Susan's "subject matter, context and medium...present a coherent artistic vision"
John Torreano, Clinical Professor of Studio Art, NYU

"Great stuff. Love your work."
Seymour Chwast

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Friday, December 25, 2015

I Wish You a French Chateau

Chateau, acrylic on linen, 36 x 24 inches

 A French chateau
in which to enjoy your escargot,
a gala with a festive floor show.

Or at least a Chateauneuf du Pape!

So off with your chapeau
2016 is pretty much a go
with art and life a striking tableau.

The ball in the Square's about to drop!

Friday, December 11, 2015

An Appointment with my Life

Sketchbook drawing, pencil and crayons

I RECENTLY DISCOVERED THE CHARMING FRENCH BLOG J'ai Rendezvous Avec Ma Vie, written by Murielle. I was so enchanted by its name, which, means "I have an appointment with my life," that I decided to do just that. I called my life to make a date.

That is not an easy thing to do because my life is very busy and thinks she is more important than I am. I thought I might get turned down–by my own life!–and I hate rejection. However, when I asked, my life said she thought she could fit me in! My life seemed at first relaxed, funny, smart, pleasant, good-looking and fun. My life looked like someone with whom I was going to have a blast. H-O-W-E-V-E-R ...

All my life wants to talk about is painting. Sure, that's fun for my life but what fun is it for me? I thought we'd go out ... have a couple of glasses of Sauvingon Blanc ... dinner, and then dance 'til dawn. That way, I thought we would get to really know each other. Well, I had a Sauvingnon Blanc. But my life ordered Pellegrino with a lime because in the morning she had to varnish some paintings, meet with her curator, design a colophon for her book and then write a post for her blog, all of which are about guess what? painting! I'm sorry to say, it was an awkward date, and we didn't bond. B-O-R-I-N-G.

OK . I can understand that my life has to take care of business, so I magnanimously said, "Mid, (That's her name. It's short for middle-life) after your varnishing and curatorial meeting, lets go shopping and buy some gorgeous spring clothes at BG." Middy replied that she'd love to, but she had to save her money for framing her artwork and paying a photographer to shoot it for her book, Depingo Ergo Sum. I had to go shopping alone. I guess my life is just not that into me.

I decided not to hang out with her again, but I still wanted another shot at my life. So I made another appointment-just not with Mid. This time I was smart about it. Instead of calling my present life, I called my pre-school life–Early. She is so precocious and cute. Early life said "Yes," and inquired if candy and a toy would be involved. Well that appointment didn't work out either. It is exhausting being around such a young life, not to mention that Early had tantrums if she didn't get her way, frequent crying jags for no reason at all and she even bit me. B-O-R-I-N-G and it hurt!

There's more than one way to date one's life, so as a last resort I called my future life. Her name is Late. I had never seen her before, but Late seemed quite elegant, erudite and even amusing over the phone. On our date though, it was a different story. It took her half an hour to walk a block. She limped and had a dowager's hump. All Late talked about was whether she would be getting a cost of living adjustment to her Social Security benefits and how much better everything had been when she was young. B-O-R--I-N-G and she was a little hard on the eyes because of all those wrinkles.

After that, I forgot all about meeting with my life. I don't want to have any more appointments with her at any age. Don't get me wrong. I still believe that having an appointment with your life is important for everybody. Just don't make one with mine. She is too busy, bratty and lame.

PS. Middy thinks it's always about her and wanted me to post a sketch that she did of the three of us. To keep on good terms with her, I've posted it above. I'm the one in the middle with bite marks.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Cadavre Exquis

"CADAVRE EXQUIS" IS A PARLOR GAME INVOLVING DRAWING or words. It relies on the chance encounter as a disruption of rationality and a product of the shared. Invented and played by Andre Breton and other 1920's Surrealist artists, "Cadavre Exquis" literally translates to "Exquisite Corpse."

To play, the first artist would begin by secretly drawing a head of a person or animal. He would then fold over the paper, hiding all but a small portion of the neck. The second artist would continue the drawing. From the neck lines of the first artist, he would draw the torso, including arms, wings, tentacles, or whatever struck his fancy. He would then again fold the paper so that only a small portion of the hips or thighs was showing and pass it along. The third artist would continue drawing the legs, feet or perhaps claws and a tail, springing off from the exposed tips of the hip lines.

This is one of many ways in which the Surrealists experimented with, and exploited, the mystique of accident and collaboration. Indeed, even the name is derived from a phrase that resulted when they first played the game: "Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau," meaning "The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine." This early game obviously was played with words rather than drawings.

An artist/curator friend recently asked me to paint a portion of a Cadavre Exquis on which he will be working with other artists. We haven't started yet, but I am eagerly looking forward to it. At the time he invited me, I was just beginning to learn Photoshop and the invitation gave me an idea. I could turn what might have been tedious Photoshop exercises into real fun by playing solitaire Cadavre Exquis. Thank you, Chuck!

I produced many collages, either from top to bottom or left to right (as in the one above) by dividing my Photoshop canvas into three parts. I took three random paintings and merged them together, continuing the lines from one image to the next with some strange and delightful results. At the time, I knew how to use the move tool, so I could move corresponding body parts of three different paintings into compositional alignment. But I had yet to learn image resizing, so the sections of the various paintings are not all the same image size. Though I was playing solitaire, it is still very much in the spirit of Cadavre Exquis.

One of the most beautiful and surprising accidents of the composite painting above is the strong lavender-suited forearm energetically jutting out of the background without a body of its own (left side center–leading to the hand with bluebird perched on it in the second mid-section.) I was stunned when I noticed it. At first I thought it must be magic because I did not actually ever draw a lavender forearm on any of the paintings which I combined. It seemingly emerged on its own from an abyss in the lavender background. In fact, it is the lavender background, re-articulated visually as a forearm by framing between the seat and the back of the chair. Chance had it that the defined space is the same shape and at the same angle as it would have been if I had actually drawn it there. Because it serendipitously leads to and connects with a hand in the next section, it strongly suggests "forearm" to the viewer. It is amazing to me because I had nothing to do with it. It is also haunting because it is echoes a remembered image of the government recruiting posters picturing Uncle Sam's pointing finger with the message, "Uncle Sam wants you"– in my case, to have more artistic accidents, I guess.

Well, accidents will happen! In additional to the magically-appearing forearm, the composite rendering of half my nephew's face on top of my best friend's face (right side of composite face) looks suspiciously like Keven Spacey. And to think I would have never known this, had I not entertained myself playing Cadave Exquis solitaire.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Postcard from the Sea of Life - The Laziest and the Best

Pool, digital painting

PARADOXICALLY, MY DIGITALLY PAINTED POOL was inspired by the laziest artist I know and the best artist I know.

The  laziest artist  is Paul W, who  was a classmate of mine in the NYU graduate painting program. Fortunately for Paul, his prodigious talent compensated for his prodigious laziness.  Being one who did not put himself out for painting (or for anything else for that matter) for the entire year he set a chair in front of his studio window and painted only that which he could view from the window. (Sometimes he included stuff on the windowsill.) Despite this rather limiting approach, he produced some  masterful  paintings. After all, it's not what you paint, it's the way that you paint it

The best artist (or at least one of them) is David Hockney. His mode of working is antithetical to Paul's for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that he travels the world while producing his art.

Pulling a Paul W. and a David Hockney:

Several years ago, inspired by Paul's laziness and Hockney's ipad paintings, I decided to paint  only what I could see from from my pool chair on my Ipad.

I had no supplies with me anyway and no inclination  to move from my chair, so, I decided to give digital painting a whirl. Usually a studio artist, I  am the first to admit I left my comfort zone. More like it, I was totally out of control but managed to paint my inaugural digital painting, Pool  and loved every minute of it.  To keep myself going,  throughout my technical bungling, I kept chanting a refrain I learned from Professor Torreano, my painting teacher  at NYU"

"If you know what you're doing it's craft; if you don't know what you're doing, it's art!"

 The above painting, Pool, definitely qualifies as art!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Picasso's Model

Picasso's Model from my book, The Flyiing Unibrow

 saw things through a prism
confounding as astigmatism
producing a major schism
between what's real and painted.

 I saw a model passing through
who looked like Dora Maar–it's true!
 reflected in my mirror view.
Here's what we two had to do:

I screamed,
She wept,
I fainted.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Just What She Always Wanted

Vincent van Gogh
ran out of dough
Concomitantly he cut off his ear.
 How drear!

When the ladies scolded him,
 Their chides emboldened him
It was clear
Vincent could no longer hear!

He queried his escort while drying a tear,
"What do you think I besmear when I leer
 I've just got this lust for life. No fear!
My brother will take care of us, dear.

I assure you I'll be able to pay some day
After I paint Sunflowers...OK?
Then Starry Night, so we won't have to fight
 Besides, I love you. You're my delight.

Perhaps, dear one, it may seem queer
That I drink absinsthe rather than beer
So out of the ordinary I do want to veer
I'm giving you part of me... my ear!"

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Making of an Artist: The Ten Second Introudction

WE SHOULD ALL PRACTICE  the 10-second introduction. I have learned that you can hold a person's attention for that long before his or her mind starts wandering. Below is the best I have come up with, and I must say, I feel a little like Robert Di Nero in Taxi practicing "You lookin' at me?"  Here goes:

"I'm a painter. I explore and rearrange the beauty of the natural world, fusing humanity with nature. The end result is more beautiful than each of them alone. Would you like to be rearranged?"

Castle in the Sky, mixed media on linen, 36 x24 inchesMMMMMMMMM

Most likely Di Nero would have said, "You lookin' to be rearranged?" OK, OK! I might not use the last sentence. I have to ask my coach.
I'll use the above or a similar image on a card to handout to all of the people who ask, "What do you do?" Because, we all know that a picture is worth 10-seconds worth of words!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Monmouth Museum

Catcher, acrylic on linen, 36 x 24"

THE FALL ART SEASON is upon us and I am thrilled that my first scheduled exhibit for the season will be at Monmouth Museum in its  exhibit PORTRAITS: A Juried Exhibition. 
The Museum Curatorial Committee selected, my painting Catcher.

My model for Catcher was my nephew Madison McLaughlin. While trying to get his likeness on canvas several unwanted McLaughlin faces (Madison's mother, father and  brother) appeared  on the work in progress. I gave myself a pep talk, saying, "Well, you're in the right gene pool, maybe the deep end of the gene pool, but the right gene pool nevertheless."

I continued working until I "got" Madison.  It occurred to me that this might be the main difference between artists and non-artists. A non artist will simply say that he can't draw something.  Sometimes artists can't either, but we keep on trying until we can.

I hope you all come to opening night, September 18 from 6 to 8. If you miss it, the show will be there through mid-November.  I would love to meet each and every one of you in person.

  Here's the link -

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale

HERE I AM SHOWING  Alice's Aura at my very first museum exhibit.  It was the Spring Juried Art Exhibit at the Museum of Art of Ft. Lauderdale AN Academy of Art and Design. It was curated by their director and lead curator, Bonnie Clearwater. The staff at the museum told me that Ms. Clearwater thought my art was a cross between Alice Neel and Frida Kahlo.

They placed Alice in a  premier location in the gallery, directly in the center of the window looking out onto the street. Not only did it look out on the street, but it looked across it to where  the paintings of Frida Kahlo  and Diego Rivera were showing at the museum's main exhibit.   I felt thrilled and humbled at the same time to be showing in such proximity to these great artists.   I hope some of their  greatness rubbed off on me!

Even if it didn't, I was proud to be there!

Here's a better look at Alice's Aura

Alices's Aura, Acrylic on linen,40 x 30 inches