Coronations and other milestones

( Passport photo. I’m on the right with open mouth.)

My family lived in England from 1952 to 1955.

In 1953,, my parents attended Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.

We still have a lot of the souvenirs, most of which are with

my niece in Colorado. Among the collection is a replica of the

golden carriage. It’s really lovely.

I was only 5 years old at the time and had a British accent!

Alas that lovely accent is long gone…

(Belt from the Coronation)

On June 12th, I’ll be traveling to Japan.

Finally, after all these years, I’ll see Japanese carp

in Kyoto. Six glorious days there 🙂

Some Yellow abstraction version 2

“Some Yellow” 30×30 inches oil on canvas

Unfortunately I don’t have a good image of version 2 but it’s pretty darn

close to the original above.

This commission was completed after falling on and badly dislocating my

right thumb. It had been begun a couple of days earlier, but, because I

used oil paint – comme d’habitude – I needed to complete it during that

narrow time frame of drying without any problems (adherence, cracking,


In this case, since I was bandaged and awaiting surgery, I finished

painting it with my left hand.

Happy to report that the client is now the contented new owner.

Happy ending all around.

Yay. 🙂

surprises good and not so good

On February 2nd Groundhog day I tripped and fell on my right thumb.

It was a serious injury requiring surgical implantation of pins to

realign the bones to properly heal.

Fortunately the pins are working.

Seventeen days post surgery, I am out of the splint and into a

fiberglass cast until March 16th.

For my most recent meeting with the hand surgeon at Mass General

Brigham, I decided to ride the elevator to the 2nd floor instead of

taking the stairs.

This is what greeted me as the elevator doors opened:

My Lotus Pool Triptych. oil on canvas 30×36 inches each panel

While I knew it was in the Yawkey Wing,

I always wondered where it landed.

Fate led me to it 🙂

Hear hear Carmen

Every painting has been a fight between the painting and me.

I tend to win.

But you know how many paintings I threw in the garbage?

Carmen Herrera


Born 1915

In preparation for my next solo show opening April 2023

(all koi paintings this go-round)

I’ve had a lot of wins – paintings that I like and love.

While a few that did not make my heart sing

were summarily tossed.

You said it best Carmen Herrera.

That’s what the creative process is all about.

Achieve the highest of standards before putting it out into the world.

End of the Year Reflections

The following is an excerpt of Maria Brito’s blog The Groove, issue #115

entitled “How to Get Better at What You Do.”

I find her posts engaging and inspiring. I hope you do too.

Enjoy! Happy Holidays!

How Wayne Thiebaud Found His Signature Style

Wayne Thiebaud in his studio in Sacramento in 1963. 

You know that everything has been invented and done already. What makes you and the world tick about what you have to say or offer is how different you are from everyone else. 

Despite having seen Wayne Thiebaud’s paintings about pastries, diners, fruits, and objects thousands of times, I still delight in their uniqueness and consistency. Besides, you can recognize a Thiebaud from miles away. Nobody paints like he did. That is a true signature style, the thing that is yours and only yours and that applies equally to all you do: artmaking, content development, teaching, selling or anything else. 

But for Thiebaud that wasn’t always the case. He grew up between Arizona and California and had a natural talent for drawing and painting. This is what he was organically good at. 

Thiebaud didn’t have the money to go to art school but was able to cut his teeth in jobs in the ad and graphic design department of a few companies, including Disney. Around 1956, he was toying with the idea of becoming a full-time artist and he took a trip to New York because he wanted to meet his idols, the painters of the abstract expressionism movement.

Wayne Thiebaud, Boston Cremes, 1962. Oil on canvas. 

And he got his wish, especially with Willem de Kooning, who invited Thiebaud to his studio on 10th Street. “He said that he thought I was a pretty good painter, but that it lacked any kind of focus in a way which was important. You are focusing on what I call ’the signs of art.’ In other words, someone suddenly becomes famous and everybody looks at what the signs of that particular painter are – brushstrokes, drips, whatever. So, you think, maybe that’s what I should get into my work. That’s not the way to go about it.” 

When de Kooning asked Thiebaud, “Why are you painting anyway?” He replied, “Well, I love doing it.” de Kooning answered, “That’s not enough; you have to find something you really know something about and that you are really interested in, and just do that.”

In simpler words: de Kooning had told Thiebaud: “you do you.” 

And that is the most crucial step to get to your unique proposition. The things only you can do because only you have had all the cumulative experiences that form and inform your life and that nobody else has.

If You Sit with the Question (and Do the Work) the Answer Will Come

Wayne Thiebaud, Jolly Cones, 2002. Oil on wood.

There are two things that I always stress when people ask me how to get unstuck or move forward professionally: spend time in silence feeding questions to your subconscious and get to work immediately after. 

For Thiebaud, the conversation with de Kooning was a rude awakening. He went back to California and sat with this question for a bit, asking to himself “who am I?”

“I’ve never been to art school. I know a little bit about art history. I grew up a Mormon boy in America. I worked in restaurants and helped cook hamburgers, washed dishes, was a busboy. What is that world? Is there anything in that world? So, I said I’m going to just start as directly as I can. And I took the canvas and made some ovals, thinking about Cézanne – the cube, the cone, and the sphere – and put some triangles over them and thought, well, that maybe could represent a pie on a plate.”

It’s not that Thiebaud spent months philosophizing about his life. He just went straight to the canvas and started representing the honest answers to his questions in a physical form. 

Those answers became the beginning of an insanely successful career that lasted until last year when he died at the age of 101. Thiebaud became known for his unique focus on paintings of everyday subject matters -especially food- inflected with pastel hues and a sense of Americana. These works are now staples at major exhibitions, art fairs and auction house sales; Four Pinball Machines (1962) sold at Christie’s for a staggering $19.1 million in July 2020.

So here are three questions to ponder for the remainder of 2022: 1) Why are you doing what you are doing? If the answer is “because I love it and I’m good at it”, that’s great but you need to answer two more: 2) who are you? 3) what do you really know and are really interested in? 

Once you’ve reflected on them, write them down. Be raw and honest, and then go to work. You may just find your home run.


Paris and Corsica

Monet – Mitchell Retrospective

Fondation Louis Vuitton

8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi

Bois de Boulogne

So many years ago I lived in La Celle St Cloud

down the street from Giverny France for 2 years.

At the time no one had told me about Giverny.

So I never visited it.

Almost 60 years later on October 29th, I was experiencing this

amazing juxtaposition of two prolific artists and

their impressions of Parisien environs.

That’s all we had time to fit into our whirlwind tour.

Our real journey was to an international conference in Corsica.

I met many new friends mostly from Belgium.

Attendees also came from Australia, Britain, Germany and


The conversation was robust and the food interesting.

It was off-season in Corsica which made fish more scarce.

And it was a challenge getting there changing airports from

Charles de Gaulle to Orly. An hour’s ride apart!

Seaport Koi

“Seaport Koi” oil on canvas 36×108 inches (2 panel 35×54 inches each)

Fidelity commissioned me to make this Koi diptych for their

Boston Seaport Hotel in 2010.

For many years it hung behind the check-in desk in the lobby.

Recently, it was moved to the Constitution Room where

the hotel hosts various special events.

When I visited yesterday there was a wedding in process

which explains the tables and random chair below the paintings.

It is always a pleasure to discover where my work ends up.

I had planned to do more of these visits until Covid prevented

access to public collections.

Stay tuned for more work photographed in situ 🙂

Some kid beat me

When I was in high school, in France, my father helped me compose

an essay for some sort of competition. He was a great writer, while

I typically waited until the last minute to begin this and other projects

with the knowledge that I worked well under pressure. Worked well

under pressure that is during the process not necessarily the outcome,

We didn’t win. Came in second I think.

Hence my father’s exclamation, “Some kid beat me!”

Yesterday I was reminded of this little event upon reading the

following in The New York Times:

Six-Figure Artworks, by a Fifth GraderAndres Valencia’s paintings have sold for more than $125,000. And he’s 10 years old

In June, he had a solo exhibition at the Chase Contemporary gallery in SoHo, where all 35 works were sold, the gallery said, fetching $50,000 to $125,000.

That’s impressive. Made me smile. Good for him!

Following up on the Vancouver trip :

If there were koi ponds I never found them.

But the aquarium had a mesmerizing display of jellyfish.

(possible subject for a new series of paintings. :))

What a great city! Adored it. Reminded me of Boston

in population, location, bustling downtown.

What I unwittingly managed to bring back with me was a nasty case of

Sciatica. For those of you who suffer from chronic pain I now fully

understand how debilitating it is. Drugs and time are the healers.

Still managed studio time to paint this small Koi painting:

4 Koi 22, 12×12 inches, oil on panel

Are there koi in Vancouver BC? and other musings

I’m about to find out.

People have told me there is a large Asian population there

so it would make sense that Koi COULD be found, non?

My fifteen day vacation should afford ample time to explore

all the possibilities.

5 Koi 22a
5 Koi 22b

In the meantime, I managed to finish a few new 12×12 Koi

These smaller ones always make me laugh because for the longest

time I painted only larger works – eg 50×60 inches or so – so a small

painting meant “a piece” of a much larger one.

It took some effort for me to shrink them down.

De rigeueur these days.

Finally, two takeaways from the Philip Guston Now show at the Boston MFA.

  1. The pink background in his the KKK paintings was inspired by “Felix the Cat” comic strip.
  2. My favorite part of the show were the wall of these little drawings that people created at the end of the exhibition:

Finally, there’s this:

New Zealand to Guarantee Artists Resale Royalties Starting in 2024
Shanti Escalante-De Mattei

New Zealand said on Thursday that artist resale rights, which provide visual artists with royalties upon resale of their work, will officially go into effect in the country in 2024.
“This is about fairness. It underlines our Government’s commitment to honoring the tremendous artistic skill and creativity of so many of our visual artists,” Carmel Sepuloni, New Zealand’s Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, said in a statement.
The Artist Resale Royalty Scheme guarantees artists a flat 5 percent royalty fee when their works are sold in the secondary market in the 80 other nations where such resale rights exist, among them France and the United Kingdom. The scheme is to be implemented as a part of New Zealand’s new trade agreement with Europe and the U.K.
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“The establishment of this Scheme is a really important step to support emerging and established visual artists in Aotearoa, ensuring that they can continue to see benefits for creating amazing art and enabling the creative sector to thrive,” Sepuloni said.
New Zealand’s art market expanded significantly in 2021, prompting debate about the secondary art market and the formation of activist group Equity for Artists. The group, which was founded by artists Judy Darragh, Dane Mitchell and Reuben Paterson, has the express purpose of pushing for resale rights.
Critics of royalties rights claim that arts professionals are being forced to bear an unnecessary burden that could negatively impact the market. Sepuloni mentioned in the release, however, that the government did its due diligence to reach out to the New Zealand art sector. Government officials had spoken with “Māori and Pacific artists, art experts, art market professionals, public galleries and museums, and key sector organizations” before initiating the scheme, Sepuloni said.
New Zealand isn’t the only commonwealth country making a push for resale rights. Canadian government officials have also been pursuing amendments to their Copyright Act that would allow for resale rights for visual artists.
“Resale rights for artists are an important step towards improving economic conditions for artists in Canada and a tangible way of ensuring that visual artists are better compensated for their work,” a government representative wrote to ARTnews in an email.
During a July 13 meeting of Culture and Heritage ministers, the amendment was discussed. “In the coming months, the Government will find opportunities to further engage with key stakeholders and partners to identify the best options for allowing resale rights for artists,” the representative said.
The United States has no such royalty scheme for visual artists, although some have been campaigning for such rights since the ’60s, when artists began observing huge markups in their work on the secondary market, according to the Center for Art Law. In 1978, the Visual Artists’ Residual Rights Act was introduced to Congress but failed to pass. The American Royalties Too (ART) Act was floated in Congress in 2018; that piece of legislation met a similar fate.

Koi Diptych

Koi Diptych 22, 24×36 inches each panel, oil on canvas

Making this koi painting was utter joy.

Instead of listening to music or NPR (with the exception ofTerri Gross’s Fresh Air interviews.)

I’ve begun listening to books on CD while painting.

For some reason listening to them never seems to interfere with the process.

And, I can catch up on my every burgeoning “to read” list 🙂