Figurative Paintings

2000 - 2010

“Harley Quin”
Oil on panel
4′ x 4′

This painting was inspired by a friend of mine who was a talented performer.   She joined the group of performing artists I led in the 2000’s called the Little Red Studio.   She was a highly accomplished aerialist who developed and made her own costumes, directed and choreographed her own pieces and even made her own music.   

She made this Harli Quin costume and modeled for photos.   I then did this and several other paintings inspired by her work.     

This particular painting became a real favorite and was on display in my spa lobby for many years.    It also has the distinction of being the last painting I didn’t sell and became the reason I stopped selling my work.     

Selling art is not easy.   Everyone knows that.   It’s like saying it’s cold when it snows.  Another aspect to all of that is that pricing paintings is also difficult.   Since art is not a commodity it’s hard to develop a price based on the standard ways we do that.  How much time did it take to create?   What are the cost of the materials?   What are comparable paintings priced at?   The first two questions are superfluous when it comes to art and the 3rd question is increasingly irrelevant the more we think of it as art.   Think of it in reverse, the more it’s like everything else the less we think of it as a work of art.   It’s just the next item off the factory line made increasingly, by the way, by robots.      

So what it comes down to is some price that the artist just makes up based on some intuitive sense of how much money would help the exchange feel ok.   But even that requires some intermediary translation because money and artistic creation exist in different dimensions.  Usually the artist has to translate money into how much time it will provide to make more art….or something like that.  

Then, there is honor.  And that brings us to this painting.   It was popular from the beginning which meant many people pondered amongst themselves about the possibility of buying it.  Several even asked me the price.   “$3,000” I would say without hesitation.  Ok. One day a couple approached me with the body language that said they were serious about buying this piece.  The price nocked them back a pinch so they went away. 

A few months later they were back at my spa and asked me again about the piece.  But would I accept a lower price.  I suggested I could come down to $2,500.  I was a bit uncomfortable saying that but a little more uncomfortable that they did not even offer a counter.   They went away.   

Again they returned.  This time I was trying to raise money for a remodel project and was desperate for cash.   Before I could say anything they offered $1,000.  I accepted and we shook hands.   I felt like I had cheapened myself but reasoned internally that I was using the money for something urgent and important.  

Well, all was settled but when the party was over they realized they had left their checkbook at home and besides the car was not big enough to transport it.  They asked if they could come back later to take care of everything.   

Ok, a week latter they arrived with a pick up truck.   They apologized though because they needed to change the terms of the deal again.  They had just discovered that one of their favorite bands was doing a show in LA so they bought tickets and flights to the show and would I accept $500 because that’s all they could afford at that time.  

The painting is still in my collection.  And from that moment on my work has not been for sale.  So, I still have this amazing painting and my dignity.   And I’ll admit, it brings me a little joy knowing they don’t have it.  


“David Jones”
Oil on Canvas
30″ x 24″

David Jones is a poet and a very talented performer. He was one of the stars of Little Red Studio. His poetry read well enough on the page but read…or more accurately…performed live it was unforgettable. David loved life. He drank it in with great big gulps. And he let it out with even greater force. He tried to be angry at the world for all the injustices he suffered daily as a Black man in America. But he couldn’t help himself. He transformed that negativity into love and joy and almost always with a dash of humor. His heart always seemed to be a few paces ahead of whatever wrongs he endured and whatever vitriol he tried to cook up.

He met his match as a poet and as a human being in another star of the Little Red Studio: Eileen Fix. She was the Queen and David was the King. And like good royalty their power was greater than the sum it’s parts. They carried the lesser poets along in their wake and they blazed a trail into even the coldest audience with their collective volcanic heat.

Whoever got to see these two lead the poetry set at Little Red Studio is no doubt still talking about 15 years later. It was transformative and humble all at the same time.

David would sometimes come hang out with me during the week while I painted. One day, while he sat and bitched about women and the world and…women, I painted him as quickly as I could. It’s more of a sketch really. But it’s him. It’s his likeness, but more importantly it conveys something of his power and his grace…his gift of blending the feral beast within and as he himself would say, his proper domesticated mask so vital for a Black man to wear just to make it through the day.

“Sharon As Clown”
Oil /panel
45″ x 35″
Sharon was a Little Red Studio troupe member. She and her partner were involved as volunteers and occasionally acted in skits and dance numbers. Sharon was bitter at her marriage partner’s dysfunction and dependence on her. He was an alcoholic and an out of work welder with aspirations to be a sculptor that were never realized. He was lazy, but adored her. She felt trapped.
I wanted to do a painting of her to see if I could convey in paint the majesty in frustration that her being carried so magnificently. Thinking back on it, I myself experienced a great deal of frustration when painting it. I made countless changes and revisions. In the end I cropped her hands at the wrists to emphasize her powerlessness to change and at last the piece felt right. I also worked and reworked her head and the background behind it. Eventually it took on a kind of encrusted Halo, both fiery and chunky. I even spray painted parts of the painting with gold paint to emphasize the tawdry glamour of it all. I love this piece.

“Woman Behind the Plant”
Oil on canvas
7′ x 4′

This piece was commissioned by the owner of the building that Little Red Studio and Little Red Bistro were housed for a few years. When he sold the building which sent the Studio into a downward spiral from which it never recovered he commissioned 2 paintings as a kind of gesture of conciliation. This one, of his partner, and a portrait of Mother Theresa.

They were both satisfying to create and did bring some much needed funds to help survive the ordeal.

“Sophie with Candle”
24 x 40”

We often associate blowing out a candle with birthdays. It is one of the most common and most powerful little mini rituals that Americans do about once a year. I have managed to miss a few but pretty much somehow or another a candle or many candles are placed before me on my birthday and I am admonished to make a wish and blow out the candles. These days the number of candles needed to represent my age has grown so large that people usually just say “fuck it” and put one big candle on my cake. It makes sense to me because the amount of wind needed to extinguish all the candles is simply not possible. And we all know that if you can’t extinguish the candles in one breath your wish will not come true.  

Let me first point out a few obvious things. Sophie is beautiful. But she is beautiful with a purpose here. I wanted you to be seduced into first gorging on this stunning profile with soft smooth skin and rich flowing chocolate brown hair and this statuesque frame and profile. Sophie, and to be more precise, beauty is the fulcrum between two opposing forces. Something is clearly restraining if not pulling her to the left away from the flame. And yet something unseen in a different way is pulling her towards the flame. But what are those forces? Who or what is pulling the chain and who or what is pulling her arms back?

Clearly she is attempting to blow out the candle. But what is holding the candle? Is that red blob supposed to represent death… or life… or both? Is the candle her birthday wish or the more traditional symbolic meaning of life’s fragility? It’s hard to say but one thing is for sure, every time I see this painting I enjoy the contrast between the luscious clarity of Sophie’s “real ness” and obvious beauty on the one hand, the ambiguous action and meaning of those actions on the other. My eyes literally move back and forth across the long thin panel and pause each time on Sophie’s profile. And mind likewise shifts back and forth between visual clarity and ambiguous message and once again in a different way pauses on Sophie’s profile. It is the very definition of dynamic tension and balance.

30″ x 24″
2009 approx.

Art was my helper and my side-kick for many years. He was a retired concert pianist who made a career playing solo concerts in small halls until his increasing years and diminishing interest in that sort of thing put him out of business. He specialized in playing Liszt, Hindiman, Chopin and other big showy 19th century piano masters. His specialty was obscure 19th century Eastern European romantic composers. It was a bizarre and amazing repertoire and style of playing. Art was thoughtful and sensitive as well as a hard worker. He was also homeless when I met him. Once I realized he was living in his non road worthy old Buick I encouraged him to start sleeping at the studio. He had no family in Seattle and the studio and its retinue of artists and freaks quickly become his friends and his home.

“Inverted Eagle Pose”
42” x 24”
In the years that I owned the Little Red Bistro, I did some compelling pieces. However, this piece does not belong to a larger body of work. It remains a fairly isolated piece, unlike any others in my body of work. What was developing at that time was the emphatic use of cadmium red as the ground, in the flesh and even in the shadows. This is essentially a red painting. The model is a woman named Mishabae, a friend and member of the Little Red Studio troupe. She was many things including a fantastic poet. But more importantly, as a model, she was a yoga instructor and performer. She posed from life for this piece.
It was my ambition to find a figure type at that time. Or perhaps it is better to say, I was looking for clarity about what my figures would be doing in my paintings. Yet, as always, I was looking to reinvent the figure according to my ideas, but I was less clear about what my figures should be doing than how they should be conceived. Yoga provided some clues in that they are definite and definitive poses that are at one and the same time “poses” and natural. There is also a huge lexicon of official poses, many of them beautifully photographed with magnificent models. Additionally, there is a spiritual dimension to yoga that is implicit in many of the poses. It would seem the perfect ruse: I could set about a series that would be all the yoga poses!  
But why didn’t I do this? It’s a good question and I don’t have a sturdy answer. Perhaps that until now my life has not been set up to allow the kind of time and dedication that such an ambitious project would require. However, I think it has more to do with the fact that in the end the paintings would be seen as arty illustrations of yoga for curiosity seekers and yoga devotees. Moreover, the poses do not convey any emotional content nor the nuances of human interaction. Aside from a few poses which involve two people, they are decidedly about the single figure itself, self-contained physically and psychologically. They are admittedly, great shapes in the service of the body as culture. And there is beauty, beauty stemming from the intuitive harmony between the body’s shapes and their energetic and spiritual intent. Maybe another reason for my lack of enthusiasm for taking on yoga as a focus for my work is the way in which yoga has found its way into our culture as primarily a form of exercise.


Maybe I would be more motivated to paint more yoga paintings if I felt my work could be part our culture’s deepening understanding of yoga as a spiritual practice. The excitement that comes from a broader cultural cause does not motivate me like it used to do. Now, I am more inclined to get busy painting people in yoga poses simply because I am into yoga, or not. And at least at the time of this writing I am not in a yoga class and have no plan to do so. And so the search goes on. What will my new figures be doing in their fabulously newly invented bodies? 

“Viagra Knights”
8′ x 5’
The image of an exhausted man with a fully developed erection supported by an especially developed drug is somehow the very image of the 20th century man. It is the quintessence of excess and disharmony. The corpulent flesh, the hollow expression and putrid coloration as well as the odd aspect of vitality which is false are all somehow perfect representations of manhood and our culture at this time.
What is hard to see in the photograph of this painting is that the figure is built almost exclusively from multiple layers. These are not just layers of paint that actually add up to the desired optical effect. Rather, these are more like complete layers of a finished painting one on top of another. The effect is a little like a multiple exposure photograph.
This was probably the last serious large figure painting until the work I did during the summer of 2019. 

“Sophie Crouching”
32″ x 48″
Every Tuesday for several years, Sophie would come to my studio and model for me and my friend Roshi. Sophie was the consummate model. She understood what painters need and want. We need a model who knows how to strike a pose that is both artful but not overtly artificial. We need our model to know how to hold that pose for a time and then know how to refresh the pose and return to it. We need them to be comfortable being looked at as an object. We need them to not get cold and we need them to know a thing or two about art. 

Sophie was all that and more. She would not only show up on Tuesday night to model, she would bring a bottle of Port or ice cream… not for herself, but for Roshi and I. She enjoyed modeling for us so much she brought us gifts to express her appreciation for the opportunity and the work we were creating.

We always had fun but we always made a lot of art. And much of it was very high quality. I love this piece and wish I still owned it. I also did a second version of it that is simply lines on a red ground. Unfortunately I don’t own that piece either and don’t have a photograph of it.

Oil on panel
48″ x 32”

This painting was done from life.   The model was my lover but this was the only painting she posed for.  Unfortunately it was stolen by my art dealer at that time: Roland Crane.  If anybody knows where this painting is or has it I will be willing to pay to recover it.   My assumption is that Crane sold the painting to an unknowing person.   

The piece conveys the sweetness and tenderness of my lover that makes it especially valuable to me. 

“Young Lovers”
Oil on two panels
5′ x 3′ each

These pieces were painted as set pieces for a play that was produced and presented in the theater I owned at that time called the Little Red Studio.   The figures in the painting were the actors in the play.   It was a lot of fun to create paintings that would be used this way but would then hopefully be worthy of keeping around even after the rest of the set and scenery were struck.   

The play featured young lovers who were coming of age and discovering that they did indeed love each other but that they were both gay.    The play was both funny and very tender.  The actors were in their young twenties but playing the roles of teenagers.   I mention this because I think there is something in their poses that captures the feelings and look of people in their teens, but their faces seem like the people they really were, young people in their twenties.   They were both small people which helped make their roles believable.  But they were not only in their twenties, they were mature for their age and made them appear older to me.  

The other thing that was fun for me as the painter was to play on the long standing tradition of presenting a young couple with a painting of them in separate panels but looking across the picture frame at each other at the time of their wedding.    This tradition started during the early Baroque era and lasted well into the 20th century with paintings being replaced by side by side photos somewhere along the way.   I think the idea of having husband and wife in separate paintings was to maintain some illusion of decorum and chastity.     Of course they were always presented in the most stylish clothes of their day and of course, never in the nude.   It was fun to turn that tradition on its head by presenting them here as a couple and shown during the play when they were struggling with their virginity and confused sexual yearnings. 


“Summer Harlequin”
60” x 36”
Oil on canvas

This is one of four paintings of this model in this format. The pose and composition of each of the four paintings is about the same. The colors and mode of the painting are intended to convey some feeling of each of the four seasons. This painting is also referred to as the Blue Harlequin. They are inspired by a talented woman who creates her own costumes, personae and performance pieces.

This series is also inspired by the tradition of the Comedia Del Arts that has its origins in medieval Italy. The idea of Harlequin is that they are so full of mirth and mischief because they are souls that recently escaped from hell. They were made popular again with Picasso’s Rose Period paintings and then again with the rise in popularity of the Harley Quin character in the Batman superhero stories.

I am often inspired to paint models who have already made themselves into a work of art. Hence, blend the boundaries between what is real and what is imagined as well as what is artifice and what is natural.

Mythic Figure
“Orange Harlequin”
5′ x 3′
This was one of a series of Harlequin paintings I created to help promote the Little Red Studio shows. I also knew that it would sell, and I was correct. I sold this painting before the paint was dry. One detail of note is how much the woman turned out to look like a previous lover. I have no photos of her and I had not seen her in years. Yet, when I decided to create this third Harlequin painting based on photographs of Courtney, a friend, I was surprised to see Miho show up.

“Winter Harlequin”
5′ x 3′

Harlequins and paintings in series had both become well established aspects of my work by the time I painted this piece. I also owned and operated a complex and experimental theater at this time called The Little Red Studio. The theater was filled with interesting characters. Most of them were professionals by day and performance artists by night.

This painting was the 4th and final piece in this series. It was created as a promotional piece for the theater and as such appeared on cards, posters and all kinds of promotional materials. Each piece in the series was meant to invoke a season through its tone and palette. This piece could arguably be used to represent Autumn. It was, in fact, painted in November of 2008. Several of my friends and I went out and gathered the withering remains of neighborhood urban gardens. We got the frost bitten and rain soaked remains of the abandoned harvest and summer’s bounteous overflow and excess. We gathered corn leaves, sticks, rotten tomato vines and dried flowers of various kinds. We brought all these things back to the studio where I covered my model in mud and paint then decorated him with the dried plants we had gathered. 

The original idea was Harlequin but he quickly turned into a hybrid of Harlequin and my mud man figures of 10 years earlier. The model is also a hybrid. I started with Leopold and indeed the body is Leopold. But the face became that of someone else… Kerry.

Kerry was my personal assistant and theater director for many years. She was the model for a painting I had done just before this one and as such was very much on my mind. Kerry was also a fantastic performer with a striking presence, a presence I felt was more suitable for this painting.

60 x 36”

This was the first painting I did of my friend Courtney and the first of a series of four paintings I did as posters to help promote the Little Red Studio. Courtney was a very creative woman who joined the troupe. She was a very accomplished aerialist and choreography. She was also an accomplished musician and gifted costumer.

Courtney created many powerful acts for the Little Red Day Spa over a period of three to four years. One of her talents was making costumes and modeling. She created her own version of the Harley Quinn character. I was fortunate to have an opportunity to do a few paintings of her during these very busy and exciting years. Every painting I did of her was compelling and sold quickly. The only one I still own could have sold several times. This particular painting was purchased before it was even finished. I had to borrow it back to get a photograph of the painting.

“Sophie Seated with Knee Up”
48″ x 48″

Sophie was an incredible model. She knew how to strike a pose and she had powerful and full forms. She understood “line” and was dedicated to art.

This painting was the pinnacle coming together of this period of my art and suggests clues about what and how to develop my art from that point. The distortions in the figure are driven by forces that push the expression of the fullness of the figure to completion. The pose is natural and yet fresh. She is large and hence powerful, yet not so much so as to appear comic or monstrous. The handling of the paint employs techniques I began using in this chapter of my work. I used house painting brushes to leave broad parallel striations in the paint to further convey volume and catch light.

“Grey Ass”
Oil on panel
48” x 32”

Grey Ass is probably the least flattering painting I have ever done of a person. It happens to be the ass of one of the most beautiful women who ever modeled for me. It’s strange. I don’t know why this piece turned out so weird and even funny. But there it is. It is also weird to me how many women love this painting.

When I painted it in the mid 2000’s big butts were not the rage that they are now. Somewhere between now and the time of this writing Kim Kardashian and the whole big butt phenomenon just took off. Now, I’m told, women spend as much if not more on butt implants than breast implants. Amazing.  

All those years I was trying to be ahead of my times with thoughtful insights about ancient Chinese philosophy and the death of the Avant-garde. Little did I know my most prescient work may have been an intuitive leap about what makes for an attractive ass. Wow. It really gives credence to the old saying, “too bad youth is wasted on the young.”

“Blue Nude”
48” x 32”
During a brief period in the fall of 2008, I had an explosion of paintings and creativity which I jokingly called my blue period, referring to a menstrual period rather than a reference to Picasso. It was as though I was releasing something that had been building up for some time. In this brief few weeks I produced a wide variety of paintings and drawings in a wide variety of styles. I had several breakthroughs in how to combine my interest in the illusion of sculptural form and the illusion of landscape space. This piece was part of that breakthrough.

“Mary: Obfuscation”
48″ x 36″ Approximation
Mary was one of the three incredibly talented, smart, and beautiful women that helped me start the Little Red Studio in 2002. This began as a little weekly gathering in my studio to bring authentic and fresh energy into my workshop, but eventually it turned into a gigantic entity involving hundreds of people, a theater and even a restaurant and bar. I was fortunate enough to have the enthusiastic support of Mary, Eileen, and Yodit right from the beginning.

Mary also was kind enough to model for me. Like Sophie and Richard and a few other people, I had the privilege to work with over the arc of my career, Mary really understood how to strike a pose that was arresting, yet not forced. She moved well and knew when to hold.

She also did not mind being the “object” that I used for my artistic experiments. Many people would chafe at the objectification that was implicit and undeniable. But for whatever reason, she trusted that I was up to something artistically. She seemed to find pleasure being part that even while I twisted and turned and in this case even obliterated her body. I would like to think that as a person and as a model I treated her with respect. 

Furthermore, I think it mattered to her that I actually made paintings, lots of them, as a result of our collaboration. Whatever the reason, Mary and I collaborated on many things from designing the “evenings” for the Little Red Studio to photo shoots and paintings for many years. As a result I was able to create many remarkable and memorable events and some of my most powerful paintings.

In this piece I combined  figurative realism with the abstract work I was doing with rollers. The result is a figure that is both obfuscated in part and highlighted as well. And it is also a landscape, or shall I say multiple landscapes that overlap, intrude on each other and interact over and within the volumes of the figure.

I have elaborated in other entries on this website about how I have doggedly tried to find ways to combine figurative space with landscape space so I won’t go into that expose again here. Suffice it to say that this piece seems to elegantly combine these concerns in a way that is at least graphically pleasing. Whether it provides a visual clue to my cosmology that all things are one and one thing is all… well… I leave that to you as the viewer to decide. 

“Painting For Jim” 
48″ x 38”
In 2008, I moved my studio back to my place under the freeway. I turned my Art studio at the Little Red Studio Theater into a green room for the Troupe. It was beautiful to be back in this original space where I had spent nearly 15 years painting. Nevertheless, it felt dark and burdened by legacy and history. This painting was among the first I created upon my return and its palette and mode reflect that. The model is Sophie. She would come to my studio every Tuesday for years. I decided to give this painting to her boyfriend as a way to say thank you for all the things he also did for me including managing my bistro when it first opened.

“Mother Teresa: Version ?”
40” x 28” approx.

I could have made a career painting portraits of Mother Teresa. I think at the time of this writing I have already painted 10 Mother Teresa portraits. And I enjoyed painting all of them. Some were painted as gifts. And most for sale.

Around 1994 when my figurative painting came into its own, I had decided that I would paint dead animals through out my career. Each one would reflect the style I was working in at that particular time. I did after all get my start as a painter copying the work of wildlife artist J. Fenwick Lansdowne. He was a Canadian artist who painted birds. As I write this, I am 53 years old, and it looks like portraits of Mother Teresa may be a better common thread of work to look at over the arch of my career.

“Pope John Paul II”
Oil on panel
36” x 24”

I am not Catholic and as such have no special opinion about this Pope. I do, however, love this painting. It was done at the suggestion of the owner of a Church supply store where I had done on spec several paintings of Mother Theresa and sold them all. The owner thought someone might like a painting of the Pope. And maybe they would.  But apparently they either didn’t like this Pope or they didn’t want to see a Penitent Pope.  
Of course I didn’t have audience with the Pope to paint his portrait so I had to look at photos available to the public. And being one the world’s most famous leaders, there are literally thousands of photos of him. At this time the Catholic Church was reeling from the discovery of systemic child sex abuse within its leadership. So I thought this was a powerful and appropriate image of the Pope for its time. That may be true, but after having hung on the walls of the store for nearly 2 years, the store owner asked me to come get get my painting. Oh…and could I please bring another Mother Theresa painting.  

“Simone…or…Fuck you Barnett Newman”

During the glory days of my Little Red Studio I had a couple that were very involved in the performances. Bruce and Simone. They were aerialists, photographers and rabble rousers. One day we got the idea to cover Simone in stripes of paint and then photograph her. Bruce was a photographer and I was a painter. So Bruce made photographs and I made a painting.

And here it is. I was also keenly aware of how far I had come from the art dogma I absorbed during my undergraduate years at Penn State.

Barnett Newman was one of the major figures of the abstract expressionist movement and so called New York school that was so powerful in shaping my original thoughts about what art should and shouldn’t be. His art was extremely minimal and eventually distilled down to simply stripes of a single color on a single colored ground. In fact, he became known as the stripe painter of abstract expressionism.

One thing that this nearly high priesthood of painting would have disdained was a painting of a figure, especially a realistic figure with unabashed illusionistic volumes. Well, while there is a lot of value and beauty in those abstract expressionistic ideas and paintings, clearly it was time for some fresh air. So, I went the other direction from this heady intellectual art. I slathered paint all over Simon’s naked body and in a kind of twisted homage to Newman painted her in stripes. Then, to make matters worse, made a more or less realistic painting of her in nothing but stripes of paint. It was actually rather challenging to get the stripes to look like stripes of paint on a body rather than just stripes of paint on a canvas.

But are they stripes of a paint on a body or in fact aren’t they still just stripes of paint on a canvas that just looks like a body? Does anybody even for a moment think this is actually a body up there on the wall? Maybe this was in fact a fresh way to ask the very same questions that Newman was asking. And wasn’t the whole point of his questions to be just that… questions?

“Large Mishabe in Yoga Pose”
6′ x 4′

This painting was created in my studio on Dexter and Harrison in the back room that later would become the dressing room of my theater. It had a great wall for doing paintings and beautiful natural light. The painting is on one level inspired by a photograph of my friend Mishabe. The photo was taken by another friend named Hawk.

Hawk gave me permission to use the photograph for this painting. I was searching for a grand figure style that had power and presence. These photos struck me because it had all the power in the forms themselves, not in the facial expression of Mishabe. Additionally, though, the pose was dynamic and fresh. I decided to crop it to increase the intensity and that also allowed me to zoom in and increase the scale. She is about twice life size in this painting.

For some reason the palette is very red as were several other paintings I did at this time. This piece as well as the others became breakthrough pieces in the use of large house painting brushes to move paint and create streaks that would catch the light and guide the eye along the volumes by virtue of these parallel striations.

48″ x 24”
Marina was a lover for a brief period and remains to this day one of my dearest friends. I did this portrait of her from life during the period of our friendship long after our time as lovers. She appears to me here in this painting as my friend. The likeness is striking, but the piece has qualities about her no photograph could capture. To be frank, the large green shape on the lower half of the painting was a random act but I decided it was perfect in some intuitive way. The hair and face are really just the beginning of what was intended originally to be a more conventionally complete portrait. However, since so much of Marina’s powerful presence is already so evident, I decided to stop here. Besides, she was a restless model and simply would not sit still even for the brief time I require as a painter.
48” x 32”
 This painting was commissioned by Debbie for herself. She had just recovered from both a life-threatening disease and a painful divorce. She wanted a painting to celebrate her life, her beauty and to mark her freedom from a painful stultifying marriage. She wanted a nude, but elegant and tasteful. She wanted a likeness but not a photograph. We concluded that a back view with a wrap would achieve those goals. This painting was done from about 4 life sittings. Each session was two hours, and always with her friend present. Having a friend present during sittings is helpful because keeping the model fresh and engaged is important. Otherwise I end up with a bored and distracted model which is what I end up seeing and therefore end up painting. 

“Woman Behind White Film”
Oil on panel
24” x 18”

Some pieces just go clunk in the night. Or perhaps it would be better to say some pieces go clunk when you first come upon them, but then slowly grow on you. I have tried to paint over this painting almost since the day I painted it. It is itself, a partial do over. In fact, I think it is a fragment of a larger piece I deemed no good.

The model is a woman named Marni who modeled for me in the early 2000’s and only from photos. But I easily recognize her. The original painting was probably done a few years prior to 2007.

Maybe what’s staying the hand of the executioner is that there is something about the way the head and it’s layer of obfuscation become a kind of window or hole in the painting. This defined space is both inside the painting and yet more shallow than the implied landscape space of the other part of the painting.

When I close my eyes and let my imagination roam my inner vision of space is more like this. It’s not a consistent space like what I see with my eyes open. It’s more like overlapping spaces that are of my consciousness and form my visions unfolding under my closed eyes….presumably in my brain. In fact I have been able to identify at least 7 such layers at a time. The more vague almost tissue like overlays are often driven by pragmatic concerns … did I turn the gas off…that kind of thing. The more dense slower moving visions are often shaped by what I have been thinking about. Strangely, the fastest moving are faces of people … sometimes rolling through so fast I can barely distinguish individual faces…in a kind of Max Headroom flickering of heads.

In this painting there are only 2 such layers of image types or image constructs as I like to refer to them. And maybe that’s why I’m keeping this piece and even presenting it here on my site. It does give one some insight about how imagination might work or what it looks like.

This is potentially useful because when I close my eyes this imagination show does not always take off. Sometimes my mind gets stuck with thoughts that are on a repeat loop and have no images. These tend to be worries or obsessions. Sometimes I need to pause and hold nothing in my mind for a moment and let this joyful process begin. Once it does it has its own momentum and often leads to sleep. So maybe, this clunky little piece has a use beyond aesthetic pleasure. As unpleasant as it might be to look at, perhaps it can help guide others to find the private pleasures of watching their own imagination multilayered picture show.

Sophie with red square

“Sophie With Red Stripe”
48″ x 32″

Every now and then something just comes out perfectly without much effort. This piece distills in a most elegant way my desire to combine the volumetric presence of the figure with the open illusionistic space of landscape painting, while at the same time hovering between abstract and illusionistic. Over and above that, it has a graphic appeal. People just like this painting.

In reproductions of this painting, the subtleties of the landscape aspects are lost, appearing rather as a graphic splooge of paint. In high quality reproductions and the original piece itself, it is easy to see the multiple overlapping landscapes in the vertical strips of the painting.

Another element worth commenting on is the quality of the line that creates the figure. Clearly the calligraphic aspect of the line contributes to the oscillating nature of the figure. It is at once both a line and a hip or a thigh, etc. Likewise, the space between the lines is both flesh and landscape space. The success of this dynamic oscillation is also predicated on a balancing out of all the parts. They all need to be just so in order for this to work. I know this because there were many failures that I discarded before this piece just arrived seemingly without effort.

6′ x 8’
This is one of two paintings that I intended as a diptych but does fine on its own. The other piece is called “Yodit” and is the same size. Yodit is an African woman about the same size, stature, and age as Benta. There is a long tradition of painting a beautiful woman reclining on a bed or sofa. This line of paintings extends back to the Ancient Greeks, reappears during the Renaissance and has a consistent showing right up through and into the 21st century. Over that period the female nude has been the torch bearer for so many causes, cosmologies, religious ideologies, and artists’ manifestos. Here, it was my intention to create as unabashed and straightforward an appreciation of a woman and her surroundings as I could.
“Beauty” has been a dirty word throughout my art career, and yet every man I know and almost every woman, is stopped in their tracks by the sight of a beautiful woman. I wanted some of that in my paintings, and in order to make my own mark I painted it as a diptych.
These are both favorite women of mine. Moreover, I chose these two women whose physiques were deliberately not my “type.” In fact, I declined one model for the project because she was too much my type and not suitable for this project. I mention this to punctuate that this was not about me doing a series on women I found personally desirable. Nothing wrong with that, just not what this was about.
During this time I was more interested in beauty defined by proportion. Although we live in a time when beauty is often defined in part by how new something is, I decided to deliberately not have a new style. Instead I emphasized the beauty of the proportions in both the composition, arrangements of the figure in that space and the proportions of the figure herself.  


6’ x 7’

This is the other half of a diptych. The other half of the set is called “Benta.” You can read about the terms of the diptych under that painting. What I can add here of note is that these two paintings were years in the making. I remember building the stretcher bars and stretching the canvases in 2002 or so and then the canvases sat in my shed for two years. The concept for the paintings and even some photographs were clearly in my mind the whole time. I don’t really know why it took that long to get to it. Once I started the paintings they were done quickly one right after the other. What is fascinating to me is that I did get to it. Both of them. At some point I guess I was just ready to do them. These pieces currently hang separately in my spa. And they appear to work just fine on their own.  It was my intention, though, to see them hung side by side as they appear below.

Scott: A Commissioned Portrait


“Scott: A commission Portrait”
4 x 6’

I only ever knew Scott as a client. He learned of my art through another client and commissioned a life size portrait of himself. He was quite involved with the whole process but ultimately he trusted me to make final decisions which resulted in him getting a first rate painting. I don’t usually include commissioned works in portfolios like this because they are usually so compromised by my commissioners’ concerns that they no longer represent my ideas or work. They may be good works of art but they aren’t mine… not really anyway. And this is a website of my works and here it is.   

I’ll take this opportunity to say that I leaned heavily on my excitement to one day carve a reclining male nude inspired by Ancient Greek and Roman sculptures from the Parthenon to the River Gods adorning bridges over the rivers of Italy. Perhaps the most famous of these works is a fragment that was taken from the sight of the Acropolis and carted back to England by a notorious British military man who had a passion for archeology, Sir Edwin Elgin. That fragment along with many others he took now reside in the Royal British Museum and are known as the Elgin Marbles. It is, of course, contested that they be repatriated to Greece but so far that has not happened. Why not is a highly interesting subject on many levels but not the subject of this website. Below is a photo of my favorite of these marbles on display when the British Government recently loaned them to Russia for an exhibit in Moscow to much fanfare and outrage by the people of Greece and the world’s art community. 

“The Shoe” 
40″ x 60”
This painting was originally commissioned by the man in the painting as a gift for his girlfriend. His girlfriend is the woman featured in the painting. However, he never paid for it and they broke up. So I kept the painting. The likeness of each of the models is striking. The details are satisfying and the composition is classic in its arrangement and proportions. And the peculiar way in which I featured her left foot with shoe is unusually bold.
After completing it I felt there was something not quite right about the composition. Nevertheless I put it on display in my theater. One day, for some unknown reason it fell off the wall. There was a large crack in the top part of the panel. Right away, several people had all kinds of ideas about how to repair the panel by doing such things as gluing the whole painting to a sheet of plywood. However, I realized that the easiest solution was to simply cut off the top 6” of the painting which resolved the problem of the composition. There was simply too much painting on the top. So, we ran it through a table saw and removed the top part of the painting that had the large crack and at the same time improved the composition.
For some reason I love this piece and I’m glad I still have it. 
“Autumn,” “Winter,” “Spring,” & “Summer”
6′ x 4’
This is one of a series of paintings of the four seasons. This series took two years to complete, and actually I never did finish “Summer“ or “Spring.”  Both of these paintings have elements that are either out right unfinished as in the case of “Summer,” or need corrections and adjustments as in “Spring.”
I have often been drawn to the rubric of a series. Perhaps the very nature of a series has its own built-in muse, in the sense that when one painting is complete, there is the obvious task at hand of creating the next painting until the series is complete. When developing a series, it is often the case that the paintings will develop a kind of dialogue with each other if they are all being done at the same time. In this series, I completed them in succession rather than all together. In fact, I only did the painting in its corresponding season. I began with “Autumn.” It was complete in one season. However, I did not complete “Winter” before Spring arrived in Seattle, so I skipped on and did “Spring.” But I put “Winter” and “Autumn” away and did not look at them until the season returned, so the pieces did not really talk to each other or to me. Perhaps I did it this way because of my own arbitrary rules for the series developed and were firmly in place by the time I completed Autumn.
The rules I set for myself were as follows: a 6 x 4‘ canvas not a panel, a woman reclining on a table that was a kind of alter to the season, added elements would all be gathered from my own immediate environment and places on and in front of the altar, no exotic plants or things, and no holiday decorations. While there are pumpkins in “Autumn“ they are not carved into jack-o’-lanterns. I also decided not to have any exotic surreal troops, such as a big pile of snow in front of the altar for “Winter.” I also wanted to have a different woman for each painting; moreover, I wanted each woman to somehow suggest in her physical type something of the season.
These paintings were different for me. Perhaps, it was the arbitrary set of restrictions. I am not sure why they were different to complete. I think it had more to do with the fact that they were painted during a time when one strong sense of clarity of what and how I painted had ended and a new one had not yet begun. These works and others at this time were lovely “projects” that were done with craftsman like devotion to work, as well as  my craft of painting. But a true and deeper knowing of what and how to paint was still not in place.
I had been a father for a year or two by the time I started this series. That responsibility had changed my studio patterns and working methods, but had little to do with my deeper motivations about how and what to paint. Those things played themselves out for their own reasons, and with their own trajectories having nothing to do with being a father. The brushwork and method of painting reflect the greater emphasis on craft. The paintings have lots of realistic detail; the figures are more about their realistic particularity then their volumetric power. The elements of nature, too, are painted lovingly to portray their realistic qualities with paint itself. The brushwork is more subdued in these paintings then in subsequent and previous works.
There was a long tradition in the canon of Western art of a female nude or nearly nude reclining on a bench, bed, or alter. I wanted these pieces to be seen in that tradition. Obviously their beauty is not found in their “newness“ or their “radicalness.” Those were 2 definitions or types of beauty for the last 100 years. Nor did I want them to be “Beauty“ in the same sense that they conveyed a moral principle the way it was for Ancient Greeks or during the Renaissance, nor even beauty in their proportion‘s in a mathematical sense. No, I wanted their beauty to be expressed in the restraint to a system of rules that had room for so much optical splendor within a stringent set of design principles.
I am not sure, even after 10 years, whether this had worked or not.
I had hoped that someone would purchase all four pieces and hang them one at a time to deepen their awareness of each season as it arrived. In that sense, their beauty would have been measured by how effectively they deepened one’s awareness of nature’s cyclical changes. They were meant to suggest or even instruct about aesthetic enjoyment of all the nuances of the seasons perpetual change, to help one realize the optical fact and the poetic depth of this phrase my friend would often say, “every second now the light changes.”
It may seem strange to include this last remark but it helps define what I am saying, that the same is true of conversation with one’s lover. You can chat all night and that’s nice, but until you have broken through your conventions and shared something of your truth and your sincere thoughts and feelings at the very least, there is not going to be any real “restorative waters of reunion and rejuvenation.”
This painting is a perfect metaphor. The cock is me. I painted it. The woman is “other.“ It came with the magazine. I found it. The cock enters the scene rather brazenly, smashing into the image with its rude penetrating presence. The painting is it self a scene of sex, perhaps even more truthfully than a picture of two people having sex.
Perhaps a better title would be “Art Fuck” or better still perhaps… “Mind Fuck.”
“Chanel With Cock”
Oil/Paper Magazine Advertisement 
14″ x 11”
This is an oil painting on the actual magazine page torn from a monthly publication. I also made xerox copies of the finished painting and consider those art works as well. (More on that later.)
I have always equated vision with sexual energy in several ways. First of all, a long time ago I discovered that if I looked very intently at objects, following their outlines around the object until they were “closed” I could “have them” –be with them– become one with them in a way that was like the feeling of bonding with a lover during sex. There was some kind of relationship between active seeing and sex. By the way, this is different than looking at pornography which I would argue is essentially a passive and receptive act…something almost the opposite of what I am describing here. Here I am describing an action where the eye is more like a sculptor’s chisel cleaving out the object of its inner vision… making it “something” out of the chaos of everything. This is opposite of pornography where everything is given and nothing is left to imagination. Here, imagination is imbued into action. With pornography imagination is stripped away until all that is left is simple priapic expulsion and depletion. The result is less, not more.
Secondly, I also discovered a long time ago that when I am painting or sculpting, my libido increases.
Thirdly, there is often a similar feeling of “breaking through” with both sex and art making. Even with my most beloved partners, I have felt the need to break through the conventions and routines of the day, at the very least, to get to the powerfully restorative waters of reunion and rejuvenation with my partner and my deeper self through sex. Real sex. Not just fiddling around sex.


“The Little Red Studio”
36” x 46” Approximate

This painting somehow captures the energy and spirit of the Little Red Studio.

This weekly crazy event that happened in my studio for 10 years began as a small gathering and eventually ballooned into something that required its own location which eventually included a theater, a 48 seat bistro and a gallery.  At its grandest there were events and shows running seven days a week. To say that it took over my life for those years is an understatement. For myself and many of the hundreds of people involved it may stand out as the most significant period of their lives.   

This piece features Mary who was one of the three women who helped me start it and without whom it simply would not have happened. She would periodically model for me for photo shoots. I never worked from life with her. She was a busy PhD candidate at the University of Washington during these years and did not have time for that.  

Nevertheless, her presence was so striking and she was in my weekly routine so much and in such a rarified way that I was able to make some truly dynamic paintings that both feature her and were inspired by her.

This piece was painted over a painting I was gifted by another artist years earlier. This artist gave me her blessing to paint over her painting if I chose to because she hated the piece. She was right. It was an awful painting. I waited a few years to be sure. But she was right.

I love painting over other paintings including my own.  It isn’t an ego trip. No, it’s more like gardening where you turn over last year’s remaining crops into the soil to enrich it.  It’s so much better and more fun than starting on a stark white smooth painting. To be sure, some projects require that kind of perfectly “clean slate.” But for a lot of my work, the lumps and colors and marks of the original painting add grist and surprises that inspire the new work to move along but also peek through in places and ways that add a freshness and frankness that simply couldn’t be created in any other way. Furthermore, those same makes and bumps force me to be nimble and flexible as I work to both incorporate what is already there and what is evolving from my imagination. It’s a dance and like all dances it can feel clumsy at times and at others it feels like flying.

I gifted this piece at one point to a couple who had devoted so much time and energy and money to the Little Red Studio. I had also promised to do a sculpture for them but had never got to it. Years later, having enjoyed it for a long time they offered to gift it back to me. I was so thrilled to get it back. I am so grateful to them and the thousands of other people who gave so much to make those years so memorable and to collectively contribute so much to the making of so many compelling pieces.   



What you see here in this painting is Mary. But what you don’t see directly, is not only the painting underneath it by my friend, but the many dedicated people who gave so much of themselves week after week to create a setting and hold space where people could come to explore a deeper riskier side of themselves and hopefully rediscover the power of gifting to rejuvenate the self and create the fabric of community.    

“Cunt Pack” Two Versions
46” x 22”
2004 and 1996

This painting was inspired by a painting almost exactly like it that I had painted in 1995. That painting was stolen by my studio mate around the same time that I painted it.  The first painting looked very similar. It was the same size and shape and inspired by the same photograph, a tiny photograph among many that was part of an advertisement for other pornography.    

The affects seem carnal and outright bizarre. There even seems to be a gynecological or zoological aspect to the work. The flesh seems quite alive in the painting on the left and not so much in the painting on the left. The models even look a bit like cadavers.

The second version is slightly more detailed and “complete” which makes sense because that is how all my work looked at this time.

“Seated Couple”
Oil on canvas
6′ x 5′

I don’t usually include commissioned work in this online portfolio.  However, this piece is very close to what I would have created without any constraints of the commission.  In fact, I would be hard pressed to say what is causing me to qualify that statement with “very close.”   I think it is that I always paint pictures of people I know or that I choose for a particular project.   These people came to me and asked me if they could pay me to paint their picture.  

Perhaps by the time you are reading this I will have created a section in this archive of commissioned works.   But at the time of this writing it has not yet been created.  I include here because it was part of how and why my work shifted to more realistic portrayals and less singularly about the figures sculptural presence.   In fact I would go further and say it was increasingly about these particular individuals than about their sculptural presence.   This is a likeness of two particular people.  And not so incidentally, the 2 people who were paying me to do the work. 

“White Out”
40” x 30” approximate
1998 and 2004

This was a Plan B painting for a client who commissioned me to do a painting of her. As is often the case, I do 2 paintings as part of the deal. One for the client and one for me to keep. In this case I let her choose which one she preferred and she chose the better piece. This one was not quite right and for years I wasn’t quite sure what to do about it.

One day in 2004 I gave up and decided to just gesso over the painting and start over. As you can see, I started at the top as is typical for me when I’m preparing a canvas. At some point I realized that whiting out this Black woman was a powerful statement and had turned a mediocre portrait into something much more interesting.

The piece sold very quickly. Unfortunately I lost touch with Vivian shortly after she got her painting. I would have loved to hear her thoughts on it. While I didn’t get to know her that well, I am confident that she would be thrilled to see what I did with the painting and would have had no objections to my having used her as a model for a painting that only came to completion years after our brief encounter and without her consent. In fact, I suspect she would have been excited to see this.

Oil on panel
10” x 6”

This is a self portrait.   That’s me.    I hardly ever paint miniature people.  This piece is small but the figure is even small within this small painting.  Clearly this is a painting of me as an artist embryo.   Here I am, tiny and naked in a womb of paint in a painting of my own making.     Even in this miniature you can see the internal resolve as though I am gathering myself in preparation of bursting out.  I don’t remember why I painted this.   It wasn’t a gift for someone as is usually the case if I paint something small.  And I don’t remember what happened to it.   Maybe it was stolen like so many other pieces by Roland Crane, but I can’t say that for sure.     But it is fun to see and makes me wonder why I didn’t do more small works like this.   Maybe that is what I will do when I am old and frail…whichever comes first. 


“Goddess of Rot”
55” x 45” Approximate
I painted this work when I was exploring the content and technique of an artist named Lucian Freud. Freud had recently become widely known for his incredibly intense and probing nude paintings. He is a contemporary British painter who recently passed away. I was also interested in his working methods which included intense prolonged live sittings with models in his humble studio. Freud was, in a sense, the unapologetic consummate old fashioned artist. His work, his working methods and his success were both a breath of fresh air for me and vindication of my interest and commitment to the figure and more or less traditional approach to painting.   
And yet, his work and it’s emphasis on the psychology of the sitter was entirely new. He expressed this psychology through the bodies of his sitter, the method and results of his technique as well as the facial expressions of his sitters. He also let his sitters simply “be” in his studio. While a few paintings looked staged and arty, for the most part, the figures look more like so much meat with a personality which draped itself unselfconsciously around his studio.

With this painting and others I did at this time I tried out some of those ideas. Here is a woman named Janel who modeled for me for a few pieces. She originally tried to be a “pretty girl” model but eventually grasped the deeper level of work I was striving for. She would spend hours in my studio and allowed me to put her in less than ideal settings.

Outside my studio, I had a compost pile where I put the detritus of things I used as props in my studio including pumpkins, gourds, tree parts etc. Like Freud, the paint is built up with relatively dry paint applied with small brushes. The affect is a kind of crumbly accretion of lumps of paint. This represents a real departure from the smooth fast wet into wet approach that I often took.

This is another piece that was stolen by my dealer Roland Crane. If anyone has information about the location of this piece please let me know.  

“Marni White Out” & “Boy White Out”
Both approximately 28” x 22”
Both approximately 2003

About 2003 I began seriously re-evaluating my past paintings. Some of them were clearly not my best work and others were even more clearly just flat out bad paintings. And so I decided to start culling my racks. Storing everything was becoming an increasing challenge but also I was beginning to enter my middle year’s and hence had early years to look back on. I was, in short, beginning to develop my own personal history.  

Being thrifty I rarely throw anything away so I began painting over old paintings that didn’t make the cut. However, I quickly discovered that some paintings improved dramatically when they were either partially covered or completely covered in white paint or gesso. (Gesso is a white substance used to prepare a surface for paint. It is essentially a fancy word for primer.). Gesso can be thinned with water to make it more transparent or thickened by leaving it sit with the lid off the can for a few days. The thicker it is, the more opaque it is.   

I soon discovered that driveway tar and all kinds of other substances could be slathered on old paintings with really terrific affect. In fact, I got so excited about this process that one of my friends cautioned me at this time to be careful not to paint over everything. She even joked that maybe she should move my collection to her facility to safeguard my work.

Eventually my zeal for whiting and blacking out my work slowed down. But even now, 15 years later after the initial storm of obliterations I still have a pile of questionable works that are at risk of getting whited out. In fact, I have found that this kind of creative process is a powerful way to leverage my energy when I want to do something creative but don’t have much zip. Starting a new painting or even re-entering a painting that is underway but left idle for a few days can be daunting and require more energy than I have sometimes. And yet, I am often not tired enough to call it a day. That’s when I start eyeballing my discard pile to see what great things might be achieved with minimal effort.

It’s fun. And usually a little surprising. And if all else fails I just keep going until the image is completely gone and I have a nice “new” surface for a totally new work. 

“The First and Last Painting of Dave Lewis”  
48″ x 48”
Dave Lewis died in 2003 before I finished this painting. He died suddenly and it totally shocked me. We had a routine and had spent almost four years together meeting roughly four times a week as artist and model. We would meet at his gym where I would do my best to keep up with him for half an hour or so of intense weight lifting. Then we would shower and take a sauna together, get cleaned up and go for coffee. After that we would meet at my studio where he would model for me for a few hours. Sometimes we would have lunch together and sometimes not.
During this time I did several penetrating pieces of and about Dave Lewis. These works were as much about Dave, the person, as they were about the vitality of the human spirit as seen through prolonged observation and being together. This piece was the first one. However, it sat in my studio unfinished for years as I began and finished other pieces of him. Some were smaller and some larger. And then he died suddenly, alone, in his home from a massive heart attack. 


Later, after grieving the loss of my friend and model, as well as coming to terms with the sudden disruption to my routine, I realized how I wanted to complete this painting. I needed to obfuscate Dave. I thought of his soul somehow dematerializing into energy and patterns. I decided to roll and scrape white paint over the whole top of his image. Now, as I look at it 15 years later, the painting does indeed seem complete and “right.”

Oil on canvas
5′ x 3′
Paul was a friend who lived and worked in LA. I painted this piece in my Eastlake studio. It was done from photos that I took of Paul myself. I always considered this piece to be the one that comes as close as any work I have done to celebrating and depicting the beauty of the male form. I focused on the torso here in order to be able to increase the scale of the painting. Also, by not painting Paul’s head I felt it made this more of a statement about male beauty in a broader sense instead of about Paul the individual.
It was my intent to carve this same image in stone and I may still do that one day.
I sold this piece to an art dealer in Denver named Lee Gibson. I am hoping it remains in his collection. I did many paintings of Paul but this is the most notable one. I believe this painting provides important direction for me as I prepare to begin painting and sculpting again after a four year break from 2013-2017.
“Big Dave Painting”
8’ x 6’

“Thesis… Antithisis… synthesis!” That is what one of my favorite college professors used to say about the development of ideas and art. Well… every now and then, that is how I approach a painting. 

In this case, I somehow had the idea that there was a good painting in the combination of two powerful images that I had seen and greatly influenced my thinking. One was the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe stretched out on a red satin bed sheet. I never saw that image on the cover of Playboy magazine, but if you grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and didn’t see that somewhere you were probably living under a rock. The image was the epitome of female beauty and a man’s idea of what feminism itself was at its finest at that time; youthful, supine, smooth and vulnerable as well as visually lush.   

On the other hand, many years later, I saw a painting in the Seattle Art Museum by Lucien Freud of his model Leigh Bowery sprawled out on an old beat up studio chair with his big ole cock flopped on his thigh for all the world to see. Adding to the impact was that fact that Mr. Bowery himself was a big man, well over 6’ tall and the painting depicted him over life size on a canvas that was at least 8’ tall. Add to that, the fact that Freud’s painting style is rich, meaty and thick and you had a virtual sucker punch to your gut the moment you turned the corner and saw the piece for the first time. Mr. Bowery was a popular Drag Queen in London and was comfortable comporting himself in all kinds of ways and positions. His full frontal display of his masculinity was complicated by his pose which was slightly reminiscent of the way women are portrayed in pornography. It was, to say the least, a disturbing first contact.

And yet, there was another painting that I saw around this time that added another important ingredient to the mix. It is the painting of Pope Innocent the X by Velasquez made famous by one of Freud’s friends, Francis Bacon. I had just seen this painting in Rome and like the Freud painting gave me a moment of aesthetic arrest when I first saw it.   



So here is Dave Lewis, my 6’ 2” 63 year old muscle leather Daddy posed in some weird synthesis of Marilyn Monroe on her satin sheets and Freud’s Leigh Bowery sprawled on an old stuffed chair. Instead, I placed David standing against the wall with arms up in a gesture of vulnerability but with a glare as sharp as daggers. And then, I surrounded him in wall drapings of red satin and rough painter’s canvas to extend the rhythms of his flesh into the background and pay homage to the Velasquez.   

Someday I would love to see my piece hung beside the Freud. I want to see if it holds up in some way. To be sure it is not as singularly carnal. But It has other qualities the Freud does not. I am American after all, not British and so the piece has a current of optimism and vitality. I would like to think those qualities are added in here without diminishing the power of the work, without making it sentimental or nostalgic.

48” x 32”

In 2002 my figurative painting had swung from painting fragments of figures in a brushy loose style like those in the late 90’s to a highly realistic approach like this one. I think it’s because by this time I was married and had a kid….my first son…Sam. My days were much more ordered and as such my painting method became more craftsman like with steady and regular hours rather than spasmodic bursts of energy followed by unpredictable times of rest.   
This interest in and attention to details meant new territories of subject matter were open to explore. For example, as in this painting, my subject isn’t just “the male body beautiful,” it is now about a specific male whose identity is quite specific and less specifically, about relationships in a subsection of gay men known as “leather.”    
“Leather” was already a dying subculture within the gay community when I painted this.  It was in decline because it is arguable that it wasn’t needed anymore. Homosexuality was gaining broad acceptance and the mainstream world was embracing kink and BDSM practices and including them into their sex lives. 
In “Leather” to be a “Boy” was to be on a journey to becoming a full fledged man and perhaps even a “Daddy” or “Leather Daddy” as it was sometimes referred to.  This was all a kind of fraternal order designed to give structure and support to young men trying to find their way in a very challenging and often hostile world.  Although I wasn’t gay, I could see the challenges my friends faced and recognized the value and purpose of the “Leather” community.   
This piece was inspired by a play party I was privileged to be invited to. It was in the very elaborate dungeon created by a friend of mine for just these sort of gatherings. I was permitted to take photos at the party and from them I did this piece. Frankly, I thought the guy who was this guy’s Daddy was going to buy the piece. I was disappointed when he didn’t. But now that 20 years have gone by and my work has changed in so many ways, I’m grateful to have it. In fact so much so that I went to the trouble to have it framed in roughly welded steel to echo the scene of the dungeon in the painting. It weighs a ton but it is pretty bad ass.  

40” x 32”

Mary was introduced to me by a mutual friend as someone who would be willing and able to come sit for paintings as a model. She would like to say she was gainfully unemployed.  I never asked what that meant but she had enough time to sit for me at a time when my working methods were at their most meticulous and slow. She came to my studio twice a week for this painting which took several months to complete.  

In the process she shared a great deal about her challenges with her self image as she moved into her 50’s. I learned a lot about her challenges with having been seen and valued as a “beautiful” woman to that of being a “powerful” woman and what that meant for her. She was smart and articulate and forthcoming. She was also deeply frustrated with that transition and questioning all her relationships with the men in her life.  

I realized that being a man myself she might direct her ire at me at some point.  However, that never happened.  In fact she outright told me that she considered the portrait sittings to be “our work together.” What she meant was that the sittings were useful for her almost like a therapy session not just because she could talk about her issues with a nonjudgemental listener but also because the painting I was creating was like an evolving mirror for her to see more truthfully into herself. And of course I was producing a work of art for my collection as well. She gave me her blessing to sell the piece but ai never did. Like so much of my work, I saw it being part of a larger collection rather than part of someone’s decor.    

Eventually Mary posed for the “winter” painting in the series of the four seasons.   But those are the only 2 paintings I did of her. After that we simply lost touch.

“Two Women On A Table”
Oil/ canvas
5’ x 6’
This piece was created during the time I was most interested in Lucien Freud’s work and at my most realistic phase. Here, like other work at this time, the figures are both complete. Nothing is left artfully unfinished.  And they are complex psychological individuals.  Arguably they are even more depicted as individuals than Freud’s subjects which appear to me more like a series of stand-ins for his one central theme of existential angst depicted in their very flesh at least as much if not more than their facial expressions, gestures and postures.  Even the painting he did of his two daughters looks more about the meaty fact of their carnal flesh than my two friends here on this tilted desk.
Janel and Marni were two friends who answered my call for Art models.   They had been doing light internet porn in the early days of its invention and so were both pioneers and comfortable with being naked.   However, they were more familiar with being depicted in flattering and deliberately sexualized poses.   That was not what I was looking for and took some time and patience to let them work through their proclivities and eventually settle into the stranger less certain world of an artist and his flickering visions.  
They modeled for me for many pieces both individually and together.  Their ease with one another was one of the things I found most interesting as an artist.   They were not gay and not a couple in any sense of the word.  They were two good friends who were comfortable with one another but whose lives were beginning to depart in different directions even during the brief period they were working with me in my studio.  
Marni was getting her act together to pursue her career as a snowboarding instructor and physical fitness trainer.  Janel was devoting more and more time to porn and eventually became pregnant to a man she loved but who did not seem to reciprocate.  Here they are on a deliberately rocky platform straining to find some comfort one more time seeming to know that their friendship was about to splinter.   There was joy and dread in Janel’s whole bearing at that time as there would be for any young pregnant single woman, especially one who was making her living on the image of herself as a young sexy nubile.  
I did my best to capture this duality in both their body language and the paint itself.  I also tipped the angle of the desk forward and sideways while painting it and the fabric as sumptuously as I could to give both the impression of edgy precariousness and lush comfort.
Yes, this piece is inspired by Freud.   But I do believe I took this in a direction he would have found to have way too much “story.”   He was at least two generations older than me and certainly would have had a darker more Kantian approach to art and human relationships having lived through World War II and been under the influence of what seemed like the end game of painting, abstract expressionism.   Painting was painting…not story telling god damn it.  Story telling was for writers. 
Oh? Ok. Well, I’m not British and I grew up with Robert Rauschenberg as my art hero and he started including figures in his art… and stories.  And then I discovered Freud who threw the door wide open for painters like me who suffered under the burden of neglect often referred to as “old masteridis” by the art establishment.  It was felt that painting was dead and that the urge to paint the figure could be little more than the disease of the mind, a hopelessly simpleton nostalgic urge to repeat something already done so well and so thoroughly in the past that there couldn’t possible be anything valid or authentic or fresh to say anymore. 
So much for art theory.
“James and Bryn Small Bondage”
24″ x 36”
Somewhere in the early years of 2000, I became interested in the various expressions of alternative lifestyle experiments that were emerging in the culture. One of these was bondage play. In this painting a man is tying up his girlfriend in preparation to suspend her. These scenes often took place in highly sexually charged settings, although usually did not involve any actual sex.
I always felt a bit of an outsider because they held no sexual charge for me. They were, if anything, anti-erotic and even occasionally revolting. I often found them interesting in an intellectual sense and compelling visually.
My paintings of the scenes tend to be realistic since I wanted to capture and communicate the particulars and details of their work/play. But I also felt I wanted to see if painting these images with the best of my skill and feeling would give them some depth and humanity that I felt was present in the moment but which I found utterly lacking in the plethora of photographs taken at such gatherings by amateurs and professional photographers. 


With few exceptions, the photography of these scenes does not capture the more meaningful elements and dynamics of this activity. While I was not personally into this kind of activity, I could see and was often moved by the deep care and attention these couples paid to each other and their craft during these gatherings. 

“Rope Suspension”
5′ x 3’
In 2000, I was asked to host a booth at an event that was called “Living In Leather 2000.” It was a convention held at a large hotel for those interested in BDSM. I was asked because my friend Eileen Fix was involved in hosting it. In the late 1990’s, BDSM was almost exclusively something that was predominantly affiliated with gay men. To a lesser extent there was a very small and very underground group of straight people who participated in one or another form of expression in this, but they were predominantly women making money as a dominatrix and/or some type of prostitution.
That all changed in the 2000’s. If there was a single event that signaled a major change in the culture, it was this event. After “Living In Leather 2000,” the BDSM lifestyle exploded into the straight world. Quickly, there was a proliferation of expressions as straight people began to explore and push social boundaries of what was acceptable sexual expression and sexual lifestyle, just as the gay community was settling into an era of acceptance issues, such as the right to marry and the ability to adopt children. In Seattle, a group formed and name themselves, the Wet Spot, or more formally, CSPC (Center for Sex Positive Community). It’s numbers rose quickly and their focus was the darker side of these expressions. Their focus was bondage and role play. It was a sex club, but the focus was not so much on sex, per se, as it was on the development of a lifestyle and a community. Their focus was to create a culture to normalize being involved in these activities. The Wet Spot quickly became the leader and center of gravity for this movement in Seattle. The community quickly developed its own inner circle language of “safe words” and descriptors. It was not so much a secret coda as it was simply insider speak. Language, as much as dress/costuming and sexual behavior, became the means of defining oneself as “in” or not with the group. It was beautiful to watch how this group balance its growing identity and size with a spirit of inclusiveness.
Now, 20 years later, the group continues to grow and change. There have been ups and downs, losses and gains along the way. Personalities have come and gone, leaving their marks big and small. However, whether one likes or dislikes the Wetspot, it is and has been a powerful force to be reckoned with and still is the premier center for sex positivity in Seattle. Early in this trajectory, I naturally became interested in the powerful scenes that directly involved the body. Bondage is, in some respects, a figure painters dream. The model is ultimately immobilized by ropes and straps. And the whole point of the activity is to orchestrate and manage visual spectacle. 


Additionally, there are elements of tradition dating back centuries in both Eastern and Western cultures of the aesthetic beauty of the spectacle of the body in bondage, not to mention the psychological and emotional implications that are on stark display. And all of this is being done slowly and with the notion of a final moment of presentation. These are all things painters love.

This painting was done from photographs I took of a scene at a play party in my studio. I was able to control the lighting and the setting. The painting is typical of my work at that time. The figure still has volumetric presence but there is much more surface detail than paintings I had done a few years before. Compare this painting to all the “Jo” paintings I did in the mid 90’s. It is interesting to me that, given all these ideal conditions, I did not do more paintings like this or of “scenes.” The reason, I suppose, is two fold. First, the way in which I arrived at creating these works was tedious, time consuming and not satisfying in the creative method and not suited to my temperament. Secondly, I just simply wasn’t interested in the activity on any level other than my intellectual recognition of it as an important social movement. Additionally, in 2004, I did a kind of grand masterpiece which involved elements of BDSM and brought to a magnificent conclusion my interest in all of this.

I never saw my work as an artist in any way effective in helping direct or motivate social change. Photography and the internet and the iPhone were much more powerful agents of change than painting. Instead, I saw myself as providing a layer of historical depth or significance by virtue of rendering these things in oil paint… maybe wanting to ennoble them.  Perhaps that’s why I summarized all of this work in the huge “Suffering Change” piece and then moved on.  







”Portrait of Dave”
24” x 18”

This is an unusually small painting for me. Dave is just barely life size in this work. For information about my incredible working relationship with Dave Lewis between 2000 and 2004 please see the essays under the other paintings here on this website during those years.   

Dave used to jokingly tell friends he was sitting for me so that he would be preserved for a long time beyond his death. At the time it was always worth a chuckle. Now, 16 years since his sudden death from a heart attack this little painting of him still hangs in my studio and very much is helping to keep his presence very much alive and well in my shop and in my heart.


This piece was the only one I did of them, although I had intended to do more. It was done from both photos I shot of them and countless sittings in my studio. They were a delight to work with and helped me produce a truly wonderful and weird work of Art.

This piece was created right in the middle of my most realistic period. Before and after this 2-3 year period my work became less detailed and less about the personalities of my sitters and instead became more about sculptural form or concepts of space and time and Art. I am so grateful I had people like Jim and Tim at this time who were willing to make the kind of time available to me to create paintings like this.

“Jim and Tim”
72” x 60” Approximate

Jim and Tim were a couple that often attended an event that was held in my Art studio about 4 times a year from the late 1990’s to about 2004. It was called Romp Naked.  It was an all male naked dance party where no drugs, no alcohol and no sex were aloud. It was, among other things, about establishing a safe space where men could have a tribal experience in the company of only men without the psychological and physical risks that substances and sex might invite. Remember, this group of men had only just prior to this survived the Aids epidemic. You had to be over 18 but there was no upper age limit. Transgender people who identified as male whatever state of their bodies were also welcomed. It was quite a sight to see so many men of all ages and all degrees of fitness celebrating the joy of life together in a celebratory and even kind of sacred space.  

These events usually began with a lot of drumming and chanting and even a bit of Robert Bly-like hocus pocus. There was a fee to enter but if you couldn’t afford the nominal fee there were lots of volunteer opportunities.  The money was used to cover the rent on the space and other expenses to ensure nobody had to have out of pocket expenses to host the event. In an effort to keep it as egalitarian as possible, the leadership of the event passed from one person to another each time. It’s interesting to me that the event died once a particular person somehow felt it was his event and insisted on maintaining control and leadership of the event instead of passing on the contact list and leadership baton to the next person. 

These events attempted to not be gay events and indeed some straight men attended, including myself. But eventually the events became too carnivorous and meaty for me and the other straight men so I gradually stopped coming even when they were in my space.

During those events I met some really wonderful people including Jim and Tim. They were obviously comfortable being naked and I thought they were adorable together so I asked them to model for me. Tim, the seated figure, is blind so their interactions in the studio were particularly tender since Jim had to assist Tim in everything from finding his way around to finding his underpants when it was time to go.

Sun Dance Couple: Nursey and Panther
Oil on 2 panels
Each panel 48” x 32”

Couples painted on separate but matching panels has been a theme in my work ever since I painted Anna Nicole Smith and Arnold Schwarzenegger nearly 10 years prior to this pare. The idea of a couple on “twin” panels goes back to the Baroque era when a rising middle class was able to commission an artist to do a painting of a couple for the first time. The separate panels communicated the pious culture of the time but it might have also simply made it easier for the artist. He could work on each individual separately. Painting was, after all, much more time consuming than photography so getting both people to stand together for repeated sittings would have been challenging.

This set of paintings was done from photographs. The photos were taken at a very sacred bonding ceremony designed by these two people. I felt very privileged to be invited to observe and photograph the event with the idea that I would create a work of art of it someday. I did … as fast as I could get the film developed.

The ceremony is called a Sun Dance and is drawn from Nursey’s Native American roots. In this ceremony two people have hooks looped through their skin above the nipple and then are attached to each other through a loop very high above and in between then. The idea is to bind each of the pare to each other through pain and silent communication. Each move that one person makes, after all, is immediately communicated through intense pain to the other. The ceremony begins at sundown and goes until the sunrises…or something like that. This ceremony took place indoors and ended through means invisible to me. But it was powerful and imbued with a feeling of sacredness.

This took place at an emerging BDSM sex club in Seattle. At this point, in 2001 it was still very much an underground thing but already had over 1,000 members. It was among many other things a community of all kinds of people who gathered weekly to share their emerging kinks in a movement that was coming to be known as the BDSM movement or more simply, Kink.

It was founded and run by a very charismatic and loving woman named Allena Gabosch. She was a force of nature and true believer in the healing power of becoming oneself no matter how weird it might seem to mainstream culture. And at the same time there was a deep ethic of doing no harm to others, no harm beyond what they wanted that is. In fact, because bondage and pain were intrinsic parts of the “play” a very high premium on thorough communication and consent were baked into to every part of this community.

Not being kinky myself, I found myself just an observer at their gatherings and because my work celebrated their emerging culture in a dignified way, I was an honored guest.

I didn’t know Nursey and Panther the night of the ceremony. But I came to know them very well over the few years their community was part of my life. Eventually I created my own more vanilla and a touch more artistic version of their scene in a weekly thing called the Little armed Studio. But that is another story for another day.

Shortly after I painted this diptych, arguably one of my most challenging paintings to date, I sold it to a gay couple who had a pretty fabulous collection of works by local mid level realistic artists. At one point I was invited to their home for a party and was impressed with the weight of my work in their home. It was like a bull in a China shop.

Many years later when I was recovering from my big economic crash of 2010 I was looking on Craigslist for art supplies when I stumbled on this diptych for sale….on Craigslist….for $300 each. I was both flabbergasted and thrilled. As cheap as this was I still needed to borrow money from a friend to acquire them. To my relieve the owner still had them when I made contact. But it wasn’t the couple who had purchased them from me. When I went to pick up the paintings I had decided not to reveal that I was the artist until after the transaction was complete out of concern that he would jack up the price.

Instead, when I arrived I found a loving couple that clearly loved art and antiques. Their house was jammed to overflowing. They gushed about how they loved this set of paintings but that after having acquired them a year earlier at an estate sale, they just needed to find a new home for them. Well, I couldn’t help myself. I blurted out my identity as the artist right away. They were thrilled to meet me and even expressed their wish that they could give the pieces to me but that they had purchased them at quite a bit more than what they were selling them for.

It turns out they make their living liquidating estates and refurbishing antiques and paintings. They took down my name of course and vowed to contact me if they saw any of my work out there in the future. It’s been almost 10 years since then as of this writing. And I am still so grateful to have these pieces back.


“Portrait of Kerry”
8’ x 5’
2000 or 2001
Kerry Blasdel met me and my art at the Invisible Theater productions I helped create each year in LA under the leadership and care of Ken Symington and his partner Bruce Anderson. Kerry and I became fast friends and he commissioned 2 paintings right away. This one, a concept portrait of how he saw himself at that time. And a second one, a more direct “image” of Kerry and his girlfriend making love.   
Kerry is an architect by profession. But sees himself as a more generally creative energy surfer and healer. He is mostly gay but also sees himself as bi or pansexual and has a complex lifelong connection to a particular woman. To do the painting Kerry had me fly to Denver to spend time with him and his friends to get to know him and to do a photo shoot for the painting.  Among other things we did an ayoquaska session together and spent time at his spa in Manitou Springs. Kerry also tried to get his girlfriend to accept a threesome but neither she nor I were interested. It’s noteworthy though because it was indicative of Kerry’s playful spirit as “instigator” or “trickster” nature riding the energy between dimensions as he would put it. But Kerry the trickster wasn’t just riding the energy, he was also very busy trying to upset as many rules of conventionality as possible for his own amusement but also to get the ones he loved to experience life more directly and with greater richness. 
After all that I went home to my studio and did the painting. The challenge was to both flatter him as well as show the complexity of his concepts and  passions. Obviously I leaned on cubism to accomplish this as well as my newly discovered “white out” technique of obfuscating things in varying degrees to suggest differing levels of integration and complexity. And, I suppose it’s worth noting, I also leaned on my ability to render the human figure in a sensual lifelike way. 
Kerry was a fussy client constantly sending me photos of himself and pictures of plants and landscapes to include.  However, I followed my own sense of what the truth of him was in my eyes and didn’t do anything to second guess that. And, when the painting was done and unveiled he loved it immediately and unconditionally, even in the face of friends who were confused or puzzled by its abstract or conceptual nature. In fact, given what I know of Kerry’s sense of himself as exceptional, I think his friends’ confusion only added to his enjoyment of the painting.  
And, like most good painting, his enjoyment and appreciation of the piece has apparently grown over time. I ran into Kerry recently at a “celebration of life” ceremony for our friend and mentor Ken Symington. I hadn’t seen Kerry in over 15 years. He told me he loved the painting more and more over time and continues to see connections and relationships between the parts even after all this time.  

Seated Commission
oil on canvas
40 in by 34

This was unequivocally a vanity piece. In fact, this piece was the most unabashedly vain painting I was commissioned to do. The guy was a body builder and very proud of his body … most of it anyway. He was self conscious about his conspicuously thin calves and asked repeatedly if I would take pains to beef them up. With some effort I found a pose which was both slightly flattering and yet truthful of his calves.

I also did my best to add a little depth to the piece by hinting at a famous painting from an earlier period, a piece well known to my gay art lovers: a painting of a beautiful boy painted in 1838 by an artist named Flandrin. I had also recently done my own interpretation of this painting with my own model and fewer calf constraints.

The one strange thing about this commission was the size. It’s small. And the model was huge, easily 6’ 4”. And even though the price was higher for a smaller work because I hate small paintings, he elected to have it this size, less than half life size.



Seated Commission
“Hand with Tamborine”
12” x 12”
This and several other small paintings were done to feature the hand along with musical instruments and flowers. They were commissioned for the Seattle Men’s Chorus promotional machine. These were strictly commercial paintings and I never considered them to be art. The only interesting thing of note is that the painting of the ribbons was ahead of its time. Years later, in about 2008, I began doing paintings that employed this heavily loaded wet into wet brush technique. Most notably I did a painting called “Simone” in 2008 which features a woman that I completely covered in stripes of paint before photographing her and then did a life-size 3/4 portrait of her using this technique.

“Hanging Man Study”
32” x 24”

Once in awhile I do a painting that is a fragment of the larger piece I have in mind. In this case I zoomed in on the butt, and why not. And yes … I sold this piece. But not as quickly as I thought I would.

More importantly, I used this piece to work out my palette and to a lesser degree, how to paint it. My work was already well into a transition from the fast all at once style of the work I was doing prior to this, to a more craftsman like “work up” that you can see here. There are multiple layers of paint and a warm amber glow is achieved by a variety of means. There is also a much higher level of surface detail. This is much more a particular person’s butt rather than a universal sculptural idealized butt.
Note the downward sagging of the relaxed cheek to our left that is being pulled down by gravity.

It worked. I got a lot of clarity about how to do the larger piece and off I went. The larger piece was my own version of the Hanged One, one of the major arcana of the Tarrot deck. That piece was stolen by an art dealer and recovered years later. In the meantime I sold two subsequent versions.

“Hanging Man” 3 versions
5 x 3’

The Hanging Man is one of the important cards in a Tarot deck. Every Tarot deck has 4 suits just like a deck of playing cards. In addition to that it has 13 more cards that are called the Major Arcana. They can roughly be thought of as Jungian archetypes.   

This Major Arcana generally features a man hanging upside down from one leg with the other leg crossed in this particular way with his arms folded behind him as shown here. Under his head are usually a group of stones with secret symbols on them.   

It is generally understood that choosing this card indicates that one must delve deep into one’s unconscious in order to be able to see something that is ordinarily hidden and secretive but which nevertheless has some significance for you. Usually there is some hardship required to be able to see and decipher these messages. One has to literally turn oneself upside down in order to see the messages. Another way to state this would be to say that one sometimes needs a fresh perspective to be able to know how to resolve a problem or go forward.  

The unique position comes from a long tradition similar to yoga where it is believed that placing our body in certain positions isn’t just a good stretch for our muscles and tendons but has some affect on our sense of well being. There is some scientific evidence now that suggests these ancient positions do indeed stimulate the brain to produce more hormones such as serotonin that really do affect our sense of well being, relieve pain and even stimulate regenerative health.  

Well, that’s all very interesting but at some level it’s just a very striking image. So much so that during the time between when this piece was stolen and subsequently recovered I received two more commissions for this image. You can see the other two versions below. The Hawaiian one was painted in 2010 and the smoother indoors one was painted in 2012.

“Two Men In the Studio”
77’ x 55’

What I found so appealing about this pose was that it was at one and the same time something a little odd and even a little contrived to represent something about the condition of relationships in contemporary life and yet on the other hand is simply a warm up stretch for one’s yoga class.  It is contrived and yet it is not. The same is true for the way it is painted.  It is realistic, and yet it is not.  I balanced my faithfulness to paint things as they look with my conviction to reveal something that is true but not necessarily realistic. 

“Bruce with Cactus” 4 Additional Versions
48” x 32”


It has been said that I could have made a career out of painting people’s backs. And I suppose if I had more marketing hutzpah I probably could have. Furthermore, there are so many other parts of the body I love to paint. Feet, for example, are also really enjoyable and like backs reveal a lot more about a person than is ordinarily presumed. And like backs, naked feet can be displayed anywhere even in prudish America without fear of censorship despite their having an erotic connotation in some circles.  
Well, I did indeed do many back paintings and for awhile had the makings of a career in selling smaller than life size paintings of backs through a gallery in Hawaii. These paintings often had a little Hawaiiana thrown in for good measure. I enjoyed making them…up to a point.  In an unfortunate twist of fate, the gallerist who was selling my little backs died about the time I was growing bored of these pieces. And that was the end of that. You can see some of them here on this website.  
But Bruce’s back was not made for a market. Bruce was a friend and the life partner of my friend and Mentor Ken Symington. Bruce and Ken had already bought several paintings from me so I was really excited to do this back portrait for Ken when they requested it. The large cactus is actually not in the painting just because it is wonderfully phallic and very representative of Southern California where Bruce and Ken live.  It is also a source of hallucinogenic material used in the ceremonies Ken and Bruce held at their home.   

“Luther and Roni”
8’ x 4’

This piece demonstrates that from about this time on my interest had shifted from my models as sculptural presences to complex personalities with all kinds of reasons for want to stand in front of me naked or nearly naked.  

Clearly I was now no longer interested in a classical notion of beauty either. The plain unadulterated fact of this man is presented unabashedly by both himself as a model and by my choice to present him this way in his pose, lighting and method of painting.  

I met Luther at an all male nude dance party held near Halloween at my studio. All the guests were encouraged to come in creative undress. This is how Luther creatively undressed for the party.  I was struck by the unusual candor and grace with which this 73 year old man carried and presented himself even in the nude. We struck up a friendship but this is the only painting that came of our connection.  

I also like to present this piece along side of another painting the same size and shape. That painting is called “Roni” and features a nude woman standing similarly unadorned and frank. The impact of the painting is nearly the exact opposite of this one. Roni was uncomfortable when posing.  She is huddled on a very small delicate stool clutching a wad of clothes, presumably the ones she just removed. The two paintings seen together invite much speculation about the relationship of the two people and the comparisons and contrasts of the people they depict.

“Ken with Stick”
Oil on panel
48″ x 32”

I suppose this is my own version of those 19th century academy paintings that were required of any self respecting artist trying to prove his ability and which until recently had found their ways to the dust bins of history. With the advent of modernist art movements and photography, this type of painting seemed hopelessly lacking in imagination or purpose. And, having seen more than a few of these paintings since attempts to revive academic figure painting has brought them back to gallery walls, I can say with a certain informed smugness, most of them should go back to the basement. 
And I suppose as a figure painter who loved painting the male figure and hanging out in LA, sooner or later I would do a painting like this.  Here we have my friend Ken flexing his muscles with a stick drawn across his shoulders. Ken was a West Hollywooder. A man in his physical prime all to happy to model for me for a little show I did called “celebrating the male body beautiful”.  
Not my most inspired work. But then again, not every piece has be a break through. It’s just a sweet bit of eye candy. And like those old 19th century academic paintings moldering in the basements of museums, mine has never seen a wall since I took down after the show in 2000. I just can’t bring myself to show it. Perhaps fears of mediocrity still haunt me.