I find the Scottish clouds and grey skies are as fine as sunshine most anywhere else. Between Guardbridge and Cupar, just west of Saint Andrews is Saint Cloud, where Robert Burns was moved to recall:
Few happy hours poor mortals pass
then give those hours their due
and rank among the foremost class
our evenings at Saint Cloud.
10 x 8 Inches, Oil on Linen Panel
It may be you will come again, before my hair is grey
As the sea is in the twilight of a weary winter's day.
When success is grown a burden, and your heart would fain be free,
Come back to Saint Andrews -- Saint Andrews and me.
The final verse of Come Back to Saint Andrews by R.F. Murray.
I have found something in Rose Quinacridone, or it has found something in me. How it plays to ultramarine and to certain French yellows and how it insists so earnestly on joy. I'd not really thought to lend it to a landscape, to just let it go. But as I painted this I thought of fields. Of fields painted by Frost, of a one where Whitman to his father called. But when it was done, the field itself and all this color said it belongs to Rumi. And so, it does.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.
I painted this with imagined color. It's based on the only known photograph of American painter Max Bohm 1868 - 1923. The photographer is unknown. Bohm in his later years lived and worked in Bronxville, NY and summered in Provincetown, MA. My favorite of his paintings is this portrait of his wife, Zella Newcombe Bohm.
10 x 10 Inches, Oil on Linen Panel
A small, rough knife and brush take on the self portrait by a young Eugene Delacroix. His attire feels ecclesiastical, which is fitting for a high priest of the French Romantic painters. Unlike most romantics, Delacroix was driven by a sense of individualism sans overt sentimentality. Baudelaire said "Delacroix was passionately in love with passion, but coldly determined to express passion as clearly as possible." For Eugene, we enjoyed a La Chapelle Bordeaux, large helpings of Melody Gardot, Keren Ann, original Norah Jones and Amy Winehouse, finished with a Romeo & Julieta Montecristo white series. Sometimes painting is pretext for other pleasures.
Sunday evening, en route to dinner in Wallingford, we met Sev at Gouveia Vineyard in the hills above the village. Traces of last week's blizzard patched the ridge. The cabernet was noble and the sunset beyond mesmerizing. There is something perfect to be felt at vineyard in winter.
Unconsciously I have been painting a series of Madonno with Child. Maybe because men are forgotten in the context of tenderness, maybe because men, ourselves today, need to recall the essence of tenderness, maybe for some reason beyond my awareness. This one is for a gift to my dear friend, Mayrah Rocafort-Mercado. She posted a small black and white family picture a year or two ago. I was taken by her infant image, secure in her grandfather's strong arms under a long-ago Caribbean sky. It looks as though in that moment someone had urged the photographer to position the child in the shade, accounting for the chair hastily placed against the leaves of the tree. At least one tries to imagine some aspect of the story that the photo tells.
I've had the time this holiday season to revisit a number of paintings I had left uncompleted. This one was from a photo of Severiano after we lost his Mima. The incomplete piece was a black & white tonal study. Giving it color made me to feel his contemplation and brought back well of sentiment.
This has been a springtime of mesmerizing skies. I find myself pulling over to look and, often, forget to snap a picture because one gets utterly lost in the colors, the moving, melding washes of color. At moments, a little of the same thing happens to me as i paint these simple alla prima pictures. I plead the Joni Mitchell defense: So many things I would've done but clouds got in my way.
In a few weeks time, we can leave the office early one evening. We'll wash some fruit and make some simple sandwiches, and wrap them in baggies and wonder what happened to the wax paper of forty springtimes past. And we'll pack our baskets or buckets and what wine we have on hand. And we'll find a spot not far from always, and there we'll toss a thousand winter-stiffened blankets into the same sweet spring breeze and once again on grateful knees say grace and dig into it all.
My cowboy uncle, the eldest and the only one of his nine brothers and sisters who lived out his life in Cuba. Only for two months in 1993, when we gained permission to bring him to America for privately-funded double cataract surgery (a surgery that the Cuban government rationed and which they deemed him too old to receive), did he ever leave the island. One of the highlights of his stay with us was a visit to Yankee Stadium before he returned home. A beautiful and gentle man.
Youth is not always wasted on the young. This spot is beautifully read by the 92 year-old Christopher Lee, from a new poem by the mere 76 year-old Roger McGough. The encouragement to think oneself younger (and to act accordingly) were qualities that both my mother and my second mother (Valerie's mother) demonstrated for all their days.
I also love the truth in the line that says "Time flies, they say. But it's us who fly. Time sits on its hands as we rush by."
A stretch of field, on the edge of a heaven, at the cusp of dusk. Leaving New Paltz, New York, the valley rises into the hazy shoulder of the Shawangunks. There is no modern wheel that is truly at home here; the mountains shame us for traveling on anything but foot or horseback.
Skytop tower in the morning twilight at Mohonk Mountain House. The view from the top feels endless. One can see five different states as a reward for the 973-ft ascent from lakeside. The trails are easy, but the Lemon Squeeze climb is through a labyrinth of massive, house-sized boulders. You pass under them and scramble over them to a final pitch that is a vertical 100 feet which you make with handholds and toeholds on a rickety single-pole ladder inside a claustrophobic crevasse that is barely the width of your shoulders. What a marvelous place in the world. Mohonk will always feel like our second home.
This is along a lovely stretch of reservoir that cuts through two preserves and frames many haunting winter skies. I like to park and hike the edges when the water is low. Hopefully the regular snows will press into March and usher in for us a good, wet early spring.