Wednesday, October 01, 2014

autumn ascends

This photo shows a bit of our back-yard dogwood in afternoon light. This tree shows its fall colors earlier than others. I like the unfocused background of this shot as much as the well-defined green, yellow, and orange shapes that are close at hand. I like, too, the shadowed and highlighted branches fronting, as they do, the abstract fence at lower right and distant greenery above.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


I recently spent some time in Madison, Wisconsin, and in Chicago. I took some photos but I don't think any will end up here. During an afternoon in Chicago's Art Institute I wandered in the galleries of modern American art looking for and failing to find paintings by artists whose lives I've been researching. I wandered also in the great, bright wing of contemporary art and there found two good Mardens.

By far my favorite painting in AIC collections is the one shown above. It's Vuillard's "Foliage-Oak Tree and Fruit Seller" of 1918. It's large—over 9 feet wide and 6 high—and it rewards an observer who's willing to give it close attention. The medium is distemper on canvas. In making it Vuillard mixed powdered pigments in water and a hot-glue binder. He had to act quickly as the pigments became unworkable as they cooled. The result is pleasingly free and expressive.

This image shows us all how difficult, near impossible, it is to render a painting like Vuillard's on computer screen. It's disheartening. In general, the media—painting and digital photography—do not seem to be so very incompatible. In this case they are.

I write all this largely because the museum as not shown "Foliage" on my last two visits. It's collections are excellent and the time I spend in its galleries nourish my soul, but I'd so like to have ten minutes or so before this one painting once again.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014


There's lots to like about the neighborhood in which I live. It's kid-friendly, walkable, easy on the eyes, and almost entirely free of violent crime. One of its attractions for me has always been its more-or-less equal mix of large and small houses. This has been changing over the past few years as the latter type disappear. Many are mansionized by expansion up and out. Others, like this one, are eliminated to make room for new dwellings that are pretty much all structure and no yard or garden.

This demolition began when the backhoe arrived and carved out the street side of the little hill on which the house sits. The debris is dumped into trucks that pull into the newly-opened space.

Friday, August 15, 2014

a blush of color

This Rose of Sharon appeared today in the back-yard jungle of our neighbor to the south. It stands out handsomely amidst a dense thicket of vines, bushy greens, and cockeyed trees.