December 23, 2017

Together No. 13

"Together (No. 13)," acrylic on birch panel, 24" x 48"

Ta-da, numero 13 of my series Together, just for all the misanthropes. If you've forgotten why I started this series and what it has to do with anything, the explanation can be found over at

I'm not sure what it is about these but they keep selling, which is odd because here in California I haven't really wrapped my head around how to conceptualize things as I was able to in Italy or elsewhere. Despite the insanely glorious weather, you're more likely to see a bunch of cars rubbing bumpers than people rubbing elbows, or if they are people, they're smushed into turnstiles at Walmart or Target.

The other place, of course, can be Joshua Tree, the sequoias, and all the spots people escaping people follow other people escaping people only to find themselves together again.

Fairgrounds with security, admissions, and super set-design curation are also good. That's where this painted rectangle happened to come from: a show I did near San Diego in the Fall, slipping out for moment to do my hoser duty and hear Alanis Morissette perform (yup) and then, believe it or not, Tom Petty, a few weeks before he moved on to the spirit in the sky.

November 5, 2017

Tailor Shop - Sastrería

"Tailor Shop - Sastrería," 9" x 12", watercolour on Arches 140 lb. cotton paper

One of the best parts about living in Southern California is the bilingual culture, at least on the part of those who grew up speaking a language besides English (more on that in a sec).

Spanish is particularly alive and well and knowing even a bit of it can open doors to vistas that the culture of California on the surface tends to ignore.

One of my kids is in a pilot "dual immersion" Spanish-English program at school, thanks to Prop 58 which just overturned Prop 227, a mingy measure passed in 1998 that required Californian schools to teach "overwhelmingly" in the language of the Anglos, with little transitional instruction for recent arrivals.

The school doesn't rank high enough for the Tiger Parents but we love it, not just because we happen to know Spanish but because communicating in another tongue, as babyish and uneasy as it can make you feel at the start, really does shift how you see things. It radically de-centres, I would say, and can shake up and confuse, for a moment anyway, who's privileged and who isn't.

On the days I wait in line for the bell with my little one, the chattiest parents, the most assured and confident - in their places of work ignored, as a rule, behind leaf blowers and feather dusters - are the Hispanophones.

Over the years I've done a fair amount of translation work. I came across this passage recently in the preface to a bilingual volume of Italian Renaissance poetry (I know, the stuff I read!). It's specifically about translation but I think it applies more broadly.

British and American publishers have reaped the financial benefits of successfully imposing English-language cultural values on a vast foreign readership, while producing cultures in the United Kingdom and the United States that are aggressively monolingual, unreceptive to foreign literatures, accustomed to fluent translations that invisibly inscribe foreign texts with British and American values and provide readers with the narcissistic experience of recognizing their own culture in the cultural other.

These days there's lots in the news about regions with distinct languages and cultures wanting to detach and go it alone. I both understand and, I admit, dislike the whole business, especially because it can't seem to happen without a lot of Kool-Aid drinking, also called nationalism. But I can't help think that one day even such middle powers as Spain, Italy, Belgium, Morocco, Turkey, etc., challenged now by various sub-regions, will respond in this same way, only direct their dissatisfaction at the ultra-homogenizing English world.

November 1, 2017

CicLAvia on Broadway

"CicLAvia on Broadway," 30" x 24", acrylic, collage, spray, graphite, and oil on birch panel

Here's a whimsical piece I completed recently and showed last weekend at a fair in Beverly Hills.

It depicts the last CicLAvia held in L.A., that cut right through the downtown and brimmed with every stripe of folk, weirdo and normalite alike. I partook in it with my kiddos and spouse and we were almost giddy to be out in the open streets in the core of it all, no cars, no hyper-vigilance, laughing at the excuses some had for bikes and the hot-rodded custom jobs.

If you don't know CicLAvia, it comes out of Bogotá, Colombia, where despite the civil war people have taken to the streets in non-hydrocarbon forms of transport every week for some 40 years. In L.A. where the cars can seem to outnumber and swarm out the people, the quarterly CicLAvia has forced a re-guidance of local transportation policy and improved air quality by a fifth.

Paint-wise, I was after something representational but that dissolved at the edges into a dreamy state, something almost fauvist, Kandinsky before his Bauhaus period and the evaporation of living formsthe way I actually experienced the event, as normal and abnormal at once.

Kandinsky, "The Ludwigskirche in Munich," 1908

All this and still "Stocco," of course, which gets harder to escape all the time.

For this painting and others, check out, as always, fellow travelers,

October 17, 2017

Mini in the Mail #76: "Morning highway"

"Morning Highway," oil on panel, 5" x 5"

Growing up there wasn't much art at home, let alone original art. But my grandmother did have a large framed oil of a very empty country road surrounded by trees. A friend from her work life had created and given it to her, she said - that's all I ever knew about it. No one paid it much mind, myself included, as dominant as it was in her living room where we sat to watch TV, fight for control of the converter, and digest supper.

I used to stare at the painting and wonder, though, what techniques the artist used to create the sinewy trees and impasto road, and why just this road in the middle of nowhere, with nothing else to embellish it. I stared at the picture for years, not conscious about the questions I was asking or even that I was doing something more than resting my eyes somewhere, but allowing it to work on me and seep in, osmotically.

My grandmother is gone now and I regret not having been more perceptive about prodding her on the painting. Was it just decorative? What did it mean? How did it make her feel? Did it conjure other memories? Did it mark an occasion? Did she study and parse out evidence of the human hand as I did? Who was the artist? What were they up to now?

Now I think of Yeats, the poet: "The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper."

For this and paintings like it, check out

October 11, 2017

Updated Conversation Piece

"Updated Conversation Piece," mixed media on birch panel, 36x48in.

Here's my latest work - acrylic, collage, spray, graphite, and oil on a hard wood surface.

I tried to be more free flowing and stream of consciousness with it, especially distorting the scene and making stuff up as I went along - a nice way to stay engaged and not preconceive the end.

The setting is Los Angeles, in particular the east end around Boyle Heights, but it's not a typical representation I hope, at least not so far as art goes.

The inspiration? A radio series I've been listening to on KCRW called There Goes the Neighborhood, all about gentrification in L.A. Also, another swimmingly seething Bukowski poem:

"Hello, How Are You?"

this fear of being what they are:

at least they are not out on the street, they
are careful to stay indoors, those
pasty mad who sit alone before their tv sets,
their lives full of canned, mutilated laughter.

their ideal neighborhood
of parked cars
of little green lawns
of little homes
the little doors that open and close
as their relatives visit
throughout the holidays
the doors closing
behind the dying who die so slowly
behind the dead who are still alive
in your quiet average neighborhood
of winding streets
of agony
of confusion
of horror
of fear
of ignorance.

a dog standing behind a fence.

a man silent at the window.

I always struggle with the titles of my work. I'm not one who can settle for "untitled," supposedly allowing the art to speak for itself, or for a descriptive title like "street corner" or "two people talking," which is obvious from the art and repetitive.

I was happy here to discover that "conversation piece" has an older root than a bizarre vase or haute couture hat that gets people talking. The term refers to a genre of painting that portrays people in genteel conversation, generally in utopian outdoor settings. Here's an example Wikipedia gives.

Arthur Devis, "Sir George and Lady Strickland in the Grounds of Boynton Hall," oil on canvas, 1751

My "updated" conversation piece conforms to the genre, only I've stripped out the gentility, brought verisimilitude to the environment, and used fantasy elements not to glamorize or sentimentalize but to reflect a certain precariousness and volatility in our world today.

For this painting and more of my artwork, check out

August 22, 2017

Farmacia de los Nieto

"Farmacia de los Nieto," 18" x 24", mixed media on panel

I'm back in California and working the red tape to ready for the school year (that has already started, fer cryin' out loud) and to restore the loss of my wallet to a pickpocket-scoundrel in Barcelona, but my head is still across the ocean.

This was one of the last pieces I painted while away and managed to bring back in a suitcase. It's a charming though derelict building I found on the main drag of a small town in Castilla-La Mancha, a sort Spanish rust belt, or, maybe more accurately, dust bowl.

For some reason the colours reminded me of a travelling carnival rather than the pharmacy that it was, though I suppose for some those could go together.

For this and other works like it, check out

August 10, 2017


"Quintet," 12x12in., oil on panel

Here's another square-foot piece I started a while ago and finished recently. It's a depiction of the hills at a very green moment near my home in Southern California. I love to hike and play the hilarious games "Watch out for the rattlesnake!" and "I think those coyotes are tracking us," but unfortunately I can't usually find anyone else to play with.

Just over a week left to go in the city of orxata and 10pm suppers. Think I'm preparing mentally for the return.

August 9, 2017

Muro toscano

"Muro toscano," 12x12in., oil on board

Something I started in Italy and finally got around to finishing up.

I used to love hanging around this spot overlooking Florence and watching people stretch and struggle to get a shot with the ugly wall out of the way. I was too lazy and just left her in.

For more warts and all, check out

August 7, 2017

Plein air contest in Albalat dels Tarongers

This past weekend I participated in another painting contest, this time in the village of Albalat dels Tarongers, near Valencia.  It started at 9am and finished for a big group lunch of paella and beer at 1:30pm.  No luck winning a prize, but I had more fun than normal and I was totally relaxed painting in a bush away from the crowds, despite crazy burrs that got into my socks and pesky flies I think liked the smell of my paint.

Here I am.
My neighbour, Miguel, who took the first prize.
The scene.
My finished piece. 100cm x 81cm, acrylic on wood panel.

Next weekend will be my last weekend of pintura rápida before we return to L.A.  There's a lot lined up and I hope to go out on a bang.

For more paintings, visit

August 2, 2017

Stuck in a Bad Conversation Next to a Good Conversation

"Stuck in a Bad Conversation Next to a Good Conversation," 18x24in., oil on birch panel

Not saying it's ever happened to me or anything, but it would be bothersome, as it seemed it was for the folks in this screwball composition I put together perambulating around Valencia.

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Have a dandy Wednesday!

July 31, 2017

Cannons and canvas

Another bustling weekend, this time in Catalonia, a few hours by car north of our base in Valencia.

In the 1930s before World War II, Spain fought a civil war that pitted fascists/aristocrats (called Nationalists) against anarchists/socialists (called Republicans). The war was long, bloody, and irregular in many ways (the first and only time anarchists as an organized collective rose up, for example). The fascists won and ushered in almost 40 years of dictatorship. And today, still, the war is a sore spot verging on taboo to discuss in Spain.

The longest, largest, most decisive battle of the Spanish Civil War took place in the valley and surrounding mountains of the Ebro River. The Battle of the Ebro, as it was called, lasted for 115 days and according to one sign in an "interpretation centre," close to 300,000 combatants participated, including "international volunteers" on the Republican side.

Thanks to Germany and Italy, fascist in those days, but also countries like France and Britain which refused to intervene, the Nationalists were stocked with more heavy firepower over the course of the fighting and the Republicans, though supported by the Soviet Union, suffered casualties two to three times as high as did the fascists, depending on the sources.

Among the reasons for wanting to see the Ebro was that family on my spouse's side died in the war, not in this battle per se but in the buildup to it, fighting for the Republican cause.

The small town of Corbera d'Ebre goes back to pre-Roman times. It was completely destroyed during the battle. We poked through the ruins. The new Corbera that was rebuilt nearby has left the old town as it was as a reminder of the war.
Trenches are still visible all over.
A map installed by the International Brigade Memorial Trust, showing the locations of the British Battalion, the American Lincoln-Washington Battalion, and the Canadian Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion. These soldiers were not conscripts as in WWII, but volunteers who went to fight fascism before it was was official or even acceptable to do so. Many faced persecution when they returned home.
If you haven't seen Ken Loach's Land and Freedom, it's a great starting point

The next day, we made our way to a town on the coast called Vila-seca, where a "pintura rápida" contest was scheduled to take place. Was it ever a different world.

The town was celebrating its festes majors, its patron saint, and was in full party mood, despite insane heat.
We pulled in late and because the best spots had already been claimed, I was forced to work in the open sun, and in what turned out to be a funeral path, which meant I had to move elsewhere after an hour and freestyle from memory. Then a lot of drunk people were out earlier than is healthy and they threw beer at me. So, it was a frustrating experience and I didn't want  to hand in the half-finished work when it was due at 1pm.
But I did, just in case the jury was into a combination of naif and minimalism.
But no, they weren't. This got a prize.
And this, I believe, got the top prize.
Next weekend, if all goes well, I should be out at another contest and I'm already thinking about how to make it better. It will take me longer to recuperate before seeing more battle sites.

As always, check out for the latest.

July 24, 2017

Two nighttime painting contests, Spanish style

Until this weekend, I hadn't done a plein air painting contest—Spanish style, in the heat, under the influence of many fermented beverages—in six years. I was creaky but happy to get out and see old friends, and find that the contests haven't changed much, for the better.

We rented a car and drove out to the heart of Quixote country, Castilla-La Mancha, with two standard 100x81cm panels (40x32in., the smallest you can get away with and still hope to win a prize) and all my old paints, tools, and renowned ironing board that I found in a dumpster years ago and has become the butt of many jokes, even if it is awesome for holding a palette.

The first contest was in Alcázar de San Juan. It started at 10pm and finished at 2am, the only time you can do anything at this time of the year, on account of the generalized sauna. For painting, for sure, working in the dark presents certain challenges.

Here I am. An hour ago it would've been impossible to work out here with the sheer quantity of pedestrians, but the stores have closed and the bars have opened, shifting people elsewhere.

In four hours, including time to set up, clean up the painting for presentation, varnish, and run the work back to the registration point, this was what I managed to poop out. Only at the end, in proper light again, did I realize just how dark and Transylvanian it was. 

The showroom was packed and the smell of solvents and varnish hurt my head, but here were a few highlights I managed to snap. If you ask me, these people should be locked up for being so damn good.

The second contest, the next day, was in another mouthful, Villafranca de los Caballeros. Seems the smaller the town, the bigger the name in this part of Spain.

At almost 8pm, it was still 44 degrees Celsius (111 Fahrenheit), so nice and warm.

This time, I was careful to chose a spot with better lighting, but my sense for these things is rotten and it quickly got way dimmer than I'd anticipated. Fortunately, someone gave me a headlamp, like a coal miner.

Here we await the verdict with the whole town, kids, old timers, and all, at 2am. People are bats in Villafranca.

They asked the artists to get up on the stage for the drum roll, which was kind of weird and embarrassing, but, hey, whatever. Here are two good friends, Jose and Pilar.

And... I ended up winning 2nd prize, good for a few hundred euros. Sad to say, this was the only shot I got of the winning work.

I'll be doing more "pintura rápida" while in Spain. Stay tuned.

For my regular stream of imagery, swing by

July 20, 2017

Sottopasso Le Cure

"Sottopasso Le Cure," 18x24in., collage, spray, acrylic, and oil on birch panel

Still stuck on this punk-rock neighbourhood in Florence where I did my shopping and through which I cycled en route to my studio all last year, and recently revisited.

This entrance into a pedestrian underpass (sottopasso) square in the middle of Le Cure stopped me in my tracks every time: the liveliness of it, the colour and way the light falls over it, the mystery and anticipation of the darkened tunnel at the end. The everydayness.

Apart from the graffiti, poets stuck their latest scribbles on the walls and taking in the lines would keep my mind engaged for enough time to get where I was going.

For this painting and works like it, check out my website,

July 17, 2017

Mini in the Mail #71: "Pillars of Le Cure"

"Pillars of Le Cure," 5x5in., oil on masonite

I'm a big fan of minimalism, whether it's in music, cartooning, cuisine, or hairstyling. It's just I can't seem to do it myself (well, the hair, ok), even when I use my fingers, impose a time limit, or choose simple subject matter, as in this pier of an old bridge in the Mugnone River in Florence.

For this mini painting and other Baroque works, check out

July 11, 2017

Mini in the Mail #70: "Rooftops of Le Cure"

"Rooftops of Le Cure," 5x5in., oil on masonite

I don't always have a strong reason for painting something, other than a certain spot, object, or condition of light made an impression and stuck, and generated in me the need to regurgitate it back out on a 2D plane.

This is a typical view of the neighbourhood in Florence in which I lived last year and recently had the chance to revisit.

And this is an excerpt from Timothy Steele's 1986 poem "Rooftop," which meshes nicely:

The roof shows other rooftops, their plateaus
Marked with antennas from which lines are tied
And strung with water beads or hung with clothes.
And here and there a pigeon comes to peck
At opaque puddles, its stiff walk supplied
By herky-jerky motions of its neck...

And it's as if the roofs' breeze-freshened shelves
...are themselves
A measure of the intermediate worth
Of all the stories to the morning star
And all the stories to the morning earth.

For this mini painting and others, visit

July 6, 2017

Mini in the Mail #69: "Galleria"

"Galleria," 5x5in., oil on masonite

The word "galleria" in Italian has a much wider use than the equivalent "gallery" in English. It still means a place where you hang art but it's also a specific architectural feature of a church, the part of an ear, the part of a boat, and most curiously the generic word for "tunnel."

According to the Italian dictionary Treccani, the word probably comes from the medieval Latin "galilaea," meaning the portico or main entrance way of a church.

If you visit Florence, definitely do check out the Uffizi, Bargello, and other official museums, but for something closer to the street head to the pedestrian underpass in Le Cure.  It's free and its collection of graffiti, poetry, posters, and collage is constantly changing up and staying fresh.  It sometimes has music, you can cycle or skateboard through it, and it has its own live-in security, Salvatore, "the angel of the underpass."  At one end, on the outside, you have a daily market, so you can stock up on cheese and fruits.  And don't forget Cavini, one of the best and cheapest gelaterie in Florence.

Sure, it may flood every now again, but what in Florence hasn't experienced a bit of flooding, even the Uffizi?

For photos of the Le Cure sottopassaggio, check out the shots on Google.

For this mini painting and others, check out

June 14, 2017

Mini in the Mail #68: "From Pillar to Post"

"From Pillar to Post," 5x5in., oil on masonite

It's hard to describe but L.A. doesn't have so much the kind of grimy, organic urbanscapes you get in places where people have trod for centuries and held on to their pasts, but it does have wildly clean lines and geometries that look like diagrams in math textbooks.

While I think of the north and the east of the North American continent as drenched in water and mouldy, constantly shifting from the freeze-thaw cycle, a little funky smelling, and lit up gothically, the southwest is kiln dried, UVed clean, odourless (except for the plants when you disturb them), light, and lit up like a film set.

For this little painting and other works of mine, check out

June 5, 2017

Mini in the Mail #67: "Burnt Reflection"

"Burnt Reflection," 5x5in., oil on masonite

Spent some time in L.A. over the weekend, among other things to attend the dedication and grand opening of the Zev Yaroslavsky L.A. River Greenway Trail in Studio City, part of L.A.'s river greenway project. If you've ever seen the L.A. River with its insane concrete encasement and mostly dry bed, you'll know why any effort to revive it is heroic.

A lusher than normal view. 3,000 native trees and plants were planted in the half-mile walking stretch. The inauguration ceremony took place under the white canopies.

The most touching moment was the dedication by Rudy Ortega Jr., Chairman of the L.A. Native American Indian Commission and a member of the Fernandeño Tataviam band, whose ancestors have long lived in the area.

The small painting, though not touching on the river directly, came out of the trip.

For more of my artwork, check out

June 1, 2017

Mini in the Mail #66: "Tangled Roots"

"Tangled Roots," 5x5in., oil on masonite

My 66th mini painting, this of a giant ficus in noir, towering in all directions, its canopy sheltering half a block, and proclamations of love graffitied into its smooth bark. Its roots overflow, entangle, unsettle, like a pit of pythons.

Like our own roots in family and community.

For this mini painting and others like it, check out

May 25, 2017

Miniature in the Mail #65: "Hollywood, Dead Ahead"

"Hollywood, Dead Ahead," 5x5in., oil on masonite

Back from a successful show in Beverly Hills last weekend. I sold a few large paintings and a bunch of these minis, but more importantly I met some new folks and had good conversations about art and life.

Today's piece came out of a moment in which I got lost somewhere approaching Hollywood. I glimpsed the talisman, I mean, car, from above on an overpass.

Others might fret over terrorists or killer germs, but the guy with the neofascist undercut I saw at the supermarket last night worries me more. I also stress over cars. One of my progeny was hospitalized with pneumonia when she was younger and now seems to always start to cough when the smog shoots up. Then, in L.A., the urban design is way too easy for privatized motor transport. Roads are broad, parking spacious, turns sweeping, and signs huge.

Maybe that sounds contradictory but take it from a frequent pedestrian and cyclist, these apparent safety measures in reality lull drivers into a false sense of awareness.

In messy Italy where I lived last year, road culture is the opposite. Streets are narrow and bumpy, walls come right up to sidewalks, and walkers young and old, tourists, mopeds, motorbikes, cars, trucks, buses, and bikes zigzag and entangle in a wild sort of mass dance.

Funnily, it feels safer because drivers expect unusual forms of traffic and are vigilant. By force of circumstance, they moderate their speed. You could text while driving—I certainly saw itbut it's as likely you'd take out yourself on a medieval bend as quickly as you'd do anyone else in.

This weekend, I'll be at another show, in Redlands, Smiley Park, Booth 23. Come out if you can.

For this mini and others like it, check out

May 19, 2017

This weekend, Beverly Hills Art Show

Here's where I'll be this weekend. Booth 159 on the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and Rodeo Dr. It'll be my first time at this show. Come and say hi.

May 16, 2017

Side Effects

"Side Effects," 24x24in., acrylic on aluminum

I've been thinking a lot about technique these days. On the one hand, that's all art is, a unique, creative, stylized way of saying the same old, same old about love, loss, celebration, strength, corruption, etc. Nothing new, but expressed in ways that seem fresh and strike just the right chord at the right time.

On the other hand, you can give yourself over entirely to technique, like a master cabinetmaker or a classical musician. You can work real hard at it, get as good as the mastersand forget what it was you aimed to achieve with the art in the first place. You can get lost. In other words, it's not the art that's the end (art for art's sake), but a tool to something bigger.

In today's art world, with the rise of conceptual art, we've definitely shifted away from the manually adept, virtuosic side of art and have refocused on what the point of it all is and how it can change the ways we perceive things in a radical sense.

I've always tried to tread a line between the two, and probably most admire the artists that have achieved or at least respect this (Ai Weiwei, the Kronos Quartet, Banksy, William Morris, and Diego Rivera come to mind), but I've probably lapsed more into the manual craft side.

In ways the divide reminds me of the discussion about artists and class. The artist "is persistently working up to be accepted, not only by other artists, but also by the hierarchy that exhibits, writes about, and buys their work," writes Lucy Lippard in "The Pink Glass Swan." "At the same time, s/he is often ideologically working down in an attempt to identify with the workers outside of the art context and to overthrow the rulers in the name of art."

The painting, by the way, is a view of Laguna Beach, way out of frame.

May 12, 2017

For Ray

8x8in., acrylic on panel

This is for my friend Raymundo, the crossing guard at my kid's school.

Ray, as he's called, lost his boy here a day before his boy would have turned 30. He's giving the picture to his wife for Mother's Day and I have the suspicion it will be one of the first, if not the first, work of original art in their household.

Some of us live with a lot of pain. Be kind to one another. And a happy Mother's Day this weekend.

For more of my art, visit

April 27, 2017

The Coarse Sugar of Memory

"The Coarse Sugar of Memory," mixed media on panel, 24x24in.

A final piece for this weekend's San Diego Artwalk.

You can see I'm still milking my recent trip to New York.

Little Art Purist Monkey Me: Okay, but why? You don't live or have any connection to New York. You've only seen films, read books, and taken in the lore.

Be Kind To Yourself Me: I'm trying to squeeze more out of my experiences and go beyond merely consuming life.

LARM: Dude, maybe you're just making a pretty picture.

BKTYM: Not pretty, beautiful. Something that will hold the test of time and provoke some thinking.

LARM: Yeah, sure. We all know New York has cache and resonance and you know someone will be interested in the painting simply because it's New York. In other words, you're throwing the net wide and pandering to the market.

BKTYM: Well, I can't save the world with one painting, can I?

LARM: You can do your middle-class part, rather than capitulate.

BKTYM: Look, monkey, why don't you beat it.

LARM: Oh, that's convenient. Like the people shouting fake news, turn me off when the facts arrive.

BKTYM: More like turn you off when you impede the work at hand, as a much an instinctual process as a critical one.

For this painting and others, check out

April 26, 2017

In the Abstract (No. 9)

"In the Abstract (No. 9)," 8x8in., mixed media on panel

There's a pool and hot tub in the complex of condos in which we live and being from the north and knowing what a winter is really like, we take full advantage of it.

It's shared among a couple hundred units and a duck and goose or two, depending on how the turf is currently divvied up out in the animal world. These days the alpha territory-holder is this guy. He doesn't like when we arrive because, despite the sign-posts he discharges all over the deck, he knows he's going to get chased out with a long pole used to fish debris out of the pool.

He quacks and quacks and then finally flies away. But the second we're back out the gate on our way home, he swoops back in and floats contentedly in his Club Med.

This weekend is the San Diego Artwalk, an icebreaker for me in the U.S. I'm madly scrambling to get ready, and a little nervous.

This painting and others I will be bringing to San Diego are available at