Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Wave Series II, Variation #1 (32" x 40"), Pastel Painting March 24, 2012

Finally, I’m finished this new Wave. I had done a series of wave paintings several years ago. Those were painted from a much more panoramic viewpoint with sky, surf, and wash onto the beach as well as other waves. However, Wave is the first in a series of extremely close-up (32” x 40”) pastel paintings of waves a moment after they crest. Most intriguing is that infinitesimal frozen time particle when a wave - has flashing light sparks as it begins to bend over on itself, amazing clear fraction-of-a-second views of the sand beneath, pale shields of mauve and periwinkle blue sea foam with connecting streaks obfuscate that view into parts of the translucent depths, and the aqua blue and green of the water with sky reflections blend with the lavender, orange, and ochre of sand - in one brief moment of crystalline purity before all crashes into exploding surf. So much of life is spent just muddling through without thought to function, or reason why, much less looking beyond the culturally constructed self. Nor do we spend enough time searching beneath the surface, into and through the obfuscated structures to the kernel of actual existence beneath. This painting is the first of a series of metaphorical instances that demonstrate the moments of clarity I experience only through hard won thoughtful meditation and/or prayer. I would like to see a room full of these paintings someday, but that is just a desire of the self based on cultural expectations that define success.

"Still, John, it would be nice to share the feeling you get when looking into and through waves..." the alter ego reiterates.

"Ah, yes," I say whistfully.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Butterfly World

Paper Kite Butterfly from my morgue

Ronald Boender, founder and Managing Partner of Butterfly World in Coconut Creek has turned a hobby into one of the most phenomenal places to visit in south Florida. The Butterfly House, a tropical rain forest complete with waterfalls, ponds, cave and orchids is one of the most ethereal environments I’ve ever been in. Thousands of butterflies, all shapes, sizes and colors fly through the forest. I’ve been to the butterfly house three times, and it is still all I can do to focus on shooting photographs because I just want to sit on a bench and soak in the peace those ethereal creatures generate as they flit from one leaf, flower or branch to another. However, in addition to the butterfly house there are several aviaries with tropical birds of all kinds – humming birds, lorikeets, myna birds, and macaws – as well as an orchid house, rose garden, and Koi pond.

The photos I’ve taken at Butterfly World have given me a plethora of morgue photos of all these wonderful creatures to use in my pastel paintings, mixed media distressed paintings and digital montages. We take visiting friends to Butterfly World, and everyone always enjoys, some even ask to be taken back on succeeding visits. I’ve also posted images from our visits to Butterfly World in the past, and I’ll continue to do so when we make other trips to the magical butterfly house and environs. If you find yourself in south Florida for more than a two day weekend of lounging at a beach side hotel, Butterfly World is a must do, but be sure to bring your camera or video camera with you.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


If the video appears to be blurred and jumpy, I suggest the viewer go directly to You Tube to view it.

The paintings - based on my own photographs taken on location at south Florida, Delaware, and Mexico beaches – demonstrate the way water changes color and mood from day to day, season to season, and location to location.

Perhaps I have a flaw in my vision that causes me to see brilliant extreme color. Never the less, I avoid rubbing and smearing pastels together as much as possible because I find that traditional pastel technique muddies and dulls the colors. Instead, I use direct application with the pastel itself to enable the most intense color to develop. Blending is achieved by using two or more pastel sticks to smear separate colors together. For detail I sharpen the soft pastels with sand paper. For broad areas I use the side of the pastel sticks. Sometimes a gel eraser is used to clean and sharpen edges.

I feel most connected to God and the universe while walking on the beach and looking at the vast expanse of ocean and waves. I guess the beach functions as my church, and I hope the pastel paintings express some of that transcendence.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Four things that prompted the making of "Ocean."

1. In the past I’ve expressed my concern with the mess south Florida beach enthusiasts make of our beaches.
2. The “2010 BP Gulf Oil Spill” caused me to realize that our profligacy and dependency on oil products, whether in liquid form or solid (as in throw-away plastics) threatens the health of our oceans and all creatures living in or near them.
3. I like to play. Ocean provided the opportunity to play with my new iPod Touch.
4. All my artwork - pastels, mixed media distressed paintings, and digital photographic montages - is about salt and fresh water marshes, rivers, seas and oceans. I’ve even given the oeuvre a name, “The Waterworks.”

Ocean is the third video using iMovie and my new iPod. I’m not ecstatically happy with it for several reasons. First, I neglected to make sure the iPod was completely in focus while shooting the beach scenes. Second, now that I’ve watched the finished video, I know that the second beach scene is too long. Third, You Tube informs me that I’m in danger of infringing copyright law with the music track to this video despite the fact that it is not for profit, and I do have the approval for use of “Aria” from the Goldberg Variations by the performer, Konstantin Lifschitz. I followed You Tubes directions and entered all the information I had about “Aria” into the Universal Publishing Group search engine. The result was “No record found.” Finally, I could have used more of my still photos and other artworks mixed with the motion scenes. Never the less, we learn by doing, and this little video is part of a journey toward the unobtainable goal of perfection. Each video experience will bring about improvements.

Removed Video 03/17/12

I have not heard from the owner of the copyright to the Konstantin Lifschitz recording, which is tantamount to saying - "You may not use this recording." I will replace the sound track with coppyright free music and then put the video back on You Tube.

Replaced the Lifshitz recording 03/18/12

I removed the old Ocean from You Tube and replaced it with a new video (the same visually) with an ambient copyright free recording of the Prelude from Bach's Partita #3 in E Major by Gordon Rowland. I found a wonderful Website that has as its main purpose to make all kinds of unencumbered music available to people everywhere.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I received a Judges Recognition Award for "South Florida Sunrise #6!"

By way of an addendum to my post "Art Explosion, 2012" - The hors d'oeuvres were fantastic, especially the meatballs, and the cherry tomatoes filled with dilled sour cream.  We had a glass of red wine as we walked around and looked at the artworks.  Best in Show, "Big Puddle" by Alfred Phillips was a technical tour de force.  His brush strokes make it look as though painting is an automatic process.  Best Painting, "Player," by Gregory Little, a colorful and painterly grid with a human figure in front of it, was striking.  My favorite though was "Orbit" by Francisco Scheuat, a marvelous construct made out of gum wrappers. "Lovers," a photograph by Gordon Nebeker won for best photograph, though I thought his "Dream," a draped male figure suspended in aqua colored water was his most innovative image.  However, the best part of the evening (for me) was that my pastel painting won a judge’s mention, and sold.  I am a happy camper this week. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Art Explosion 2012

“Come See the Show!”

The not for profit organization Arts United is presenting the “2012 Art Explosion” fine art show opening Saturday, March 10th from 6:00 to 9:00 P.M. The show is located at Art Serve, 1350 East Sunrise Boulevard, in Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304. Normally I do not post advertisements for any organization including non-profit 501 (c) (3). However, since I’m tooting my own horn, and announcing that I will receive a judge’s recognition at the opening, for South Florida Sunrise #6," a pastel painting, I'm making an exception.

South Florida Sunrise #6, (8" x 8") pastel

The Art Explosion show is always fun with exceptional works of visual art as well as entertainment, live music, and food. Arts United serves the Broward County LGBT community, and its mission is to present a positive message about the gay and lesbian community through the diverse performing and fine arts. I'm urging friends in the area to attend the exhibit.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Isaac Stolzfuts’ Return: Part II

He's back. See my February 26th entry for a brief history of Isaac.

He and those pesky close encountering space aliens of the third kind are observing us.

The foil man will speak to us from the space alien's invisible ("cloaked" in Star Trek speak) ship located somewhere OUT THERE in the solar system.