Blog Archive


My Magic Lunch Box

September 01, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Lately, I’ve been prowling junk shops and Goodwill stores on a quest for frames for the growing number of paintings in my garage, and yesterday morning I spotted something that brought back a flood of memories.   When I was eight, a Drug King opened nearby, and as part of the grand opening they were selling a few Army Surplus items. Strange that a drug store would sell Army surplus, but such was the case. I was intrigued by a pyramid of green metal boxes—ammunition containers according to a sign. They looked cool—boys love most things military— and at only fifty cents each I had to have one.   Once I got it home I needed to find a purpose for it, something creative since I didn’t have any ammo. I ...

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Say Yes to the Dress

September 04, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Female rulers have experienced problems their male counterparts haven’t had to deal with. Rulers like Henry VIII used court painters like Hans Holbein to make them look more “kingly,” concealing weight, broadening shoulders and fashioning massive codpieces to promote masculinity, but women have also used clothing to cement their rule in a world dominated by men. Elizabeth I was no exception. Her challenge was to transform herself—the shamed daughter of an executed Queen consort—into one of Europe’s most powerful monarchs. One of the ways she accomplished this was with clothing.             Animals instinctively puff up their profiles when confronted ...

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September 06, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
              Thanks to Tabor at One Day at a Time for allowing me to use her photograph as inspiration for my painting. I’ve been busy the past few months, and this will be my eleventh canvas this summer. I haven’t posted pictures of all of them but perhaps I will when this one is completed.        Blank Canvas             I purchased a canvas 36 by 36 inches ( I don’t think I’ve ever painted on a square surface before) and sketched the main characters in the composition. I usually do this in burnt umber, which works well with later colors. Usually, I start painting the main character, wh ...

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Unleash the Dogs of War!

September 08, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
You might recall that I’ve been fighting with DirecTV over a refund owed my late mother, a refund of $30.90. My mother spent hours on the phone trying to get her refund and died without receiving it. She’d often complain about the incompetence of the people on the other end of the phone, and since she could be a cantankerous old soul I assumed she was the one responsible for the problem. Sorry Mom, it wasn’t you. DirecTV has the worst customer service I’ve run across in my sixty-five years.             A month ago I spent a ridiculous amount of time on the phone explaining for the umpteenth time that I was executor of my mother’s estate and we were still ...

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A Special Project and an Update

September 11, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
My thoughts this week have been with the folks in Florida facing Hurricane Irma, as well as the people in the Houston area still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. It’s hard to know how best to help those affected by these tragedies and sending money seems cold and heartless, although the authorities say this is the best way we can help those in need.   This past week I’ve been working on a special project. I paused work on my chess scene to paint a picture for my future daughter-in-law. Her mother was killed in an auto accident eight years ago and, with CJ’s help, I painted a portrait of her mother as a pre-wedding surprise. It’s a challenge to paint someone from a snapshot, someone you’ve ...

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A Fun Psychology Test

September 13, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
      There are scores of psychology tests but to my knowledge this is the shortest, the only test that’s actually fun to take, and in my case the only accurate one. Take a moment to answer these five questions honestly and you might discover something you didn’t know about yourself. Feel free to write down your answers, and don’t over think your responses; your first thoughts are the most revealing. The answers are revealed at the end.   Question #1  Imagine that you’ve just awakened from a deep sleep to find yourself walking on a path in a forest. What time of day is it?   Question #2 While walking on the path in a forest you look down and find a cup partially buried in leaves. ...

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War Games

September 15, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
The war is over.             It began a year and a half ago when my mother overpaid on her DIRECTV account. She tried to get her refund but DIRECTV dragged its feet until my mother passed away. I spent hours on the phone trying to resolve this issue. We were only talking about $31.90 but you’d have thought I was asking for the keys to the kingdom.             Over the past year, I’ve spoken to a score of DIRECTV employees, some in India and others in the Philippines. I was told I was speaking with supervisors when I wasn’t, and promises were made that weren’t kept, and many times I was hung up on. I was t ...

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The Perfect Crime?

September 18, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
                While most of this story is factual, some of it is speculation. It’s up to you to decide how much to believe.   ***************************           Take a look at this face. Do you see a mastermind? A patriot? An idiot? This post is about the theft of the most famous painting in the word, a theft that caused this painting to become the most famous painting of all time.           Vincenzo Perugia     Some details are known, but much of this story is conjecture. In 1911, Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre. For two years her whereabouts were unknown. Mona Lisa’s face was, for the ...

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The Perfect Crime--Gone Girl!

September 20, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Part One of this story can be found (here).   I wasn’t first to question whether or not Vincenzo Perugia had the wherewithal to pull off a master caper, even though it wouldn’t have taken a genius to steal a painting from the Louvre in 1911. The Louvre has over four hundred rooms and only two hundred guards and employees in 1911. Paintings were often removed from walls for cleaning or restoration and it wasn’t known that the Mona Lisa had been stolen for over twenty-four hours. Most museums at the time had poor security and little insurance. Stealing wasn’t difficult, but what to do with a famous painting once you’d stolen it? So much publicity surrounded the theft of the Mona Lisa that it would have bee ...

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Conclusion: The Perfect Crime

September 22, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Note: Part Two of this story can be found (here). And I’ve been misspelling the name Perugia, which is actually spelled Peruggia.   ****************   Why would anyone arrange the theft of a famous painting and never claim the prize? Did the plan somehow fail? Was the mastermind behind this spooked by all the publicity, or was publicity part of the scheme? Even Pablo Picasso was briefly considered a suspect.   Valfierno was a conman known for peddling fake paintings. He’d previously sold fakes, telling clients they were purchasing stolen originals, claiming the museums had hidden the thefts by hanging copies. It seems this maneuver blew up on Valfierno, who briefly suspended his nefarious enterprises when on ...

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Tucked or Untucked

September 25, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
  My timing has always sucked. The Internet is filled with tests designed to determine which time period you should be living in. I’ve taken many of these tests and evidently I should have lived during the Renaissance. So there’s that….   When I headed off to college in the 70s to study art, abstract and non-objective painting were the vogue and my professors weren’t interested in teaching classical painting techniques. So there was that….   When I decided to become an illustrator I spent time and money mastering the airbrush, just in time for computers to wipe out the airbrush business. So there was that….   When I decided to write novels, I waited until computers made resea ...

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A Roar Instead of a Whimper

September 27, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Fellow blogger Adam at Neko Random has been blogging about a recent trip to the North Carolina State Zoo, reminding me of an incident I’ll never forget.   ******************   When our son was small he loved going to the zoo. Back then, the Portland Zoo was well known for its elephant breeding program, but not much else. Every year we would walk past enclosures with sleepy bears, molting predatory birds and disinterested zebras. But one time was different.             I had just passed through the ticket gate with Mrs. C. and little CJ when people ahead of us started running, drawn by one of the most incredible sounds I’ve ever heard, similar to the sound of ...

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Eating Thistles

September 29, 2017 :: written in: All Blog Posts
Among my favorite things to eat are artichokes. I don’t know many people who enjoy them as much as I do. I notice that fancy TV chefs are roasting and stuffing them with all sorts of mixtures. My mother enjoyed them with butter but I go for mayonnaise, although these days I limit the mayo.   Artichokes originated in lands bordering the Mediterranean and were mentioned as far back as the 8th century BC. They can look formidable to the uninitiated. I’m always amused that, while eating one, the inedible parts grow and grow until there’s more left when finished than when you started.   When I was attending college at UCLA, I worked in our dorm kitchen washing dishes. One day I noticed all the plates coming back w ...

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