December 31, 2016

Miniature in the Mail #50: "The Great Indoors"

"The Great Indoors," 4x6in., oil on masonite

And for my final painting of 2016, the nice round number of 50 in my Miniature in Mail series, "The Great Indoors," because it's winter, I like my books and stereo and violin, and I'm a fan of Marcel Proust.

The door is the backside to the entrance of the famous Bradbury Building in downtown L.A. Most people may be more used to view in the other direction, down the narrow entrance lobby, designed to look like a Parisian alley, and opening up into a naturally lit, cathedral-like atrium chock full of ornamental iron, tiling, and polished wood. But I thought this angle was intriguing too.

The interior, which makes you feel as if you've stepped back in time a century, has been used for countless film and TV shoots, not all of them properly concurrent in classic Hollywood fashion.

The future that looks like the past in Bladerunner.

Anyway, have a safe and happy New Year, and see you in 2017!

For this mini painting and others like it, visit

December 24, 2016

Miniature in the Mail #49: "The Traffic Report"

"The Traffic Report," 5x5in., oil on masonite

Here's a true story, as parable.

I went for a run today. I stopped at the crosswalk of an eight-lane highway. An endurer, I sprinted the second the little white man blinked go, while cars drew up and honked though. I was at the third lane, full tilt but not halfway, when the man changed his mind and went away.

For this snappy painting and others like it, dart on over to

December 21, 2016

Miniature in the Mail #48: "Bridge Over Troubled Water"

"Bridge Over Troubled Water," 5x5in., oil on masonite

Last week for the first time, I cycled along the Santa Ana River, a watercourse that cuts through four counties of dense urban space and spills out into the Pacific. During the summer and fall it was bone dry, but now it has a trickle of water and that has drawn an incredible array of wildlife, seemingly overnight.

This one spot drew my attention: sterile warehouses, wires, signs of construction, a mysterious tunnel with some stealth graffiti, paranoid concrete reinforcement, a decent pooling of water, and ducks, of all things. Other determined and plucky waterfowl I spotted included pelicans, egrets, cormorants, black birds, herons, and gulls.

Though it doesn't feel it round here, today is the first day of winter. Happy Winter Solstice!

I also wanted to mention that I made it into the local paper, the Fullerton Observer. Check it out. I'm on page 14.

For more on "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and other paintings like it, part of my Miniature in the Mail series, please visit

December 19, 2016

Miniature in the Mail #47: "Under the Laguna Freeway"

"Under the Laguna Freeway," 4x6in., oil on masonite

People say, sometimes intuit—in California and in Canada, it's one of the strong common threads—that nature is therapeutic, restorative, a wormhole back to our more congenital habitat. But every time I escape, mostly to get a reprieve from cars and digital devices, or to walk the kids, I end up coming back to the same old drab structures that signal modern living, like early explorers that just couldn't lose sight of the coastline.

This view under a freeway, curiously, with trash thrown out of vehicles above and scattered about, a thunderous noise, and slightly vandalized signs and walls, struck as me as rougher and more feral than the carefully tended paths where I was supposed to experience wilderness.

For this mini painting and others like it, visit

December 16, 2016

In the groove

"In the groove," 24" x 30", oil and acrylic on birch panel

This make look familiar. I did a version of it in the mini a few weeks ago and liked the scene, composition, and odd juxtaposition of paradisaical palm trees and bougainvillea with highway and storm drain so much I wanted to revisit it.

Okay, now I'm off to complete the driving portion of the exam for a California driver's license and it's raining, ughh. Those storm drains better be working.

For more painting like this one, visit Have a great weekend!

December 14, 2016

Miniature in the Mail #46: "Shaggy manes"

"Shaggy manes," 4" x 6", oil on masonite

Shaggy manes are actually a species of wild mushroom I like to forage and eat, but I thought the name was befitting here too.

Curious to note that palms in their more native, unkempt state look something like thisleonine, hirsute, hipsteresque.
Guess you can tell I've still just arrived in California.

For this pair of plants and for other mini paintings like it, drop by

December 12, 2016

Miniature in the Mail #45: "For the grebes"

"For the grebes," 5x5in., oil on masonite

Brought the kids for a hike at the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park a few weeks ago and came across this rare Southern California finding, a lake, called Barbara's Lake. You could hear the highway in the distance and it was mostly dry, but still. An info sign said it was home to bulrush, cattails, willows, mallards, and grebes. I had no idea what a grebe was (a duck that likes to dive) but I'm sure I saw them out there and I love their name. They deserve respect.

Ditto for Barbara Stuart Rabinowitsh, for whom the lake was named. I looked her up. She was a greenbelt environmentalist whose activism hindered the Irvine Co., known for its private planned cities, from constructing 3,000 houses, a golf course, and other facilities on the coastal wilderness habitat.

For this mini painting and others like it, visit

December 9, 2016

Miniature in the Mail #44: "Vehicular"

"Vehicular," 5x5in., oil on masonite

Many think I should paint pretty instead of real, but I think it's important to remain in the world.

The thing with Southern California is it's a whole lot of real and artificial set within pretty and natural, and the facts on the ground and Hollywood/Disney machine. It can be tricky to disentangle, depending on which direction you turn your attention, as you motor past on four wheels.

For this mini painting and others like it, visit

December 6, 2016

Miniature in the Mail #43: "Obliquely"

"Obliquely," 5x5in., oil on masonite

A question of strategy and style: angle the approach direct and explicit, or make it oblique?

In dialogue, diplomacy, storytelling, teaching, communication both verbal and visual...

For this mini painting and others of a similar spirit, check out

December 5, 2016

Miniature in the Mail #42: "Eau noire"

"Eau noire," 4x6in., oil and collage on masonite

Here's something I haven't done before, paint a frame ripped from a film, in this case Chinatown (1974). Stylistically film noir, a favourite genre of mine, it was directed by Roman Polanski and was meant to be his European vision of the United States, so darker and more cynical, not Hollywood at all. It's inspired by the California Water Wars, a series of conflicts between the City of L.A. and farmers in eastern California, rife with corruption, subterfuge, and dirty politics.

 In my version of the scene, I've edited out P.I. Jake Gittes, played by Jack Nicholson.

The river, incidentally, is the L.A. River, and the bridge the fictional Hollenbeck Bridge. Film buffs on the net have speculated that it was actually the 7th and Olympic Bridge.

Which looks like this today.

For this mini painting and others like it, visit

December 1, 2016

Miniature in the Mail #41: "Park"

"Park," 5x5in., collage and oil on masonite

My badass kid has been coming home fired up about synonyms, antonyms, and homophones these days, not to mention parks, ones with monkey bars.

A quick look in the dictionary shows that, indeed, the concept park has been an "enclosed preserve for beasts" since 1260. In 1663 it became more precisely a "lot in or near a town, for public recreation."

But what about park in the sense of the verb to station, to park your car in the car park? One meaning stems from the old German pferch, a "fold for sheep." Convincing.

There's also industrial park, where big machines go to play, said my kid smartly sagaciously (thanks thesaurus).

For this alluring vision of one variety of park, uncannily emptied out, and for more mini paintings like it, take a gander at