I created this composition in pastel as a companion to “The Card Players”. Here the young man is spellbound while an old fortune teller reveals secrets to him, unaware that the younger woman is lifting an expensive pendant from around his neck. A servant in the back is whispers private details to the old woman. The setting is a Venetian “carnivale” theme.
The carnival of Venice has an interesting history. It started in the year 1162 from a victory against the Patriarch of Aquileia. Under the rule of the King of Austria, the festival was outlawed entirely in 1797 and the use of masks became strictly forbidden. In 1979 the Italian government decided to bring back the history and culture of Venice, and sought to use the traditional Carnival as the centerpiece of their efforts. Today, approximately 3 million visitors come to Venice every year for Carnival. One of the most important events is the contest for la maschera più bella (“the most beautiful mask”) placed at the last weekend of the Carnival and juried by a panel of international costume and fashion designers.
Here is a fun piece of music. It starts out slowly, but the middle part is probably not for beginners:
This is a pastel drawing I made for my book Asphalt Renaissance to show traditional devotional imagery. It uses the classical renaissance technique of chiaroscuro, which is the subtle passage of light into darkness. I did pastel was done on a roughened surface similar to the pavement used by the Italian Madonnari, which literally means “painters of the Madonna”, but also applies to pavement artists in general. There is a special quality to the pastel on the rough surface that is unlike any other medium. This is very hard to achieve in permanent works and is made possible, in part, by making the pastels by hand.
This image, along with others is on display at the Andrea Smith Gallery in Sedona, Arizona. The gallery specializes in sacred works from a wide variety of traditions. The address is here:
The last Supper was an all-time successful piece in Europe. It was always a bit of an interpretation, as Da Vinci’s original is in such a bad state that the figures are not very clear.
A couple of years ago I made an image of the center figure of Christ image for a one-man show at the Friday Harbor Museum of Art. I wanted to show the kind of traditional imagery that was used by pavement artists. There are actually not many simple, classical devotional images of Christ. Some of the most popular images have actually been cut out of larger works. I used a robe and position similar to those in Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper, but the portrait part is completely original. Iconic images are made to help the devotee into a meditative state, for this reason they are restful and quiet.
This image, along with others, is on display at the Andrea Smith Gallery in Sedona, Arizona. The gallery specializes in sacred works from a wide variety of traditions.
The Queen of the Night is a character from Mozart’s Opera, The Magic Flute. She first appears appears and tells the prince Tamino that her daughter Pamina will be his wife if he can rescue her from Sarastro (Recitative and aria: “O zittre nicht, mein lieber Sohn” / “Oh, tremble not, my dear son! You are innocent, wise, pious”). The Aria can be heard here, sung by Luciana Serra, a singer I heard myself in Naples in 1984:
I created this work in pastel as a fine art edition. The figure is reversed from my original painting so that it may be paired with the Papageno print. The pastel gives the work a lighter, more airy feeling than the oil paint. The work can be seen at the AFA gallery in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. The address is below:
Papageno is a character from Mozart’s Opera, The Magic Flute. He enters the scene arrayed entirely in the plumage of birds. He describes his happy life as a bird-catcher and his longing for a wife, or, at least, a girlfriend (aria: “Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja”).
One of my favorite books has been Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, published in 1946. It is available as an audio book as well, which means I can sometimes listen to it while working. While the planning stages of my work requires a great deal of rational thought, the execution is often very intuitive. This means that I can play opera or listen to an audio book as I spend the long hours it takes to finish my works. This book tells great stories from Yogananda’s life, and just listening to it is a tangible spiritual experience.
Yogananda’s book has since been translated into twenty-eight languages. In 1999, it was designated one of the “100 Most Important Spiritual Books of the 20th Century”. Autobiography of a Yogi is the most popular of Yogananda’s books. It has sold more than four million copies and counting. Autobiography of a Yogi describes Yogananda’s spiritual search for enlightenment. The Autobiography has been an inspiration for many people including Steve Jobs (1955-2011), Co-Founder, former Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Apple Inc. In the book Steve Jobs: A Biography the authors writes that in preparation for a trip, Mr. Jobs downloaded onto his iPad2, the Autobiography of a Yogi, “the guide to meditation and spirituality that he had first read as a teenager, then re-read in India and had read once a year ever since.”
Yogananda also wrote music and some of it was arranged and played by Brother Premamoy, a Serbian devotee and monk of the Self Realization Fellowship Order. Below is one work, The Land Beyond My Dreams:
There are many photographs of Yogananda as an adult but images are rare of him in his youth. I did this portrait of him in pastel as a fine art edition. It shows him as the young man that reveals himself in the book. It can be seen in the Andrea Smith Gallery in Sedona, Arizona. The address is below:
After spending a year or so doing copies of masterpieces on the street I ventured even further afield from traditional street painting by executing large, original compositions. I was anxious to compose original works of art within the language … Continue reading →
I have always loved Händel operas and one of my favorite is Acis and Galatea. I did this drawing as a traditional classical composition, but used the gigantic character of Polyphemus to stretch the perspective. It is one of my most complicated traditional compositions. The character of Polyphemus sings in Georg Friedrich Händel’s popular 1718 setting of Acis and Galatea, an English language pastoral opera or masque with the libretto set by John Gay to Ovid’s Metamorphosis. Here, the jealous monster scares the lovers in the aria “I rage, I melt, I burn” and then monstrously courts Galatea with his “O ruddier than the cherry”. Polyphemus is a gigantic cyclops that personifies the Sicilian volcano Mount Etna, and “stabbing to the heart” refers to the mythical battle of the gods and giants. Both the single eye and the stabbing wound refer to the gaping caldara of the volcano.
Below is the amusing libretto for the two songs:
I rage, I rage, I melt, I burn! The feeble god has stabbed me to the heart. Thou trusty pine, prop of my god-like steps, I lay thee by! Bring me a hundred reeds of decent growth, to make a pipe for my capacious mouth; in soft enchanting accents let me breathe sweet Galatea’s beauty, and my love.