Sunday, February 26, 2012


I am excited that The Steven Boone Gallery will be hosting a major show of portraits, July 6, 2012. Artists from as far away as New York, Seattle, and Ontario, Canada will participate. My friend, the painter Geoffrey Laurence is curating and his standards are high, so this will be a wonderful exhibit.
I am primarily known as a landscape painter, and this is what sells the most for me. But I have always loved portraits and depictions of human subjects. Now, besides my landscape paintings, I am working on portraits.

Recently, a colorful and stately older woman came to my studio. Alicia De Najera Sena and I are just getting acquainted. When my wife, Heidi Of The Mountains, realized that I needed a subject, she immediately thought of Alicia. Alicia is flamboyant and worldly. Her heritage is Native American and Hispanic, and she has been involved with flamenco and flamenco dance companies for years.

When Alicia arrived at my studio, she was dressed in a red velvet dress and red shawl, which was perfect for enhancing the look of her dark skin and long black hair. She brought flamenco cd’s with her, and as the music played, struck poses under my skylight, in front of a black cloth I had strung from my ceiling. I took about seventy pictures. Soon, I will begin sketching from one of the photo’s and call Alicia back in for adjustments as I proceed. It is better this way, since Alicia  has foot problems and could not stand for hours on end as I paint her portrait.

I am certain I will get a good likeness.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chamo's Adventure

It is remarkable how different are the charms of a forest from season to season. Now, in winter, our forest in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is covered in deep snow. Heidi Of The Mountain’s and I arrived at a popular trail this morning just after sunrise, put on snowshoes, and along with our puppy, Chamo, hiked into the magical woods. The only sound to be heard was the crunch of snow under our feet.

Chamo had his first adventure in snow. He is an enthusiastic puppy—a poodle with jet-black curly hair. It is wonderful to see him when he joyfully bounds in the air with all feet off the ground. Soon, he played games with snowballs that he created with his jumping. The bits of snow rolled in balls down the steep slope, and he liked chasing them just ahead of his nose. The trail is packed from skiers and hikers, but is softer on the sides. Heidi, who adores Chamo watched in delight and then horror as Chamo chased a snowball into the powder, sinking with each step but continuing on until he was in over his head and could not move. “Steven!” she cried. Chamo struggled and managed to turn himself around, thrashing the snow but sinking. He managed to clamber back up the hill, but midway, another snowball rolled away and he went after it. “No Chamo!” we both shouted at once. He had become a snowball himself, whiter than black. “Steven, save him!” But I did not want to go down the hill. A few minutes later, Chamo managed to hop and thrash his way upwards, his nose barely above the snow, then reach Heidi’s arms on the trail. He has puppy energy, so we continued our hike while I pondered if there was a moral to the story of Chamo’s adventure chasing snowballs into the unknown.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


2012, oil on linen, 9 x 12 inches
Self-Portrait, 2007
Many famous artists have made self-portraits. Vincent VanGogh (Dutch, 30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) made 22 in just two years. The Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo  (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954) produced over fifty. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when scholars began to study Rembrandt Van Rijn (Dutch, 15 July 1606[1] – 4 October 1669), they were surprised to discover that he had painted himself on at least forty occasions, and had etched himself thirty-one times, and made a handful of drawings.
Frida Kahlo, Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird

I love to look at self-portraits. They are always inquisitive, and take a bit of boldness. After all, how many people can look at themselves in the mirror for hours—even days on end. It can be daunting, looking at oneself so closely and honestly. My first attempt was when I was a student at The Maryland Institute, College of Art, and my painting class was given the assignment to do a self-portrait. I spent sixty hours trying to get it right before I finally succeeded.
Van Gogh, Self-Portrait with Straw Hat 1887

The history of mirrors is a fun subject, and is the outcome of man’s craving to see himself, and know how he looks on the outside. In early times, crude mirrors were made of flattened, polished metal that showed reflections. Then, in Venice, Italy, during the 16th century, a method of backing a plate of flat glass with a thin sheet of reflecting metal came into widespread production. The invention was so fantastic and special, that it was a closely guarded secret.

Rembrandt, Self-Portrait-1660

In the field of photography, the contemporary artist Cindy Sherman (American, born January 19, 1954) is famous for her series of self-portraits. In them, she assumes a wide range of roles. Her prints are among the highest paid for photographs.

Cindy Sherman

This past week, I found a few self-portraits in my studio that were done within the past five years. I have re-worked them, even though my face has changes somewhat.
Wikipedia has a great article including plenty of pictures about self-portraits:

Sunday, February 05, 2012


Last Monday, Heidi Of The Mountains and I drove eight hours from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to arrive in Phoenix, Arizona, where her parents have a winter home in Sun City, the sprawling retirement community.  The weather during winter is balmy—warm enough for shorts. I am coming to know my in-laws, and played a round of golf with Heidi’s father.
Colorado, 8 x 10 inches, oil on board

I brought my paint supplies with me, but honestly, although the weather is great and Phoenix is a major American city, I am not impressed with the physical appearance of the area. It is very flat, in a desert, and non-descript houses are wall-to-wall everywhere. So when it came time for me to choose a painting, I did several, but from photographs retrieved from my computer.

We love the Sonoran Desert environment; the only place in the world where the Saguaro cactus grows in the wild. This morning, we left home just after dawn to drive to a place where we could hike. We found a trail in mountains near Sun City and walked among the saguaro with our puppy, Chamo. At the end of the winding walk, we came to a rock wall with a small pool of water at its base. The morning light was good for picture taking, as you can see from the one  I am including here at the top.