forever be lesser the man.

I removed my shoes, grumbling, but secretly thrilled.  Instead of sleeping in my bed, I was charging into the frozen November Atlantic.  The water was ice cold, and I instantly lost all feeling in my feet.  I waded several hundred feet out, near where Dave was.  The water was up to my chest, and I wondered whether I would die of pneumonia two days later.  “Aint no way we came this far, just to go home without even trying” Dave cried above the roar of the breakers.  I rallied to his cry, and launched my line beyond where the waves were breaking.  I too, became giddy with enthusiasm.  I would catch a fish or die.

Okay, maybe not die, but, I’d sure try and catch a fish, hopefully before my coffee on the shore got cold.

After twenty minutes of this idiocy, Dave slinked back to shore, defeated.  It was my turn to lift my wounded comrade.  “Dave, just a few more throws, alright you little wussy nurse?”  I yelled.  “Just don’t hurt your pretty hands, you precious painter!” Dave answered.

All of a sudden, my pole began moving.  It was a striped bass, violently fighting my line.  Dave yells out “walk to shore, pull her in sloooowly.”  After a few minutes, a puny little fish came flopping out of the water.  Dave threw him back.  We both headed back into the waves, and threw our lines in.  There we were, the artist and the nurse, transferring all of our professional angst into fishing fury.

Suddenly, Dave’s pole doubles over, and we both head to the shore.  Two minutes later, Dave reels in a beautiful striped bass that was just… an inch or two under the size limit.  He looks up.  I looks left.  He looks right.  I look down.  Standing nearby, there are some people who are watching us intently and looked suspiciously like Environmental Police.  Dave and I contemplate killing them, but quickly agree that it is a very foolish idea- it is quite difficult work to efficiently bury a body in the sand, being as the waves will quickly come and undo all your hard labor.  Forlorn, Dave takes the fish, turns his back to the Environmental Police, sadly walks to the water and… stuffs the fish in his nearby, empty boot.  “Go, go, go!” Dave whispers.  “Grab the poles, grab your stuff, let’s gooo!”  Dave tucks the boot under his arm, and tries his best to keep the boot from flopping around violently.  He grimaces as the boot shakes and wobbles beneath his arm, flapping against his torso.  We aimlessly saunter past the onlookers, smiling emptily, as fishermen will.  As soon as we got to the truck, we throw the boot, fish and all, into the bed of the truck.  “GO GO GO GO GO GO!!!!”  Dave yells.  I try to peel out, but my truck is kind of pathetic, so we just kind of pull out at an awkward acceleration.  I turn the volume up on an Irish fiddle reel, and we laugh as we head off in soggy clothes into the distance.

Three hours later, I had this painting done, as a sort of thank you gift for Dave.  I don't know about the painting, but the story is great.

margaret, days three and four

day three of Six Months, 26" x 48", oil on linen

So, my days have been going wonderfully recently.  I have been painting all day, but my evenings have been crazy.  Today, as other days, I am running off to Manhattan for a gallery opening.  I enjoy these gallery openings, as there are some really interesting people.  I do, however, wish that I could just slow down, and spend my evenings with Liam, sitting by the fire.  This is high gallery season, though, and it will be over by the end of December.

To be perfectly honest, I am very happy with this painting.  This is one of the first times that my hand truly obeyed my mind, and painted Margaret as I truly see her.  Day three, pictured above, is Wednesday's work.  Day four, pictured below, is today's progress.  Now, it's off to the Salmagundi Club in Manhattan...

day four of Six Months, 26" x 48", oil on linenworking on Six Monthsmy wonderful new studio, courtesy of Islip Presbyterian Church

margaret, day two

margaret pregnant nov 09- 1 croppedMargaret, 48" x 26", oil on linen

Here is the second day on the painting of my wife, Margaret.  I am very happy with the outcome of today's work, and so is my wife.  I don't want to say too much about the work, just yet.  Maybe it's the sentiment of a superstitious painter, but I do feel that one has to be careful with the creative process- if I talk too much about the work, then it takes energy away from the actual painting.  Verbalizing can cause me to assume that the viewer has understood the visual language of the painting.  I have to let the painting be the complete statement.  But I can assure the reader that I will talk in depth about the painting at a later point, once it is finished.

margaret pregnant nov 09- 2 low rezhaving established the shadows, here I have added just white

margaret pregnant nov 09- 4 low rezfinding Margaret...

margaret, day one

margaret in gravidanzaSix Months, progress shot, 48" x 26", oil on linen

I don't have much time to write today, I have been painting all morning, and running off to drop off a painting in a few minutes.  But, I am really pleased with the progress of this morning's work.  Here is my wife, Margaret, posing for me.  She is six months pregnant.  Six months pregnant, and posing for her artist husband- I am really surrounded by such an amazing circle of supporters.

margaret in gravidanza, detailSix Months, detail, progress shot, oil on linen

perfection in imperfection

viadeigirolamilowrezVia de Girolami, Florence, oil on linen, 30" x 14"

As I hung off of a scaffold, dangling, with one arm clutching onto the rusted bars of the scaffold, the other arm straining to spackle a nail on a twenty five foot ceiling, something happened to me.  There, in the middle of a cavernous, gaudy mansion in East Hampton, New York, I suddenly realized that I hated straight lines.  And, I hated smooth surfaces.  I hated minimalism.  I hated sameness.  I hated anything that was perfect.  The epiphany was as clear as day, the revelation as blinding as the light which struck Saul on his way to Damascus.  After applying spackle over screw number 2,715, 322, I realized that I would never be able to undo my new found aversion to perfection.

Fast forward five years.  My wife and I had just rented our new apartment in Florence, and to celebrate we decided to have some wine.  Sitting at our kitchen table, I popped open the cork and placed it down on its side on the table.  It rolled, as corks will do.  It kept rolling.  Hmm, strange.  It kept on rolling, and fell off the table.  On and on it went, happily skipping across the room.  The melody of the song  "I Lost My Poor Meatball..." was running through my mind.  The cork rolled clear across the room, through a doorway, into our bedroom, and was stopped by a wall thirty feet away from the table.  I was absolutely elated.  I giddily looked around, and suddenly I understood my subconscious motives in renting such a glorious apartment that we really couldn't afford:  it was not perfect.

The doors were askew, the timbers (functional wood timbers which ran across the ceiling) were gnarled and slightly serpentine, the floors were all unintentionally sloped, and the walls... oh, the glorious walls, they were beautiful.  The plaster walls were cracked, and kind of yellow, and crooked, and didn't meet at 90 degree angles.  The archways would make Palladium vomit, they were so wonderfully asymmetrical.  The walls were paintable (in an oil on linen type way, not latex on plaster.).

One day, when speaking with a talented, old Italian cabinet maker in the back alleys of Florence, I heard a phrase uttered in his conversation.  The phrase was "Perfection in imperfection."  He uttered it with such deep pride, I realized it was his mantra.  When he, with mallet in chisel in hand, would carve the gnarled claw at the bottom of a leg of furniture, he would leave his chisel marks.  He never sculpted two legs entirely the same, he always let his excellent human hands bring out an organic finish.  "In China, they don't use chisels, they have boring, perfect lines"  he muttered as he worked.  He was exactly right- his furniture was entirely imbued with the human spirit, from the delicate scrollwork at the top, to the claw and ball foot at the bottom.

When I work with my students, I try and convey this idea of perfection in imperfection.  Mark Twain knew it when he wrote Huck Finn, Vladimir Horowitz knew it when he glided up and down the piano and sometimes left out notes, and Bob Dylan knew it when he sang... umm, just about every song.

As I whiled away my days painting, I came to a different understanding of the objectives of art.  I was not anymore preoccupied with perfection, I was, rather, concerned with what was beautiful.  I painted the alleyways, delighting in the drunken walls leaning towards eachother, watching them stagger and extend an arch to the other wall when they lost their balance.  I painted the figure models, and tried to embrace the humanity of the person, rather than the idealized something beyond the person.  What was beautiful in Italy was never homogenous, was never burdened by sameness.

detail, uffiziUffizi, detail, oil on panel

statue Romanelli studio The Muse, detail, oil on linen

boots, detail

Boots, detail, oil on linen