Rear View

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Summer Bliss, Bavaria. 12×16. Stebner oil on linen. Price on Request

These first six months in my Hereford studio have been productive and happy. Scarcely a day slips by without a painting session. New students have found their way to the door. It’s a lovely life-rythmn.

Falling leaves finally turned to snowflakes as we had last week. The beauty of studio painting is that I can be in any place in any season with the scroll of the computer mouse. Taking position in front of the easel, I might as well be in the boarding line at the airport and lifting a brush is a safe landing anywhere I want to be.

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Wellies and Wheelbarrow, 16×20 Stebner oil on linen, price on request

This week was a time to revisit favorite memories while welcoming students and a favorite client, returning for new Stebner’s for his collection and gift giving.

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Afternoon Aperitif, 12×16 Stebner oil on linen. Price on Request

Snowy January afternoon warming by the fire on a farm in the Auvergne. A sunny June on the bavarian Chiemsee. Strolls in a walled secret garden in Burgundy. Or watching a Burgundian gardener.

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Paisley, Peonies and Iris. 16×20 Stebner oil on linen. Price on Request

Finishing the second of these two garden folk, I realized something was going. I’d painted two out of three of the subjects from the back. I first questioned my inner world for doing so, but then realized it’s the mystery of what isn’t seen as much as what is that draws in the viewer. You can follow these gardeners safely into their private worlds without being confronted face to face. You can look through their eyes rather than into them. That’s another subject for another season.

Who dares follow me to Burgundy or Provence to see France through my eyes in June? Time is running out!  Click here or contact me directly to open the door.

 

 

Paintings: June in France

Tomorrow marks two weeks home from my summer painting/teaching excursion in Burgundy and the Périgord. Blogging was minimal because we had very little wifi. Also, there’s been a problem with my blog site domain name, which I’m happy to report was corrected yesterday. If you’re reading this, you’re back in the fold. Welcome!

I’ll try to write more about the trip in hindsight, but for now, sit back enjoy this little video of some of the finished paintings from the trip. I’ve taken time to tweet them from their raw state which you might have seen either here or on Facebook while I was gone. They are all either 6×8, 8×8 or 8×10. Now they’re ready to find their home. Feel free to contact me for prices. Shipping is free.

Lean Times to Time Square

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A week from right now, Jim and I will be back in New York meeting new and old friends at the church where we were married last January. This year we’ll be celebrating the opening of my first one-man-show in that amazing city. How honored I am that it will be in a place so dear to our hearts. Thanks to Father Gerth, Jose Vidal and our friend who put the bug in their ear, Suzanne Woods, one of my dear “Artistic Adventure” painting students, who was with me last fall in the Périgord.

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I can’t wait to go. It’s been a long Lenten journey for me. My 40 days in the desert were spent on a cold, steel radiation table every day at 5:30 zapping some obstinate prostate cells that escaped the surgeon’s knife last June. As usual, I’ve planned all my medical attention around trips to France and New York. Nothing, but nothing, can interfere with the joy that fills my soul and drives me to create. My energy and determination are stronger than ever. So celebrate with me if you dare; I have passion to spare. New York April 17. Burgundy May 28. The Périgord June 16. Or my studio on Dorchester Rd. May 2.

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SECOND CHANCES

"Sconset Cottage, Nantucket". 5x7 Stebner oil on linen panel

“Sconset Cottage, Nantucket”. 5×7 Stebner oil on linen panel

Some paintings lurk in corners of the studio and even find their way into a frame just to keep me humble. They were good ideas. And decent starts. But, for some heretofore unidentifiable reason, they fell flat in the end. Why do I keep them there, reminding me of my failure? They’re waiting for a second chance.

Tile Roofs and Hedgerows, Burgundy. Stebner 11x14 oil on stretched linen.

Tile Roofs and Hedgerows, Burgundy. Stebner 11×14 oil on stretched linen.

More accurately, they’re offering me a second chance, as an artist, to get it right. These images are waiting for a voice to tell their story. This week has been one of those times when I take them back to the easel to see if I can instill what I wasn’t able to on the first go. Get it right. Happily, I’ve been able to apply things I’ve learned since January to make them sing.

Gloaming Chateau, Brittany. Stebner 6x8 oil on linen panel.

Gloaming Chateau, Brittany. Stebner 6×8 oil on linen panel.

And now they’ve found voice, many will be part of my show, “Daily Pleasures”, which opens this Saturday at 7 p.m. at Every Blooming Thing, just around the corner. Others will go to the Big Apple with me after Easter for my show there, which opens April 17. Stay tuned…

Quiet Moment, Giverny, Stebner 6x8 oil on linen panel

Quiet Moment, Giverny, Stebner 6×8 oil on linen panel

Burgundy in a Nutshell

Morning in Normandy, Stebner 10x20 oil on linen

Morning in Normandy, Stebner 10×20 oil on linen

Winter seems to have lulled us to sleep. I confess, this blog entry is a blatant plea for your assistance to help me find the perfect people to take off for a painting adventure in France with me.  As followers of my blog, your recommendation is more valuable than anything. If it’s been in the back of your mind to join in and you just haven’t gotten around to it, please do so now! If you know someone who might be interested, I’ll be forever grateful if you let them know. The Artistic Adventure to Limeuil in the Périgord has two or three spots left. Burgundy has more, as it houses more students. And Burgundy is a great deal for anyone interested in a painting vacation! I’ve thrown in a special offer for college students because I’d love for this session to be cross-generational as well as cross cultural. Flights have just dropped in the last week, so, as two saucy young travel-bloggers say, Shut up and Go! I guarantee a great time!

And for any of you readers who sign up or send a friend, I’ll thank you with a $50 gift certificate towards a painting of any size!

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New Year, New Start

Provence: Chateau Grounds. 11x14 oil on linen

Provence: Chateau Grounds. 11×14 oil on linen

Returning from southern France, I’ve absorbed myself in an annual oblation: cleaning house. Don’t panic, I’m not talking about the whole house! Rather, housecleaning my studio. It was instigated by the purchase of a new desk. Change one thing and everything changes. In this case, not just the organization of my studio, but changes in my painting, as well.

Bowl ofOranges 8x10 oil on panel

Bowl ofOranges 8×10 oil on panel

I doubt if my change in painting approach can be attributed to the clean-up. It’s more the result of meeting my new friend Wendy and having our own little art-fix together in Arles. Unknowingly, she inspired me to try to make friends the palette knife.  In high school, my first painting teacher painted solely with the knife. The 60’s had just ended and the knife was still à la mode. I avoided it then and barely gave it time last summer in Burgundy, where I painted next to my new palette knife-painter friend, Monika Johnson. Nevertheless. the seeds had been planted and now watered. But bref, every time I’ve picked up a knife to paint in place of a brush, I feel like I’m painting with the wrong hand.

French Coffee Pot and Pears. 11x14 oil on linen

French Coffee Pot and Pears. 11×14 oil on linen

At this stage of life, I’m all about confronting whatever fears remain. And what’s the worst thing that can happen in this case? Really! So the challenges of 2015 are being faced head-on. Welcome the fresh breeze of the unknown. As a result of my taking the knife in hand, going back to the brush is already a more efficient process. It’s brought me to paint with thicker paint, having been inspired last summer by Antonin Passemard and Anastasia Dukhanina. As a teacher, it reminds me that words sometimes take a long time to take root.

Blue Skies over Uzes. 11x14 oil on linen.

Blue Skies over Uzes. 11×14 oil on linen.

I’ll remember that this summer when I’m teaching in France in two very beautiful and different parts of the country: Burgundy and the Périgord. Who’s going to face their fears, put excuses behind, sign up and join me? You won’t regret it!

L'Eustaque: Winter Plane Trees. 8x110 oil on panel

L’Estaque: Winter Plane Trees. 8×110 oil on panel

August Angst

Peaceful Times, the Perigord. Stebner 30x40 oil on linen.

Peaceful Times, the Perigord. Stebner 30×40 oil on linen.

The end of August has a lot at stake for me. I’m nearing week eight after surgery, when I have a PSA test to confirm that surgery was the last step in my cancer treatment. And since the beginning of July, I’ve been painting up a storm for my end of summer art sale August 30, two days after my checkup, which carries with it some of the same anxiety as the unknown blood test result, believe it or not. No matter how you plan the event, you never know who will show and if you’ll have a piece they find irresistible. Insecurities can bubble. All the stars have to align just so. It seems that, art aside,  a good show requires the perfect mix of faithful followers and new devotees. Throw in a great gallery contact for the future and it’s a winner!

Early Hours. Stebner 18x24 oil on linen.

Early Hours. Stebner 18×24 oil on linen.

Anxiety aside, there’s a certain exhilaration in taking blood tests and planning art sales, that’s like a good trip. The unknown created by hills, valleys and turns are what make a journey memorable, paintable even. Whether it’s wondering what your blood draw will reveal, or watching to see who has responded to the invitation to see your new art, the antennae are tuned. In truth, it’s why I prefer Normandy, Burgundy and the Perigord over the plains between Paris and Limoges. Seeing for miles ahead becomes all too predictable. But just as I hope for that irresistible hamlet around the next bend, I long for success unexpected those last days of August which usher in a clean slate and full coffer in September as I set off for a new Artistic Adventure on the Dordogne River.

Boats and Water Lilies, Giverny. 20x30 oil on linen.

Boats and Water Lilies, Giverny. 20×30 oil on linen.

Fourth of July 2014

20140608_143723Just over a week ago, I was savoring my last French coffee and buttery croissant in Paris before packing my brushes to return home from a month in France. I’d led two small groups on Artistic Adventures through some rural haunts of Normandy and Burgundy, as well as studying painting for a week, myself. The next day, I was sipping clear liquids from my sun drenched room at University Hospital in Cleveland, just hours after a successful prostatectomy.

20140603_112224You see, March’s blood tests were not what I’d hoped for. A spike in my PSA results called me to make decisions about new doctors and protocol. April’s MRI and biopsy only verified the fact that my Bavarian cancer cure a year ago was only temporary. All this was a parallel chapter playing secretly as we made final plans to celebrate our daughter’s May wedding and then take off on the French adventures I’d promised a dozen of my followers.

What changed not only my mind, but my FRAME of mind about surgery? At the end of my first consultation at University Hospital, after recommending surgery as my best long-term option(exactly what he knew I was avoiding), Dr. Hoimes said to me: “You’re a young man and you have many more paintings to create”. Brilliant! Ultimately, tail-gating surgery onto the jet-lag of my month in France was just another unexpected turn in the road and my mind was at that perfect spot to experience the unexpected and bring me to this blissful moment, today, snacking on dead-ripe watermelon in the garden. Quintessential Fourth of July fare.

The potager at Chateau Chatillon.

The potager at Chateau Chatillon.

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La Bohème to Bloomsbury

20140617_065601Sleeping in a top floor garret in the old walk-up Hotel Esmeralda à la Bohème last night was all the more intensified by Parisian thunder storms. The perfect punctuation to the end of the first chapter of my French sumer trilogy. However, getting my gear to the station and making sure I was on the train to Burgundy was a bit stormy, itself. Staying calm and allowing ample time paid off. That and remembering that life is just the ultimate adventure.

Any guesses what famous Parisian literary spot this is? My room looks down on it's back window!

Any guesses what famous Parisian literary spot this is? My room looks down on it’s back window!

 

So the three hour train ride turned into five. If railroad construction didn’t thwart the trip enough, come to find out, it’s an obscure French holiday- and the beginning of a train strike. Surprise! There’s a french expression that essentially says the French are either on strike or holiday. Today was both.

Tomorrow’s another day and I’m settled with my new painting buddies at Table-Tableau in the Burgundian Morvan. It all seems so Bloomsbury out here in the country with the only humans being artists. One mission accomplished. More artist contact.

Salsa music is playing, the sun is shining and it’s almost dinner time. I can’t wait to see what our Dutch host, Agnes, has prepared. The table under the patio awning is beautiful and it smells divine.

Bruce is happy and content.

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ENCHANTED APRIL

Winter Roses. Study for the afternoon.

Winter Roses. Study for the afternoon.

Who remembers the 1991 movie “Enchanted April” in which a group of disenchanted Londoners  collect in a Tuscan villa for an escape from the gloom of a dreary London winter? What they find is more than a vacation in the sun. The human experience they encounter is what I crave for the participants in my “Artistic Adventures” trips to France this June. I make the offer and see whose soul resonates with it. Then plan a French country getaway just for them.

6x8 oil on panel. Road's End. Stebner

6×8 oil on panel. Road’s End. Stebner

Though not disillusioned, the promise of six or more inches of snow tonight calls for mental escape. This trip has been my winter obsession; create a French fantasy for my small bands of travelers which will forever enrich their lives with memories fine enough to dispel any long winter storm.

Happily, all of the characters are in place for this two act “Enchanted June”. And the stage is set: a favorite converted mill in Normandy for the first group, followed by a stone house in Burgundian wine country for the second.

Victoria's already dreaming of cooking vats-full of coq au vin in this kitchen!

Victoria’s already dreaming of cooking vats-full of coq au vin in this kitchen!

How lucky I am to have a gallery of French memories, beyond tourist monuments,which includes waking to the aroma of yeasty baguette from the patisserie around the corner, hearing the cookoo call, and painting or lounging by a brook where fishermen, a stones throw away, are catching their evening meal. As much as I anticipate my travelers experiencing the things I love about France, I know it’s the things unexpected, the detours and turns in the road, which will give their trip its own unique flavor and make our trip a true artistic adventure. The human element is the crust on the pain au levan I can’t wait to bite into!IMG_2314For a reminder, click here to watch a great trailer about Enchanted April…