Global Warming

February 14, 2017

OK­­­, THEY’VE BEEN back ‘n forthing for some time now about this “global warming” stuff with no indication that they’ll ever reach agreement. Does this cause it? Or this? That? Wait a minute! Does it really even exist? Some claim that it’s simple science. Others, that it’s ‘junk’ science—or no science at all. Well what is it? Who ought we listen to? What ought we believe? Since it’s still “up in the air” (pun definitely intended) ought we care at all? And, if we should care who or what do we point our finger at. An industry? A person? T he truth is, folks, that the case for global warming has long been settled at least as far back as Nineteenth Century France—to be exact, during the heyday of the plein airistes. Any dedicated studio-encased painter could tell you way back then that it was those nutty outdoors ‘painters’ opening their toxic tubes of alizarin crimson, cadmium yellows, Prussian (i.e. ‘fascist’) blue and sap green being brazenly opened in the ‘pure’ light of day, contemptuously contaminating the atmosphere. Those committed indoor artistes were not taken in by the fancy label of plein airistes—they were unabashed polluters of our air and the real culprits of causing the global warming of our endangered planet. They even exported their evil abroad, the so-called “Hudson River School” in America, for example, avid followers of this misguided practice. Surely, we all are doomed to the inevitable curse of being made ‘toast’! So there! Hereby resolved! Fini!




…and Winter will be cold as — usual.

September 9, 2016

Well, Spring has sprung, Fall has fell…and Winter will be cold as — usual. Fall, or Autumn, or Indian Summer — whatever you choose to call it — is my favorite time of year up here in the Catskills. I can breathe freely, imagine I can see forever in the air’s clarity, and generally find it the Season to “get it together” since Old Man Winter has mostly kept me indoors these latter years — to sit, to read, to mull, to assess, to look back, to sink even lower into my much-loved solitude and get myself prepared for the next phase of this thing called “Life.” My “doings”— especially those related to my editor/artwriter duties for ART TIMES — have been severely curtailed for some time now — so many exhibition receptions I have missed, so many worthy artists still to be profiled, so much…ah, well.

Perhaps I may even get out to try to capture just-one-more autumnal scene of magical color on a small piece of canvas before the cold sets in, the snow covers all, and I plump up the pillows on my easy chair…another pipe dream, I guess, since here I am in my 83rd year and haven’t managed to do a painting that really “gets it” yet. My usual excuse is simply, “I’m a writer — not a painter!” True, but then I haven’t managed to capture the mysteries of Nature — or of those artists who do get it — in words either.

The “human condition”* sometimes leaves a lot to be desired. Anyway, the dénouement can’t be that far off — I’ve already put in for a front-row seat. Hope I’ve earned the privilege of that much-vaunted overview promised by our theologians upon our “phexit” (physical exit)…however, I’ll be happy with that 6th-century Chinese (Han Yu) poet’s observation: “Better a long-dark silence, than a life full of lies.”

* The best description of which I found in Gaius Plinias Secundus’ (more commonly referred to as “Pliny the Elder”) Chapter 7 of Natural History.

(High Woods, NY. September 2016)


August 8, 2016

The past several years have brought on enough ailments (hand surgery, etc.) to hold me back from much of my duties as Editor/Artwriter for ART TIMES but also interfered with a good deal of my “play” time. Often, when I ran into writer/word-blocks, I would gaze out my study window and suddenly be entranced by a mesmerizing view — the sun glinting off a rock, a bush, Indian Summer colors — whatever — which made me grab a canvas, some colors, brushes and stuff and dash outside to “capture” whatever I was (or thought I was) seeing. I live in High Woods, NY which is indeed a place of “high” woods and I am surrounded by Mom Nature in all her untrammeled beauty — and so my forays outdoors usually end up as a “landscape”. Click here for RJS DMB show Brochure.

Since I schmear outside I am therefore sometimes referred to as a plein air landscape painter…. a pretty lofty title for a writer who finds daubing in oils a respite from over-thinking. Consequently, and to make a short story long, my outside excursions have also been curtailed by uncooperative body parts (BTW: if we are supposed to be earth’s animal #1, how come our Creator gave all our body parts different expiration dates? Annoying!).

On the upside of all this complaining, for the past couple of years I’ve had my sister’s eldest daughter periodically “dropping in” to urge me to give a few painting “tips”…. A late starter (as was I) she has been bitten by the “schmear bug” and wants to play in oils. Enter “Unka Ray”. For the past 2 years, she has managed to put a fire under my tush to go outside and paint! So we have been; and do from time to time. We’ve managed (or she managed) to do it enough times to “amass” enough of an “oeuvre” for her to get the idea of a joint showing at a local bank, The Mid-Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, in Woodstock, NY.

Hence, “Side by Side”, a taste of which is here shared with you. On the really up side is the fact that she has gotten me off my easy chair enough times now, that I find I can even go out alone again to shut off the mind-machine and go out and play. Brava Diane Baker!

The 2013 Saugerties Art Tour

September 30, 2013

ImageI signed on to the Annual Saugerties Artists’ Tour in August this year, after much hemming and hawing on my part — I’m not happy with my solitude and space being disturbed (I usually call it an “invasion”), so I go through my own private “Annual Tour” of my mind, thinking up reasons not to sign up for the ‘ordeal’. However, I did it and, as in past years, attendance was surprisingly robust (what is it that attracts such crowds?) and, once again, I survived to tell about it. Visitors are polite, aware that they are entering what some artists call their “inner sanctum”, and, mostly, thankful and grateful for the opportunity to “sneak a peek behind the curtain”.Many times, in fact, it could even be a learning experience — not least for the artist as well as for the visitor. For example: my modus operandi is to stay in my study (my “studio” is ordinarily outdoors) while my wife, along with my niece Diane, “man” the “gallery” (a near-by building that houses my work) answering questions or handling the business of being sociable and/or making sales. My wife told me that, during this year’s tour, a woman was “critiquing” my work, pointing out to her companions how my “style” changed from “here” to “here” (pointing to two separate paintings). I was a bit intrigued by what my wife told me since, never having taken an art or painting “course” under some instructor, I didn’t think I even had a “style”, my manner and practice being to “smear” my colors on a canvas with a palette knife, manipulating them until they conformed to my satisfaction. I say “my” satisfaction pointedly, since all of my paintings (if they even deserve that formal categorization) are executed to please me. Each one, regardless of the “landscape” depicted, is less what I see “out there” than what I see “in here” — thus they are “designed” to fill that bill — all of which, I suppose, one might call my “style”. Strictly speaking, I am not trying to depict a specific locale but rather a moment in time in which the light (sun) attracted my eye on how it glanced off a tree or rock outside my study— once “captured” (if one can actually claim to capture a moment of time and light) I’m satisfied, and more often than not add trees, rocks, shrubs, hills, dales and clouds willy-nilly to give a “setting” to that fleeting moment of light and time. Thus, each of my paintings represent, for me, a moment in my life when I felt enlarged, enlivened, infinite, enlightened — a kind of living, tangible moment that I want to keep forever in my mind — which means, I guess, that I see the progression of my “paintings” as a diary of my education as a sentient being. So, maybe the lady was correct in seeing the expansion of my perceptions as a change in “style”… I don’t know…but I do know that seeing my work going off in the backseat of someone’s car always gives me a bit of a pang.