Art au gratin
About my art, cheddar, and cute furry kittens.


Hola, one and all: come see “As the Crow Flies”, a collection of nineteen of my paintings. They shall be at:

Pacific Trading Co., 1224 Pacific Ave., in Santa Cruz.

I’ll be there from 6-8pm each First Friday in May and June (May 6 & June 3)

They’ll be up for all of May and June of 2011. Hope to see you there!

Pacific Trading Co., 1224 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz.

Here’s a sample:

Crow Song, 30X30, 2009, Mixed Media.

Tree of Life, 48X48, 2009, Mixed Media.

Midpoint Cafe, 20X20, 2010, Mixed Media.

Black Eyed Angel, 30X30, 2009, Mixed Media.


Body and Light, 19"X15", acrylic on board, 2008

I haven’t shown or published a ton of figurative work.

During college (Towson University, 1988-1992!) I made figure drawings ’til I was blue in the face. Thanks Stuart Stein, Carmen Robb, Jose Villarubia! (et al.)You all made me practice, practice, practice!

It’s not that I don’t love the human figure…’s another piece:

Reach, acrylic, 1999

I especially love the play of light on and around figures.

Anyway, recently I discovered how popular figurative work can be. It seems everyone loves a good nude. Well, almost everyone.

I posted some work on a site called RedBubble and lo and behold, not only did my figure art get more hits than my other work, but it was selected for one of the site’s homepages:

How about that?


Vernal Equinox I, 20X20, acrylic/mixed media, 2011

I finished this one last week. Actually, this has three siblings; it belongs to a series of four.

Back in October, the Santa Cruz Open Studios event went on, and I sold a bunch of small paintings on paper. Inspired by commerce, I decided to make some variations on the themes found in those pieces. I’ve done several since last October, and this is one of the latest.

Originally, one of the restrictions I gave myself was to spend as little time as possible on the paintings. I wanted them to be as spontaneous as I could get. The Vernal Equinox pieces took a little longer, but not much more than a week.

So, what do you call this style? Abstract Expressionism? Well, they are abstract. Decorative art? Hmmm, they do lack any imagery of objects, or figures…and they have bright, swirly colors and stuff…..

I don’t know what they are, other than colorful abstracts.

Thinking about them today, I realized I must have learned something about abstracts from other artists. Where do my influences come from? Right away, I thought of some names. Did these folks really teach me something, or did I just imagine their influence?


Roberto Matta; "L'Insigne", Oil on canvas, 24X20 3/4", 1976, Tasende Gallery

Here’s more images from Matta at this site.


Kandinsky, "Composition VII", 1913

Image borrowed from these nice folks:

Also check out this Kandinsky site!

Paul Klee??

Paul Klee (1879-1940). Ancient Sound, Abstract on Black, 1925

This image comes from this interesting blog.

Now that I’ve taken a good look again at these guys….I’m not even in the same league as they are. Still, they provide some incredible inspiration. The complexity of these paintings, the feeling they put into images that aren’t even recognizable…….dude!


Here are some paintings I worked on during the summer of 2010. The challenges I gave myself were two simple ones: work in a series, and choose a theme with broad appeal.

Passing Through, 20X20, acrylic paint/mixed media, 2010

As usual, I’ve been adding a lot of layers of paint and plenty of texture. The partial shape of the “state route” shield and the simulated road center lines are covered by gold leaf. Here are two more below:

Motel 66, 20X20, acrylic paint/mixed media, 2010

Midpoint Cafe, 20X20, acrylic paint/mixed media, 2010

I used pretty much all of my favorite materials for these paintings. Acrylic paint, of course is used liberally, along with Caran D’ache, imitation gold leaf, vermiculite, stabilo pencil, tissue paper and printer ink.


Human Oddities, Noria Jablonski 2005 Shoemaker & Hoard!

At one point or another, just about everyone feels like a reject, outcast, or freak. I know I have. It can be something obvious, like a scar or a cast. But so often it’s a self-imposed sentence, invisible but to our own eyes, whispering about how we don’t fit in.

Maybe that’s why I like Noria Jablonski’s collection of short stories, Human Oddities. It’s about folks whose bodies set them apart. Haven’t we all felt like this? Jablonski’s characters introduce us to their world, showing us their perspectives as well as the ones that surround them.

In One of Us, Hussein and Hussan are once-conjoined twins. Their misfit status is nearly ignored by them (and their grade school companions). Hussan’s narration is quite matter-of-fact, even in the aftermath of his brother’s relatively minor concussion accident and it’s effects. One of Us contrasts with much of the book’s feeling of pain which soaks most of the characters. Not that there’s anything wrong with either viewpoint, Human Oddities paints them all in a valid way.

“Valid.” The opposite of “invalid”. Hm. Isn’t that how a freak feels? Invalid?

Check out these links to Noria’s site:

and also a review I liked: (scroll down a bit).


Jason Dietz isn’t a man given to wild flights of fancy, but this image was too much fun to ignore.

In one of those half dream-half wake states, Jason’s mind’s eye created a U.F.O. abduction. As a home builder and auto body repair specialist, he often uses an imagined image to create a solid reality. Thus, a kinetic sculpture was born.

I don’t think Jason knew he was an artist, but who was he to reject the muse? It wasn’t up to him; he merely followed the muse as she directed.

In the spirit of full disclosure, Jason’s asked me to assist him in this ongoing project. I, of course, am loath to turn down an opportunity to be weird. And to have fun.

Full color!! If you look closely, you'll see Bessie the Cow being abducted...

Here they are in the light of day.

So what is it? A lamp? A sculpture? A new toy for bong-obsessed stoners? You decide.


One of the best things about living here at Santa Cruz’s Artspace Tannery Lofts is the variety and quality of people you interact with daily. For me personally, it’s great because I love painting, cinema, music, books, sculpture and a myriad of other arts. Who do I live with in this community? Writers, filmmakers, dancers, musicians and every other kind of artist you can think of.

An artist I’m proud to have in my community is Elijah Pfotenhauer. He recently had a write-up in the Santa Cruz Weekly. I met Elijah when we both were showing some pieces at Steve Vorhees’ Santa Cruz Stoves & Fireplaces. It so happens that Elijah has a 1,200 square foot mural on their exterior wall.

Thanks to Santa Cruz Stoves & Fireplace mural.

He’s a soft-spoken fellow, not prone to outbursts or egomaniacal tantrums. The Weekly story reveals that Elijah’s been mentoring local young folks for some time. He’s taught and volunteered at places like DeWitt Anderson School and Renaissance High School. As arts and education funds have been cut, Elijah has simply continued teaching as he can afford.

His work is all around town. Check out his website for some examples, and see if you can spot his work on the walls you pass every day.

I think we need more young artists like Elijah around. Nice work, EP.


Hey, last week I spoke with Kirby Scudder about my newest painting series, As the Crow Flies. Kirby has a radio segment that plays every Tuesday at about 4:45pm on KUSP. Here’s a link to the Art Studio archive:

Scroll down and you can find two interviews with me.

Mr. Scudder is crucial to the Art Scene here in Santa Cruz. He’s a catalyst, advocate, program director, organizer, curator and probably seven or eight more things. All in the name of supporting art in Santa Cruz. He’s also a resident here at the Artspace Tannery Lofts. Just about every creative entity in Santa Cruz owes Kirby a word of thanks. So, thanks for all your hard work Kirby. And great interview, too!

Our pal Kirby Scudder. Photo by Dina Scoppettone.


Here are some photos from the opening of “As the Crow Flies” at the Mill Gallery last Friday. Thanks to Lucas Clark for the swell pics!

Mark Rinde inspects the work with his fine eye for detail.

Jason Dietz lets me know that next time I should use a level when I hang my paintings.

"Sure, I can make paintings of dolphins and puppies!"

PJ Swift and her husband, Bob; Susan Forrest and her husband Mike.

These three admirers like the one with the trees.

"Really, with three low, low down payments of just $6000, this painting can be yours!"


"Life", 48X48, 2007

Here’s one of the first large format paintings I ever did. This spurred on a number of 48X48s, as well as a number of other traits I’m currently painting. The grid first showed up here…I used it to help me divide the canvas into panels that could each feature an idea or theme. The texture I use now is here. Sometimes I use these iconic symbols, too. I also started experimenting with tissue transfers with this piece.

The theme is pretty simple: life. The symbols/characters all relate to life. The representational images all show various stages of life. I even included a copy of my birth certificate in there.

I started the painting sometime in 2006. It was around a year after my mother died, and she was my last surviving parent. Maybe that makes this sort of a reactionary painting…interesting that I chose to express death’s opposite so soon after my mother’s. Especially since so many following paintings have focused on the mystery of death itself. (See “A Murder of Crows” or “Black Eyed Angel”). Even I don’t always know why I paint what I paint…